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    Loss (Lost loved one): My mother passed away quietly and peacefully, at home, with her dog, her husband, her kids. Her favorite music played softly in the background. She left in the middle of the night, without any neighbors seeing-again, exactly as she would have wanted it. I'm slowly coming to terms with all this. It's been quite a lot to deal with. It's been 10 months since her diagnosis.

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    Oh No (Hospice Not What I Thought It Would Be): I selected the group, they were very cordial on the phone. The nurse and equipment tech were very respectful and friendly with us. There was a delay in getting the right oxygen pump to the house--a huge deal considering my mother required 100% oxygen at this point--blood ox is still at 73. The pump issue got resolved, we got her breathing moderately comfortably, and she received a small dose of medication. She was relaxed, upright in bed, and chatting with us. Tired, but chatting. After showing us how to dose and administer the meds, the nurse and tech left us. I was terrified. I didn't know what to expect from them or from her. I had thought someone would be staying with us through the night--at this point I haven't slept in almost 3 weeks, no more than 3-4 hours, and not consistently, at night. Needless to say, at midnight, when my mother had become agitated in her sleep, I called hospice and they told me to go ahead and give her the next dose. I told them I didn't have any medical experience and I was scared to be alone with her like this. The nurse on the line said that I was doing fine and all I needed to do was give the medication and let her settle back down.I was able to get her to take her next dose. Friday afternoon, I didn't realize hospice would be leaving me alone for the night. (Available by phone, but definitely not the same as being there.) Did they misread her severity? This didn't seem to fit the stories I've heard from other's and their hospice experience.

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    Decision Point (Take her home with Hospice): Her blood oxygen continued to go down. Even on a cannula and venti-mask, her level stayed at 93 and dipped to low 80's-70's if she moved. She couldn't get to the bathroom anymore, the bedside commode was getting hard as well. She hated the bi-pap machine and by Thursday night, refused to wear it. The meds for anxiety didn't help, in fact, it gave her nightmares, and by this time she'd tried more than she cared for. IV's kept needing to be replaced, her veins just couldn't sustain them. She didn't want to be stuck anymore, she just wanted to go home with her husband, her dog, and her cat. I promised her that when she wanted to do it, we'd go home.I called and set up hospice on Friday. We brought her back to the house at 5 p.m. and they gave her her first dose of meds. Once she was settled and comfortable, they left us. Fortunately for all of us, the hospital chaplain stopped by-they'd developed a friendship during her time at the first hospital. His presence and prayers were a great comfort to her and myself.

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    Decision Point: My mother developed an infection in her lungs, in addition to multiple tumors developing in her body, too soon after completing chemo and radiation. She had a last chance dose of radiation but with the infection in her lungs, doctors sent her to the ER and she was later admitted for IV antibiotics and breathing treatments. They wanted to clear the infection before beginning another round of chemo.
    She improved during the first week and a half in hospital. Her pulmonologist wanted to move her to another hospital closer to his office, hoping to offer her closer care. Needless to say, we moved to the other hospital and her condition continued to deteriorate.

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