Hospice? Not so fast after all

CAREGIVING: Tuesday had been an emotional ride, what with Erica saying it was probably hospice-time; and realizing that Kathy was making her own decisions quite well. On Wednesday Hope came to give Kathy her shower and stay with her. Monday had been too tough for Kathy so she gave her a sponge bath.She really was due for a full shower.

It took both of us to transfer her in and out of the shower. Hope experimented with turning the shower bench in the opposite direction and it seemed to help. Kathy’s weak side is her left side and it made it easier to lift her left leg in and out of the tub. In the meanwhile we got a call from Dr. Dorantes office that the scopolamine prescription had been placed and I could pick it up. Then I received a call from the VNA that a palliative care nurse would be there at 12:30 to talk about Kathy’s care.

I can’t remember how breakfast went, but I think it was OK. Once Kathy was back on the futon and Hope was cleaning up a little, I raced to Stop & Shop to pick up the prescription and some suitable food to give Kathy. I raced through the store as quickly as I could. When I was used to cooking the same “stuff” week after week it was easy. Now I have to think, “Can it be puréed?” Should I buy creamy peanut butter? Pudding? Big questions of life. At the drug counter I was in for a shock, a $65 co-pay for four patches of scopolamine. It requires “prior authorization” from the insurance company. Since I was there, I just paid it. Honestly, I have no complaints about how much the insurance and medicare have been helping.

Kathy had been asleep the whole time and was nice and rested. I put the food away. I was definitely scattered. I told Hope, “I know I bought two things of ice cream.” I found them. They were in the refrigerator, instead of the freezer. When the palliative nurses arrived, I was in the can and Hope and Marty showed them in. They started asking us a few questions and listened to Kathy talk, and breathe. They took her blood pressure and oxygen readings. Listened to her lungs.

Then surprised us with something to the effect of “you really don’t need us yet.”

A Hoyer Lift. Hoyer is actually a brand name like Kleenex or Jello that is used as a term for lifts.

Basically they said that if we had a little more equipment to make things easier, that would be all we needed for now. A regular home care nurse would visit from time to time to listen and check on her to see how the meds are working. She was suggesting we need a hospital bed. And we could use a Hoyer lift to help get Kathy from the bed; to her chair; and maybe to the commode seat. They said her blood pressure was great, her skin looked good, her lungs were clear. She said Erica must have been there on a bad day and we all have bad days. She was starting to say something about Erica wanting to be aggressive. But I said that it was actually good that Kathy had a bad day because it got us to start the conversation about death, that we should have started years ago. One of the nurses showed me how to put the scopolamine patch behind Kathy’s ear. Generally they said on days when Kathy is tired we can just do a sponge bath. That will be easier with the lift and the hospital bed.

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