A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Funeral

Me, Larry the $28M man, my daughter

Me, Larry the $28M man, my daughter

I have been reading some funny and sad stories posted by the wordpress community and I have so many Nursing stories that could make you laugh and cry I decided to share one.  These stories may never end up in any book I write.  It’s a funny, scary and sad story.  Names have been changed to protect the guilty/innocent.  That’s my old $28M friend, Larry, (his real name), in the photo with me and my daughter.  Larry got his $28M by suing Planet Hollywood.  He’s not part of the nursing story, but I have to tell you about him so that you better understand the story.

Larry is a con man.  He likes to think that he is a “Rock Star” everywhere he goes.  I met him at my family’s nudist resort, www.cypresscoveresort.com, when he was going through a divorce.  I was single at that time.  We did not have a relationship other than being friends.  See, I was single and bored with the Cove Scene and wanted to venture out, but did not know my way around.  Larry knew all the “Hot Spots” and knew everybody and everybody knew him.  Now you have to realize that Orlando, and the tri-county area that I was working in at the time, is roughly 2 million in population.  Add to that, the fact that there are 52 million tourists passing through here annually.  That’s a lot of people, and you could go almost anywhere and be anonymous if you were me.

I was working for a Hospice organization at the time.  My days were grueling.  I went from homes, to hospitals, to nursing homes, to M.D. offices, doing admissions and marketing.  I went from crisis to crisis carrying my flip chart and pulling my rolling office behind me.  I wore my suits and heels from dawn until dusk and then some, selling death with a smile of sincerity and compassion.  This was quite challenging in the 100 degree temperatures and walking through ten story buildings.  I was also traipsing through swamps and suburbs.  I would typically stop at some burger joint on the way home in the early evening and go through the drive-thru.  Larry told me that I was going about things the wrong way and that I would never meet anyone or make any friends that way.

He started taking me out and wining and dining me all over Orlando and the surrounding area.  He introduced me to any and everyone who was anybody.  We went to all the cool clubs and night spots, the finest restaurants and he showed me a few pointers on how to behave and how to get my drinks and meals paid for by just being friendly…no strings attached…just being nice to people (men and women) who were also lonely and bored.  I always returned the favor picking up the tab when it was my turn.  I wasn’t looking for romance and neither were they.   Last I heard from Larry, he had been arrested naked in a Tennessee Waffle House with his nineteen year old girlfriend.

One night, just before Christmas, I was supposed to meet up with Larry at a very nice restaurant called Tempanos, an Italian Chop House, in Dr. Phillips, a ritzy area of town.  Something happened and Larry wasn’t able to join me so I was on my own.  When I got there, three men were at the bar all excited about one of them getting a new Porsche convertible.  I ordered my food and sat down at the bar.

A couple of girls came in, Patti, who owns Seductive Sweets, a bakery that manages deserts for many restaurants in town (there are 37,000+), and Linda, a bank VP.  I was chatting with the girls and the guys came over offering everybody rides in the new Porsche.  The guys, one in particular, David, who owns several ACE hardware stores, bought a huge tray of deserts for us all to try out.  David also picked up my tab.  Everybody took a ride in the new Porsche that belonged to one of the guys and then the crowd began to thin, leaving David and I.  David had asked me to hang around because he wanted to ask me something after everyone was gone.  I was nervous.  I knew he was married and I was suspicious.  I refused to date any married men, but that’s not why he was interested.

David told me that he was having a huge Christmas party in Cypress Lakes, another ritzy millionaire’s community.  He invited me to come to this party and handed me a nicely embossed invitation.

I refused it, “David, Thanks, really, but I can’t party with you guys.”

“Whatever do you mean?” He asked me.

“Just look at ya’ll.  You drive Porsches and live in mansions in communities that I wouldn’t even think about driving my little ole sporty Saturn through,” I said in my best lilting southern drawl.

“No, I want you to come,” he says, “And wear a pretty dress because I have someone that I want you to meet.  He owns the Porsche dealership and he could use female companionship, especially a nurse, right now.”

“Well, I don’t know what to make of that,” I returned, “I don’t think I even own a dress worthy of such a gala affair.”

He took out a wad of money and put $500.00 in my hand with the invitation and said, “Buy yourself a pretty dress and be there!”

