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A Letter From The Heart

Dear Hospice Foundation of the Ozarks,
Below, you will find the words shared by a brokenhearted granddaughter of a precious lady many knew as Nana. I gave her that name 43 years ago; that is how the entire community knew her. Today marks my 23rd day without her. While this is still extremely raw and overwhelming, it would be lovely if I described my Nana in one word. With that, I feel that sharing her story could help
one person know the amazing support and love available through hospice; her love could somehow live and continue to flow to others.

Wednesday, January 31, 2024
I had the pleasure of meeting with Matt Day from Hospice Foundation of the Ozarks. We met for coffee at the Dancing Mule, where we would do the proverbial business development practice of sharing a bit about our line of business and what a good referral looks like in the community. In Matt’s discussion, he provided me with a “Welcome to Bucket List” folder full of information on
Hospice v. Palliative Care FAQs, information on Advance Directives, including the importance of a Power of Attorney for Health Care, and conversations to have before it is “too late”. While I appreciated Matt’s kind words and passion for educating and helping others, I in no way felt like it applied to my life. I would NEVER need HOSPICE -until 62 days later…

Tuesday, April 2, 2024
I got a call that my person, my partner in crime, someone I love with my whole heart, my Nana, was sick. I see her every weekend, we text most days, and talk a few times a week. Every week. For 43 years. On Saturday (three days prior), she was as good as I had seen her, playing with her pug Millie
and giving me a hard time. 72 hours later… she couldn’t get up. I carried her to my car, with her arm around my neck. After a roller coaster of a few days in the hospital I did not see improvement. She was responsive, but weak and struggling. My feisty, loving, stubborn, funny Nana, was indeed sick. I
explained that she lived alone with her pug, was full of sas, and that the woman they see lying in that bed at 81 with COPD, is NOT my Nana. Doctors assured me that with more medications we could turn the ship around. Nurses would follow the same instruction. The doctors continued to push meds, with the occasional question of if I wanted to move to a more “comfort care plan” (not understanding the implications of that either) and if she still wanted to “fight”. My Nana would respond, “well, of course I want to fight”, like it was the silliest question she had ever be asked.

She would struggle to breathe, and tell me it was hard to catch her breath, eventually leading to the
point that she could no longer speak, but look at me like a small child choking. The medical team assured me that we would continue more medications. Her heart started failing, the strain on her heart from her lungs was beginning to take a toll. The cardiac team came in and assured me that she was not going to die from this, and that with a couple of new meds they could regulate how the
heart pumped the blood and regulate her heart rate and blood pressure. Her response mimicked a heart attack, which at best, was incredibly difficult to watch, as she gasped, clutched her heart, all while being fully cognitively present. I knew in my heart that it wasn’t looking good, but I still had
hope.

There was one nurse, who took me aside to explain the “severity and reality” of the situation after her shift was over. She explained that she saw how close we were, and felt that I was not emotionally preparing myself for what was about to happen. I wasn’t sure if she was the crazy one, or if she was the only one giving me the truth. I would NEVER need HOSPICE until 62 days later…

Friday, April 5, 2025
Later I would learn, that nurse was the only one who told me the truth. I was scared. I called Matt at HFO, on his cell, super early in the morning, while he was on vacation! Matt answered his phone. I didn’t know what to ask, or what to do, and I certainly did not know my next step- but I didn’t have
to. He provided solid information and resources. I was able to create a game plan. I was able to call family, ask my Nana who she wanted to see, and have the most raw and real conversations with her that I have ever felt in my life. I knew that she was dying. She promised she was going to get better,
that she always does. She didn’t. I would NEVER need HOSPICE until 62 days later…

After that, everything moved super-fast. I will spare you all of the details, but they were fast and furious. They were emotional. They were unexpected. They were the most painful conversations I have ever had in my entire life. They were so bitter and so very sweet all at the same time. Mentally, I went back to the “Welcome to Bucket List”, now, the terms of hospice and palliative care were real.
The significance of a Power of Attorney for Health Care was in my face. I was her POA. My decisions impacted her life and her death. They do not explain to you what being a POA really means. It means what you were told to do may change, and what they wanted may not be an option. It means that decisions made in their life rests on you. Because of my coffee with Matt 62 days prior, I had knowledge about services that might be able to help us.

A lot can happen in 62 days. The impact you can have on someone today WILL impact them later, even if they can’t see it today. I am glad that people like Matt know those odds and still get up each morning despite those facts, spreading love and education about the end of life. It allowed me to have special moments with my Nana that I would not have had. It helped me to have an entire
support team who was patient and kind with me to explain every process and guide every decision until my POA shift ended on April 14th at 10:09 pm.

Simply put, when my Nana first heard of Hospice (after they left our room of course) she told me that the sound of the word hospice was “terrifying”. I have never heard her use that word. Ever. The SOUND of the word HOSPICE was TERRIFYING. Once she learned about all that they do, she was
so surprised. Honestly, we should have utilized their services a couple of years prior, but we didn’t understand. No one told us, with her diagnosis, that was an option for us.

Now, 23 days after her passing, the SOUND of the word HOSPICE is much of the only PEACE that I have right now. It was the absolute best thing that we could have done. They were wonderful to my Nana, but honestly, I cannot imagine traveling this long albeit short road without them.

Thank you for allowing me to share our story. It brings both heartache and peace.

Thank you for all that you do, so as we grieve we are not filled with regrets but peace. You made a difference in our lives and gave us treasured moments we might not have otherwise had.

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