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What does "palliative care" feel like?
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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. (more…)

Speaking For My Dad, When He Couldn’t Speak For Himself

My father was a man of few words. He loved telling stories, but he wasn’t much for long, heartfelt conversations. I remember his last Father’s Day, when I asked him about what his favorite parts of fatherhood and his biggest struggles were as a father.

“What the hell?” he said. “I was your father. That’s it.”

And for him, it was that simple. He didn’t think about what was hard and what was satisfying. He was just The Father who took care of things and that was enough for him and it was supposed to be enough for nosy daughters, too.

This lack of wordiness makes me glad we did take the time to discuss his end-of-life preferences. He made them clear to me, and as it happened, I was the one to make the call.