A Change of Heart
Reluctance and frustration. That’s what 76-year-old Frank Safranek felt when his cardiologist suggested Arbor Hospice in April 2012. He spent 38 years developing clay models for General Motors. Since his retirement in 1998, Frank spent hours in his workshop sculpting and developing his woodworking skills. Frank wasn’t ready to die. He didn’t need hospice.
Yet, Frank’s wife, Helga felt differently.
In 2008, Frank received radiation treatment on his prostate, and everything went downhill from there. He had congestive heart failure and the beginnings of dementia. Frank lost the ability to work in his workshop, and he was frustrated by his new deficiencies.
“We spent much of 2010 and 2011 in and out of the emergency room,” said Helga. “Caring for Frank on my own was a lot of work. When his cardiologist suggested hospice, I thought the additional support would be very beneficial.”
Helga smiles when she’s asked about Frank’s admission to Arbor Hospice. “He only agreed so I could go to my class reunion in Germany and have a break. He told me time and again that as soon as I returned, he was signing off.”
When Helga returned, Frank was singing a whole new tune.
“Frank was hooked on Arbor Hospice and the care he was receiving,” said Helga. “He adored his nurse and aide, found relaxation with massage therapy and appreciated the genuine concern from the Arbor Hospice team.”
Arbor Hospice volunteers provided companionship and a listening ear by engaging in activities Frank enjoyed. “One of the volunteers was a carpenter, and helped Frank varnish one of his unfinished projects. The other volunteer came prepared with information and questions about the artists Frank talked about. They were both so accommodating and interested in Frank, and it gave me a chance to take a walk or run an errand.”
Over time, Frank changed his opinion of hospice care so much that he was angry when his condition improved and he was discharged from Arbor Hospice. For nearly a month, Frank and his wife received support from Arbor Hospice’s palliative care program, Arbor Palliative Care, ensuring that Frank stayed at home and out of the emergency room. When his condition declined again, Frank was re-admitted to Arbor Hospice.
“Arbor Hospice gave me strength to cope with Frank’s illness because I knew when I needed help, I could always call and talk to someone. The team saved Frank and me from spending at least five nights in the emergency room. I know Frank was not an easy patient, but Arbor Hospice listened to his concerns with patience and understanding and tried to find solutions to his problems. A mere thank you is just not enough.”
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