Surprises, Urgency and Waiting
I planned a different post for today but it’s midnight and I’m sitting in a chair beside my mom in the Emergency Department. The doctor has already said they plan to admit her. I’m waiting to hear lab and CT scan results. She looks small and vulnerable curled up in white hospital sheets, lying on the gurney, with monitors and IV’s.
Saturday, Mom had a good day. She was lucid and involved all day. This morning was a normal day. A caregiver came, I went to church, then out to lunch with my husband. The caregiver left at three and within an hour Mom was obviously sick. She’s having gastrointestinal bleeding. She was so weak she collapsed on the toilet. Even with Tom helping, the best I could do was place her on towels on the bathroom floor. Her legs were like spaghetti. She doesn’t know the year, she thinks it’s 1900 something. She has no idea who is president and is making up nonsense words.
I spent three hours trying to stabilize her at home. When I realized she was bleeding I told her there wasn’t anything more I could do at home. I wouldn’t be able to keep her comfortable. Her reply broke my heart. She said, “I think it’s just my time to go.” She wasn’t talking about going to the hospital but to her true home in heaven. I think in her misery, she looked at it as a relief from suffering. I know it will be, but I will miss her so when that time comes.
My husband was a great help. I know caregiving is not his thing but today he helped with some nasty jobs that can turn a pro’s stomach. Finally, we got her into the wheelchair and back to bed. That was when I realized she was bleeding. We couldn’t safely take her by car, so I called the paramedics. They had just returned from picking someone up at Mt. Rainier, pulled into the station, turned around and headed for our house–a very late dinner for them.
The hospital staff has been kind. I’m thankful I speak the lingo. It makes things easier. There is a certain understanding in a shared technical language. I think it’s one of the ways we cope. Medical jargon, for the most part, is not emotionally laden.
The specialist just left. We had a frank discussion about goals for Mom, end of life issues, and how much medical intervention makes sense for someone who has already beaten the odds by living to be 54 days shy of 92. For the most part we are on the same page. We have both seen people tortured by medical intervention. He recommended stopping some treatments and I agree. We decided not to do aggressive treatments, and Mom said thank you.
Finally, the doctor broached the subject of Hospice. It’s a hard discussion. Had I been able to give Mom the treatment she needed today, at home, instead of spending hours in the emergency room and a few days in the hospital, I would have kept her at home.
Hospitals are noisy, bright, full of germs and confusing especially for those already confused. If we can keep her comfortable and well cared for at home until her final days, it would be a good thing.
It’s now 4:30 A.M. and I just arrived home with an armful of dirty laundry that made the trip to the hospital with her. She was clean, warm, dry, and well taken care of when I left but I’m keyed up and sleep still seems far away. It could be from the cup of coffee I drank at the hospital so I could stay awake to drive home.
Tomorrow more decisions will need to be made. Right now I’m grateful for the care readily available in our country. We are so fortunate and have much to be thankful for. I’m thankful competent nurses and doctors are caring for my mom tonight. Thankfully for supportive family and to our always faithful God. I’m going to bed now. Goodnight, Mom.
Have a good caregiving day,