I tried to refuse the money and the invitation, but he wasn’t hearing it.  He marched out and I thought to myself. “No way, I’m not coming to this party so you can point me out to your friend and say ‘I bought the dress that girl is wearing, she owes me,’ nope, not going to do it.”

I gave my three kids each $100.00 for Christmas and spent $200.00 on myself.  That’s where that money went.

I saw Larry later and he said that I should go to the party but I flat refused.  I wasn’t going to be a bought woman for any man.  Having a friend pick up a dinner tab was one thing, and I always returned the favor when I could, but outright offering to pay me to meet up with someone. That was different.

Now comes the Nursing part.

I had a case that a little social worker was supposed to meet me on.  We’ll call her Janie.  The address was in Dr. Phillips at Turtle’s Crawl and there was a lady dying of cancer.  She had radical neck surgery several months earlier, and had a gastric tube for feedings and medications.  I was the second nurse coming out to see them for possible admission to Hospice services.  Her husband was supposed to be there.  The couple had refused services just a week before, but asked for another appointment.

Now, people taking Hospice services are often very emotional.  Someone is dying.  They are sad, angry, depressed, and hostile; numbers of negative emotions are working together as these people face death, or the death of a loved one, sometimes for the very first time in their lives.  I tried to be as warm and sincere, calm and collected as the situation required.

Upon arriving on this case, Janie and I set about greeting the husband who told us his wife was asleep in the next room after a bad night.  I started filling out the necessary paperwork, the forms of consent and the admissions paperwork, listing her meds, noting her history, etc… and while I was writing, the man was showing Janie photos of his wife in her prime.  She was a tall and beautiful blonde woman with a gorgeous smile.  The more they talked, the more wound up he became until he was shouting about all of the money he had spent trying to give her a few good last years, “I bought her dresses, paid $15,000.00 for these hurricane shutters, this is a hand stitched $300.00 scarf,” he said waving the colorful material in the air.

I went on writing and asking questions.  The man became more and more agitated, saying that he had appointments and had to leave for work.  I told him that I would need to see his wife for an assessment and to have her sign the papers.  He said that his daughter had Power of Attorney and his wife wouldn’t be signing anything in her state.  I am thinking, “You need to leave for work and your wife can’t sign her own name?”

The man made a phone call to his wife’s daughter and within a few minute she was present, signed the papers and went in to see her mother.  She came out and asked me, “Have you seen her?”

“No, but I will shortly.  Is there a problem?”

“No problem,” the daughter said, “she is just in a very bad way.”  The daughter left.

As I was reviewing the medications with the man, and he was walking around yelling and screaming about how his wife wanted to die, I noticed a bottle of Dilaudid, a powerful narcotic, was almost empty, even though it had been filled only a few days earlier.  There was another whole bottle from a month earlier that looked like it had not been touched.  The prescription was for two teaspoonful every eight hours.  I was confused.  The man said he did not know because his wife gave her own meds and sometimes got the bottles wrong, and sometimes did not take anything at all.  He said she was up about 04:00 am doing something, but he didn’t know what.  He continued to rave about how his wife had not been a wife for him for two years and he had spent over $300,000.00 in the past year taking her on a trip around the world.  He began sobbing uncontrollably.

I was trying to calm him by changing the subject.  I asked if they had a nice Christmas.

“That’s another thing.  She wouldn’t go anywhere with me.  We were invited to a nice Christmas party at Cypress Lakes and my friend, David tried to set me up with some high dollar whore he met at Tempanos when my wife said she wasn’t going.”

Now, I am thinking, “WTF, did he just say, ‘High dollar whore?’  Hi, nice to meet you.  I am Susan, your friendly neighborhood Hospice Nurse and high dollar whore,” but I asked him, “What line of work are you in?”

He says, “I own the Porsche dealership and I need to go right now, I have appointments.”

I said, “Look buddy, you can’t go anywhere yet, I need to see your wife.  Last week, she was alert and oriented and refusing services.  Now she has been sleeping at least two hours and I need to go in to see her.”

He stomped toward the door to the bedroom and flung it open.  Then he proceeded to open the closet and start slinging her clothes everywhere, fur coats, evening gowns, shoes.  He was making a huge mess, and screaming all the while about all that he had done for her, and how much money each and every item had cost him.  Then he said, “We’re German and we both believe in euthanasia!”

The woman was gasping for her last breaths and obviously actively dying.

