Is hospice on your bucket list? by Kimberly Baumgarten, RN, FCN, with Mary E. Sanders, PhD, CDE, ACSM-RCEP, FACSM
When the call came for me to fly home to Indiana, I knew things were critical. My father had contracted Legionnaires pneumonia. He was 77 years old, in poor health and on a ventilator in a hospital's intensive care unit. When I arrived, I instantly went into nursing mode, praying that logic might win over a daughter's fear. I sat down next to my father, watching the monitors--but I knew he was in trouble. From what I was seeing, this man was going to die. At best, he might stay alive a month or two while remaining on a ventilator. As I talked to the doctor about what I was seeing and thinking, he responded in the truest nature of an ICU physician, beginning with all that had been done for my father and what the next step was. I stopped him and asked, "Will this save my father's life or just prolong the inevitable?" The doctor hung his head and said, "Prolong" ... My father made the choice [to remove the ventilator] and we honored it by changing to hospice-based care. ... Trauma or peace? In facing end-of-life experiences, we all may plan the memory we want to leave and support others in planning their own.