Lemon Juice in a Raw Wound

The hospice people started coming by. I thought they would make things easier. I was dead wrong.

The case manager at Sloan-Kettering had recommended an agency that turned out to be a farce. We were supposed to get one steady nurse who would get to know us. Didn't happen. One lady arrived reeking of cigarette smoke. It was hard to take medical advice from her. She didn't do much anyway, just stopped by for fifteen minutes, took Elliot's blood pressure and filled out paperwork. The next nurse kept arriving late. Another simply didn't show up. A physical therapist kept postponing and never came at all.

Hospice has an angelic glow, a reputation for helping people die with dignity, without all the painful tubes and grueling interventions that ultimately do no good. In our case, hospice was like lemon juice in a raw wound. The only helpful thing the company did was arrange deliveries of medical equipment - an oxygen machine, a walker, a shower chair. No doubt there are wonderful hospices out there. This one was just a profitable system for reimbursement. During the deepest crisis of my life, I felt cruelly ripped off. I berated myself for signing up with this company, but there was no time to find a better one.

Ironically, Elliot, the one in a methadone fog, saw through them right away.

"Who are these people?" he asked me one morning, his words slurring."What's their business model?"