February 24th, 2008



Mom told me she felt like she needed to use the BiPAP machine last night. Not after going to bed. That's been normal for 7 months. When she was still up. She didn't because the thing isn't very mobile. If she's feeling like she needs it when she's up, that's a very new thing.


My mom, step-father, myself, my brother, and a woman from mom's church met with a representative from hospice last Wednesday.

She was there for 2 hours. We learned very very little that we didn't already know. The woman was not very organized. Actually, she was organized for a completely different kind of patient. Most people who they meet with have very little idea what hospice does. So she was expecting to explain that. She spent the majority of the time asking each of us what we did for my mom.

She only answered in a general way my mom's questions, which she didn't get to ask until nearly the end.

Mom has heard complaint of losing autonomy from other people in her support group. Nothing specific though. The rep answered this concern with of course you get to participate in all decisions. Which is not the answer my mom wanted to hear. She wants to know that she decides. Not that she participates. She came away with the impression that her choice if she disagrees with hospice's ideas is to go with it or to drop out. Mom doesn't want a repeat of the debacle that was the ALS clinic at Virginia Mason, where they argued with her over her refusal to take a medication.

A little interlude here. My mom isn't getting that great of care for her ALS. Her MD is great but he doesn't have the depth of knowledge in ALS. The situation is not really the fault of the doctors. My mom is choosing this path. She doesn't want to see the specialists in Seattle. She is fighting hospice. She doesn't want to go back to her RT. She fought the speech therapist. She doesn't want an OT to come to the house. In short, she's being difficult. (She's not fighting everything though.) Now you know where I get it from. Although I think she's making some bad choices, they are her choices. I support her right to make bad choices. I will not get in her face about any of them. Gentle persuasion or coaxing is the most I will employ.

She doesn't want hospice because she doesn't want to fight them, and she thinks she will have to. The rep didn't create that impression, her friends in support group did. But the rep didn't dispel it either. She was unprepared and unorganized, and her coming with a plan to talk about the things most people want to know with no backup just reinforced to my mom that they have a one size fits all way of doing things.

Her only specific concern to me about hospice is that she doesn't want to take any medication that will sedate her or otherwise dull her awareness. I don't think hospice will force her to do that, though there's the possibility they will urge her more than she wants to be urged.

She's going to ask the complainers at support group for more specifics, so we can clarify with hospice if these are really issues or not. But it's three and a half weeks until the next meeting.

She says she'll hire someone to help with grooming/feeding/etc. But she's balking essentially at the nursing aspect.