This was way out of hand.  I had another appointment to go to and I couldn’t leave them like this.  Janie was beside herself, and had gone from six shades of blue to white.  The man wanted to go to work.

I called the team manager.  She said to hold tight and she would get there right away with a nursing assistant.  As soon as she arrived and saw what was going on, she asked the man, “When was the last time the woman had anything for pain?”

The man said, “About 04:00 am but I don’t know what she took.”

“Well, give her a dose of her Dilaudid,” the team manager told him.

The man opened the new bottle and proceeded to pour its entire contents through the lady’s gastric tube and said, “There, I hope you are happy now!”

I went to the phone and called the team doctor and told him everything that was going on.  He argued with me.  I said, “It’s murder!”

He asked me, “Look, Susan, what do you want to do, throw her in an ambulance and take her to the hospital ER so they can give her some Narcan, arouse her, so she can come home and die?”

“Well I guess not,” I answered.

“If the team manager is there, just walk away from it.  That’s all you can do.”

So I did.  I got Janie and we left.  I pulled into Wendy’s for lunch before my next appointment.

Janie says, “I’m not hungry, I don’t see how you can go through something like that and just pull into a burger joint and have lunch.”

“It’s just another appointment and we have another one in 20 minutes across town.”

Janie left and went back to the office.  She quit the next day.  She never knew the whole truth.  I saw her at the lady’s funeral.  What a small world.  If she only knew the whole story!

Thereafter, I returned to my routine of stopping at the burger joint drive-thru on my way home every evening.

41 thoughts on “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Funeral

    • Then I went to the bar and related the story to the lady bartender and she just asked me if I got the clothes. Confidentiality is and was a big thing…of course no names were used and I changed the story around a bit concerning people and places, but that is the way my world rocked back then.

    • Nursing is a very difficult profession..not as bad as some I am sure, but quite a challenge. I retired from daily nursing because I couldn’t handle stress like this everyday,,,but there were moments like this in the profession that we had to laugh to keep from crying. We laughed a lot.

      • Okay, now I’m really glad I’m a farmer. But I have the highest amount of respect for you women who have a job like this one. You are strong lady. And brave. I’d never be able to do your job. Give me a cow trying to stomp me into the ground, but nothing like this!

  1. Nudist spa? Hmmm..Next time write stories that are set there. lol..

    It is quite a story.. but I’m just wondering if I misread something. So, you’re saying, you were actually witness to a crime of that man “killing” (euthanizing) that woman?

      • I don’t doubt that. Hospice is a place where people go to die.

        It is so grim even to think of it. But I think some people who work there must get desensitized, if not get used to it.

        • Or was it suicide? He said that she got up and dosed herself at 04:00 am and the bottle he showed me was empty, but the prescription fill date on the bottle read that it had only been filled a few days earlier. When we got there she was “asleep”. When we went in the room, her pulse was thready and over 100, her B/P was 40/0, and her respirations labored at 8/m. You have to get used to it at some point but I only lasted a year in that position. You do desensitize, but you never stop caring. I think if I ever get too old or disabled to wipe my own butt, I would rather off myself with narcotics than to be dependent to that extent. When the insurance lady asked me if I had a “Cancer Plan” that’s what I told her I was going to do…lol…I am not paying a fortune for some special plan for a specific disease. I don’t have that much specific fear of it.

  2. My landlady says within a week we’re having a German woman as flatmate.

    Is it true they don’t shave their armpits? I’m so freaked out…..

      • Surely I know Germans women are pretty, even the ones with hairy armpits.

        I’m a little confused about your daughter being German. Is she your biological daughter? But you’re American?

        • Her father is German and Americans are made up of every nationality imaginable. That’s why it is so difficult to stereotype the American. We are all nations and there are toms of stereotypical Americans…not just one image. Like Cowboy, Red neck, New Yorker, Southern Belle, californai girl. there are fifty states and many Islands and they all have their regional dialects, accents, behaviors, “ethnic” foods.

          • Oh, of course I know that… In fact the diverse origins of the “White” race in the United States are quite interesting.

            Unlike other white majority immigrant countries like Canada, Australia and my New Zealand, in the United States whites do not predominantly come from the UK and Ireland.

            According to some estimates, Whites of German descent outnumber any other European descent in the U.S… It’s fascinating.

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