Taking care of wife on hospice has drained funds

MARYSVILLE – After 29 years of marriage, John Whitley is having to say goodbye to his wife, who is on hospice.

He is home taking care of her, thanks to the Family Medical Leave Act.

But what he didn’t know when going on FMLA is that he doesn’t get paid.

“That opened a whole new can of worms,” he said Tuesday. “Now I go to bed worrying about money and wake up worrying about money.”

Whitley said his wife, E. Doni, had a heart attack about two months ago. Even though she had a “do not resuscitate” notice on the refrigerator, paramedics didn’t see it so she was revived.

“She wants to pass away at home,” said Whitley, 54, who is 23 years her junior. He said her mom died in a nursing home, and she didn’t want to go like that.

“She wants to go peacefully, surrounded by family,” he said. Whitley said her mom died after having four heart attacks, so they think “it runs in the family.”

He said she had another heart attack more recently while in the kitchen making a pie.

“That one she thought was it,” he said, adding he gave her medication to help.

Now, he said, she won’t get out of bed. “Her worst fear is to fall,” he said. “She’s too afraid for me to leave.”

Whitley said since E. Doni went on hospice it’s “taken a lot of weight” off my shoulders. He said with one call, hospice helps with everything.

“We thought hospice was nursing home,” he said, adding they jumped on it when they found out it could be done at home.

He said people that work on hospice listen more. It’s all about keeping the patient comfortable.

“They told her stop worrying about your diabetes. That’s the least of your worries,” Whitley said.

He worked in construction doing minor remodels with his wife for 15 years. After 15 more years he injured a shoulder and was on L&I for more than three years. He went back to school and now makes parts for medical implants.

A GoFundMe page was started to help with the bills. He noticed that most of the donors are local.

He said he and his wife are independent, so it’s hard to ask for help.

“For our livelihood we rely on family, friends and strangers,” he said, adding if people can’t do that, “Send us prayers, they’re always accepted.”

He said his job will take him back, but they understand, “I want to be there to take care of her.”