IS IT HOSPICE, OR A DEATH SENTENCE

It’s May 27, 2010, the day before my wife’s birthday. Another typical day (So I thought) when we regularly present ourselves before the Lord, read his word, and follow our daily routine of working on the crossword puzzle for that day. This routine is usually followed by a light breakfast, and a telephone conversation between my wife and her sister, currently residing in California. Upon terminating said conversation with her sister, my wife will then speak with her mom at length. These conversations are conducted twice a day… in the mornings and at night, prior to retiring for the day. I look forward to these interchanges between the two women that I love, beyond comprehension. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I deeply love my biological sister, and sisters in-law as a brother should. In this instance however, I’m referring to my mother in-law (mom) and my wife.

On this particular day, my mind is racing feverishly as I begin to plan for a lavish birthday celebration for my “Golden Heart.” I’m again referring to my wife, whom I view as an angel with a heart of gold. Those who have been privileged to have met her, can attest to the aforementioned. I want this to be as memorable a celebration can be. I realize that my bias is very obvious, but hey!, I’m talking about my “Baby”, so there!

That evening, I approach her and reveal my plans regarding her birthday. We discuss them at length, and begin to look forward to her big day. At around 10PM, my wife places a call to California, and after speaking with her sister, asks to speak with mom. As I listen, I can hear both sharing stories from the past and occasionally laughing as they reminisce about some past event. They say their goodbyes and as usual, I hear mom sending regards to me. I acknowledge her and upon terminating the conversation, we retire for the evening.

Approximately forty-five minutes later, we are awaken by a loud telephone ring. We both get up, wondering who would be calling at this hour. You have to remember one thing, our mom is one-hundred years, and nine months old. Every time the phone rings at a late hour, our thoughts go immediately to her. On this particular night, our worse fears became a reality, as my wife answered the phone. My sister in-law said in a very calmed voice, that she was following the Ambulance, and was en route to the ER, as mom had tripped and fallen. One can only imagine the shock at hearing these unwelcome words. For the most part, we remained somewhat calmed, as our sister assured us that mom seemed to be well and appeared calmed. She promised to call call us upon consulting with the attending ER doctor.

We began to pray earnestly hoping that all would be well with mom. As one can imagine, we could not sleep that night, and remained awake until about 5 am. At that hour, my sister-in-law called and told us that mom had been x-rayed, and the results revealed a broken femur. Now, put yourselves in our shoes for a moment, and try to visualize a person that age, falling, and breaking a femur. Not a pretty picture. Well, needless to say, we were in a state of shock. My wife cried, and I tried to reassure her, that God would look after mom. We made arrangements to travel to California the following day. Our family was instructed to maintain contact with us during our travel which would take approximately, eleven hours. In the interim, we were told that mom would be transferred to a hospice. The following day, we set out for California. Later on that day, we received a call, and were informed that mom had been taken to the aforementioned facility, that her room was very nice, and faced a beautiful patio. We were somewhat relieved, as we were not too familiar with hospice.

Upon our arrival, we greeted the family, and went directly to mom’s bedside. She gave us a cheery smile, and her usual motherly comments. After a while, I excused myself, and decided to explore this facility. The staff seemed nice, and very attentive. As I ventured further, I notice something strange. Patients were coming in and out on gurneys, like an assembly line. I spoke to one family member, whose wife had been removed from this place. He was crying, and stated that his wife had just passed away. Been the inquisitive type, I asked what had happened. He related how, and why she had died, and explained in detail, the purpose of hospice. I was in total shock. What in the world is mom doing here? I went back to the room, and explained what this place was for. We were shocked. We were under the impression, that our mother would be undergoing physical therapy at this place. Boy, were we wrong. During the ensuing days, mom would cry in pain, not because of the femur, but because of some other underlying condition. My wife had to be blunt with the staff, before they took any action in this regard. Quite few days later, we were told that mom did not need to be there, therefore was being transferred to a convalescent home.

