Saturday, March 10, 2007

rapidly declining health...

The difference between last Friday and today is startling. I suppose it is the marked difference between a dying person with hope and a dying person who had given up.

Yesterday was an absolute nightmare. My dad was completely shutting down. That morning he could walk slowly to the breakfast table and eat--although it was difficult to watch, he was still able to bring the spoon to his mouth, perhaps missing a few times, but able to swallow. By noon he was unable to get up and my mom had to spoon feed him. We were supposed to discsuss different Hospice options, around Houston and let him get a feel of who he wanted to be handling to handle him. However by that afternoon he was completely not wanting to speak.

I went into a mild panic. All 3 of us were not really excited about crazy evangelist woman (CEW). We were going to sit on it...however, with everything happening so fast, and my mom really panicking, I had to think fast. Fortunately by that afternoon, my husband was by my side (the 9th was our official wedding anniversary). He too witnessed my dad's deteriorating heath and even helped carry him to the bathroom. I paged all the social workers at MD Anderson, blabbering about the situation, how we needed help *right now* but didn't know who to contact, what was ethical, wanted to follow my dad's wishes (he didn't want an ambulance or any more hospitals), wanted to make psycho woman wouldn't be involved, needed to know if he could change hospices if for whatever reason we didn't like them, insurance questions, etc. etc. I'm so thankful she was a genuinely good social worker and could rattle off everything I asked while calming me down. She noted my issues with the woman who had come by earlier and reminded me that the nurses could very well be different, but gave me the numbers of other hospices in case we needed to transfer services.

A kind lady named Yvette was sent out to us. She too was from VITAS, but was much calmer, did not bother my father and seemed quite swift with her cell phone. We got the hospice consent and do not resuscitate forms signed and witnessed (by her and Travis). Within hours oxygen came as well as a sweet nurse named Beverly. She stayed up all night watching my dad. A hospital bed, bedside commode, wheel chair and boxes of scary schedule II drugs came later. Swiftly quicky with no bullshit like a hospice is supposed to be like.

I called my brother. When CEW was blathering on and on about the history of her institution, my dad croaked at one point "I need to talk to my son." I relayed this to JBro warning him of my dad's condition, how much he deteriorated and that time was running short. "Come how and tell him you love him, while he can hear you." I said. He came flying home from Dallas--didn't pack, didn't eat, didn't even think. I didn't bother telling my mom knowing that she's put up an argument about it being dangerous to drive at night, blah blah blah. He got here just fine. :)

There's a different lady here now, a nurse aid named Sondra. Ugh, she's annoying, but she is an extra pair of arms. Despite the fact that he weighs barely anything, my dad is still hard to carry. My mom kept feeding this woman food to shut her up since she keeps yammering on the cell phone. I was gonna kick her booty out, but my mom said that as long she could do her job everything would be fine. My brother sternly told her we needed quiet time. She complied. So, it's okay. I miss Beverly already though.

Dad's turned into my child in some sense. I give him comfort and support him. Rub on benadryl for his cracking skin. Help him get fed and changed. Play music for him. Sometime I just sit next to him. For whatever reason he only responds to my brother, Travis and I. He refuses to talk to my mom. I'm not sure if it is hurt or sadness or anger. In some ways Mom is my kid too now. I scold her to eat, rest, quit fretting. When we had to put the controlled substances in the fridge, she started cleaning the shelves. "What is the nurses see how dirty the fridge is?" Goodness.

Of all the symptoms, the one I have the hardest time with is the fact that he can't swallow. He can't take in nourishment even though he'll nod that he's hungry when I ask him. Water is near impossible. Pain medication is delivers as suppositories and patches. The next hardest is his difficulty breathing. If you can't eat and can't breathe, you really can't leave. I'm starting to pray to God every night asking him to take my dad soon because to hang on like this is excruciating. I just don't understand why medical assisted suicide is illegal. How is that bad? How is it any worse than drawing things out as long as possible with a drug that merely clouds your mind up so much that you don't care that you're feeling pain?

Things are calmer now that my dad is on watch (sorta...I mean the nurse aid is yammering with her buddy) but I worry about my mom when I need to go back to work in a couple of weeks. My dad could very well hang on like this for months since he's so damn stubborn. I'd like him to go while JBro, T and I are here with Mom.

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