I never thought I would be in hospice care but last December I was given two weeks to live. I had been in and out of the hospital most every month during 2019 and my body was not tolerating cancer treatment. When my wife, Louise and I first met with the nurse from Hospice of Southern Illinois, I politely declined their services. The nurse was nice and explained everything to me but I wasn’t ready. I had seven different doctors and I went to several appointments a week. How could I just stop going to all of them? You see, I literally thought hospice care meant that you went home, a volunteer came and sat with you and waited for you to die. Boy, was I wrong.
Louise and I continued to talk about my prognosis. I was afraid to not see my doctors anymore and I struggled with making that change; but, shortly after I declined services, I changed my mind and we decided to give hospice care a chance. That was December 2019. I came home; Hospice of Southern Illinois calmed me down, they stabilized me and I was able to celebrate Christmas with my family. Since then, I haven’t needed to go back to the hospital. My vitals are stable, my pain is under control and I’m up as I feel like it. If it’s a really great day, Louise can even take me for a drive. But one of the best surprises is that I celebrated 61 years of marriage with the love of my life his past April. A gift that last December, I couldn’t even imagine would come true.
If I had to describe my experience with Hospice of Southern Illinois in one word, it would simply be the word blessing. I’m 83 years old. I’ve traveled all over the world and I have a wonderful family. I’ve lived a very good life. I know that I am dying. The difference since I came under hospice care is that now I am dying with dignity. Hospice gave me the extra time that I didn’t think I had.
I realize that every situation is unique. My advice to anyone facing a terminal illness….don’t wait. Ask about hospice care. It doesn’t hurt to get the information and please don’t wait to understand what hospice care really is. I am not sitting at home waiting to die. With the caring individuals I have met through Hospice of Southern Illinois, I am at home LIVING out each day that I have left.