For some reason, my hospice patients don’t seem to die.
More often than not, the patient dies before the hospice volunteer even gets there for the first time. Families tend to wait till the last minute to believe there’s no more hope. But I’ve had at least three patients live so long they got taken off hospice, even though they were in their nineties. One of these hung on for over a year – I kept on visiting her because she had no real family. She really wanted to die, but just couldn’t seem to. It’s hard, dying.
Another former patient, who’s only in her fifties, didn’t die either, but she ran out of money and is now in a county home for the indigent. It’s quite a collection of people in this home – M. is the only “with it” person on her floor. There are schizophrenics who scream and people who think they’re in a motel and people with Alzheimer’s who stare at the floor all day and people who fight (physically, even though they’re eighty-year-old ladies) with each other.
One woman told M. she didn’t have enough money to pay for her chair, so she couldn’t sit down to visit.
M. is a wonderful woman who weighs 400 pounds. That’s why she ran out of money – it took two full-time aides to lift her up and down. She lived alone, with two beloved cats. The cats had to go to the SPCA.
She cried for days when she first got there. Now all the nurses and aides hang out in her room because she’s so kind and funny and cheerful.
I visit her once a week, just as I did when she wasn’t dying, because I like her so much. My current hospice patient is 95 and not dying either.
I told my hospice volunteer coordinator the other day that if she got a new hospice placement and the patient didn’t want to die; she should make me their volunteer.