During those few days, we spend with mom at the hospice, I met some fantastic families, whose loved ones were terminally ill. I was able to counsel some, and grieve along side of them. It was a very sad experience for me, but not a new one, as I have had some experience in counseling of the dying.

Well, the day arrived when mom would be transferred. I bid my goodbyes to those hurting families I had met, and followed the ambulance to the convalescent home. Mom was checked in, and we stayed with her until closing time. We got to spend some quality time with her, that day. We left her in good spirits, as she joked and laughed with us. We were satisfied, and prior to leaving, prayed with her, and told her that we would be back, bright and early, the next day.

That next day turned out to be the most horrifying day for us. When my wife arrived at mom’s room, she found her slumped over the railing, and appeared to be heavily sedated. When confronted, that staff denied having sedated her. In fact, they stated that their patients were never drugged. From that day on, it was nightmarish. Mom was never the same, the staff was not that attentive, and continued to deny ever drugging their patients, which to us was an outright lie. It was evident that they did, based on mom’s drugged state. Her condition deteriorated, and days later, she passed away.

Hospice is a place to make the last days of terminally ill patients, comfortable. I have met some wonderful people, who truly believe in hospice. They trust these facilities, and are thankful, that their loved ones who are terminally ill, will transition into the next life in peace. I don’t really care for these facilities. Mom was not in that category. She was alive and well. A few days before, we had left her in good spirits, as someone who had a zest for life. Sure, she was older, but she enjoyed life. Her mind was alert, as was her sense of humor. She always looked forward to the next day, and would wake up, ready to face the new dawn. She was very active, as she reads her Bible on a daily basis, prayed for many, mostly her family, and looked forward to spending the day, engrossed on her daily activities.

Did mom deserve to die, when she was not ready? Of course not! Did she deserve the treatment she received at that facility? Of course not! One thing I know for sure. She was sedated for no reason at all. She was alive when we last saw her, and I deeply believe that she was overdosed.

It has been five years, and I’m still upset. In fact, we continue to be upset. How in the world should we feel? We lost a dear mom, who loved us beyond belief. We loved her so much, and still love her memory. As a Christian, I do forgive these people, but there are questions that still need to be answered. This is how I feel. What’s your take on this?

Johnny (Parrilla) Velazquez, PhD

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Johnny (Parrilla) Velazquez, PhD

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Johnny (Parrilla) Velazquez, PhD
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13 thoughts on “IS IT HOSPICE, OR A DEATH SENTENCE

  1. Hi Johnny,

    Wow! What a story! I thought this was recent until I got to the end. No, I dont care for hospice either. Yes, I do believe they are a death sentence. I don’t trust nursng homes either.

    I can tell you a couple of stories about hospice, as I imagine most people can, if they’ve lived long enough to have experience through family or friends.

    When we moved to the desert, a lovely old couple lived next door (both in their upper 80’s). Over time, she developed alzheimers and he had prostrate cnacer but it was slow growing. He got to the point that he couldn’t take care of her any longer by himslef so he put her in a nursing home here, but went to visit her daily, driving himself and spending most of the day there. Before this point, they were receiving meals on wheels (through their son who lived in another state), he was doing some cooking and we also took meals to them, along with another neighbor.

    His son would made trips here about four times a year. The daughter, who lived in a third state, never visited, but we met her at the funeral later.

    The son eventually brought hospice in through home care because he didn’t think his dad should be there alone, His father refused to go to a nursing home and I think the son was tired of taveling back and forth. We think the old man was overdosed through hospice because he was fine and had his wits when we were over visiting. We would visit him daily and take some food, or a piece of key lime pie (he loved that). We had just been over there and then the next day the son arrived and then at 3 PM we were told he passed away. I was so angy, I wanted to go and report the situation to the police. My husband was angy too but told me it was none of my business. To this day, I think hospice gave him too many drugs and i wish there was somthing I could have done about it.

    Hospice is up to no good.

