Monday, June 29, 2020

Death Watch

Sunday morning I got the phone call we all dread. The Hospice Nurse at the Hospital was calling to inform Rich and his sister that the end was very near for his mother at the nursing home.

Just a few weeks ago it was determined that she'd be better served in the Hospice Program. Kidney Failure and CHF walk hand in hand and early this spring dialysis was discussed. As it would prolong her pain and cause her more pain [she totally freaks when poked by needles] it was thought that we'd address that when absolutely needed. 
I asked the Guardian to look into the paperwork that my MIL had done years ago and could be still on file with one of the larger hospitals for her wishes at end of life.

Since I hadn't seen any FB posts from Bethel Home that included photos of MIL doing activities with the other folks, I wondered how she was fairing and I'd made a note to ask the Guardian for an update.

With Covid-19 things get as we say *kittywhampus*. Shut off in our own little world of worries on the farm, I have been concentrating on safe ways to shop and do all the things we need to do to survive.

With the latest disturbing trend of infections, I've been especially careful regarding social distancing, masks, care for keeping people outside of our two person bubble at bay.

How near the end? I asked the Hospice Nurse and she said, *Don't wait.*

I'd done the chores already and had made enough food so Rich could have leftovers for his midday meal. He is too high risk to be going into the Nursing Home and he wouldn't be able to sit there very long. 

I showered and headed out the door after calling and making the phone calls I had to make. All the way into town, I my phone kept dinging with messages and questions. I can hit a button on my steering wheel and hear the messages. There was nothing but questions, so I just continued driving.

All systems are slowly fading away and she is clean and comfortable. The nurses here are exceptional and really DO love their patients. These people cannot be getting paid what they deserve. 

Elderly people used to frighten me. However spending having spent so much time at this Home in the past year has given me a different perspective.
These are not just 'nutters' stuck in a place out of sight. 
They are people, humans.
Not trash to be hidden away and forgotten. 
Pre Covid, I would spend time at some of the activities and was delighted with many of the residents.

Before the lockdown MIL's memory and time line was a bit off. She could not recall things. There were gaps in her memory and lost timelines.... but she could still come up with some wonderful one liners and make me laugh. 
Sure she was very ill with Kidney Failure and some form of dementia, but I still enjoyed visiting with her.
I assume it is frightening and frustrating to see mental and physical decline. It is too easy to just say that 'old' people are worthless and nothing but a burden on society. I see it in a differently but that is because it was one of MY old people.

Stephanie came and we sat together on each side of her bed. I sat on her bed and held her hand. 

I spent most of Sunday with her talking to her and later on I read her poetry from a book I'd brought with me. Don't know if she liked it or not, she sleeps, her muscles twitch, and she struggles to breath. 

I wiped the spittle of foam from her face and continued to have a quiet conversation with her. 
I told her how much I've always loved her for her kindness she has shown to me as a mother in law. And I mean it. She has always been nicer to me than my own mother.

There is a term that I hadn't heard before that is applied to her. *Actively Dying*

Her system is deciding when she will stop being. But the nurses did say that she can still hear our voices.

And so I will be doing temperature checks, wearing booties, a gown, a mask, and stay confined in a room with my MIL to be with her.
No one deserves to die in the company of strangers.

It won't be very long now, but I still need to care for my husband at home.


  1. You are so compassionate to go be with your MIL at this difficult time. Prayers for a peaceful passing for her and for comfort for you and Rich.

    1. It is tiring but as one of my friends at the home texted me, she was happy to see that I was coming as I was the only one who spent time with her for the past year or so. I used to have lunch with her nearly every other day. She is very peaceful right now.

  2. This time of life is no fun, been there a couple of times. Keep holding her hand and talking to her. I hope she passes peacefully. We waited 14 days with Far Guys was agony for him...and then when he was too exhausted to carry on I went to sit with her and she died. She and I never got along...she was a difficult woman.