Friday, March 25, 2005

On being considerate of others ...

Florida has quite a knack for attracting bad political publicity. For fifteen years a case has been played out in our local news. Off and on it has demanded national attention but recently it's become the lead story all over the world. It's an explosive story. One that requires almost everyone to fall clearly on one side or the other, each passionate regarding their view. It's not a middle of the road type of issue. I too have an opinion and have taken a side. However, there is another quiet story behind the head lines that prays on my heart and mind.

The other story plays out in the same 72 bed Hospice facility. Yes, there are only 72 beds in this nursing home. To see the vigil outside this facility you would think there is only one patient. Each of those beds holds a terminally ill patient. A warm human being coming to the end of his or her life. Each is there because nothing further can be done for them medically. They are made comfortable and hopefully free of pain. All are just waiting. Their families are also waiting. Sitting with someone who is about to die is very difficult. I did it last summer with my own father. He wasn't going to get any better. Sitting next to his drug induced sleep just waiting for that last breath. Naturally it's sad but it's so much more. Emotions run high. Memories flood, the numbness and shock of it all can be overwhelming even when you know it's coming. Hospice is trained to aid not only the patient but the family as well. They do fabulously good things.

In this facility there are family quarters so that loved ones can stay near by. These people are all riding the emotional roller coaster of anxiety. Jumping when the phone rings. Afraid to leave the room.... even to sleep down the hall. Watching. Waiting. Draining the energy from within. Exhaustion is common. Your heart is broken. Sometimes the waiting seems endless.

I can't imagine how the other 71 patients and their families feel about the circus right outside what should be a quiet, peaceful place. I read about one. a 73 year old incurable cancer patient who's one last wish was not to die alone. His granddaughter was sleeping in the family quarters when she was called by his nurse to come quickly to his room Friday. Without thinking, she ran down the hall in her pajamas to be with him. She was stopped by security guards, who had seen her there before, this night demanded proof of her identity. In her haste, she had left her wallet in her room. She plead with the guards that her grandfather was dying right then and to please let her pass. The article I read says she shouted to Hospice employees to vouch for her and eventually she was allowed to pass. When she arrived at his room, it was a few minutes too late. Her grandfather's room was just two doors from that of the dying woman in the national spot light. This is one of the sad stories that the national media will not cover. My heart breaks for their sorrow and the additional stress they must now endure.

Do the protesters not care about these people and their feelings? How disrespectful to intrude in their lives at this time. I could go on but it would just be more words. The entire situation seems like a huge invasion of privacy to everyone inside that Hospice.



At 5:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

cuz, you are a dear dear.

At 12:33 PM, Blogger sttropezbutler said...

Thank for your thoughtful words. Hospice is really an amazing concept and one very necessary to ease the reality of death that comes to all of us. One must ask why the protestors remain in place. They have been asked to leave but yet for reasons, that from the outside, seem purely political, they remain. I have thought all along that aside from the obvious political aspects to this issue...the larger issue has to do with how we people in this country deal or more importantly, don't deal, with death. When the brother of TS says on national TV that TS is is pain and suffering he sends what message to all of those families who are dealing with he exact same situation. TS is simply on another journey, one we will all take, and one I hope for me will remain a personal and private journey. As it should for all those who face this reality in their life times.


Post a Comment

<< Home