By Becca Harber
I spent two months with my mom in Colorado before she died from advanced cancer at the end of last year. I’d never been a daily caregiver, never witnessed, day by day, anyone dying, never been with someone at the moment of death or ever had anything serious about which to negotiate with my sister and brother. I learned a lot, including in retrospect, as a caregiver who had no mentors or personal guidance about taking care of myself in relation to my mom or our relationship in the limited time that existed. I’m deeply grateful that Mom, at 84 and with tumors in 80 percent of her liver, chose to live what was left of life without medical cancer treatment, life support or hospital time, instead, signing into the local hospice’s services, which offered enormous support at home and a final six days in Boulder/Lafayette’s Hospice Care center.
Mom only learned she had cancer at September’s end, and by December’s, she was dead. She only felt sick for 35 days. I arrived in early November, when she didn’t feel or look sick, to stay with and support her. We attended an “End of Life Advanced Directives” workshop at Hospice Care that first weekend. This was crucial regarding what happened later. We learned about medical life supports that most terminally ill people receive and their actual impacts. Did you know that of everyone, frail, robust, young or old, that receives in-hospital CPR, only 15.2 percent survive, including people who are left brain dead or damaged? If frail, with multiple health problems or terminally ill, only 2 percent survive. As the presenting nurse said, “Usually you’re in the ER, spread-eagled, naked, with about 15 people nearby while you receive convulsive electric shocks. I’m not going to go like that.” Neither was my mom. The nurse also explained that when someone is dying, they typically lose appetite, then lose interest in food, and eventually water, because the body is shutting down. IVs for feeding/water tend to make dying people bloat and feel more uncomfortable, because they can’t process those substances any more, sometimes bringing death sooner.
By Luka Starmer,
Amanda David is one of GreenStar’s coolest members. She is vivacious and always laughing — positive vibes emanate in a ripple effect, her compassionate heart at the center. Pair those traits with her green thumb and anyone can see the conduciveness of her chosen life path. She’s the magician behind Rootwork Herbals, a line of herbal medicines and remedies sold at GreenStar.
In her words, the principal aim of her business is “to continue serving the local community by providing quality herbal remedies that give folks a more sustainable option for their health care needs, and to continue honoring plants by lovingly tending, harvesting and creating good medicine with them.” She does just that.
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