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.

No comments: