Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Hospice at Home, Hospice at Work

We're setting up a home dog hospice. We've moved our bedroom downstairs so Sparkey no longer has to negotiate the staircase up to the second floor. Mary and I both bought ground beef today (we're vegetarians!) to cook for the old guy. I have IV fluids, needles, and tubing ready to roll for the morning treatment before I leave for work. His medication box is all set up, as it has been for many months now, and we are rearranging things in the house to make it safer and more comfortable for his wobbly self. Mary purchased a special sling which we use to support his hindquarters as we walk him. It takes two hands now---one for the leash and one for the sling. Last but not least, we consulted an "animal communicator" to see if we could glean from him his wishes and needs. Is it days? Weeks? A month?

A long telephone conversation this afternoon between myself and a hospice nurse sorted out some of the needs of my very ill patient vis-a-vis his comfort and treatment. Tube feedings, suction, a home health aide, symptom management, a pressure-relieving mattress---the wheels are turning and I will squeeze everything I can out of the system for his benefit. Dying can be so complicated these days, and my job is keep that ride as smooth as possible for all concerned.

Death and dying at home or at work---it's all the same. It's about love, comfort, compassion, and dignity. Canine or human, the goals are interchangeable, the methods differing slightly in delivery but never in spirit or intention.

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