With Sheila’s increasing complications from the effects of Parkinson’s I felt it was more and more important that we try to spend as much time with her as possible and she seemed to appreciate the closeness of those she loved. That why it was blow to learn that our beloved care taker, Cozette, had to return to the Philippines for a family emergency. The folks at Freedom Care sent over a substitute to handle things for a few weeks and “C.C.” had the chance to come by and get a proper indoctrination. If you’re wondering about these nicknames, I think, in many cases, it’s because their last names are impossible to pronounce. You can’t replace perfection, but C.C. did her best and took direction well. She was caring and efficient and we all got along.
As each day went by I realized how important that decision to enter into Hospice Care was playing. The extra helping hand and daily advice was reassuring. This special way of handling the last stages of life is so humane I was reminded of the times we had to “put down” one of our beloved dogs who was suffering and in pain. Sheila had held one of our big Newfoundlands in her lap as he slipped slowly into a deep sleep and I said, at the time, “It’s too bad we can’t treat ourselves with as much thought and compassion”. With human beings, of course, it’s not up to us to determine when “it’s time”, but we have the means to make the moment less traumatic and Hospice is of great help.
The new Midwest Care Center has its Grand Opening on August 9th in Glenview
The Hospice nurse gave me a booklet today, “Gone From My Sight” by Barbara Karnes, RN. It’s only 16 pages and I read it after kissing Sheila goodnight and going up to our quarters on the seventh floor. Actually I read it twice and I think what it had to say about the dying experience is going to help a great deal in getting through the next days or perhaps weeks. She points out that each person “approaches death in their own way……death is as unique as the individual who is experiencing it…….the actual dying experience often begins within the two weeks prior to death.” Sheila’s lack of appetite, constant sleeping and the picking at her blankets and clothes are just signs that “Focus is changing from this world to the next; they are losing their grounding”
This lady’s words came at an opportune time as they explained exactly what was going on and it all made sense. Her web site will offer you much more information and help in coping with the imminent death of a loved one. (Click here for a direct connection)
Unfortunately we live in the most death denying society in the world and there are some who just refuse to admit that Mom and Dad won’t be around forever. Of course, there is nothing more tragic than to loose a child or a loved one in an accident or a horrible tragedy like the shootings in Aurora, Colorado. Nothing could prepare you for those events. But for the normal “end of life” occurrence there is so much that can be done in advance. Wills and Trusts, of couse, and Power of Attorney for Health Care and Property are simple to establish, but most important to my wife and me was to make sure that when the time came, no one tried to extend our life. Neither of us wanted to be hooked up to ventilators or kept alive in a vegetative state. And it’s so simple to take care of all of this right now, no matter how old or young you are.
Suggestion #11 – Plan for your end of life procedures now.
Life was getting a bit hectic for me with the closing on the big house, a taping session of some commercials for a reverse mortgage company, getting tax material together for the accountant and setting up the web site archives with WGN Radio and TV. I began wondering what sleep used to feel like.
Speaking of sleep, Sheila was doing more and more of it. Yet, there were moments of clarity and she recognized me and smiled. I decided to tell her the house had sold knowing she was always concerned about finances and that was assurance that everything would be taken care of, no matter what course the future might take.
It was time to make sure all the family knew of the current situation so I e-mailed everybody on March 9th to bring them up to date. On that Friday they put Sheila on full time oxygen after noting that her breathing was becoming labored and was double the normal 20 breaths a minute. Her blood pressure was O.K. and although they hadn’t used the E TUBE in quite awhile, it was a perfect way now to give her pain medication, when needed. She didn’t really stay awake much on the weekend, although someone was in the room with her all the time, she didn’t do any talking, but did sip some liquids. On Monday, March 12th her blood pressure was way low and they put cold compresses on her forehead and neck to try and cool her down. She didn’t respond when I kissed her goodnight.
The Final Chapter, next Friday, August 3rd.