Come Fly Away With Me
Last night a nurse from the nursing home called me to ask permission to put an IV in my mother overnight to give her fluids. She hasn't been eating or drinking much and she was dehydrated. I said yes. She made it seem like it wasn't a big deal, that hopefully my mother would bounce back once she got some fluids in her.
Tonight I went over there after work. She is not doing well. As luck would have it, the doctor was there when I arrived. I'd wanted to meet her for a long time; I hadn't planned on liking her as it seemed to me these past few months that she relied a lot on meds to manage my mother's condition, and they don't ask you, they just give residents the meds. It was hard keeping track of them, the frequent changes in dosing, etc. You give up a lot of control when you put a parent in a nursing home, that's one thing I've learned.
I was prepared to have to fight them on my mother's care because I felt that doctors and nurses are trained to preserve life at any cost. I worried that overnight IVs might become a nightly ritual. My mother has a living will that says she doesn't want artificial means of hydration or nutrition. I went with her to draw up the papers, and this turned out to be about 6 months before she was diagnosed with AD. Anyway, these past 24 hours I've been wondering how or when to draw the line, and what would my mother want now, regardless of what she signed then.
I was so surprised that the doctor was not at all what I expected. She told me her own mother died of Alzheimer's and that she wouldn't put my mother through the IV thing again. She told me that due to not eating or drinking enough, my mother's sodium levels were already elevated. She said it was not too soon to call in hospice. I was kind of reeling. She's telling me my mother will probably hang on for a few more weeks but eventually slip into a coma and die.
They said she was curling up in a fetal position and refusing food. This is exactly what my grandmother had done before she died. I remember when I went to visit her I tried to feed her and she pushed my hand away with surprising strength. It was almost as if she decided it was time, and this is also what the doctor said about my mother tonight.
Tonight I told my mother I loved her very much, and she told me she loved me very much. I tell her this every time I see her. So part of her is still there, because she said it back. I sat with her a while and held her hand, trying to soothe her to stop her moaning, something she has done a lot of for months now. She's not in pain; it almost seems like anxiety to me.
The doctor said that dying of dehydration is a painless way to die but they will make sure she's comfortable regardless. Hospice nurse is expected to arrive on Friday.
The doctor didn't know my mother was an artist, so while I was in with my mother, the doctor and the nurse with her googled my mother's name online and were admiring her work. Then they popped their head in my mother's room and saw the smaller pieces I'd brought in for the walls. The doctor said she wanted to buy one of her larger pieces. My mother, who had been lying there moaning with her eyes closed, opened her eyes wide when the doctor said this. So she understands what's being said, she's just not really able to communicate or respond. It's really sad.
Coincidentally, I emailed the owner of a gift shop where I'd dropped off 15 or so smaller pieces right after Thanksgiving. I emailed her to say well, i haven't heard from you so I guess you haven't sold anything; if you want to lower the price by 10% or 15%, you can. She wrote back to say she'd just sold the most valuable piece I'd left there the night before. I was so happy. My mother would be psyched, if only she knew.
I feel so very sad. Everyone must die, I know, and I have to remind myself that my mother lived a rich, fulfilling and productive life. She is 81. There have been many times these past few months when I inexplicably feel I fiercely miss her, and can't wait to see her again at the nursing home, even though I just saw her a day ago. Before she had the Alzheimers, I was not this close to her, but I think I'm just trying to spend as much time with her as I can before she goes. I feel I have been grieving for her for many weeks now, in truth, and I know I will miss her very, very much when she's gone. I don't know how I will deal with that; the finality of death is what scares me. When she's gone, my life will be changed forever.
I can't help thinking about that one last little trip I'd wanted to take her on when she was still living at Maplewood last summer. I had gotten into the habit of doing little field trips with her; one week it was a museum in Westchester County, while another week she was thrilled with a trip to an eclectic garden nursery because she got to stroke a big fit cat lying on the counter in the gift shop. But the one trip I wanted to take her to, but didn't, was a small but exquisite Japanese garden, also in Westchester County. We had in fact been there once before but I knew she wouldn't remember it and it really was so beautiful. There were a few weekends that summer when it was just too humid and hot to go and so the summer wore on and now it is too late.
Out of the Woods IV
I am glad 2 of my male friends came with me to visit her there, along with her cousin from New Jersey and her faithful neighbors from her old condo. I am glad for the meals I shared with her there, and the walk we took around the new condos across the way, and the walk around the pond with the fountain she could see from her window. I am so very glad for the countless times I pushed her in her wheelchair, outside around the pond or, when the weather got too chilly, up and down the hallways, on the first floor where we could look at the fish tanks and the art on the walls, just to get away from the depressing 2nd floor.
Now I will have to fast forward the funeral plans, something I'd been procrastinating about and planning on putting off til after the holidays.
This also means that, unexpectedly, my sister and I will inherit a sizable sum that I assumed would be sucked up by the nursing home in a year or so. To be perfectly honest, I would rather not inherit anything than have to give my sister half the money. She emotionally mistreated my mother for years, abandoned her when she became ill and walked out on me. We haven't talked since June and she hasn't seen my mother since March, before I had to move my mother into assisted living. For that I cannot forgive her, and I will hate like hell to have to fork over her share, but do it I will, to honor my mother's wishes. I'm honestly not even sure my sister will show up for the funeral.
I want to have calling hours so that friends of my mother's can stop in if they wish. I think that would be a comfort to me. What I'm envisioning as a brief funeral and burial will be private, family only.
But I may be the only family there if my sister doesn't go and my mother's cousin from NJ doesn't go. Maybe she would; I'm not sure as my mother's cousin just lost her husband a month ago. I think my dad, long divorced from my mother, would go to support me, but if not, I would be all by myself. That's why I want my mother's friends to show up, to support me the way my own friends, here online and elsewhere, have done. I would be lost without you. A special thank you to FrugalTexan. No matter how mundane, rambling or boring my posts are, she never fails to leave a little encouraging note, just to let me know someone is reading my thoughts. Thank you, FT. Hugs to you all.
Things don't always work out the way you planned
December 16th, 2015 at 06:45 pm