Every patient has a story...

"What I have now is Inner Peace" - Sandy Gleason

On October 11, 2017, 51-year-old Sandy Gleason spoke about her experiences as a hospice patient at a fundraising luncheon for Regional Hospice and Palliative Care (RHPC).  Below are her remarks:

“Thirty-four years ago, I was diagnosed with Insulin-Dependent Diabetes.  Because of complications related to this illness, I am now in Stage 4 Heart Disease and Stage 4 Kidney Failure.

Having chronic illnesses required me to see specialists every 3 months.  I became a professional patient: constantly having blood draws, tests and procedures done.  With each doctor’s appointment came more bad news that would beat my spirit down.

I am very clear on what I want and do not want.  I am not interested in transplants because, for me, it would be trading one chronic lifestyle for another… and I am done.

 

Why I Chose Hospice

My decision to go onto hospice care came after I had an adverse reaction to a medication.  I was taken to the Emergency Room, where

they determined I had a heart attack, and I was admitted to the ICU.

The next morning, the cardiologist told me that I needed another procedure. I said, “absolutely not, last time I almost died.”  He said that if I had another event like this, I would die.  I replied, “Then I’ll die.”

The doctor, challenging me, said “well then you better go home and call hospice.” And I replied, “good, then I’ll go home and call hospice.”

 

From Crying to Breathing

I went home and called my general practitioner, crying, telling him that I wanted to go on hospice care.

The next day, Regional Hospice came to our home. The nurse and social worker were so compassionate and patient as we completed all the paperwork.  They made sure that they answered all our questions and that we were comfortable. They told us that we could call at any time if we needed to. We really felt they cared. I felt like I could breathe.

 

As a patient in Hospice, I felt like I was walking from darkness through a door into the light.

I am blessed to have extraordinary people care for me, my husband and even our beautiful dog Puddin.  I swear that my nurse, Chris, is an Earth Angel.  She is 100% present with me during our visits. If I have a question about dying, or my conditions, she answers thoroughly, with loving kindness.  I feel I can t

Sandy (Left) with her hospice nurse, Chris Mastropietro (Right)

ruly talk with Chris about anything; that’s how openhearted I feel our relationship is.  She is the most compassionate nurse I have ever been blessed with!  Anne-Marie is my social worker.  She is so resourceful, genuinely concerned and very compassionate.

It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that, at any time, if my husband needs to talk, the team also supports him and meets with him separately, as Anne-Marie and Sam the Spiritual Care Manager have done.  The volunteers are exceptional, they are so goodhearted and thoughtful.  President & CEO Cynthia Roy is truly a gift from God.  She is in service continuously for all of us who are blessed to be cared for by RHPC.  I am so honored when she comes to visit me. I love her energy and it is a joy to be in her presence.

 

My husband and friends comment on how happy I am now. They haven’t seen me this happy in years.

This is because Regional Hospice has given me my quality of life back.  If I am in any kind of distress I know I can call Hospice any time day or night. That is a huge blessing that I am so grateful for.

Now I have morphine and other medications within reach when I have heart pain or if I can’t breathe. Having that relief is so reassuring, especially when I am alone and my husband is at work.  He knows that I have medicine to alleviate any pain and discomfort, which helps to give him peace of mind.

 

My days are loaded with more diamonds than lumps of coal.

Last December, I was too sick to cook a Christmas dinner.  RHPC arranged for a volunteer to deliver us a Christmas dinner from a favorite restaurant, donated by a local charity, Newtown Kindness.  My husband and I were so deeply touched and so grateful. This is a beautiful memory we still talk about today.  This is just one example of the loving kindness that hospice does to enhance our lives.

 

What I have and experience now is inner peace.  That is priceless; no one can buy that anywhere!

I know many people hear hospice and think a person is lying in bed, on morphine, close to death. This is a misconception.  There are many people on hospice doing things that are fulfilling to them.

They are still enjoying their hobbies and families.  Some people are still working.  Others may be in hospice, feel better, leave the program and if they need to come back, they call.  As my body allows me to, in terms of energy, I can sometimes go out for lunch or visit with volunteers.

What I know for sure I am living joyfully and I am eternally grateful for hospice.  Thank you for letting me share my story.”

 

Sandy died on December 28, 2017 at the Center for Comfort Care and Healing after receiving hospice services for many months at home.