    Sunni
    http://sunni-survivinglife.blogspot.com/

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Sunni. Great to hear from you. How are you? Thank you so much for your comments. Well, it happened again, but this time to brother-in-law. Went for a check up this past June, was place on hospice, and a week later was gone. I’ll be writing about it on my next post. Blessings.

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  2. Hi Johnny,

    Great post and topic. Hospice is basically for people who are terminally ill. They try to make the patient comfortable and sometimes that means giving them sedative drugs. I have a friend who recently died from cancer. She had hospice in her home. She had posted that she was in a lot of pain and they wanted to give her strong painkillers to help her. She knew the minute they did that she would pass away soon after because that’s how it was with her mother a few years before. She did, however, decide to take the painkillers since she was in too much pain and knew her time was limited. She passed away a couple days later.

    I believe hospice is a good thing. It helps people in pain and helps them to relax and pass on. We all will die, there’s no getting around that, so i would prefer to be comfortable and ready to go.

    As far as the nursing home, that’s another subject all together. My father had dementia and died 3 years ago. He was in a very good nursing home. They only had patients like dad in there and cared for their patients well. When he first went in they were giving him pain meds since he had just had surgery. My father was not one for meds. He had problems with his stomach if he took them. My mother put a stop to the drugs and said only Tylenol. After that, he snapped out of his stupor and lived for 2 yrs before the disease finally took him. Nursing homes are instructed what to give the patients so it’s really the doctors who need to be questioned, not the facility. Unless of course the place seems creepy and not aboveboard, but you still have to question the docs first.

    I’m sorry to hear about your loss and it sounds like the nursing home your mother-in-law was in wanted to keep their patients controllable. That happens sometimes too, but she was over 100 so you never know when they’re bodies just give out. She might have not liked being in the home and it might have led to her death too. I know it would me. I’ve asked my husband to never put me in one of those places. First of all the food is deplorable and he would have to bring me my meals lol!

    I’m also sorry to hear about your brother-in-law. I pray he is comfortable and for your family!

    Love, Lisa

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Lisa. Thank you for your comments. Ever since Mom died, I have lost a few fiends, who were terminally ill. I do understand that there are those who will benefit from hospice. But I have also lost friends who were not terminally ill, who were placed on hospice, by their care givers, and died within days. My mom was a very energetic woman. She was alert, able to walk normally, ate like a much younger person, read books, worked on cross word puzzles, and maintained a daily diary. Her mind was intact, as she could recall past, and present events. Whenever we took her for a physical, the attendants would always question her birthdate. She looked much younger than her stated age. She fell not because shoe couldn’t walk, but because she tripped. The convalescent home gave her morphine, because, since she was somewhat hard of hearing, she was not able to understand what they were trying to tell her. She just wanted to go to the bathroom, but being that she was old, they doped her.
      My brother -in-law went to the Dr. for a check up. They examined him, gave him antibiotics, and informed the family that his condition was not life threatening. The attending Physician faxed a consent form to his daughter, with instructions to sign same, and return it. She was also told that her dad’s condition was not life threatening. Well, the form was giving the doctor permission to put him on hospice. Before we could say anything, they discontinued antibiotic treatments, gave him morphine, and within days, he passed away. That’s why I detest hospice, when it’s not needed. Blessings.

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  3. Wow, that brought back some memories. But first, I’m so sorry for your loss. It is never easy and no matter how much time goes by, it still hurts (though we learn to deal with it as time goes by with God’s help 🙂 )

    I have mixed emotions about Hospice. When my late husband was using Hospice (almost 7 years ago) I was grateful for any help I could get. He was far too young… Anyway, they were always gracious and seemed to have his best interests at heart. The difference is that my husband remained at home and they came in at least 2 times a week, more if needed.

