Carole Sumner decided to face her final days with courage — in the fellowship of friends, the comfort of her sister, the devotion of her pets and a caring relationship with hospice.
Sumner, a 64-year-old retired nurse, has had numerous health complications over the last few years and lives with multiple autoimmune diseases, stage four kidney failure and pulmonary edema. After previously undergoing heart surgery, Sumner was told that a second surgery on a different valve would be necessary, but she was too terrified to go through the procedure again. “I woke up with the ventilator in terror and panic,” she said.
Sumner decided to focus on the quality of her life instead of its length. Since living at Pine Grove Apartments in Gainesville, Sumner said the quality of her life has been better, playing with her grandkids and gardening in back of the assisted living facility. Plus, she has been feeling healthier since receiving care from CJ and Haven Hospice. “Life is so much more manageable and happier,” Sumner said. Although she said there are days when she feels like she is ready to die, those thoughts dissolve as quickly as they form when she looks at her pets. Her dog, Kiki, and cat, Zippidy, keep her company and occupy her time.
Sumner moved to Gainesville in 2015 to be closer to her sister, Mary Park-Smith. She spends time with her friends Beth Paglianlrini and Aida Blackon, who live in her apartment complex and help her garden and take care of Zippidy. In addition to her friends, Sumner’s nurse, CJ Judd, also makes her stay at Pine Grove more enjoyable. CJ has been a registered nurse for 26 years, working with hospice patients on and off. She said that hospice work is very rewarding and its mission to assist those in need always spoke to her.
People don’t often like talking about death or the quality of one’s life, Sumner said. But she feels that hospice has greatly improved her living situation and is making her final years bearable. “Hospice doesn’t mean death, to me, it’s life,” Sumner said. “Hospice is life.”
Every day we’re dying. We’re moving away from birth and closer to death every day. Hospice doesn’t mean death. To me it’s life. Hospice is life.
There are days when Carole says she is tired of living, but all she has to do is pick up her dog or cat and those feelings go away.