Minnie and our grandson Brandon

They Treated My Minnie So Well!

I became involved with my local hospice (Orange-Sullivan Hospice) in Newburgh, NY in May, 2008 after my wife Minnie was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in the left lung and brain. She had one very large tumor in the lung and two in the brain (one on each side). She was in and out of the hospital and received 16 treatments of radiation for her brain and received 1 chemo treatment for her lung. The chemo almost killed her and she was admitted to the hospital again. After a couple of days the hospital gave me 3 hours to get home and make room for hospital equipment as there was nothing more they could do for her.

All the time this was happening Minnie was seeing a speech therapist, a physical therapist, and a nurse that came to check on her once or twice a week. After Minnie came home and the hospital equipment was all set up, the same nurse from hospice came to check Minnie out and an aide came to introduce herself. She would be coming 1 hour a day, 5 days a week.

Minnie's daughters and I (I am also disabled and it was extremely difficult for me to take proper care of my Minnie) took care of Minnie for 1 1/2 weeks. Her two daughters and daughter-in-law would take turns during the day taking care of their mother. We always turned Minnie every 2 hours to prevent bed sores. Minnie had stopped eating, only once in awhile having a few spoonfuls of food. It got to the point she wouldn't take any meds except for pain. It became too hard for her daughters and I to take care of her. We wanted her to die at home where she felt comfortable but she became unaware of where she was... she still thought she was in the hospital even though she could see the TV and all her personal things around her.

We decided to have her live at the residence hospice. They were so wonderful!!! We should have done it earlier. They treated her with respect, compassion, and love. They were always checking in on her to make sure she was comfortable and wasn't in pain. If Minnie began to feel pain they would be right there with the morphine.

After a week her son celebrated his birthday at the hospice with his mother. The hospice chef prepared spaghetti for about 15 people and her daughters were even provided with a special wheelchair so Minnie could get some fresh air and see the beautiful grounds for the first and sadly, last time. She had a very happy day !!

After that she began to go downhill fast. She wouldn't eat and after another two weeks, she wouldn't drink anything either. They gave her oral morphine and a patch. She began to sleep more and more. I had to move from our old apartment because I couldn't afford it anymore, and decided to stay overnight at the hospice because I had a bad feeling. They gave me a lounge chair next to Minnie's bed and I was holding her hand. During the night she briefly opened her eyes and hoarsely said, "I love you" and closed her eyes right away and was once again asleep.

The night nurse warned me it would be soon and to be prepared. The next morning I went outside for a smoke and when I came back in the day nurse said she was going to call her daughters as it would be very soon. I hurried to Minnie's room (well, like a turtle would with my walker) and sat next to her, holding her hand. While I was holding her hand, she passed. Just as she chose to tell me she loved me while I was holding her hand, just the two of us, she died holding my hand, just the two of us.

Even though I knew she would die, it hit me very hard.

About 2 months later I went to grief counseling sponsored by hospice. Sister Ann, who I knew from the hospice residence, was the leader. The whole time I was there I didn't say a word -– I was afraid I would break down. All the others in the group were talking freely and it just made it worse for me.

I can't say enough good things about hospice! They treated my Minnie so well and the rest of the family also. They made Minnie's last few weeks pain free and full of love. If I ever get real bad, I would like to go to die there also. It was a truly remarkable experience.

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