by Susan Lee Mintz
Since my husband’s death on August 17, 1994 from AIDS-related pneumonia, I have focused much of my attention and energy on the many issues involving my 25-year marriage to a bisexual man who suffered greatly with a life threatening illness.
With my hands-on experience, I found I was able to assist other people who would face many of the same issues that I had gone through. These issues involved emotions and heartfelt, sometimes gut-wrenching decisions and situations where I was, not only a wife, but a caregiver, friend and eventually would become a widow.
I learned about hospice when I was told that there was nothing further that could be done for my husband. There is nothing worse than hearing those words. My husband knew he was going to die and we had to make a choice. We chose hospice to assist us.
I didn’t realize, at that time, how important it was to have someone help me through the most difficult time in my life. Hospice was a stranger who came into our home and loved us.
Because of hospice’s invaluable help, I decided to give back by volunteering at Hospice by the Sea in Boca Raton, Florida. I was there for 6 incredible years working in their care center, in people’s homes, and as an 11th hour patient volunteer.
I was called upon when death was eminent. Hospice was all about choice. Hospice was a feeling that allowed Jeffrey and myself to still be in control of our lives even when we weren’t. Hospice was about living and not about dying. It was palliative care and pain management.
It gave me a few hours during the day to take care of the things that had to be done. An aid was able to stay with me through the nights that were the most frightening.
Hospice involved the choices that included dignity, respect, love, faith, and courage. It didn’t treat Jeffrey as though he was a “terminally ill” patient, but very much as a “living” person.
When it was determined that someone had a short-term life expectancy of 6 months or less, hospice could be that alternative choice in determining how you wanted to live out the remaining days of your life.
Most people want to pass away at home as my husband did. However, it is very difficult when the person needs 24-hour care. Therefore a facility may be what is needed.
Hospice was everything right in our lives when everything was wrong. When life and every aspect of it was out of control, hospice interceded and managed the chaos and turmoil.
It was a “team” effort and after my husband died, I wanted to join that team. Team hospice rallied around the family unit and could assist during this critical time.
Hospice will always be concerned about not just the patient but the entire family.
When you think that there are no choices left, there is still one. The Hospice Choice. Quality of life until the end of life.