Choosing Hospice Doesn't Mean You Are Giving Up
The story of William T. (Bill) and Susan Gassaway
Choosing Hospice doesn't mean you are giving up... it means you've taken control over how you want to spend the rest of your life
“The heart and lung doctors told my husband, Bill, ‘there is nothing more we can do,’” said Susan. "Bill, who had fought through four rounds of pneumonia and a heart attack, had a virus which paralyzed half his lungs and congenitally small heart valves which made by-pass and stints impossible to do. Bill, ever the planner, asked the doctors if he had 10 years. No. Five years? No. Two years? No. Bill stopped asking.”
Susan was friends with Bill and his previous wife. After her passing, Bill and Susan would spend time together helping each other as only widowers can. After awhile Bill asked Susan what her children would think of them dating. Susan’s response was “We are dating!” It wasn’t long after that they were married and settled into life in west Texas.
“After the doctors told Bill to start working on his bucket list, we moved to Montana. Bill went there after his stint in the Korean War and loved it,” said Susan. “Bill wanted to fish, hunt, and pan for gold. Unfortunately the bitter winters were hard on him and we only stayed there two years.”
In 2013, they settled in Rush Springs where Bill had a “bucket” list of projects to be done. “Bill felt the economy was going to get worse so he wanted to make sure I would be able to take care of myself,” said Susan. This included planting a large garden, raising farm animals and putting in a tornado shelter – most important to Susan. “I was the one preventing the stocking of farm animals even though there were a few times he managed to purchase some goats without my knowing.”
Within four months of moving to Oklahoma, Susan knew they needed help. Bill was having fainting spells and uncontrollable vomiting. This is when Chisholm Trail Hospice began to help. “They figured out how to stop the vomiting. They provided oxygen and immediately got us a transportable chair which allowed Bill to continue his projects outside,” said Susan.
“The staff of Chisholm Trail Hospice was a God send. From the nurses that visited weekly to every day; the chaplain that sat for hours talking with Bill and the social workers that helped me and Bill accept this stage of life,” shared Susan. Bill was with Hospice for five months when he passed on July 3, 2013.
“If I could say one thing to people, it is don’t make the mistake of waiting too long to get your loved one on hospice,” said Susan. “Chisholm Trail Hospice has so many services that can help the patient and the family. You will have time to get to know the staff and learn to lean on them. They helped me to stop being a nurse and just be Bill’s wife.”
“They gave Bill and me time to say things that needed to be said to each other. They allowed him to live a quality life for the time he had left.”
Susan so believes in the work of Chisholm Trail Hospice that she will soon become a volunteer herself.
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