macmillianAs an oncology nurse at Wilcox Hospital in Lihue, I think I used to be an outsider looking in. I frequently referred patients and families to Kaua`i Hospice when they were ready to make the transition to comfort care, rather than curative care. When my Mom was diagnosed with cancer and it was time to call Hospice, all that changed. As an oncology nurse, it wasn’t uncommon for my patients to choose the Hospice path, and I was able to refer them to Kauai Hospice to help the family get ready for death. But all of a sudden, the shoe was on the other foot, and I was making that call for my own Mom. I was no longer the outsider looking in but the insider looking out.

What I experienced is hard to put into words. Let me start by saying the entire staff went above and beyond the call of duty for my Mom and our family. I was able to be the daughter and not the nurse. We were all prepared for her death and she died peacefully with my father holding her hand and all of us around her bedside while she took her last breath. I was able to be a part of something Divine and will carry that with me forever. Thank you so much for that gift! During one of my treasured “talks,” my Mom commented that when she gets to Heaven, she “sure hopes it isn’t as crowded as Costco.”

I know this experience has helped me look at that last phase of our lives differently. I am now an insider and I can share with my patients and their families that it doesn’t mean we’re giving up, but preparing for what’s yet to come. I feel so many families and the doctors sometimes wait too long to talk about the “H” word and I think they miss out on the divine experience of truly being there for their loved ones at that last moment. Kaua`i Hospice can to so much more to help the patients and families sooner, rather than later.

Mickey Macmillian, RN