Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hospice Hitwoman and the C.Y.A.: Part 2

(This is the second part of a two-part Adventure. To access the first part of the story, please click here.)

This has gone beyond the pale. I take a look at Mrs. C. and Marcy. They look almost frozen in time; mouths slightly open, eyes unblinking. I can't tell if they're in shock over Bob's outburst or anxiously awaiting my answer:

"Bob, I'm not killing anyone for you. I'm not a murderer."

I can't help it. I'm taking this personally and it's pissing me off. What in the name of God makes him think that I'm capable of murder?

Is it because I look like this?

Bob's demeanor changes instantly... His anger and desperation have crumbled into nervous back-peddling. He's said far too much and he knows it:

"Oh God, no really. I didn't mean that... it's just that we're... we can't..."

Oh God, I think I really want to leave this house right now..."Okay, let's just put an end to this subject", I say. "You know that Raymond's time is coming very soon and that I've told you that he appears to be comfortable. Please just try to stay as calm as possible for Ray and just give me a call if he passes on."

Returning to the quiet of my car, I decide to call my supervisor and "cover my ass". I tell Kathy as much as I can remember about this disturbing visit and then head for home. I don't get very far at all. Less than twenty minutes has passed before the answering service tells me that Mr. C. has died. I turn the car around and head back. Crap...

It's like a different house. The place is buzzing with friends and neighbors and the grieving family is happily soaking up all the attention. This is good. I'm able to keep the family informed and then fade into the background. After the funeral home leaves, I say goodbye to Mrs. C., update my supervisor and continue with the rest of my shift.

The next day...

I get report before the start of shift from my supervisor. Just before I hang up the phone, Kathy says, "Oh, by the way, there was a complaint from Mr. C's family today."

"Really? What was wrong?"

"They said that a hospice nurse never showed up at the house when they called last night", answers Kathy with a little chuckle.

Wow, wow, wow... See? It does pay to CYA.


Kit Courteney said...

About time, madam!

Gail Rae said...

You know, I think the lack of memory in death scenarios may be typical. Despite my journal entries (thank the gods that I made them), although I intellectually know that, over the last few days of my mother's life, we hosted a few hospice nurse visits, I have no memory of those that took place (the reason for them was distress, just like with the C's, my mother's and/or mine). I can't even visualize the nurses who visited and am not sure how many we hosted. I also know that I called hospice relentlessly the last few hours of my mother's life but if I didn't have the journal details upon which to rely, I wouldn't be able to tell you the substance of those phone calls.
I have a clear memory of the nurse who arrived immediately after Mom's death, but I'd be hard pressed to repeat any of our conversation if I couldn't look it up in my journals and I can't remember her name.
I guess the possibility and fact of death override any semblance of normal think-and-file activities.
I was so pleased to read the resolution to this episode...I'd been waiting for it!

soulsoprano said...

Is anyone else thinking what I'm thinking? I mean, it's a blatantly obvious assumption, given the circumstances...twenty minutes seems like an AWFULLY short time span in between when you left the first time, and when you returned after the death call...doesn't it? Anybody?

Peter said...

Hi! Looks like sweet Jesus, Mary and Joseph took pity on Mr. C. God rest his soul!

Take Care,

Gail Rae said...

I get what you're thinking, soulsoprano, although it didn't occur to me at the time I read the last installment of this serial. Even though the circumstances could suggest your scenario I know why I didn't think of it. My reason may relate to why it may not have happened:
When my mother was dying she was in much the same state as Mr. C, although somewhat more uncomfortable. The last time I was on the phone with Hospice regarding her condition was 20 minutes before she died. At that point I wasn't convinced she was dying for sure, although I privately suspected it, and Hospice thought that she would very likely be alive well into the morning and, perhaps, beyond (and, believe me, I was very detailed in describing her evolving condition to them and had talked to them frequently, almost constantly, in fact, throughout her last night) and was making plans to arrive with more equipment and a small cadre of professionals about an hour and a half after I last talked to them. Then, 20 minutes after my last phone call to Hospice, without any change in her condition throughout her last 20 minutes, she was dead. Just like that. One minute she was breathing. The next, she wasn't. So, although I understand your suspicions, I also understand, having experienced it, how Mr. C could have died on his own, seemingly unexpectedly, 20 minutes after Dethmama left the house.

Jessica Knapp said...

Wow! You handled this with such professionalism. I hope, when I need a hospice nurse, I get one like you.

I know this exact stress you're describing in the family members. I have seen this, where it becomes all about ending the situation for them and not about doing the right thing for the patient. It's frustrating.

As usual though, you tell the story well. Thanks for sharing it.

Shauna said...

Dearest Angel,

As a past hospice nurse, (and the love of my life in nursing, my true calling with my mom on one shoulder and dad on the other, both Hospice patients), I have yet to even read any other post in your blog but was moved to comment on this entry. btw, I found you on Blog Catalog, your blog was on the side of mine as 'related blogs'...hmmm and I don't really post anymore bout that...oh well, I found you and I am more than excited!!!

To hear the call that came from the family the next day, I was expecting a 'thank you and how great it was to have the same nurse show back up 20 minutes later.' See, WE know when the time is near. The family doesn't, and they refuse to believe it is so so near no matter what we say!!

I am actually surprised that the family took the time to even call and say anything the very next day. Usually their minds are on so many other things. Bit didn't YOU call the coroner? didn't YOU get the body ready for the coroners arrival? Didn't YOU dispose of the meds? YOU did many things that I know the family doesn't even notice. But to call and say that no nurse even showed up for the death call is very odd to me. I know the families mind is on so many other things....just pretty freaky that NONE of the family or friends remembered your return to the home 20 minutes later....

Oh well, so goes the life of 'us' Hospice Nurses,

Will be reading the rest of your blog, and much love and angel hugs to you, for we are very special people to do that job, you know that!!
Shauna <3

dethmama said...

@ soulsoprano and Gail Rae... Indeed, the timing of Mr. C's death could be seen as suspicious, but I never really entertained that thought that night. My gut told me that his family didn't have the nerve to carry it out... Otherwise, they wouldn't have asked me to do it for them.