The angel of death, it turns out, is an Anne Bancroft* doppelgänger. Looks like her, talks like her, acts like her. She paid me a visit recently.
When we first looked into hospice, several years ago, all parties agreed that it was premature. I had the feeding tube at that point but was only running water through it. Call us back when you’re using it for nutrition, they suggested.
Having passed that milepost a long way back, we revisited the idea late last year and had someone come over and do their spiel. Even then I put it off for several months more, my thoughts vacillating between ambivalence and dread.
Enter Miss Bancroft, The Miracle Worker herself. She was so wry, so real, so not Sally Field. She actually put me in a good mood, which really surprised me. It was a perfect casting choice for hospice intakes.
That was a few weeks ago, and the crew has grown since. The lead is a nurse (Shirley MacLaine), the supporting player a home aide (maybe a younger Don Cheadle) who comes on days my regular one doesn’t. In the background is an attending physician (shades of Geneviève Bujold), and there’ve been a couple of appearances by a social worker. She doesn’t remind me of anyone, and I’m not really sure what she does. Sometimes she looks at me for too long, as if waiting for me to share something wrenching or break down altogether. There’s also a chaplain, but we’ve kept her at bay so far. She’s praying for us.
I feel very well taken care of, and it’s a great relief to have everything streamlined – especially to be rid of Aetna, which I’d grown to despise. I just hope they don’t dump me if I don’t die fast enough. That happened to a friend of mine (who went on to live many more years), but it was a long time ago and hospice swears things are different now. Although admission still requires a doctor’s certification that you’re “likely” to kick it within six months – which, given my history, seems decidedly unlikely – you can be recertified indefinitely. So we’re told … but they don’t know how practiced I am at trying people’s patience.
*I know! I was totally expecting Amy Winehouse.