There is a photograph of a tree hanging in an elder’s apartment. To the casual observer, it is just an ordinary tree.
photographer, it is extraordinary.
this woman, the photographer, was a child in Germany as the Second World War broke
out. The British government organized a rescue effort to save Jewish children
under 17, waving visa requirements and placing them in a safe country in foster
homes, farms, and orphanages. (1938-1940) Often these children were the only
members of their families to survive. This was the Kindertransport.
the photographer of the tree, was around 8 years old when she was taken away
from her family and moved to England. Outside the orphanage where she was
placed grew a tree.
When she was
grown, she revisited that orphanage and wondered if the tree was still there.
It was, and
that is the photograph of the tree hanging in her apartment.
feared that when they were clearing out her effects, that inconsequential little
photograph would be swept aside. Maybe it would be thrown away. It was old and
not very alluring. And so, she wrote a note explaining its origin and pasted it
to the frame.
I don’t know
what will happen to the photo. It was special to the lady, as many of our
memories are unique to us and no one else.
On Mother’s Day,
May 9, this lady passed away.
I have been
angry, disheartened, and livid over the treatment of this woman—a National
Treasure who survived the holocaust only to be killed in a “Retirement
Community” where someone decides one’s fate.
This is a
lesson to us that if we don’t take control of our own lives, someone else will.
was a people-pleaser and took “authorities’ advice,” no wonder given her rearing.
It had helped her survive until
I don’t know
whether I will post this or not. I have gotten feedback on how righteous and
wonderful Hospice is. Given the proper conditions, it can be, but it can also
I am writing
this for I carry a deep sadness. I was under confidentiality, and many times in
my brain, I wrote a letter. I wanted to tell her Rabbi. I will launch a
complaint, although it’s a little late now.
how much was a part of the lady’s life passage. I wondered how much she had set
this up for herself. Could it be that she was guilty of having escaped the gas
chambers? I don’t know. Those thoughts rattle in my brain.
How much was
I just know
that this rational mathematician went from lucid, laughing at puzzles, liking to
see repetitive patterns in carpeting and plants outside to an invalid within
the course of a week. She was a lady who enjoyed going to the roof and watching
the sunset. During her school days, she was the star mathematician, and when
she graduated at 16, they hired her to teach mathematics. In later life she had
a theorem named after her. She was engaged to a doctor once, but when she
talked about what she was doing, he seemed uninterested. “I can’t marry someone
who shows no interest in my work,” she said.
I wonder if
she was denied one of life’s spiritual moments. And that was to die under one’s
caretaker who was with the woman 12 hours a day, four days a week for the past
year pretty much knew her ups and downs. The lady had some short-term
memory loss, but in a moment of clarity she told her helper “I would rather
have pain that be whacked out of my mind.” However, she was whacked out of her mind.
Later on, she would forget she
had any pain. Thus, the nurse’s assistant (not even a nurse) determined she
could not decide for herself, and recommended Hospice. That way, they would
have access to pain management. The patient, our photographer, had a Power of
Attorney to decide for her. An in-house doctor, not her primary care physician,
signed her to Hospice. The only family she had were nieces who lived in
England. (They were from an older sister who was also on the Kindertransport,
but who, in later life, killed herself.) The nieces loved their Aunt, but
didn’t really understand what was going on.
said they had a meeting where they explained to the lady what was happening,
but she did not understand. They asked her questions such as “Where do you plan
to spend the rest of your life?” Well, she owned her condo. Why would they be
asking such a personal question? She never consented or understood what was happening.
happened to my bed,” she asked when they moved in a hospital bed. “My toilet is
broken, and I can’t use it,” she said. No, a nurse taped a sign over it,
“Broken,” so she would use the commode. Why? I ask.
her fluids because “It is better to die dry than wet.” Well, I consider not
drinking to be torture.
She had a
bladder infection that they would not treat because she was on Hospice, and
they do no curative actions. So, they used morphine to numb the pain. She had a
rash from sitting so long, and they treated it with powder, not an antibiotic
that might have cured both the rash and the infection.
rules were broken in this case. The first rule is that the patient be diagnosed
with a terminal illness. The lady had MS, which is not a terminal. She had it
for 30 years and had leg twitches and itches but was ambulatory. The doctor said his wife died of MS. (With
MS, doctor, not of MS.)
stated emphatically that she was not dying and did not want to.
rule is that the patient is given six-months to live. She was not.
was given Morphine, Ativan, Methadone and Haldol (an antipsychotic drug used in
hospitals to bring down a violent patient.)
She was not
psychotic, but apparently, they give Ativan and Haldol as a matter of course
with morphine. I don’t know what else she was given, whatever she was taking
for her MS.
that in a system, and it could turn a person psychotic, or kill them.
lady was delusional, the caretaker said she was over medicated, and she had
seen that before when she came home from the hospital after recovering from a
fall, but that time she regained her brain.
A Power of Attorney
held out for a while until the “Doctor” convinced her that Hospice was the best
happened to the caretaker? She was mentored that she was not handling her
patient's decline well.