Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Change of Status--Hospice

Four years and four months ago-- that is when  I got the call in 2009 -- that my Aunt had been found after a fall and a heart attack left her with very little heart muscle and  heard the words of the ICU  nurse  from Rhode Island telling me in Ohio that they did not think she would last the night. Well, Anna proved them wrong, and she recovered in the next year --it seems like a long time-- but the time to begin hospice for my aunt is here.
After a terrible bout of respiratory  distress, she spent over a week in the ICU at Rhode Island Hospital. It seems that she has some serious lung damage. The doctors asked about smoking, but she has never smoked even one cigarette. What this deep and old lung damage probably does reflect are the 40 years that Anna worked at Corning Glass Works in Central Falls, inspecting the glasses as they came out of the furnace. When she came home in the summers in those sweltering July days in the 50s, she would sit on the porch while my mother used a fine tooth comb to  get the glass particles out of her hair. She literally sparkled in the sun. One can only imagine what she breathed in of these  glass fine particles. The fact that  Anna cannot breathe  has caused her blood oxygen to decrease and  this has  put a burden on her weakened heart.  I could not bear to see her confused and frightened and yet, I feared that hospice was a kind of  admission that she was in an endgame. And I was not sure of that.
After meeting  and talking over her situation with doctors and nurses, I was convinced that she would get better care  if she had hospice at the nursing faciluty. Yesterday after much thought and prayer, I signed the papers to change her status.  As soon as I got back to the  little house in Pawtucket, I felt a surge of relief and a kind of quiet certainty that I had made the choice that would give my aunt more comfort, more care and more peace.
My good neighbors often go  out for dinner and I called and asked if we could go together. My husband and I drove the other couple to their favorite place, Spumonis--and  I  suddenly felt the relaxation of  having some strain removed, and  I  knew that I had done the right thing. for  my Aunt.

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