Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Newer Update

I love you guys so much. Thank you to all the friends who continue to keep Jack's mom and our family in your thoughts and prayers. I just can't say thank you enough.

Some wonderful things have happened as far as timing. It was a frustrating process trying to get her transported down here to another hospice company jurisdiction, but it did happen. She was put in their facility nearby a few days ago, to be watched over the weekend to see if she'd stabilize enough to have her come home here. We've been there the whole time, tag-teaming with each other so someone's with her round the clock. Yesterday, I could have sat in the floor and wept with joy because the doctor told us that unless we really want to have her moved again, she is approved to stay there for the duration. This place is like no other place I've seen, though I've not seen many hospices. The room is quiet, surrounded by beauty and a private garden and porch with its own living room right there in a part of the room bumped out with a bay window. There are only 6 total rooms, 6 total patients at one time. The room is completely private and the rest of it's set up like a house nicer than anything we've lived in...ever. But it's family-friendly, which means there's an actual BED for us to sleep in right there in the same room with her (twin bed, that is) and a reclining armchair.

All that to say that we have a family conference about whether to move her or not, but since she has not stabilized, it has quickly been decided that we're better off staying there since it's only 20 minutes away...the other hospice was 1 1/2 hours away. Her complications quickly exceeded anything I'd be able to handle round-the-clock here...so when the doctor said he'd recommend she stay there and not be moved, I wanted to just weep with relief.

I won't detail my MIL's physical changes, but I will say in the past 24 hours, there has been a turn to the final stretch. She has been unable to swallow (and hasn't wanted to) any fluids or food for 48 hours now...anything attempted along those lines makes her choke. The nurses there are exceptional and closely watch and monitor things without unnecessary interference. They handle a lot of tasks I'd never have been confident of doing well myself with Mima being so fragile. I've helped them as I can, and they've taught me a lot, but I'm so relieved to be able to be there with her without having to do it all.

That is SUCH a huge answer to prayer!! I have some trepidation when I'm there alone with her that I'll be the only person with her when she dies...and I've never been with anyone when they die. I've never had to think of questions such as how to tell a loved one their mom or grandmother or wife just died. And it's odd the insignificant details that crowd in at just this time, too...such as will I have enough time to run to the store and get a pair of stockings for the funeral, etc. So very very strange, to eat meals, when in the next room Jack's mom can't even take liquid medicine from a syringe, or to watch TV with the sound turned on the lowest setting, while inches away she labors for breath. Such incongruent contrasts.

I call in to her husband daily with a progress report. Yesterday, I asked him how he was holding up...he is frail and old and has been fairly stoic even in his visits, not really speaking with her at all, but just sitting there. His reply is one I'll not soon forget.

"I'm alone and desolate. And no, I don't anyone to come by here and check on me."

Sometimes, as I sit there listening to the sounds of my MIL breathing in her sleep, I look into the shadows of my own greatest fear...of losing my own spouse someday. I can barely think in that direction without a wall of panic welling up in me. How do people survive it? Then I pray for my husband...a lot.

I don't think these thoughts are especially dark or morbid, but I do think I've been shielded all my life from their being a part of my understanding as a whole. As such, I'm in uncharted territory. It's a territory I'm not so sure I'm glad to be charting.

Those are just my thoughts, but the reality is that this is someone else's life, and she's had a very long and good one.

All I have is gratefulness that my husband can right this moment, even as I type this, be there with his mom...God worked out all the details in just the right way, better than we could even have hoped. Had there been no other option than to have her transferred from the other hospice to our house (their policy only allowed for a one week stay), then this local hospice would not have been involved in the transfer and oversight of the situation. But they are, and it's the perfect situation, better than we could even offer right here.

The doctor today said "it" would be soon. I can't stand to see anyone not be able to swallow, eat, or drink. But she still wants to live, and I have a hard time understanding how she will be no more because of her body not co-operating with some basic functions anymore.

We are so much more than the sum of our body parts and functions.

Tired, grateful, sad, grateful, and needing a hot shower...
I'm all those things. I'll be back with an update in the next day or two.

Of all those things, most of all I'm grateful :)


earth heart said...

I am relieved for you as well that you do not need to shoulder any more responsibility than you have presently and your MIL is where she needs to be in the best place possible. Take care of yourselves, too.

Nola @ AlamoNorth said...

What a blessing that your mil is in a caring environment. I can tell from your posts that a burden has been lifted from your shoulders.
Right now, just "be", do what you need to do to take care of your mil and yourself. Don't worry about details like the stockings, and the notification, if you can possibly put it out of your mind. The only thing I might suggest is that you notify people in person if at all possible, or at least make sure they are not alone when you tell them. At that moment, just having someone to hold you makes a huge difference. You are in my prayers, Nola

Paulette said...

It sounds like things have worked out for the best. God is good, and will give you the strength you need. Hang in there.

Kathie said...

Wow, what a moving post. Keeping you all covered in prayer.

MeadowLark said...

Just so you know that one more person has you in her prayers.

One among many, for you are loved.

Miriam said...

That hospice sounds wonderful. I hope that you and your family find peace and comfort.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad she's somewhee comfortable for everyone. Thinking of you and your family, but particularly you, as you journey down this unfamiliar pth. xoxo