Earlier this year, my husband John was rushed by ambulance from our home in Paradise to Clark Fork Valley Hospital when he started experiencing a sudden onset of poor balance resulting in multiple falls. He was assessed by hospitalist, Frank Towsley, PA-C, who kept him for observation and testing so John’s condition could be monitored. John spoke his last words to me that evening in the hospital when he said, "See you in the morning." By morning his condition had become so severe, he had gone into a coma and was declining quickly.
I spoke with Dr. Ronald Black, his attending physician that day, about a DNR and expressed John’s wishes to never be kept alive by machines. I also shared with Dr. Black that John did not want to die in a hospital. As John’s condition worsened, Dr. Black made sure to follow through on all of our wishes. I will never forget the kindness he displayed as he and three others wheeled his hospital bed out into the courtyard of the hospital so John could pass away peacefully under the vast Montana sky.
I described John’s surroundings to him. I told him he was not in the hospital and that he was laying beneath a beautiful weeping birch tree. His breath became shallow and his oxygen levels dropped. I told him it was ok to go. I would miss him dearly, but it was ok to go. He passed away shortly after with a warm evening breeze softly sweeping over his face.
I feel so fortunate to have been at CFVH during this time. We were treated with such compassion and I felt like we were truly taken care of by our closest friends. Dr. Black and all the other care providers at the hospital gave John and I our last special time together. John did not have to die in a hospital and I will forever be greatful for that.