Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mom's final days

Mom went into the Hosparus (Hospice) wing of Norton Hospital in downtown Louisville on Thursday, August 2, 2012. She agreed to go per the Hospice nurses recommendation so that Dad could have a respite and she could be monitored and try to work on straightening out her medications. Dad had mentioned to me that although on August 2nd they agreed for her to be admitted for 5 or more days she probably would not go until the weekend or the following week because there was no bed available. Well....that day a bed became available and off they went.

By the time Mom had gotten to the hospital she had forgotten her agreement to go and was very agitated and angry that she was there. The nurses had given her some meds to calm her and they worked, helped keep her from being so angry.

I was busy cleaning my house and getting ready for out of town guests to arrive on Friday afternoon for a college reunion that was being held on Saturday evening at Captain's Quarters on the Ohio River. I had talked to Dad and told him that I would not be able to come see Mom on Friday but would be there along with my friend, Karen, on Saturday morning before we were to go shopping. Dad said that would be fine.

Saturday morning came (August 4). Karen and I left my house around 10:15 AM and headed downtown to see Mom. Karen had a very close relationship with both of my parents, almost like they were her "second" parents. She was excited to be able to see and talk to Mom. For me it was just another hospital visit where we would talk and laugh and tell Mom to hurry up and get well so she could go home.

As Karen and I walked into Mom's hospital room we saw Dad sitting in a chair in the corner next to Mom's bed. Mom looked like she was sleeping. I spoke to her, told her I was there and that Karen had come to see her too. She struggled so to try to open her eyes. She was so heavily medicated that she could barely open them but she managed to crack them a bit and I believe she saw us before they closed again (almost immediately). She grinned. When I told her that Karen was there she said (in a whisper) "she's so wonderful", referring to Karen. Karen said "hi" to Mom and gave her a hug. I leaned down and told her who I was and that I loved her. Mom replied "I love you too", still struggling to talk and open her eyes. She never did get her eyes open again.

I turned to Dad and asked why she was so heavily drugged. ((I'm trying to recall everything said but it's difficult to remember))
I believe Dad said that she had to be due to pain and to keep her from becoming agitated. I also remember Dad saying "you are now seeing your mother's death" (or something like that). I immediately felt sick and this I distinctly remember saying.... "is that what's happening?". Dad nodded and began to cry, as did I (and Karen). I could not believe my ears.

Soon after Dad told me the news a hospice nurse came into the room. Her name was Beth and she was very sweet and friendly. I asked her if Mom was going to be leaving the hospital in a few days and she said "no". She assured me that she recognized all of the signs of the body dying and that she couldn't believe how quickly Mom's body had declined since she came in a day and a half ago. She mentioned that just the night before Mom was talking with them and eating her favorite chocolate ice cream.

We all just sat there for a few minutes. I still couldn't believe the news, none of us could. I looked up at Mom and saw Karen talking in Mom's ear. They were talking to each other and Mom had a tight grip with both of her hands around Karen's hand. I believe they were saying their good-byes to each other.

Then it was my turn. I'm sad that I don't remember exactly what I said or what Mom said to me before we left the hospital that day but I know I did tell her I loved her.

The days to come were very difficult.

I know Dad was exhausted. Dad loved Mom deeply and only left her side to go home to sleep at night. I heard that friends were coming in and out to visit over Mom's last days. I'm sure they were also saying their good-byes.

On Sunday (August 5) David and the kids went to the hospital with me. That was the last time David got to see Mom before she died. Thankfully he was able to speak to her and I know Mom heard him. I'm not sure of what all happened in the room or what was said when we were all there, it all seems like a blur.

Mom was in a medically induced coma. She was on no life support, the hospice staff had stopped giving Mom all of her medications, her pacemaker/defibrillator had been turned off. She was on heavy doses of Morphine for pain and Adavan to keep her calm. Soon the Morphine was ineffective so they began giving her Dilaudid. She would occasionally moan or move her arms but mostly she was very still.

Tuesday afternoon (August 7) I took the kids up to see Mom so they could talk to her if they wanted. Both of my kids were not sure if they wanted to see her but I really wanted them to. I felt it important for them to have a chance to say their good-byes (or whatever they wanted to say) to Mom. Wade (age 8) just walked up to her bedside and said "hi" while waving his hand. I told Mom that Wade was there. Next was Emma (age 11). Emma couldn't talk. I could tell that she was having a hard time. I told Mom that Emma was there and that Emma and Wade both said they loved her. Mom raised her eyebrows....I believe she heard me and that was her way to communicate. Mom loved all of her grandchildren so very much. I wish that she had the opportunity to tell them good-bye.
The kids and I didn't stay for too long.

