3:07 am 7/1/17 (blogged for 6/30/17)
On Wednesday I posted an entry called Is there a twist? In it I said that the writer in me was wondering when the twist would come when we received the news that my mother would recover from her illness after we were told on Sunday that she would not.
The twist made itself known the very next day on Thursday. While my mother’s lab numbers were indeed getting better, she, however, was not. In fact, she was more weak than she was when we brought her to the hospital on Sunday.
Upon hearing the good news on Wednesday, I had scheduled a meeting for Thursday with the social worker at the hospital to discuss assisted living options. However, when we met with her on Thursday, I hijacked the meeting from our original topic and we instead discussed Mom’s option to decline further medical treatment.
Mom’s been telling me often, for well over a year, that she’s ready to die. She’s even said she wished she would just not wake up some morning. It just took me this long to finally listen to her and for this, I’m ashamed of myself. In a moment of clarity Thursday morning, as I put on my make-up, I understood what I needed to do. What she needed me to do.
After a very frank discussion with the social worker, we understood Mom’s choices.
The social worker talked to several of Mom’s doctors and all were in agreement with the prognosis. They came in to tell Mom the news.
Even though the problems she came in for were getting better, her heart condition was worse and it is the cause of her to not gaining strength. She would not get better without open heart surgery.
When Mom heard this she was adamant that she wasn’t going to have surgery. Which I knew. She said that back in October when she was diagnosed. This time, though, the doctors actually agreed that at her age that was probably the right decision.
We talked about her options. How she could reject all medicine and attempts to extend her life and just accept treatment that would ease her pain. How the medical community would neither help to sustain life but nor would it hasten death. Nature would take it course in the most painless manner possible.
Palliative Care. Hospice.
For the first time in a long, long time, my mom looked relieved. She could finally be done.
One doctor, the one who told her she would survive “the event” we brought her to the hospital for, didn’t seem quite as on board with the decision to stop all treatments as the other doctors. He told her that he understood her viewpoint, but she should know that she wasn’t “actively dying” and no one knew how long she could live in her current state.
Actively Dying. Those words have stuck with me since he said them. They make perfect sense. I think it’s the inference that if there’s an “actively dying” there must be a “passively dying”, and everyone who isn’t actively dying is passively dying. Which I knew, of course. I just never thought of it quite that way.
Friday morning we met with the Palliative Care team and devised a care plan. Last week at this time, I didn’t even know what a care plan was.
We worked with the social worker to get mom placed in a hospice near our house. They transferred her there Friday afternoon by ambulance and Dennis and met her there to do the paperwork to get her admitted. This is the same place I checked my dad into 6 years ago when he had a stroke, although, that was a much different experience. Same vivid memories, though, when I walked into the building.
When I walked into Mom’s room, I was stunned. It’s gorgeous. She has a patio door and a big bay window that looks out on to a terrace where there are trees, flowers and small river. They have wildlife everywhere, and she was sitting up in bed watching the birds in the bird feeder.
For the first time in well over a year, if not longer, Mom actually looked happy.
4:02 am 7/1/17 – (blogged for 6/30/17)