Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Caring Stories: Celia Thompson Taupin
Bring comfort and care when it’s needed most
As Celia Thompson Taupin discovered in caring for her former husband, Jean, relieving pain is essential to living life in comfort and with dignity. Hospice of Santa Cruz County was there to help when help was needed most. Celia shares her story.
In his 91st year, my former husband Jean became progressively ill due to various health issues. In one six-month period, we took Jean to his internist, a pain doctor, a dentist, an optician, an audiologist, and a psychiatrist. We also made several long visits to the emergency room.
Jean’s biggest complaint was of severe back and leg pain. The doctors attributed the pain to degenerative arthritis and couldn’t offer anything that might help lessen his discomfort. We found his doctors impatient and dismissive and when they did refer Jean to a pain specialist, that doctor could not see him for several months.
Over the next few moths, Jean’s health continued to worsen and he began to lose his will to live. It was suggested that we involve Hospice. A Hospice nurse came out to evaluate him, and explain how hospice care worked. Weall agreed to the conditions of his becoming a hospice patient.
The Hospice staff gave us informed advice about Jean’s conditions. Karen, Jean’s caregiver, and I no longer had to frequently question whether or not to take him to the emergency room. Hospice provided him with necessary medications that gave him comfort, and they instructed us on how and when to safely use them. Once Jean had adequate pain relief, he stabilized and then actively improved. The peace of mind in simply knowing Hospice was available if he needed them added to his comfort level.
A Hospice nurse was able to talk with Jean in a way no other professional had before and she achieved a working alliance with him. She provided helpful suggestions to both Karen and myself about how we might best care for him. For Karen, having the ability to contact Hospice staff day or night was a great help. Frequently, Hospice professionals bathed Jean and assisted him with general personal care. Both of our assigned hospice aides provided excellent service and one of them was able to converse with Jean in his native French, which was both stimulating and reassuring to him.
Overall, the care that Hospice provided greatly reduced the anxiety we were all experiencing and greatly improved Jean’s general well being. Hospice not only greatly benefited Jean, it also transformed the care-giving experience for our family. In his last months, Jean achieved a level of acceptance and closeness to those around him, which was perhaps the greatest he had ever known.