At 4:27am July 5th, our family lost a great mentor, father, father-in-law, husband, grandfather and friend. My post isn’t about mourning the loss, that’s a very private thing for me.
This post is about some things I learned that I never knew about before my father-in-law’s very short battle with cancer.
During the process of his care, I learned some things that I think are of the utmost importance to be shared with the masses.
1) Never assume your loved ones will get the attention they need. Stay on top of the daily activity and fight for their needs. If you don’t they will fall to the bottom of the list, especially as they age.
2) If your parents are older, go with them to the physician if they are diagnosed with cancer. Ask ALL of the most critical questions regarding quality of life with and without treatment.
3) Do your research regarding home care to determine what is best for the patient AND the family.
As I sit here writing this post, I think of the most helpful people of our entire journey. No offense to my friends who are nurses.
These people are called “sitters” at least in our area. They come in 4 hour shifts to help the family do things for their loved ones. They bathe them, change the bedding, clothing, etc. They launder the sheets and will voluntarily do any light cleaning you may need them to do as well. People even in illness have a great deal of dignity, having someone other than a family member to “change them” means much more than you can imagine.
As I sat through the last days and nights with my father-in-law, I realized that these unsung hero’s were the most compassionate and caring people I’d had the pleasure of meeting through this entire process.
I also thought of the people out there who are sick and have no family, or those who do not have the means to hire a service like this to help.
Moving forward in my life, I will give this service as a gift when I can. I cannot imagine how much more difficult this process would have been if it had only been the four of us that stayed with my father-in-law day in and day out without those wonderful people. They came in shifts that we chose to split up by four-hour shifts we took ourselves. If was relieving to be able to step into another room and not leave him alone.
At first we were concerned about “strangers in the house” etc., phfffttt. Looking back we absolutely were blessed, grateful, and relieved by their sincere compassion and help.
One would say with cynicism “well you paid for a service” and my sharp retort would be “we paid for medical care that was not even mediocre at best” during our hospital stay and rehab stay.
These are very special people and grossly unsung hero’s. Do your research, find a company that someone can recommend to you. Give a shift or even better give a week. Your gift will be far greater than anything you can imagine.