And as we wind on down the road (home hospice experience #1)

My mother-in-law is dying.

Hard words to say about a lady I have known for 22 years now and love very much. Hard words to say when I know the affect they are having on my son, my daughter, my step-daughter, my niece and, more than anyone, my husband and his sister. Hard words to say, in spite of the fact we’ve known it was coming for some time now. Just hard words to say.

Mike gazing at a beautiful sunsetDianne is a smoker. I guess I can say was a smoker now, because she officially “quit” last Friday when she went into the hospital for the last time. She’s been battling COPD and emphysema for some time now – depending on the brief bits of respite her inhalers and nebulizers offered in order to continue to function. We’ve known for some time her condition was worsening but weren’t so prepared for the sudden decline in recent weeks. No level of logic and understanding of the inevitable consequences of smoking makes it any easier to accept when the doctor starts saying words like “nothing we can do” or “hospice”.

I’ve done this hospice thing before, of course. When my father died a few years back, we used hospice care for his final days. I’ve been through the meetings with caregivers and nurses, organizing the delivery of hospital equipment, learning to handle morphine administration and, worst of all, signing the papers that said yes, my father wasn’t going to get any better. This time it’s a bit different. I’m almost, but not really, on the outside looking in. I’m not responsible for the decisions, I’m not signing the papers, I’m not talking to the doctors and nurses. That’s all up to my husband and his sister this time. I’m involved, of course; Dianne will be living out her last days here in our home. I will be providing some care, supporting those who need supporting and generally keeping the basics humming so my husband can dedicate himself to his mom. But supporting is not the same as responsible. I’m not in charge this time around.

It will be quite a roller-coaster over the next few days and weeks. I say weeks, because that’s what we’ve been told to expect. All I can say right now is how proud I am of my husband for taking this on and my children for bravely welcoming this into their home. It’s no small thing my family is doing and I’m nothing but proud of them for doing it. Dianne is loved – wish us luck as we help her on her way.




12 thoughts on “And as we wind on down the road (home hospice experience #1)

  1. Wow Teri, I think that is truly amazing, loving, kind and inspiring that you are bringing her to your home. What a wonderful person you are. This is hard and like you, I’ve been through all you wrote about with your father almost verbatim. Wow. I wish you love, peace and patience as you go on this journey.

    Love and hugs,

    • Hi Bets – it’s actually not that difficult a decision to make. Neither Mike or I could imagine anything else. It’s a huge thing for Mike and his sister, more than anything else – I’ll be at work during the day and they’ll be providing the bulk of care between hospice visits. With my dad, he’d been sick a long time with cancer before the stroke that finally got him, so we had caregivers already in place. Bringing him to his home wasn’t the heavy lift for me as it will be for Mike and Julie. They’ll be amazing, I’m sure.

  2. I have such empathy for you in the coming months. It is never easy. Hang in there. Try to do some fun things for yourself. (Only not what I did when I was caring for my mom…i stopped at the donut store every day on the way home from the hospital and nursing home…I gained 25 pounds by the time she passed away.) Like I said, it is never an easy thing.

  3. My heartfelt sympathies for your family and what you and your mother-in-law are going through right now. So brave of you to admit the end is near and so wonderful for your mother-in-law that you are all there to make that end loving and warm. I would write more but I’m crying.

  4. Your words are so nice to read as I went through an extremely similar situation. You commented on my post about Hospice Day 8. I hate it when they say they’re not going to be able to get better. They told that to my grandma six months ago, then she got fine, then she fell, and the same words came out of their mouths. So sometimes it’s hard to trust, because only God knows when a person’s time is up. Keep your chin up, and talk to her about all of the good memories 🙂

    • Thanks, Jordan. They gave us just a few weeks but she seems so strong right now it’s hard to tell. We’re taking it day by day right now and we’ll see what happens. Thanks for the support!

  5. I too am on hospice, and my thoughts go out to you as you face the challenges ahead. It sounds strange to say, but for my wife and all my other family, it’s much harder on them than on me. Emphysema is a horrible disease. I have ups and downs also, and being at home with my wife and beautiful dogs makes it so much more bearable. I just started my blog, and on days that I can write, it helps me a lot. It’s like great therapy.

    • Hi David,

      Thanks so much for stopping to read my blog. I’ve read through several of your entries and will continue to follow your journey. I hear you on the pain – my MIL came to terms with her prognosis long before we did. She’s gone now and we’re still reeling. I’m thankful she has peace and am hopeful her family will find it soon too. Thank you again and please know you and your family are in my thoughts.

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