Tuesday night, about 9:30, I received a phone call from Camille. Camille said that I should probably come, Mom's respirations had changed as well as her color.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Really missing Mom today, still doesn't seem real

This is so much harder than I ever imagined. Needing to find strength from somewhere, feel like curling up into a ball. How does anyone get through this? If I am feeling this bad today I cannot imagine how bad my dad must feel.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Mom's voice


The other day I was fortunate enough to find a voicemail on my cell phone from Mom that had not been automatically deleted from my voicemail box. It has since been deleted. David and I could not figure out a way to save the message so he recorded the message onto his cell phone by using the video camera (which is why there is an empty chair). All I cared about was the audio. Now I will always have this cute little soundbyte of my mom's voice.
In this message Mom sounds like "Mom" and not "Mom with dementia".
((The message was dated April 17, 2012.))

Friday, August 17, 2012

I Googled "What happens to the body when it's dying"

Here is what I read and then realized that Mom was already dying, even during our outing for ice cream. These findings (below) will make sense once you have read my post prior to this one titled TRULY.... THIS WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE END.

Confusion and disorientation
You may hear your loved one say things that make no sense. They may not know what day it is or may not appear to know who you are. They may even say things that are totally out of character. For example, they may shout at you or physically push you away. This can be very hurtful and upsetting. But try to understand that they don’t mean it and are not aware that they are doing these things. It happens partly because of the chemical changes going on inside their body.

-source: website: cancerhelp.cancerresearchuk.org

During the dying process, the body's systems shut down. The dying person has less energy and begins to sleep more and more. The body is conserving the little energy it has, and as a result, needs less nourishment and sustenance. In the days (or sometimes weeks) before death, people eat and drink less. They may lose all interest in food and drink, and you shouldn't force them to eat. In fact, pushing food or drink on a dying person could cause him or her to choke -- at this point, it has become difficult to swallow and the mouth is very dry.
As the person takes in less food and drink, he or she will urinate less frequently and have fewer bowel movements. The person may also experience loss of bladder and bowel control. People who are dying may become confused, agitated or restless, which could be a result of the brain receiving less oxygen. It can be disconcerting and painful to hear a loved one so confused in his or her last days.

-source: What Happens During The Dying Process / website: science.howstuffworks.com

Truly.... this was the beginning of the end

(Mom and I sat inside, next to the window under that "SMOOTHIES" neon sign)


I took my mom out for ice cream on Wednesday August 1, 2012. In the days before that my dad had called me letting me know of a major mental decline for mom. She became verbally abusive to dad, confused as to who he was (which we were used to) and she began hallucinating. I believe it was on Sunday, July 29th that Dad had said that Mom had even been very angry with Camille and I for not staying over to help her clean up the house when we hadn't even been there. Dad said she was "flipping us the bird" and that he had never heard Mom use such profanity, ever. Dad had told me that the Hospice nurses had been visiting and tried giving her meds to help calm her down. I guess they would work for a little while but then she was right back at her antics.

Back to Wednesday August 1, my dad called me at home. When I answered my phone the only word out of his mouth was "HELP!". I knew he needed me to come. As I was driving over all I could think was "what will I find when I get there?", "did mom have a sudden burst of adrenaline and hurt dad?". I had no idea.

Cautiously, I walked into their house and saw Mom sitting in a chair with a frown on her face, dressed in all white and she was holding her purse in her lap like she was waiting for someone to take her somewhere. I asked Mom where she was going and her reply was something like this...."well I was waiting for Dado to come pick me up to take me home but now he's not coming". To appease Mom I said "Mom, Dado is out of town for a couple of days but when he gets back then we'll take you to see him". Mom looked at me and said "Who's Dado?". I couldn't believe my ears.

After that conversation back-fired on me Mom kept asking Dad and me why we were playing games with her, why were we doing "this" to her (not sure what "this" was). She was like a broken record that we couldn't stop from skipping, asking us the same questions over and over and over. Not sure what else to do Dad asked Mom if she'd like for me to take her to get some ice cream. Well, that did the trick. Still mad and frowning Mom said "I could do that". To me her reply sounded like a child.