    But, when I REALLY needed them and called them in a full out panic (I was instructed NOT to call 911 but to call them directly) they let me down. My husband was literally stuck in a precarious position and I could not lift him to get him into his wheelchair. I believe he was having a stroke. Plus, his fingers and toes were turning bright blue around the nails. Well, we all know what that means…

    It took them two hours to get someone there. In the meantime my nephew assisted me to get him from the bathroom and into a wheelchair. By the time they got to my house he was pretty coherent but ohhhhh, the color of those nails!! I looked at the hospice provider and indicated his nails in such a way as not to alarm my husband and the provider just poo-pooed it saying it was nothing and that it was due to being stuck in that ‘precarious’ position for so long. Really??? I am NOT an idiot.

    You guessed it. The Hospice guy left. I knew my husband had a Do Not Resuscitate instruction but I also knew that I should have NEVER been left alone with him to watch him die. That is what Hospice is there to help with for the love of all sacred!!! HE LEFT! And then 6 hours later my husband died without the benefit of the medications to help ease the transition or the shoulder to cry on.

    No, I don’t hold a grudge and forgave them as soon as it happened. But I can tell you I still get a lump in my throat just writing this because it wasn’t right. It was beyond messed up. God is bigger though, and I know he is with Him. 🙂

    Like you, I have heard good and bad things. All things, however, are for a purpose and are bigger than we are. That doesn’t mean, however, that we won’t be affected by them and the actions that were taken. You have every right to still feel upset, every right indeed.

    Anyway, have a great day! 🙂
    Lorra

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    • Blessings, Lorra. Thank you so much for your comments. So sorry for your loss. Well, it happened again. My wife and I had to travel to California, this past June. Her oldest brother, whom I loved very much, visited the local hospital for a minor check up. They put him on antibiotics, was placed on palliative care, and was advised that his condition was not life threatening. So much for that. He was transferred to hospice, they stopped his treatment, and a week later, he passed away. The Doctors indicated that he died of heart failure. When asked what caused the failure, they stuck to their diagnosis. No explanation at all. That’s why I so abhor hospice care. Blessings.

      Liked by 1 person

      • OMGOSH!! How truly awful… I realize that death is very much a part of life but when we place our loved ones in the care of others, well, they should CARE for them. What a tragedy. My heart goes out to your wife…what a seemingly senseless loss… God bless you and your family….

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I am confused. Did she die in hospice or the convalescent home?

    My mother just died this May at the age of 95. She had lived with us for 14 years. We had in home hospice for the final year of her life. Luckily I had control of her care.

    My experience was overall quite good but they are all about comfort at the end of life, which unfortunately means they are pretty free with the morphine. I did feel that they almost encouraged it but they respected moms and my wishes, which was not to take it unless absolutely necessary, which was very very rarely until the final week of her life.

    I am sorry for your experience and for your loss. But I would like to leave you with this, which I hope is comforting. Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

    Maybe they did the wrong thing, maybe they lied to you. Maybe she could have lived longer, but it sounds as though all of you love and live for the Lord, and God didn’t abandon you, and had you all in His hands every step of the way then and now.

    My dear mom’s journey was such a slow and painstaking one but that was her journey and I trust that God had a plan. Your mom got to live a full life, and then just sped to the next adventure with minimal discomfort.. She got to go out with her boots on.

    Blessings to you and your family in your grief.

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    • Hi Karen. Thank you for your comments. She was removed from Hospice, because they felt that she did not belong there. They transferred her to a convalescent home. She was alert, no pain, and very alive. I don’t know why the gave her morphine, as she was not in pain. I have read that there have been cases of overdoses. Again, thank-you. Blessings.

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  5. My condolences. My mother-in-law lived with us for fifteen years before she died at home with us in the room. Hospice came into our home twice a week, and they were wonderful. There were challenges having her here, but they were far outweighed by the life and prayers she brought to our house. It won’t work for a lot of people, but it did for us. God bless.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your comments. True. Hospice works for some, if they truly needed, but in our case, both my mom, and brother-in-law were not in need of this service. It’s sad. I have heard horror stories with respect to this service. So glad it worked for you and your loved ones. Blessings.

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