Obviously the last several months have been a stressful time for our family.
Ever since my father became very tired last April, I knew something was very wrong. At first, we hoped that it was something minor and something that could be corrected. However, after his first transfusion during the early summer, I knew the seriousness of the situation.
The diagnosis of leukemia confirmed our fears; the onset of fungal pnemonia heightened our nightmare. At that point we knew it was only a matter of time. Someone of 85 years of age just can’t bounce back from that.
Dad really started to go downhill after beginning the chemo treatment at Hopkins. His immune system was completely gone.
Watching your loved one slowly become weak and frail is a terrible sight. He stopped eating and just sat in his chair, doing what he could to get comfortable. He had problems walking.
We knew at one point, his blood levels would reach the point that he would be hospitalized.
Then came the family meeting with the staff at Hopkins when we were told he only had a few days, a week, or maybe two weeks to live.
We scrambled to do the best we could for him. We were not prepared for what laid ahead. Hopkins did not prepare us, nor did the medical supply company, nor did Hospice. It was like the door opened at Hopkins and he was kicked to the street. The medical providers could have done a lot better; rather than they did nothing at all. Absolutely, nothing at all. There was no training, or little training. Nora and I have talked about this over and over. When you are sent home to die, sadly that’s it. A simple 10 page brochure would have helped; or a DVD, or VHS tape explaining what to do and how to make someone comfortable would have helped. But yet, a two hour crash course at the hospital would have certainly helped. Simple things like how to adjust a person in bed, how to roll them to avoid bed sores – anything would have helped. But nothing was offered. You are thrown out in the street to fend for yourself and your loved one. What a nightmare.
One thing Nora and I would like to do is to put together something that would help others who are placed in the same position we were. While we had serious problems with the Hopkins doctor, the medical supply people, and (in the beginning) Hospice; we’re not looking at any lawsuits. Rather we’d like to see people educated with what to expect if this happens to them. Throwing a person on the street to die, not preparing the family properly, and the general lack of concern & respect afforded to someone during their last days is just horrible. We intend to write a letter to Hopkins, Apria (medical supply company), and Hospice about the situation.
While it will, to a certain extent be accusatory, it will only be so in an effect to state the facts of the situation. The main purpose will be to lay out the events as they unfolded in an effort to educate these companies and organization on what we saw from the receiving end. The only person I would really like to see properly dealt with was the first Hospice nurse. Copies of our letters and any responses will definately be posted on this website.
During the last several weeks I focused entirely on the caring and comfort for my Dad. I made sure this was my primary objective. I did my best, through the help of many family and friends.
Even after Dad passed, I did my best to stay strong and focus on his Masonic Memorial Service and what needed to be done. I fought back my own pain and tried to give everyone else what they needed.
Nora and I decided to sell the house in West Virginia about a month ago. This really had nothing to do with my Dad’s condition. We’ve decided that it was time to take our profits from our investment and to move on to something else. We both like to travel, but with two homes and two mortgages (plus double everything that goes with home ownership), we just didn’t have the extra income needed to be able to take nice trips and travel. However, over the last month or so, I now realize that I had turned my attention to getting the house ready and up for sale. Thankfully, Nora pointed out to me that I was acting too quickly, jumping (as I’ve done in the past), into another huge project and undertaking. It was my way of trying to move on quickly and not deal with the issue at hand. I realized this yesterday. We’ve all seen shows and movies about someone diving headlong into something after the death of a loved one; surpressing the mourning process. This is exactly what I was doing and I’m thankful to my wife for pointing out to me that I was doing exactly that.
I need time to cope with the situation, mourning my father’s death, and attend to the needs of my Mom and myself. That is what I intend to do.
Therefore, we have put the sale of the house in West Virginia on hold until after the first of the year, possibly until the spring. We’re going to slowly work on getting the house ready and decided what furnishings are going to stay and what we are going to remove.
I’m also going to take the time to just relax without jumping into any big projects. I need time to reflect on everything. I’ll also probably take some time to return to bible study. This is something I enjoy doing and it certainly is a good time to let the words and verses of the bible speak to my heart. I’ve never been much of a person for ‘organized’ religion. I generally prefer to spent time by myself studying the bible and doing private prayer and reflection.
I will continue to assist Bob with the Orrell Family Genealogy blog. Genealogy has always been my first passion, and while I might put on hold some of the projects currently underway, I will still continue to do small things.
As the end of the year approaches, it is time for me to put together my ‘Selected Writings’ booklet that I generally send out. I definately intend to do that again this year.
I’m also going to write another booklet called ‘Remembering – Reverdy Lewin Orrell, Jr. – A Man Who Lived & Died With Grace & Dignity.’ I’d like to complete that and send out with the ‘Selected Writings’. I can wait a good month before I begin work on both of those books. Perhaps the ‘Remembering’ book will come at a later date; however, as all of the writings in the ‘Selected Writings’ booklet are done, it should only take a weekend to prepare the master copy.
I’ve decided to take a break from the blog and other writings for an undetermined length of time. This blog will remain silent until I am ready to return. My father loved everything I wrote. He loved the editorial cartoons I posted. He wouldn’t want me to abandon the website or blog. I won’t do that. However, until further notice this blog will be silent.
My time of reflection and healing has begun, out of my needs and out of respect to my father.