Author and patient Boyd Hurtado: Writing his own final chapter
Boyd and Raule Hurtado are about as close as a 59-year-old man and his 89-year-old father can be. Boyd helped Raule care for his stepmother when she was dying of cancer eight years ago, and then stuck around to help his aging father care for apartments he managed.
But in a reversal that no parent would ever wish for, it is now the younger Hurtado who requires care.
In early 2014, Boyd was diagnosed with a particularly fast-moving form of ALS (known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). It was not a surprise. Boyd’s mother died with ALS when he was nine; since then, one of his sisters died with ALS, and another is living with it.
By the time his diagnosis was confirmed, Boyd had already become a Mission Hospice & Home Care patient – first as a home care recipient, then as a Transitions patient, and most recently, receiving hospice care at Brookside Skilled Nursing in San Mateo.
“Our continuum of care model has enabled us to serve Boyd throughout the progression of his illness, and he has been involved with all of the services we offer,” says Tracie Pyers, his Mission Hospice social worker. “He’s used speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, social work, medical services and supervision, as well as regular visits from spiritual counselors and volunteers. Most recently, we’ve helped him move from in-home care to receiving hospice care at Brookside.”
Tracie said that given the nature of Raule and Boyd’s relationship, it was critical that she find a nursing home close enough for Raule to visit daily. In addition, Mission Hospice volunteer Adelaide Nye visits Boyd a couple of times a week.
The nursing home staff works closely with Boyd’s Mission Hospice team. “Brookside can and does call us anytime with a question or issue,” Tracie says. “We have the expertise in end-of-life care. Our nurse writes the care plan, and a member of our medical staff visits every week. Raule and Adelaide help keep him company.”
Although Boyd says that his last “job” was helping Raule, he’s worked mostly as a veterinary and pathology assistant and histotechnologist in the biotech industry. He worked for UC Davis and taught himself what he needed to pass the exams necessary to be certified in his profession.
His pathology experience formed the backdrop for his supernatural thriller, “To Meet with Darkness,” published in 2010. Two more novels followed: “By Darkness Deceived“ and “Assassin for Darkness,” both growing out of his work at Mills Hospital in San Mateo in the 1980s.
“I wondered what would happen if a vampire worked with someone in the hospital, the assistant in the pathology lab,” he said. Boyd is working on a new novel, but admits it’s going slowly as his disabilities increase.
Adelaide said that although Boyd has difficulty talking, he continues his interest in literature and creates complex plots in his mind.
And of course, he’s also thought through his own story. Boyd has arranged to donate his body to Stanford to research the genetic form of ALS – given his family medical history and his interest in science, this is a fitting final chapter.
Boyd’s thriller, “To Meet With Darkness,” is available on Amazon. If you visit smile.amazon.com and register to support “Mission Hospice, Inc. of San Mateo,” your shopping will generate a donation to our work.