My mother’s five year battle with ovarian cancer ended on Friday 13, a date thought by many to be cursed and used in the title of a popular horror movie.
However, for her and me, the scary date brought an end to an ongoing cancer nightmare that was topped off with what looked like a hospice horror movie.
On Aug. 30 the doctor told my mom it was time to think about end of life and call hospice. We have two hospice companies in the area, and the doctor has his favorite one. That is the one we went with. Little did I know, that when that call was made on Sept. 3, a horror beyond my control would begin.
I had been the sole caregiver for my mom. I endured driving 200 mile round trips for three years, sometimes three times or more a week for treatments. Also, miscommunications with doctors, rescheduled appointments, misfiled paperwork and so much more. But what happened in the last 10 days of her life makes the rest look like a walk in the park.
After hospice was called we were introduced to who I now refer to as Nurse Ratched. The next day, a young aide came to the house and assisted my mother with a bath. That is about the only thing that went right.
I was told Nurse Ratched would come to the house on Monday and Friday for one hour. I complained that was not enough assistance but they didn’t care.
On Thursday, things started the downhill slide. I called hospice and Nurse Ratched arrived. She said my mom’s blood pressure was low. She propped her up in a chair with ice chips. That was about it. I needed a break and left for an hour.
When I arrived, she said some pain medications were called in and that she would come back later that day with them. That never happened. After she left, my mother begin vomiting bile. There was no hospice assistance available. Two friends arrived and saved the day.
Meanwhile, I dialed up the home health care nurses who came to love my mom, and they scurried over and stayed five hours with her, while I figured out a plan. They introduced me to a service called Helping Hands that is available 24 hours.
This service became my hospice. After hours of sickness and confusion, Nurse Ratched called about 8 p.m. and asked how things were. At that point I didn’t like her.
The next day, hospice held a pow wow in my house as four of them showed up to devise a plan. During their visit my mom became sick, however my friend went to her rescue, not the hospice workers.
At the end of their meeting, they decided they would come to the house for one-hour a day, five days a week. At this point I didn’t care because I had found Helping Hands.
The weekend came and my mom was suffering and sick. We made it through with the help of Helping Hands and a friend. On Monday, Nurse Ratched returned with another nurse. The Helping Hands aide was with me as was my nurse friend. I made it clear hospice was not helping me and that my mom was suffering. I requested washable bed pads and hospice could not provide them.
However, Nurse Ratched told me she had won $1,000 bucks at the casino and would buy us some out of her winnings. After an hour of listening to me tell them about our weekend happenings, that included nonstop sickness and pain, the pair said they would go chat with the doctor and return with pain medication.
After four hours they were not back. So I called the doctor and ended up going and getting the medicine myself. My nurse friend gave the meds to my mom, as once again, hospice was no where around.
Later the executive director of hospice came to my house. She dismissed Nurse Ratched from the case and tried to apologize for all the issues.
I told her I felt like they do nothing except want to play super hero when the patient dies.
During this time, the doctor signed off on placing my mom in the nursing home for five days. I knew she wouldn’t make it five days and I felt like I had no choice but to move her out of the home since I could not rely on anyone. The next day hospice informed me that public transit would be at my house to transfer my mom. This was the final straw. My mother could not sit up or control bodily functions.
I ended up telling the executive director off and hanging up on her. Later I learned they did not want to pay the $700 ambulance bill and was willing to offer another $150 day in the nursing home. In the end, hospice paid for the ambulance and now they were not happy.
My mom passed three days later in the nursing home. The hospice nurse was not present and it was 15 minutes after my mom’s death before anyone came to the room. The nursing home nurse apologized and said she was stuck on the phone.
In the end it was me and the dog present for her passing, which is they way it needed to be. I called the time of death and the funeral home since no one could come to the room.
It took me 12 days to get her ashes buried. Now the final chapter of tying up loose ends has included the insurance company sending checks made out to my dead relatives. When I asked how this happened I was greeted with rudeness.
A month has passed and I’m somewhat rested from the five year hell. I have learned a lot, most I didn’t care to know. I found out its true when the going gets tough, friends get going as I have lost the three people I considered my close friends.
Cancer is a terrible experience for all involved. It is even worse when the professionals are unprofessional and your friends and family become former friends and distant family.