My college friend wrote a blog today that is at the core of what I do and why I do it. Follow this link blessourhearts.net and read how a when a person gets tired of fighting, and taking care of everyone else it is a gift to support them as they "let go".
Letting go doesn't mean that when they sign the form for hospice, they go quietly into their bedroom, lay down on the bed and die.
Actually, for most people, it means exactly the opposite. For most patients that sign up for hospice, they want to be able to do what they want and can do without driving to an office, getting stuck with a needle only to find that today is not a good day to get chemo. They go home defeated as if they failed a test only to wait for the next week to go an do it again. Week after week, while the fight is on, the patient gets tired.
As my friend, Mary, so eloquently put it, Kathleen isn't giving up...she is letting go. She is finding peace and comfort in what is important...what really matters...her family, friends, animals, her home and her heart and soul.
I get the honor of seeing this when I show up to a home. When the battle has been called off because the options are even more difficult, I always sense a feeling of relief from the patient. They are content to stop being stuck, stop being in the fighting mode and feeling ill constantly. They are at peace with being at home, with their loves, spending the precious time they have loving and being loved. If they hurt, we figure out how to help that and if they don't, we support them with the decision and take it a day at a time. We give them back the control they lost when then diagnosis trampled on them and held them down.
When I talk about them being in control, I mention that they are now the "boss" and get to call the shots. If they are hungry for something that was forbidden because of the medication, I tell them to have as much as they like. Often, a wife will ask if the husband can have a beer or a glass of wine at night.."We used to sit on the deck every night and have a glass of wine after dinner, can we do that now?" I always respond that they can do whatever that want to and then I wink and tell them they can even sit out on the porch without clothes drinking that wine if the neighbors don't mind! They always laugh and give each other that look that they have cultivated after many years of togetherness in their story.
It doesn't seem like such a big deal to a healthy person, but when you have been in the fight of your life and had no control...a glass of wine on the deck like you used to do, is such a comfort to a couple that is counting the time they have together. "Good time" as I refer to it...when I explain how I can help. Time that is comfortable, in the place you want to be and with the people you want to be with. That, my friends, is time that is precious.
You see, most folks that have had chemo for many weeks, months and years have gotten used to feeling lousy...tired and weak. They have fought long and hard and bought time. I can't say that I wouldn't do that myself. But, when the options are few and the chemo is tougher, and when the person says enough is enough and stops chemo, I have to say, they usually feel much better. The nausea goes, the extreme fatigue abates and they can taste food and drink again. They can live. If they have pain, they take medication and enough to make it tolerable if not go away. It's a win-win in a scenario that most folks wish was just a bad dream.
So Kathleen, I wish you plenty of "Good time"...on your porch, with your dear friends and family remembering and feeling how loved and cherished you are and the stellar example for all of us on how to handle life through the good, the bad and the ugly. There is no right way to "let go"...only your way...
So, as I tell all of my patient's from day one..."I don't think you're going anywhere right now, so what do you want to do?"
We'll tawk tommorrow,
I love you all,