I’m Confused and Conflicted and I Don’t Know What to Do

It looked like Mom took a turn for the worse last night. We all rushed over to her again and watched as her breathing got labored and she was moaning and rattling. Visiting hours ended. I could have stayed overnight again but I had to sleep and didn’t want to take up one of the three overnight visiting slots so I went home and went to bed. I slept for nearly eight hours but still feel exhausted. I also thought it was okay to leave because I had a gut feeling…

…and I was right. As the night wore on the breathing became more normal and the rattling almost stopped. She’s back to where she was when I stayed overnight on Friday/Saturday. I have to go back to work. I can’t miss a huge chunk of a third consecutive week. My boss and my boss’ boss both told me it was okay, but I can’t continue to do this for my own reasons. My conscience won’t let me. That means I can’t stay over night during the week either. I just can’t do it anymore.

We had a hospice nurse tell us that parents don’t die in front of their children. They hang on until the kids are out of the room and then go. I don’t believe that is factual at all. Is there anecdotal evidence to support the theory? Yes. Mountains of it. A little internet digging shows that there are zillions of people who claim this happened to them. Is there scientific evidence? Not that I see. I think people attribute cosmic interference to pure coincidence. Having said that, maybe it’s time to give in and embrace the anecdotes. Maybe it’s time to devote less time to the vigil.

I know what I have to do but I fucking hate that I am even considering it. I just want her to be at peace. I want her suffering to end.

Coming to the End

I got about an hour of sleep last night after work but before I went over to the hospital. I got maybe 20 minutes of sleep overnight as I was taking the night shift of staying with my mother. When I got home I got maybe another hour of sleep. I punched in to work a little before 1:00 and was almost immediately told that my mother’s doctor is saying she’s coming to the end of the line. He expects that she will go either tonight or tomorrow.

Jen and I are going to go over once we get out of work, which for me is in just a few minutes (I’m leaving early) and for her was still up in the air, but won’t be too long. I am not planning to stay over night again. I just can’t do it. I will be back as soon as I can tomorrow morning though, and I will be available to bring my father back and forth as much as he needs.

The doctor said if we haven’t said our goodbyes yet, we should. I had a moment of clarity from my mother that was all I ever needed. I told her I loved her as I was leaving the ER last Tuesday and she said she loved me too. Given the advanced state of her dementia, that was pretty much the greatest thing that could happen. I am never going to forget that moment. On Friday last week we had another moment where my father and my brother and sister and I were all in the room with her saying goodbye. At that time we all thought the end was upon us and we didn’t realize she was going to hang on for another week… she’s a tough old gal, my mom. I will never forget that moment either.

I will never get a better goodbye than either of those moments. I will hang onto them forever.

Send my mother some happy thoughts tonight, if you would.

No News

I was able to get about 7.5 hours of sleep last night and that was very much needed. I didn’t get any news about mom overnight. My sister was there last night. I think my next overnight is tomorrow. My brother, Jen, and I got to meet with the doctor yesterday afternoon and he reiterated to us that every patient in this situation is different, so we don’t really have any signs to point to that will tell us how things are progressing. She’s in Care Measures Only, or Hospice right now so it’s just a waiting game.

I just heard from my sister that, as I suspected by the lack of text messages, overnight was quiet. We will see how things go today. I am going to try and work through the morning. We will see how that goes too. Hopefully I’ll be able to get Dad to see her again today. He isn’t able to stay for long, but I hope we can get him as much time with her as we can.

What’s Going On

My mother went to the emergency room on Tuesday morning because the staff at her nursing home felt she was behaving oddly. After a few hours they came back with a surprising and alarming diagnosis, pneumonia. She was admitted on Tuesday morning.

On Thursday night my father and brother were talking and my father said what we were all thinking. Enough. It’s time to start looking at this from a quality of life standpoint and think that we need to just do what we can to make her comfortable. They started talking about hospice care. On Friday morning I went over to my father’s place and we continued the conversation. We’re all on the same page. It’s time to start looking into hospice.

My brother is my mother’s healthcare proxy so he tried getting the ball rolling with the hospital. I was taking my turn staying with my mother and I tried to do what little I could to get the case manager and my brother on the phone with each other. It worked, but it sort of didn’t matter. After they talked, the doctor called him and blew what little planning we had in place to bits and pieces. The pneumonia was likely the result of her being unable to swallow food anymore. They took her off solid food and oral medications. He didn’t say that this was it, but he hinted strongly that this was it. He didn’t tell us to get to the hospital immediately, but he did say he was arranging for a priest to give the last rights.

