Moments that Matter

November is National Hospice Month. Throughout the year, many families share, in their own words, their unique “hospice story.”
The following reflection describes the experiences and emotions the Casper family has encountered throughout 2016.

One of the best pieces of advice given to our family after my dad, Bob Casper, 80, was diagnosed with ALS was to meet with Hospice of Dubuque before we actually needed their services. We did just that, and meeting well ahead of time with Dad’s future caregivers answered a lot of questions and immediately put our family at ease. When the time finally came months later to ask for their help, the step was a welcome transition rather than something to fear or dread.

We’ve all been fortunate that Dad continues to exceed his doctor’s expectations. A year ago, his physician told us there was a good chance he would be in a wheelchair by Christmas as well as having serious trouble eating and speaking. As I write this today, Dad is not only still living at home, but attending his weekly Rotary meeting and going out to eat with friends. Of course this can only be accomplished with the help of his walker, portable oxygen, as well as a BiPap afternoon nap. As many families who are in similar situations find out, as each new obstacle presents itself, we find the best solution and simply add it to our list of “things-to-do” before going out, going to bed, preparing meals, etc. Somehow it all works out eventually.

Finding those solutions isn’t always easy, and that’s when our regular meetings with our Hospice Nurse, Allison, and Hospice Social Worker, Nichole, really come into play. We’ve been impressed with them as they have gotten to know us and have laid out some of the basics of the situations we would be dealing with and how we could handle them. Since then we can’t say enough about how knowledgeable they are with Dad’s particular disease, the BiPap and understanding all his various medications. If they don’t know the answer to a question, they know where to find it. The same can be said anytime we need any new equipment, prescriptions filled, or for hospice to communicate with Dad’s various doctors. Simply having Allison perform the weekly task of “doing his meds” is a tremendous help.

Allison and Nichole have come to know Dad quite personally and this certainly helps when we need to discuss tough situations in a straightforward manner. Nearly every day my mom and I wonder how we could even manage everything we are doing without the help from Hospice of Dubuque. Two of the most welcome additions were Hospice Aide, Stacy, and Massage Therapist, Jessica. Personal hygiene is a pretty big deal to Dad and Stacy comes in to give his regular showers with a big smile on her face and an attitude to match. Dad also appreciates the way Jessica is able to customize his massage sessions, right down to the background music. Once Dad found out that Jessica was also a big fan of old-time music, they have enjoyed many sessions listening to his favorite group, The Fever River String Band.

Looking back at what we felt was going to be an absolutely horrible year, we now have to say, “Ya know what, we aren’t doing too bad.” We’re still going out and doing many of his favorite things: walks and dinner at the Desoto House in Galena, pontoon boat trips on the river, utilizing our membership at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, occasional trips to the stock car races (he is on the Wall of Fame at Farley!), events at University of Dubuque, the Farmer’s Market, and of course my favorite, fishing off the bridge in New Diggings, the same creek Dad fished in as a kid. From my family to Hospice of Dubuque and everyone who has shown so much incredible kindness, thank you for getting us through 2016!

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1670 JFK Road
Dubuque, IA 52002

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