Category Archives: Personal Stories

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. Continue reading What does “palliative care” feel like?

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.

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

Samuel’s Story

 /></a></p><br /><br />
<p>My dad's name was Samuel. I thought he hung the sun, the moon, and the stars. He was brilliant and strong and compassionate. When he was diagnosed with Parkinson's it was crushing. My dad lived courageously with the disease for 15 years, getting worse all the time in spite of the medicine but never complaining.  I remember one day early on when he tried to explain to me what it was like just trying to put a sentence together:

Eventually we had to put him in a nursing home. I visited him often and will never forget the day I arrived to join him for dinner and the staff said he hadn’t been hungry so they’d let him sleep.  I didn’t try to wake him, but I sat with him for a while in the dark.  Later Continue reading Samuel’s Story

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 had Continue reading Kay’s Story