Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Gloom and Doom visit - or Comfort Care (you pick)

A few days ago, Tim asked me to be a guest writer on his blog, and so, after a visit with hospice and a social worker who assessed Tim's condition (terminal cancer), I bloged from his computer...

Sunday, December 23, 2007 6:35 PM CST

Hi everyone...this is Erin (Brockway) Collins writing for Tim and Beth today.

I was asked to come to the Fadel's home this afternoon while a social worker and hospice nurse visited and gave information regarding Hospice care. I took notes and so I thought I'd share them with everyone.

The first thing we all think when you hear the word "hospice" is death...unless you're a hospice nurse or someone who has dealt closely with the hospice system. But, who are we kidding? Death is the yucky connotation associated with it.

Well, they consider themselves "comfort care." A nurse visits 1-2 x weekly to give an assessment and distributed the needed medications. A nurse is also available 24 hours a day via telephone if there are questions or if an emergency arises.

The hospice 'team' is as follows: Social Worker for counseling needs for the family and patient, Chaplain, 2 doctors on call for home visits, and physical therapist for music therapy and massage (which is the only person that Tim and Beth feel excited about visiting the house), and someone to sit in and stay with the patient if the spouse needs to run errands or if she needs light housework done.

When is the best time to start hospice? Well, in Tim's case, it's odd, because he looks so good. (He loves that, by the way.) As you know from the previous entries, He had the episode of coughing up blood and someone telling him that he could die any a doctor laughing at that negative diagnosis and deciding to start an agressive round of radiation which should shrink the areas of concern; the tumors that bled during the coughing episode.

After Christmas, he begins radiation, 10 - 15 treatments in a row, minus weekends and holidays. This will give him a better quality of life. That's the focus right now.

As I sit here typing, Tim is banging out praise music on the keyboard with random drumbeats in the background. He's flipping pages and making a very long medley out of it. Singing. Not coughing. Not laboring. As the social worker and hospice nurse said today, he doesn't physically look like someone in need of immidiate care. He looks healthy.

However, they recommend coming in earlier rather than later, so the team can get to know the patient and family well. Most people hire hospice when the patient cannot express their needs. The minimum requirement of hospice, if Tim and Beth decide to go that route after the new year, is a nurse visit every 14 days. Tim and Beth would be in charge of everything. Meaning, a hospital gurney and IV pole would not be wheeled in on day one unless that is something they wanted. The decision for hospice care after the new year is not set in's a decision that Tim and Beth need time to prayfully think about.

None of us want a number hung over our estimation of the time we have left on earth. It constricts our hope. Last week it was "any day now," and another doctor proposed "1 - 2 years." Well, Tim could get hit by a car and be dead tomorrow. Any one of us could be.

We had a lot of information thrown our way today and are still reeling from it. Could it be true that someone thinks hospice is necessary right now? Is he dying? From what I am dealing with at this moment...the noise level very loud and Tim singing even louder than the keyboard he's pounding, he is very much alive!

The focus is family and the holidays and the kids and praising God for the ways He has intervened. Let's look toward praying and being specific in the ways we can help Tim and Beth. Merry Christmas everyone!

Thanks for reading...

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