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CancerLynx - we prowl the net
May 6, 2000

Hospice Care
Lana Bakk
In Memorium Lana Bakk
11-15-47 to 6-14-00

This is from a post to the Club-Mets a listserv for Metastatic Breast Cancer. Lana Bakk writes on Hospice Care.

Dear M_,

Please do look into Hospice. They provide a wonderful service and many insurance policies cover their costs completely because they are lower than hospitalization that sometimes happens at the end when there is a final crisis.

Hospice has a full range of services starting with in home nursing visits. I have one weekly visit right now, but that can be stepped up to daily if needed. They keep up with your medications, check to see if you need new prescriptions and if so get them refilled for you. They provide palliative care - changing your pain meds and working until they get you to the point of comfort without nausea. They can provide equipment such as hospital beds, oxygen, shower chairs, etc. to make living easier. Other services that are covered include home health care where you can have someone come to help with bathing and dressing or even light housework. In addition Hospice has a group of trained volunteers who will help with sitting with the patient while the family takes a break and gets out of the house. They also run errands for you, help with transportation to dr appointments and just about anything else they can do to provide relief for the caregivers.

My doctor recommended we contact them before we left the hospital and I am so glad we did. After coming home, I began to go downhill again so we called and started the services - first having two visits a week Mon & Fri. Now that I am feeling better the nurse only comes on Mondays. He takes my vital signs and talks with me about symptoms, asks about weight loss/gain, fluid retention etc. More importantly to me right now is that we are getting to know each other and developing a friendly relationship so when the time comes that I need him daily I will be relaxed in his care.

M_, I totally understand your wife's denial and her need to hang on to that so she can fight. If my boys were the ages yours are instead of 25 and 29, I think I too would approach the end differently. Hospice volunteers can also listen to whatever your wife may have to say that she feels is too painful to say to her loved ones. They have family counselling services and also chaplains if you need to have them help. You will have one person who oversees and coordinates all the services. The Hospice I have here also has a wonderful new center where you can go if you choose not to die at home. They make the setting as close to home as possible and provide extra bedding for family to stay over night. It is staffed 24 hrs with an RN and a Dr is on call. If you have several Hospices in your area you might check to see which offers the most variety of care (we have 3 here in Topeka, KS which surprised me - I always thought there was just one per location). Contrary to what many think, Hospice does not necessarily mean your death is imminent. To quote my Hospice literature "Making a choice for Hospice care is not about dying - it's about living each day to its fullest".

M_, I hope you have a good service to tap into. I'll continue to keep your family in my prayers.
Sending peace and love your way,

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