Kay’s Story

It’s been almost a year since my friend Kay and I had our car accident. We were only two years out of college and had just finished work. Both of our families lived far away so we were “it” for each other. We carpooled often, and that day was her turn to drive. It could have just as easily been me behind the wheel. The light turned green, and we started to cross the intersection. A driver was texting on his phone, ran the red light, and smashed into our car. I have no memory of what happened after that.

People tell me that Kay and I were pinned in the car, and that it took a while for the paramedics to get us to the ER. Kay was in critical condition with a severe head injury, her heart stopped several times, and they had to perform CPR on her.  We both hadgone into a coma.

Although I eventually woke up, Kay suffered severe brain damage. For days, doctors did everything they could to keep her alive – breathing machines, stomach tubes, and all the other “extraordinary measures.”  When her family finally arrived and found her advance medical directives days later, they [...] continue the story

What does “palliative care” feel like?

It’s hard to imagine what a palliative care environment is like unless your family has experienced a loved one dying in one.

Almost eleven years ago, my 89 year old mother was dying of lung cancer. Fortunately, the almost five-year course of the disease had left her mostly symptom- and pain-free. But, about a month before she died, my mom suffered a nasty fall. After a day or so of hospital tests her (very wise) physician told us, “the disease has spread to her brain; there’s nothing more we can do. I suggest we transfer her to hospice.”

Startling, but not unexpected, news.

We talked with my mother about the transfer. She was calm and knew it was for the best.

I don’t remember what I was expecting when we accompanied my mother to the hospice facility, but it certainly wasn’t the kind of vibrant atmosphere we found there.

After all, death is supposed to be solemn and foreboding.

But not here. Here, families were sitting in a spacious greatroom, watching TV, playing games and laughing. There were kids around. The staff was upbeat and engaging.

We were shown to my mother’s room and encouraged to visit any time, day or night. A staff nurse reassured us [...] continue the story