Letters to the Editor

Palliative issues

I have been following the issue of palliative beds in Oceanside and feel some aspects are not understood.

Dr. Haslett had a seminar recently, and did a poll of the audience. The vast majority wanted to die in their home peacefully, but when asked how they wanted their loved ones to die, it was in a facility (palliative care). The key here is the word “peacefully.” There are two ways of passing on, one is in your sleep — by a heart attack, stroke or accident, that is, immediately without much warning — the other is from complications needing medical assistance.

I have personally been in the latter situation twice. Once I became septic, was in hospital for five months, and then at home with a feeding tube. Once out of the hospital I was more or less on my own, hooking up to the feeding tube, ordering the special liquid food, all with very little assistance (I was single, with no local family). Hospice came once, but all they could give was encouragement. Fortunately, I was a responsible and otherwise able person, relatively young at the time (66). I should have had a nurse visit once a day at the least, to make sure I was doing the right things.

The other time was the passing of my wife from cancer. I was the caregiver, and the idea was to die at home “peacefully.” I can tell you there comes a time when the single caregiver cannot handle the situation — administering drugs, lifting a dead weight out of bed, enemas, cleaning up.

For locals, this means calling an ambulance when help is needed, following in your car (some have to take two buses) to the far-away hospital. And repeating this day after day when one is already exhausted. Quite often this is repeated several times before the last week comes. Is this what you want as your last experience in life for yourself, or your loved ones? Ask this question of the bureaucrats and politicians that are there to help you.

I read that, in this case, we can have much better service at less cost. So what is the problem these last many years?

Fred Dowe

Qualicum Beach

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