Closing The Distance
350 miles, or about six hours. That’s how long it took Michael to drive from his Wisconsin home to his father’s side at an Ann Arbor assisted living facility.
“I put over 100,000 miles on my vehicle in four years making trips to my dad at least once a month,” Michael said. “It was difficult being so far away but I knew he was in good hands even when I wasn’t there.”
Michael’s father, Daniel was an Arbor Hospice patient on two separate occasions, having graduated the first time around. After falling and breaking his ankle in 2007, Daniel’s health began to seriously decline. For three years, he was in and out of the hospital with pneumonia, to a point where many hospital staff members recognized and remembered him. When Daniel had a cancerous spot removed from his cheek in 2010 he had a tough time recovering.
“Recovery was very difficult, and he kept developing pneumonia,” Michael said. “Living was an adventure and that’s when the facility recommended Arbor Hospice. We knew it was going to be a plus.”
And a plus it was – The Arbor Hospice team worked with the facility to keep Daniel comfortable, pain-free and healthy, which according to his son, saved, extended and enhanced his father’s life. It was the first winter that Daniel didn’t make a trip to the hospital emergency room, and in early 2011, Daniel graduated from Arbor Hospice.
Unfortunately, Daniel developed pneumonia, again, and was re-admitted to Arbor Hospice’s care in July 2011. “He was so proud to have graduated once from Arbor Hospice, and was determined to do it again,” Michael said.
But when it became apparent that graduating was not going to happen again, Daniel and his family were grateful for the concern, care and comforting assistance from the Arbor Hospice team, especially with him being so far away.
“I received regular calls from the facility and the Arbor Hospice nurse,” Michael said. “And, when I would make the drive to Ann Arbor, his nurse and social worker would always meet with me while I was in town. The social worker was directly involved and was always making sure I had all the information I needed, even though I was hours away.”
And at the end, it was special for the family to have Fr. Paul Arnold, one of Arbor Hospice’s Spiritual Care Coordinators, hold Daniel’s funeral. “Dad didn’t have a relationship with a minister, but Fr. Paul spent a lot of time with dad and it was nice to have someone who knew him honor his life,” Michael said.
So while the mileage may have been 350, the help of an experienced and compassionate team made the distance between father and son seem a little shorter. And that was a huge relief for at least one son.
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