Don’t Tell Dad He’s Dying

I once had a patient’s daughter pull me aside after her father had been admitted to the hospice care center.  “Don’t tell my dad he’s dying. He is too high anxiety, he won’t be able to take it. Seriously, it would kill him.” When I mentioned that my name tag had hospice written on it,…

Acceptance in the Now

I’ve had many interesting conversations with patients over the years, some of whom had rather different backgrounds from me to put it mildly. I remember one man in particular, much taller than me, mid forties, arms covered in gang tattoos, missing teeth, and thin as a rail. “You wouldn’t have liked the old me, Katarina”…

Can the Dying Hear Us?

I remember back when my dad was dying, and at this point unresponsive, to a time when our hospice nurse came to the house for a visit. We were all gathered in my father’s bedroom and watched as the nurse did her physical assessment. Being new at this point, to the whole dying experience, I…

Do You Get It Now?

Many years ago as I sat through my first hospice orientation, I participated in an activity that was aimed at enlightening us to the fact that we were all entering our hospice patient’s lives at a time when the world as they knew it was becoming smaller and smaller. The exercise was supposed to get…

Making the Most of Each Visit

I met the greatest family one time when their mother had come to the hospice house for a brief stay to manage some pain issues she was having. Their mom had been diagnosed with cancer two months earlier and given six months to live. At the time I met her she was doing well, able…

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

Don’t be surprised if one afternoon or evening you suddenly find yourself sitting in your local ER waiting room. You’re most likely there because you took a tumble at home and injured yourself. X-rays will tell whether that ankle, wrist or ribs are fractured. Your frailty has snuck up on you. Without thinking you reach…

Practical Tips for Caregiving at Home

Many caregivers are overwhelmed with the idea of caring for someone at home. They see their loved one becoming weaker and more dependent and although their heart is willing, their bodies worry about the day after day physical aspects of providing care. Here are some practical tips on how to make daily life a bit…

Withholding Pain Medication for Fear of Addiction

When my dad was diagnosed with cancer years ago, both he and my mother were very concerned about his becoming addicted to the pain medications he was being given. After all, morphine and dilaudid are very scary words. My dad got over his fear sooner than my mother when he felt the pain relief he…

When a Person Becomes Unresponsive

Eventually there always comes a time when the terminally ill person becomes unresponsive. I’m reminded of one man who had been awake when I came into his room at the start of my shift. He was sleeping throughout most of each day but would open his eyes upon hearing a voice or by the touch…

Clearing Up Past Hurts, Does it Take Dying to Make Amends?

Every family has their own dysfunction. I have yet to meet the family, including my own, which doesn’t have issues amongst the group from time to time. Some things are minor, and some are taken to the extreme. Sometimes, for good reason, sometimes for bizarre reasons, and sometimes for reasons no one really remembers anymore….