A severe deterioration had been expected within days of their arrival. A review of their medical records pointed towards a poor prognosis. There didn’t seem to be much time left. We tried our best to prepare the patients and their families for imminent death. A few days passed and none of them died. Maybe it was good control of their symptoms. It could’ve been the less stressful environment of the hospice inpatient unit. Was it access to fresh air? The better food? Flexible visiting hours and the ability for family members to stay overnight in relative comfort. Something kept them alive. None of them wanted to die. They all had too much to live for.
Different origin stories. Different walks of life. Different family relationships. Different husbands. Same hospice. Same time. Same staff looking after them.
Deteriorations happened and somehow they recovered. Again and again, they kept beating the odds. Staying alive in a mostly comfortable state. Their loved ones were along for the roller-coaster ride with seatbelts off.
Worsening symptoms required changes to medications. Their worsening overall condition led to discomfort and uncertainty. Was this the start of the final deterioration? Had their bodies decided which path to take? Which destination to go for? How much time was left?
We didn’t know the answers to the questions posed. We had no way of predicting what would happen. Instead, we would monitor their progress over time. Give them time to declare themselves. We would continue caring for them no matter what happened.