Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Thanks to all of you who left such kind and supportive words on my prior blog about my mom. My mom remains in hospice care. When my sister Pam called me on my ski vacation with an emergency message, mom had been feeling rocky and had gotten an emergency appointment with a cardiologist. Mom has congestive heart failure (not a new diagnosis) and her condition was deteriorating. The cardiologist said her only treatment option was a pacemaker, which she refused. Momís doctor originally thought she had two or three weeks left and placed her into hospice care. After 2 days back at her nursing home, momís vital signs were bad (heart rate 40 or less, blood pressure very low) and her doctor thought she would only last a few days with her heart pumping so weakly. So Pam called me and I went to California.
While I was there, without any extraordinary treatment, and with one of her heart medications stopped because of side effects, mom improved from the crisis. Her heart rate and blood pressure were almost normal during my entire visit. I can tell that she is MUCH sicker than when I last saw her (3 weeks ago). She sleeps almost all the time. She canít get up to the bathroom by herself any more. Her mind wanders off and she loses her place in the conversation. But she was really glad to have us all there, and she was communicating and discussing her plans. She takes great interest in planning her funeral and memorial service reception, and in updating her bequests. I had the opportunity to meet her hospice nurse and her primary care physician, who are very caring and compassionate. My brother and I visited the chapel where she wants the service and the rose memorial garden where she wants her ashes left. A homeless guy was sleeping in the churchyard memorial garden, which would have worried mom (I didnít tell her). I left knowing she was in good hands, and realizing that her time on earth is short. But that it could also be several weeks or even months.
Part of momís charitable impulses created a huge issue at her nursing home. She told all of us (her adult children) that she had gotten special permission to give cash gifts to the staff (they are prohibited from accepting tips or gifts from the residents). She told many of the staff (in our presence) that she had received permission from administration to give them a gift, and slipped them a card with cash (ranging from $50 to $300). Well, she is hard of hearing and mostly blind and getting confused. She did NOT have permission, and the nursing home policy is that the staff can be fired for accepting a gift. The nursing home management has said they will NOT fire the staff who accepted the gifts because mom misinformed them by telling them it was approved; but they want the staff to turn in the cash and donate the money to a charity. What a mess. I donít put it past mom to forget and do it all over again.
I maybe left too soon; mom was out of immediate danger and improving for several days. But yesterday (Wednesday) I called mom, my sister Pam answered. She said mom had been very sick since Tuesday. The hospice RN and doctor were back, and had given mom medication and morphine to help her rest. Today she was put on oxygen because her oxygen saturation was down. I talked to mom briefly; she does not want me to come back yet. She feels worse today, she is nauseated and not eating (this could be a side effect from the medication). She had a visit from a much loved pastor and had her faith renewed and restored. I know that faith brings her great comfort.
None of us know when the end will come.