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View Diary: Ed Came to Dinner Last Night (44 comments)

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  •  I've been dealing with something like this (4+ / 0-)

    since about last October.   A woman I didn't know came up to me after a church service with tears in her eyes and said simply, "I'm dying."

    I knew what that meant, so I took time to speak gently with her.  She has stage IV lung cancer that has spread to her spine (and possibly further).  But she had no doctor, no treatment (not even palliative), no family support, no future.  

    So I got her into a county Medi-Cal program, with a clinic that saw her right away.  She was referred to an oncologist, which gave her a modicum of hope.  I got her a DMV disabled parking placard and a disabled discount bus pass.  I got her associated with a regional hospice care.  She was in a much better place, finally.   I left for an extended Holiday vacation.

    But as soon as we returned (my spouse is also involved in this care process),  our new friend ("Jenny") had somehow declined dramatically while we were gone.    The pain in her spine was intense.   She seemed helpless to know that to do.   She was getting exotic "treatment" options off the internet.   (Her appointment with an oncologist?  Still hadn't happened.   "Pending".)

    About 10 days ago, Jenny was rushed to the hospital ER, in acute pain and unable to swallow any liquids or keep anything down, including pain meds.   At first the ER just treated her briefly and discharged her a few hours later.  (WTF??)  We rushed back to the ER to pick her up and take her home.

    The next day, she wanted to go back to the ER, she was in so much pain and was so dehydrated.   This time she was admitted to the hospital, where she's been until this morning.   I really thought she would just expire in there this past week.  It was very bad.

    But she received such caring, gentle, conscientious treatment in the hospital (even a private room), including an ongoing series of spinal radiation treatments, that finally she's off the IV, she's eating and drinking, and has a good pain-management program going.  "Palliative" treatment.  She's being released today.

    Jenny has several more radiation treatments to finish this week, and then Hospice will step in.   I will be very grateful to them for helping to shoulder this situation for us.   Just going through this process with Jenny, myself, gave me an acute appreciation for the work that Hospice-care does for those facing end-of-life.

    I'm also encouraged by how caring and compassionate our local hospital was to Jenny, even though she's as poor as a church mouse, with no one to advocate for her but my wife and me.   I wish all our health-care needs as citizens could be guaranteed to us as well as what has happened to Jenny on California Medi-Cal.

    Thanks for letting me de-brief about this.  It's been intense!  

    •  Thank you for sharing your story. You were... (3+ / 0-)

      approached by someone you didn't know. You reached out to help. Many people would find excuses to avoid getting involved. I'm glad the local hospital and hospice have been there and acted to help Jenny and you.

      Your story is remarkable and life changing for you. Thank you for sharing it.

      Well...I'd rather live in Utopia.

      by jim in IA on Mon Jan 23, 2012 at 01:13:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks. We're not done yet, however. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jim in IA

        I will definitely be looking to Hospice to help us with Jenny's end-of-life issues.   I really have no experience or idea how to handle this part of her journey.

        We've been fairly diligent in advocating for her in the hospital about making sure she's in no pain, if it can be helped.  At first the hospital was dithering about giving her pain medication via IV, insisting that she take Percoset by mouth only every 4 hours, when she couldn't swallow anything by mouth.  Excuse me??!!  What, were they concerned she might get addicted to it or something??!  Finally we got a physician to recognize and rectify the situation, getting her a strong morphine patch and other heavy narcotics.   I can't imagine what would've happened to her if we hadn't been there for her.

        Hospice will be involved for Jenny by next week, providing her with a hospital bed, and I'm not sure what else services.   This will be our opportunity to learn about Hospice-care first-hand.   We will truly appreciate the help they will give Jenny in her last days.

        Thanks for the lovely story of Ed you posted.  It has probably touched countless lives you don't even know about.  Bless you.

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