So...... I took Mom to get some ice cream at The Comfy Cow in Westport Village. She really struggled to walk taking teeny tiny steps. She held onto my arm for support with her left hand and had her cane in her right hand. It seemed like it took us 5 minutes or more just to get from the car to the door of the ice cream store and we were parked in front of the door. Once inside I found a nice little 2 seater table right next to the window. I sat Mom down and told her I would head up to the counter to order. Mom said she wanted chocolate ice cream. Of course she did, it was her favorite.

While I was standing at the counter waiting for my turn to order I glanced over at Mom and I could see the profile of her face. She was staring straight ahead, no expression, no movement, nothing. She looked like a statue sitting there in the window.

I ordered the ice cream then paid. As soon as I put the cup of chocolate ice cream in front of her, Mom immediately perked up and smiled. We had a pleasant conversation although it wasn't deep, just some small talk. She said she really was enjoying her ice cream, asked about the kids and David. After we finished eating she mentioned she needed to go to the restroom so we made our way over to them. After a few minutes I heard her call for me. Mom said she felt like she was going down, like she was going to faint. I took her out of the ice cream store as quickly as she could go and told her that I'd take her home and put her to bed, which I did. I wrote about all of that in an earlier post so I won't rehash that in this post. I kissed her on her forehead, told her I loved her and I went home shortly after that.

Dad called me the next day, Thursday August 2, and told me that Hospice decided that they wanted to hospitalize Mom for 5 days or more so Dad could have a respite and they could try to stabilize Mom. Mom agreed to go. Dad said that it would take several days for a bed to become available so she probably wouldn't go until the following week. Well......a bed became available and Mom went in that night.

That was my last outing with my mother.

A few nights later I Googled "what happens to the body when it's dying". After reading up on the information on my search I realized that Mom WAS already dying, even during our ice cream outing, we just didn't know it.

Closing down my blog? Nah, not yet

Well, it has been over a week since my mother passed away and I still cannot believe she is no longer with us. My father has asked me twice now if I am going to close down my blog now that she's gone. My answer was "NO". I still have so much that I want to write about. I am sure that I will close it sometime this year but there is still a lot to tell, including being with Mom in her final hours.

With back to school activities now in full swing I will be struggling to find the time to write but I will get there.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Breathe deep.......

http://www.legacy.com/guestbook/louisville/guestbook.aspx?n=marilyn-forrester&pid=159083388&cid=full

I had a very good day yesterday....no tears.
Mom's funeral is tomorrow. I am not having a good day today. I can hardly stop crying. I only hope I can make it through what I want to say tomorrow.



Monday, August 13, 2012

Mom's Obituary in the Courier-Journal

FORRESTER, MARILYN ELIZABETH BROMLEY, 75, passed away on August 8, 2012, surrounded by her family.

A native Louisvillian, Marilyn was born April 30, 1937 to Mary Emma Ward Bromley and Paul B. Bromley.

She is survived by her husband of 52 years, Harold (Hal) Forrester; two daughters, Camille Estes (Jim) and Anne Balcom (David); four grandchildren, Lyndsey and Nicholas Estes and Emma and Wade Balcom; and two sisters, Margaret Bromley and Beverly Bromley (Bob Hundley). Her sister, Anna Catherine, died in 1939.

Marilyn graduated from the University of Louisville after attending Vanderbilt University. Upon graduation, she worked at the law firm, Greenbaum, Barnett, Wood and Doll. She was the first female commissioner of the City of Woodlawn Park and later was a real estate agent for Bass & Weisberg and the Paul Semonin Company.

A longtime member of the Highland Mothers Club and 'The Birthday Group', Marilyn was an accomplished homemaker and seamstress. She took great pride in her home and garden and especially appreciated Cherokee Park. She was an inspiration to all who knew her as she kept her sense of humor and devotion to making others happy throughout her years of health adversity. The family wishes to acknowledge with great appreciation her caregivers, especially Diane O'Neil, Hosparus, and the support and staff of the Episcopal Church Home.

