I've had a lot of time to think about things while trying to keep cool and dry among the Kudzu of East Texas. The hospice nurses have been coming every three days to check on Dad and deliver the medication to keep him pain free. It has been such a blessing. At the first hint of pain we can give him something to ease it. When the time comes they will provide an electric hospital bed. One of their assistants is coming today to give Dad a shower. I did have to get a shower head on a hose to help with this yesterday -- cost all of 8 bucks, and installed it. They will come every other day to keep him clean. And all of this is 100% paid by Medicare. It is hard to describe the relief and gratitude for this service. As we have questions about what to expect in the next few weeks as he declines they are very knowledgable and experienced on the process.
Then I think back four years to when my Father-in-law was spending his final days. He died of bladder cancer in Albuquerque. A veteran of World War II, long time parts manager of a car dealership that passed hands to multiple owners, and a wonderful man. When he decided not to endure any more radiation treatments and Hospice was brought in they quickly assessed the situation and insisted he be placed in a nursing home. There was no offer of pain management, in-house care, special bed or anything. I remember him sitting in the living room whimpering in pain. For the last month in the nursing home he was neglected for hours at a time without any relief. I spent most of my time shuttling my Mother-in-law and wife back and forth, but no one could spend nights with him, and we would get calls from the nursing home in the middle of the night telling us he had gotten up from the wheel chair and fell. We tried to get them to stop wheeling him to the dining room and feed him in bed, in fact just keep him in bed, but they would wheel him to the dining room and then wheel him back to his room, then not put him in bed for hours. He would finally try to get in bed on his own and naturally fall. Blessedly he breathed his last, but when I compare the way my father is being treated by Hospice to my FIL it just makes me angry that such a wonderful man died in so much pain and discomfort and neglect and knowing what I do now that it didn't have to be that way.