May 17, 2012

Dotty Still With Us, Hospice Comes Through with an Angel

Did Hospice send us an Angel? An angel among us?

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Right after I wrote this morning, we entered into what can best be described as a period of chaos and stress.

Dotty's temperature started to climb steadily, all the way to 99.6 (Dotty's core temperature is 97.6). In addition, Dotty couldn't move her right arm.

She was experiencing severe pain in the arm, particularly around her wrist. I discovered this when I was trying to move Dotty to change her briefs (also known as incontinence wear, and diapers). Dotty could not move that arm.

As a result, I could not get her new brief off, nor could I get her situated to administer a suppository for fever. I tried several times and I concluded I couldn't/wouldn't do it by myself. I did get the soiled brief off as it turned out.

My first attempt to get a Hospice nurse did not go well. We will skip over this part of the story and get to the important part.

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Finally, after about 80 minutes a nurse came. 80 minutes might seem like a long time, but we were also in the midst of a monster rain, wind storm like you wouldn't believe.

As soon as the nurse came everything started to change. She approached Dotty in just the right way to talk to her and to reassure her.

Then we got to work.

Very quickly the nurse did get the suppository in. Dotty was howling. But as soon as the nurse stopped Dotty stopped.

Then the nurse to my surprise started stroking Dotty gently. She discovered the same thing I did. Dotty's right arm is in pain, mostly near her wrist. Of course Dotty freaked when she touched that area. Nothing happens but peace and love when you stroke Dotty's left arm, or head, or legs, etc.

This nurse has very nice touch. So nice, so effective, that it communicated to Dotty. The message was clear. I'm here for you, to help, to care.  Dotty seemed to relax.

Then the nurse sprung back into the action. She changed the sheet on Dotty's bed. The under sheet. We had another period of Dotty angst. I think when we roll Dotty on to her side she thinks she is falling into a black hole. I don't think it is pain. The nurse calmed Dotty nicely and immediately.

By the end, Dotty's bed was set, clean sheets, new absorbent pads. Dotty was resting.

By the way, the nurse did not need to do this. We have an aide coming today.

The nurse that came on-call is called a "runner".  She works from 1 AM to 9 AM. The period of greatest angst and stress. Oh my goodness.

She told me she likes her work,  and likes helping people. Wozo edwards, this is just the right kind of person and nurse they need for this time period. Chaos, confusion, stress, fear, angst, you name it. Why else would anyone call in the middle of the night?

I am going to grade this nurse, the runner, on understanding, coping, and communication.  Three skills that are necessary in order to deal effectively with the deeply forgetful. She gets straight A's.

Did Hospice send me an Angel? An angel among us?

I'll let you decide.

Frankly, I decided to skip some of the first parts of this story. We could call it a bit of a hubba bubba.

The hubba bubba resulted in a call that resulted in some very fast actions on the part of the lead nurse and aide.


Dotty is resting comfortably at the moment. She is clearly in the process of leaving this world. Of completing her life and moving on to a better place.

Thanks for the support. Thanks for listening.

Thanks to Hospice by the Sea.

Related Content.

3 Questions Every Alzheimer’s Caregiver Should Ask About Palliative Care

Dying from Dementia, Suffering Often Unnecessary

The Role of Palliative Care and Artificial Feeding in Dementia Care

Alzheimer's Care, The Power of Purpose in Our Lives

The Effect of Emotional Super Glue in Alzheimer's Care

Originally published May, 2012