Obviously we all raced to the hospital. We all broke down and came unglued and balled our eyes out as the reality of the situation hit us. We have no idea how much time she has left, but it isn’t much. Her nurse at the time suggested CMO care, which stands for Comfort Measures Only. Sort of like hospice on steroids, maybe? We agreed to that, while still waiting on the hospice evaluation which was planned tentatively for today, Saturday. She was moved to a private room so that we wouldn’t have to worry about a roommate. We don’t want her to be alone at the end. Her mother was terrified of that when her time came and we want to avoid it for her too. My sister stayed until a little before 5:00am, then my brother took a shift, and then I came on at noon. Jen was with me last night and she came with me today. There were a lot of family visitors too and we were only alone with her for a short time.

At this point she is on a couple of medications that she’s taking IV, but that’s it. Her breathing is difficult but keeping her comfortable is the goal. We don’t know what’s coming next, but we’re preparing ourselves for anything at this point.

And that is what is going on. Jen and I are home to get some dinner but will be going back soon. I am going to try to bring my father back tomorrow. My sister in law got him there today. I want him to get as much time with her as possible.

This is completely awful.

Photo Fun

So the photo a day challenge thing was super easy to do during the Disney World vacation. Now that we’re home I’m finding it tough. I’m still up to date, but we’ve gone from wonderful Disney views to shit like this:

137/365
136/365

Oh well.

I saw both of my parents today. It was rough. My father has been sick with a cold since leaving the hospital so we haven’t been able to bring him to see my mother. During that time my mother also tested positive for Covid, so it’s been a consistent kick in the scrotum. Today I was able to bring my father to the nursing home to see my mother. It was heartbreaking. My father was desperate to see her, but when we got there she was completely unresponsive. I was able to feed her some of her lunch, and my father held her hand, but she wasn’t really there, if you know what I mean. Over all I think the trip did help my father’s state of mind, a little at least. It was worth it even if it was hard to bare.

To pile on, the kids are gone. Harry drove back to school today. Bellana goes back to school tomorrow, but she is staying at her Dad’s tonight. Sad faces all around. Sure we had them for two full weeks during vacation, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want more time. Greed is good, as Gordon Gecko once said. Did I get that name right? Michael Douglas in Wall Street, right? Whatever.

Further bad news, my vacation is over tomorrow and I have to go back to work. Also, I have an ass load if work that has to be done with a deadline on Tuesday. Yippee! Way to plan that one out, fat boy.

On an unrelated positive note, The Last of Us series will premier on HBO tonight. A new zombie(adjacent?) show, just in time for the end of The Walking Dead. I’m looking forward to having the shit scared out of me.

Busy Monday

It’s been a busy morning. I’m wrapping up lunch right now and I feel like I haven’t had a minute to get my head straight today. I also had like five typos in the previous two sentences. What’s up, Robert?

I’m tired today. I didn’t fall asleep until almost 1:30am. I was then awake at around 7:00am, which is much later than I had hoped. Oh well. I’ll make it through the day and hopefully get to bed early tonight. Maybe. Who knows.

This weekend was busy as well. I spent most of Friday out of work on sick time so that I could stay in the ER with my father. He had massive back pain come up out of nowhere on Thursday. My brother took him to the ER where they waited for nine hours before seeing a doctor. The hospital was 100% full so they couldn’t admit him for the night. He ended up staying in an ER room. I relieved my brother at around 7:00am after his heroic night without sleep. Dad’s pain seemed to fix itself somehow and he was discharged in the mid-afternoon. I got home around 5:00pm or so. Maybe a smidge earlier than that.

From there the weekend of home improvement kicked off. Jen and I made about 650 trips to various Home Depot and Lowes locations. We installed a new cabinet in the kitchen, thanks to huge help from Jen’s step father, Sherman. I installed a wire pull out shelf system which almost killed me. Sherman helped me fix a small issue I was having, and then he installed a counter top onto the new cabinet. It looked great. Jen and I did the finishing work and then started rearranging things in the kitchen. We got some new cookware and saved off the old stuff for when a certain college student graduates and potentially needs a kitchen of her own at some point over the summer.

We were actually thinking about adding three cabinets and a great big pantry and a set of four shelves, but we scrapped all of that as possible overkill. Outside of home improvement, I was only able to get to my mother once. She had a brief moment of awareness when I got there. She asked me to get her a drink. That doesn’t sound like much, but compared to how she normally acts when I am there, that little interaction was huge. A nurse brought her some ice cream too and she devoured it. Normally getting her to eat is a struggle. Not then. She dug in and went after it. It was literally heart warming.

Other than that, there was just a lot of together time with me and my love, Jen. There was a lot of television watched, too much. The Walking Dead and House of the Dragon and Rings of Power are all up to date. Tonight I will go grocery shopping. Tomorrow I have a doctors appointment in the morning. Wednesday we have tons of television to watch. Good stuff.

For now though, lunch is over. Back to work, Robert.