The final diagnosis came on May 25th. It was liver cancer, and I had four to eight months to live. I was okay with that because I have advancing COPD. I didn’t know how long the process would be, so I made the decision with my family to the contact Our Lady of Peace and enter hospice.”Patrick King
These are the words of Patrick King. Patrick is receiving hospice care in his St. Paul apartment from a team of caregivers that he now calls friends. Patrick says his quality of life is higher now. “I decided that I didn’t want treatment, so once I realized I was within the six-month hospice time period, I decided to go for the gold.”
For Patrick, gold comes in the form of a compassionate nurse, nursing assistant, chaplain, Healing Touch practitioner, and a social worker named Nikki Hauf who makes sure his care is seamless. “Nikki keeps the trains running on time,” he says. “Every Monday, a wonderful person. comes in and does Healing Touch. I’m very much in tune with chakra work, and it’s remarkable. Then on Tuesdays, Laura comes in and does the usual medical stuff like taking my vitals and asks me for a report on how I’ve been doing this week. There are so many other things she does, including taking out my trash.” Patrick recently said to Laura, “You’re not just my nurse, you’re my friend.” She replied, “The feeling is mutual.”
Patrick is also grateful for his nursing assistant, Katie. “She’s a wonderful young woman who comes in on Wednesdays and helps me with my shower and puts stuff away when I’m done. With Katie’s help, I’m able to complete the task in about 25 minutes instead of an hour.”
Nikki says there are several advantages to entering hospice as soon as you are eligible. “When care is provided, it frees up time for other things, like family and friends, and estate planning. We come in once a week, maybe for an hour, depending on the visit and what the person’s needs are. A big part of what I do as a hospice social worker is working with a family member to determine additional caregivers from within the patient’s inner circle.”
Nikki also listens to understand where people are in their end-of-life journey. Are they on board and ready for everything, or are they frightened about what’s to come. “Our job is to walk alongside them, or behind and follow their lead,” she explains. “Because Patrick entered hospice as soon as he was eligible, he was in a place where he was feeling well enough to talk about his day to day, and his history, so we were able to get to know each other a bit more and create a relationship. We have a lot of fun together and we laugh, even when we’re having serious conversations.”
Patrick noted, “I’ve got a lot of wonderful support out there, but without the tangible support from the hospice team, I don’t know where I would be. And when it’s time for me to move to the Our Lady of Peace Hospice residence, the transition is going to be a little bit easier.” Patrick adds, “I did not expect to forge incredibly satisfying personal relationships in hospice. Relationships have been a priority my entire life, and they are a gift. Hospice is a gift. It’s grace.
Patrick shares his hospice story within a video on the OLP website. We invite you to watch it here.