Compassionate End of Life Care Made a Difference to Olech Family

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Thirty-nine-year old Jeremy woke up one morning to a headache thinking it could be a migraine, something that runs in the family. He couldn’t shake the headache for five days. One evening, he excused himself from the dinner table – something felt off. His face was tingling. His girlfriend called 9-1-1.

When the paramedics arrived, Jeremy was having trouble speaking and had no feeling in his arm. “Tell my mother I love her. Tell my family I love them,” he said to the paramedics. Jeremy lost consciousness and was rushed to the Baystate Medical Center Emergency Department.

Jeremy’s mom, Jody, sisters, Jamie and Stephanie, and brother, Chad, quickly left for the emergency room. There, his team of three neurologists brought up Jeremy’s brain scans and shared the devastating news that he suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke. They explained that this was the reason behind his five-day headache. If they had been lucky enough to bring him in earlier, he would still have been forever changed.

The stroke was likely a result of undiagnosed high blood pressure. Jody asked for the neurologists to review this with each family member to be sure everyone understood what happened. They gladly took their time to talk with each member of the family. “They broke down and explained things in a way we (non-medical people) could understand,” said Jamie.

From the emergency room, Jeremy was transferred to the ICU. The family began to process the devastating news that Jeremy didn’t have much time left. If he did survive, he would likely wake up in a vegetative state, meaning that he would be awake but unresponsive. The decision was made for the care team to remove Jeremy’s breathing tubes and called the family in for their farewells.

Despite the tragedy, his family appreciates the compassionate care received by the full care team.

“The ER doctors, nurses, neurosurgeons, everyone was compassionate and forthcoming with information. They were patient and knowledgeable when we asked questions. They were everything you could ask for at a difficult time like that. You should commend and applaud the employees you have. They are nothing short of amazing,” said Jamie. “They made us feel like we were the only ones that counted at that point,” Jody added.

One team member particularly shined throughout this experience: Marissa Provost, the nurse caring for Jeremy in the ICU and during his last moments. “The nurses assigned to my brother in that unit were astounding! His final nurse, Marissa, was the most caring, compassionate nurse we have ever dealt with. She spoke to my brother and cared for him in such a way that it touched our hearts. She cleaned his mouth, his face and combed down his beard. She also showed my mother and myself such compassion and gentle understanding,” said Jamie.

The family found a brief moments of humor when Marissa told Jeremy how much she liked his beard – something they would tease Jeremy about. “I was waiting for Jeremy to smirk in that moment and say ‘gotcha.’ We were always on him about that beard,” said Jody.

With Jeremy’s end-of-life diagnosis, his family was able say their farewells two at a time. Jeremy took his last breath while holding his mother’s hand.

Jeremy left behind his warm spirit always willing to help someone in need, a sense of humor that brightened a room, and unique artistic talents. His dogs were his world, Lola and Chico. Jeremy was a giver. “He put everyone else before himself, that was Jeremy,” said Jody. Jeremy helped friends stay on the right track of rehab, delivered warm blankets to the homeless on cold nights, checked in on his friends young and old. Several friends shared with the family that Jeremy saved their life. “We found out so many stories that Jeremy never told us.”

A son, brother, uncle, friend, Jeremy’s last moments were full of peace and humanity, thanks to the empathy of his care team. “If you are going to go through something like this, this is the way you want it to be done,” said Jody.

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