Life is a big bowl of change, happiness and sadness. We made the decision to start hospice care for my grandmother this past weekend (it will start today) at the Nursing Home where both she and my grandfather are now living. It’s kind of a weird thing because when we admitted her to the Nursing Home a couple months ago, we ended up meeting with the Hospice Coordinator. We met with them early on as she qualified for hospice then, but my grandmother opted to try radiation more for palliative care/pain management vs immediate hospice care. I always thought of Hospice as you are on deaths door, can’t move or talk and ready to cross over to the other side. That’s not the case.
My brother, my niece and my grandparents
My entire life, whenever I hear the word Hospice, I think death. When they suggested that we consider Hospice late last week, I thought, OMG, is she going to die tomorrow? Is this the end? Oh no.
One thing that I have learned though, is that Hospice isn’t for someone on deaths door. I mean, yes, she is going to die (I have come to terms with that) but it doesn’t mean it’s tomorrow. The Hospice Coordinator, doctors and nurses explained that they are trying to change that common notion of Hospice and explained that my grandmother has a terminal illness, cancer. She could technically be on hospice for years (although I doubt she will make it years). The qualifying factor is a terminal illness that isn’t reversed with medical treatment.
My son and my gram
Hospice Care will be in addition to the medical staff and aids that she has now at the Nursing Home and we all know that Nursing Homes, even the great ones, are under staffed. So for my grandmother, the fact that she will have a dedicated nurse and a volunteer team that will visit with her weekly is a good thing. It’s just another set of “eyes” on her. The Hospice Nurse can recommend pain medication as well as anything else for my grandmother and it will be reviewed and approved asap. I have to say though, the facility that my grandparents are at (Salmon Health & Retirement in Massachusetts), the staff is amazing (knock on wood). They literally call my dad or I if they are giving her any new/different pill immediately. They call if her breathing has changed. They call if she seems upset. They call if they are drawing blood. They are amazing! They do the same for my grandfather.
My brother, gram and me a few years ago at Thanksgiving. He hates her hair long and I know if she saw this picture, she would say, “eeewwww my hair is so long.” My grandfather probably was insisting she grow it out -ha. He likes long hair.
My grandmother has gained a pretty big amount of weight since being admitted a couple months ago and she is retaining fluid. She looks like she is going to blow up. She had kidney cancer 10 years ago and had a kidney removed so she has that working against her. They have her on a very high dose of pee pills (that’s what I call them – they are water pills.) to help her pee. She hates the water pills as it’s not a fun thing peeing 24/7 and wearing a diaper. It’s awful and I hate that she is suffering. They also increased her depression medication as she is pretty down in the dumps.
She had a great weekend though given the circumstances. My husband and I brought her power recliner from home yesterday and set it up in her room so she can now keep her legs elevated. We have been trying to convince her that she needed the recliner from day one but she refused to use it. I know what she was thinking (same as what my grandfather thinks), she doesn’t want stuff from home there because she is hoping to “come” home again to live. The recliner being delivered yesterday was basically a mandatory order from the Nursing Director (thank you Ashley for telling her it was time to have it delivered) so my gram reluctantly agreed.
One thing that is always a constant, is change. So the Hospice Care starts a new phase of this thing we call life. I still wish she would just close her eyes one night, go to sleep and pass peacefully. This suffering crap is not what I would wish on anyone. I know it’s sad to say, I wish she would pass but her quality of life isn’t good. God has a different plan though. Catch up on my grandparents on our Nursing Home Diaries or Dementia Diaries pages. PS. if you didn’t see the epic living room makeover at my stepdaughter’s house, check it out here.