When I first saw this book Peaceful Passage by Kim West, PhD. I was a little hesitant about reading it. This book is a resource book for those who might be a caregiver for a family member or anyone who is terminally ill and hospice is their next stop. Why hesitant about reading it? Almost to the day in August, 2005, I was being challenged with being my father’s caregiver upon his return from a month-long hospital stay where we almost lost him. One of his resident Doctors was actually standing in the hall crying after they had to ask us how far we wanted them to go to keep him alive. He had a do not resuscitate wish but he had not come to that point but had aspirated and was in great respiratory trouble. After being on full-time CPAP with oxygen and many breathing treatments for the emphysema/black lung he’d been suffering with now for so many years he once again proved the Dr’s wrong and came back from deaths door. My Mother and we had heard the 6 month speech several times but this time we were faced with a choice of nursing home, which we knew my Father could not handle, to hospice at home. My Father could not make any decisions at all for himself and was basically hanging on a thread kept alive by oxygen. My Mother was very frightened and angry at the same time upon hearing the word Hospice. At that time she was 75 and my Dad was 76. She had her own diabetes and very little sight to deal with and I could tell she was scared she would not be able to take care of him. After reassuring her that the reason I had taken FMLA was just this she finally agreed to hospice. All of our lives changed from that point. We were facing something we knew nothing about. Before they sent Dad home in an ambulance in a condition we thought might just be days many people started showing up at our house. The first hurdle I had was learning to work several oxygen tanks that were almost taller than me and the CPAP machine. The reps from the company were very helpful but I didn’t know if my tired brain could comprehend it all and the thought of my Dad’s minute to minute life being in my hands was very frightening. We then had someone show up to teach us how to change the sheets on his hospital bed with him in it and how to change his diapers which was very humbling for both of us. My older sister helped me set up a bookcase with all of his meds and a system to move the meds so I would know I had given them to him along with supplies such as bed pads, diapers, hospital gowns, sheets, etc. Nurses would come out every other day and check him out along with people who came and bathed him. These people became an extension of our family and my Mother and I leaned on them greatly after my other siblings had to return to their lives and I took over for what would become the next four months. I came up with my own lists and inventory managing and had to log what he ate everyday to report to the hospice people whom I wanted to make sure I was doing the best I could do. We went from giving Dad food and meds in the corner of his mouth with a dropper to a fairly miraculous return by Dad to life but not as he once knew it. He knew what was ahead.
Hospice gave us a book about the signs of the body breaking down but everyone was hesitant or too upset to read it. With the help of God I knew day by day why Dad was given a chance to come home to die. He and I had never had that much time together in life because of his hard-working and now he was here in this hospital bed he could not leave. There were some frantic times with Dad having panic attacks and me hoping I was turning the oxygen up fast and high enough up but he began to relax some and when he saw I was capable to handle he became pretty secure with it. It truly ended up to be a healing time for me and my Father as we watched TV together, laughed rather embarrassingly about the diaper changes although he was so humble and trusting about. We were able to enjoy that time in that moment and were also able to discuss his eternity which he had never discussed much at all in his life. I thank God all the time for this experience and how He held me up physically and emotionally through those months. You might ask, “What does this all have to do with this book review?”
Well, if you have older parents or family members who are suffering terminal illness I strongly urge you to get this book NOW and to go ahead and read it NOW so some of the things I had to face head on within a couple of hours you can be ready for so you won’t be more overwhelmed than you already will be at this time.Everything I had to face in a panic-stricken way is discussed in this book such as basic care and handling of the meds, a very good run down of the things that hospice will be responsible for, as well as what can be done for you when you get weary and you will. Some advice from someone who is strong-willed and thinks they can do it all is this– don’t. Don’t take the superwoman/man role or you may not be able to be there for them when things come to them that they might want to say or discuss. Even if I had this book to read during those many hours I sat there listening to his oxygen machine it would have been a very big encouragement to me. I have even been comforted by reading it now cause I have still questioned myself through these last years that I did all I could do. The help she gives in this book is priceless. It is a book that you want by your side at all times when finding yourself as the main caregiver. I especially enjoyed her journal at the end of the book about her experience with her Mother. It once again was a confirmation to me that I had done the right thing and had done my best not only for my Father but for my Mother. Her physical limitations would not have allowed her to take care of my Dad but with hospice and all the team members she was allowed to live Dad’s last days of their 50 year marriage with him at home looking out their favorite windows to the peaceful surroundings of country living–the fruits of their labor. Once again I urge you to get this book for yourself or others you know who might be suddenly faced with an end life care giving mission as well as Hospice workers. It will take a lot of the scariness and questioned confidence out of a situation none of us want to have. If confronted with this again I would first go to God and then to this book.
- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: New Heart Publishing; 1st edition (September 10, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0984052666
- ISBN-13: 978-0984052660
You can find Karen West’s website at Peaceful Passage.
I received a free copy of this book/Ebook/Product to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of The CWA Review Crew.