Earlier this year, my mother-in-law, Sandy, died of injuries she sustained in a traumatic fall. The simple task of transferring from her bed to her wheelchair, as she had done hundreds of times before, resulted in a fall causing a brain bleed early one May morning.
Once transferred to the local emergency department and learning the severity of her injuries, she adamantly refused aggressive intervention and asked to be kept comfortable.
What I learned over the next four days was profound.
• I was reminded that being a family member of a loved one in their final days is hard work. Communication and respectful relationships are key to creating positive memories at such a tender time. We need to be kind to one another.
• I learned that advance directives are the best gift a loved one can give. The confidence of knowing that we were advocating for choices Sandy had made for herself, at an earlier point in time, was incredibly comforting.
• I learned that I need to continue to be a strong voice for patient safety in the work of Carroll Hospice.
• I learned that making airline reservations the same day as your travel is challenging and costly.
• I was reminded of the importance of selecting the right hospice to participate in your care. We enrolled Sandy in the program where the nurse was polite and genuinely interested in our story. She sat down with us, and the first question she asked after introducing herself was, “Tell me about your mom.” Wow, it doesn’t get much better than that!
• I was reminded to say “I love you” every chance you have because things can change in an instant.
Finally, I was reminded how fortunate I am to work with the wonderful professionals and volunteers at Carroll Hospice who work diligently to provide individualized and personalized care each and every day.
Regina Bodnar, R.N., is the executive director of Carroll Hospice.