A memorial celebration of Marilyn's life will be held at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, August 15, 2012 in St. Luke's Chapel at the Episcopal Church Home, 7504 Westport Rd., Lyndon Ln. entrance. Visitation will be from 2 p.m. until the time of the service. Pearson's entrusted with the arrangements.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Olmsted Parks Conservancy, The Episcopal Church Home or Hosparus.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

The End of a Very Long Road


Marilyn Bromley Forrester 4/30/1937 - 8/8/2012

On Wednesday morning at approximately 6:06 AM, my strong, sweet, beautiful, loving mother lost her battle with dementia. It was a long, hard fight for her and she fought up until she took her last breath. I cannot believe she is gone and I'm so sad. This is the deepest sadness I've ever felt.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Force to be Reckoned With!

My mother IS a force to be reckoned with.
Mom beat all the odds against health adversity for more than 30 years. Dementia is the one disease she couldn't beat.
Mom is in full-time hospice care and is not expected to make it to the end of the week.
I am so sad that she will no longer be with us physically but relieved that she will no longer be suffering with pain and confusion.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

"Because the end of life is part of living"

I took Mom out for ice cream Wednesday afternoon. She loved every bite of her scoop of chocolaty goodness. Little did I know that that outing would be my last with her.

Mom was admitted into the Hospice wing of a hospital downtown the very next day, Thursday. On Friday the doctor turned off her defibrilator.

Here I type on Sunday to report that, although a doctor hasn't seen Mom since Friday to tell us this, all of the Hospice nurses say they recognize the "end of life" symptoms Mom is having and consider her terminal.

Funeral arrangements are being discussed, still so much to do while we wait for the inevitable.

I am so sad. I am relieved, however, that soon Mom will no longer be in pain, will no longer be living in a constant state of fear and confusion.

On Wednesday afternoon I after I brought Mom home from having her ice cream treat I had to help her to bed; the trip exhausted her. She asked me in a shaky voice "why is this happening to me?" All I could tell her was to get some rest and that she would feel better. A kiss from me on her forehead, "I love you mom" whispered into her ear, oxygen on, she fell asleep. That was my last time with Mom before she drifted off.

I love you Mom! I know you will finally have relief soon but I will miss you so much.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Turning off the Power Supply

Mom is not doing well (mentally) at all. Hospice put her into the hospital yesterday (Thursday August 2) for 5 days or longer for a mental evaluation and try some new things with medications. She is having a terrible time wanting to 'go home', she wants to see her mom and dad, she doesn't know who Dad is, she keeps saying she misses Hal (which is dad).

Earlier in the week Dad said Mom was really mad at my sister and me. The reason: Camille and I were there all day and we refused to help her clean up. Mom's day was spent cursing Camille and me and giving us the finger (even though we weren't there). She said she was through with us and would never give us another thing. That was Mom's reality that day. The truth: neither my sister or I had visited Mom that day.
Sad :*( for my Dad.
Mom had been hallucinating all day, thinking lots of other people had been in their house. Dad also said that he had never heard Mom use the profanity that she used that day. He hated to see her like that.

I visited with Mom on Wednesday. Dad had called me for "HELP" because he couldn't convince her that he was Hal, her husband. I wasn't sure what I would find when I got to their house but when I arrived Mom was dressed in very nice white slacks and a white knit top. She had on pretty dangly earrings and was sitting with her purse in her lap like she was waiting for someone to take her somewhere. But she had a frown on her face. I asked her where she wanted to go and she said she wanted to go home. She said she was mad at Dado (her father) for not coming to pick her up to take her home. To appease Mom I told her that Dado was out of town for a couple of days and she could see him when he returned (I didn't want to tell her that he died in 1974). She then asked "Who's Dado?"
HUH? I couldn't believe my ears.

((The person my mom has turned into ISN'T my mom))

So far this is her worst in this dementia journey.

Mom is now in the hosptial and although she agreed to go, she doesn't remember that she agreed to go. She is very angry.

Dad called me last night to tell me that Hospice wants the serial number from Mom's pacemaker/defibrilator, he said that they want to turn it off permanently. He was told that if Mom suffered a cardiac arrest that the machine would tear her up (his words).
Mom's heart is so weak that I can believe that.

Sooooo, I guess that no drastic measures will be taken should Mom have a heart attack. I'm so conflicted with different emotions and thoughts. I don't want my mom to "go" but the way she is living now is just existing....it's not living.

I don't know what our future holds, Mom could live a very long time; or not. Everything is uncertain at this point.