Nancy’s Experience With People Who Care
Nancy’s father, Lloyd Schaap was a family man through and through. He worked hard his entire life to provide for his wife and six children, never missing a day of work. He was a man of strong faith, courage, determination, all of which were evident even following his diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.
“Probably the most important thing to my dad was his faith,” said Nancy. “And it showed in how he lived his life. In the 18 years he struggled with Parkinson’s, I never heard him complain. He’d be on the floor because he fell or something, and I’d ask him, ‘Dad what are you doing down there?’ and he’d say, just thought l’d take a nap.’ That’s just how he was, he wouldn’t complain. He was an awesome man.”
Lloyd loved wintering in Florida, family gatherings, and gospel music. However, there was nothing he loved more than his wife of 64 years.
“He adored my mom, just adored her, Nancy said. “Almost to the point where us kids were embarrassed. He fought Parkinson’s for years and as he got more debilitated, he still would just stare at her and smile across the always infatuated with her.”
Nancy and her family knew that Lloyd was strong, but they acknowledged that he could not fight his illness forever. They knew they would need to make some tough decisions. So they reached out to Hospice of Holland to help them along the way.
“We were never hesitant to take on hospice,” said Nancy. A few years before he began to decline, we called (Hospice of Holland) just to find out about the organization. Dad wasn’t ready (for hospice) at that point, but we wanted to be prepared. During that meeting they educated us on what to watch for so we were able to identify when it came to be that time. When we called hospice to begin caring for dad, it was the most natural transition.”
Hospice assigned Lloyd and his family a team of medical professionals to guide them through their hospice journey. This team consisted of a registered nurse, home health workers, a medical social worker, spiritual care professionals, and as needed, volunteers. Nancy described how each team member helped care for her father.
My dad’s nurse was just wonderful. She was very gentle and kind and talked to him like he still mattered. More than once, I would have tears in my eyes when she’d leave because she was so caring. From day one the social worker was wonderful. She let us know everything she could help US with and brought up all these things we never even thought about. Then the chaplain started coming right away. My parents are very spiritual but they couldn’t go to church anymore because of my dad. So the Chaplin would come in. Every time she came my mom would talk about how her prayers were spot-on. The aide would come in Tuesdays and Fridays to help shower and care for my dad. We just loved her. She was SO caring and patient and we couldn’t have asked for anything better from any of the staff.”
Although Nancy and her family were prepared for the signs and symptoms of physical decline, there were frequently occasions they needed guidance. They were grateful that a Hospice of Holland nurse was available 24/7 to address their needs and concerns. Nancy shared a circumstance in which Hospice of Holland helped her feel confident and reassured.
“There were times when l noticed something that was a little off with my dad and I didn’t know what to do. For example, I remember a time his breathing was really rapid. He had oxygen on and his breathing wasn’t slowing down. l didn’t know what to do. I called Hospice and within a few hours someone was there and told me exactly what was going on and stayed until he calmed down and the breathing was regular again. And they explained what l could do if it happened again. That was incredible. Every time l didn’t know what to l could call (Hospice of Holland) and a nurse would come or they’d walk me through it. They just made me feel very comfortable with what was going on and what to expect.”
Lloyd passed away peacefully on a Tuesday afternoon. The relief and respite that hospice provided allowed Nancy and her family to spend his last days beside him “just being a family,” as Nancy phrased it. Despite the grief that coincides with the loss of a loved one, the Schaap’s continue to see the hope and positivity hospice can bring. “Going into it, I thought the processes was going to be more sterile,” Nancy revealed. “I thought it’d be like ‘here’s your nurse who’s assigned to you, this is what we will do.” But it was more than that. It was a total relationship. We didn’t have to worry about anything. We could kind of give it to hospice, and that was everything.”