When I got so depressed that I left TuD and everything, this blog series disappeared. I believe it might still be helpful and supportive of our community values. TuD was with me every step of the way. I could post at 3AM, 3000 miles away from home and find comfort. She died peacefully on 3/20/10. I will repost the diary of her death for a few days....
Mom's Death Journal beginning March 7, 2010
Dear TuD Friends, as close as family---I post this rather intimate update to my family because we with The D are all subject to kidney failure. But also because my very hard-working family couldn't help my Mom die in her own bed without a lot of subsidized help. So--if you wish to vote against Medicare/assistance for the elderly---well, take a breath and think about your Moms.....
Monday was last appointment with Dr Morrison. Mom’s Creatnine level is 4.97. Dialysis required if she wanted it. Hemoglobin at 9.5---anemic---common at this stage of kidney failure. No dialysis at this stage means a few weeks. By all reports it is not a painful death and the bothersome symptoms can be suppressed with modern meds. If you want more detail on the dying process in this kind of case, be sure to google something like “end stage renal failure no dialysis.” Otherwise things jump right to dialysis or transplant. And if you want to do that, it is significant that she is still producing a little urine, so that adds some time to the process.
The hospice team is in place and excellent. Bev is RN and case manager, an earthy, loving woman with a daughter in NYC becoming a playwright. Laura is the social worker---she and I have bonded on several fronts. She is facilitating things like Ft Snelling’s Chapel for a service and taking on the VA for the money Mom is due. Judy is volunteer coordinator---the volunteers can come for up to 4 hours a week and during the day when it is easier for me to run errands or have lunch with someone----they can also run the errands for me, socialize with Mom and give her lunch if it is a day when food is of interest. They can’t do any nursing-type stuff. Tanya is the lovely young Chaplain----but no Bible Thumping is involved. She is engaging Mom in Storytelling about her long life (as have Bev and Laura---they all work to pull life stories out of their charges and me, too) and we think she will be able to do a credible job of personalizing any service we do for Mom. Mom likes them all and feels free now to storytell, but also to weep. She’s wept a lot the last couple days, early this morning about missing her Mother. As you can imagine she is always gracious, but we considered it a breakthrough today when she was comfortable enough with both Bev and Tanya to stay snugged up in her blankets on the couch while visiting instead of forcing herself to sit for too long. By evening we were engaged more pragmatically with her wondering how we would all manage to deal with all her stuff. But it is a day at a time.
Except ALL days are improved by watching MASH episodes or Oliver’s Travels (PBS Mystery with Alan Bates) or Auntie Mame.
We have kept the county services, including diapers and Ensure, but the main one being Ginny who comes 2 evenings for 3 hours each still. She engages Mom socially beautifully which I consider most important, though she also does laundry and makes Mom’s bed up and gives her dinner. Paula and I had dinner at Crossroads once while she was here, as did Ray and I. But usually, I just have dinner in my room and read.
Allina Hospice is there for us around the clock. Mom had a terrible cold last week and Bev was available to me at a moment’s notice if needed. They have weekend folks for non-urgent advice, as well as Triage personnel who will come out in the middle of the night if needed. They are the first call we make in any crisis now (including death) and then we go from there. They are also affiliated with Doc Morrison’s outfit and so have easy access to info as they need it. Mom and Dad are all paid up at the cremation Society which covers all kinds of issues and makes our lives much easier when hers is over.
Disabled Vets of America are picking up six big bags of clothes tomorrow. Many books I’ve distributed to the Condo’s laundry rooms where the Good Neighbors can enjoy them. Others are boxed for the Goodwill. But I am leaving a good selection on the shelves for awhile. Does anyone want to take on an exquisite little copy of Paradise Lost that belonged to Gramma Mabel? Or Mom’s old Bible which is quite lovely.
David and I talk every night. His Mom has come through the first round of very targeted radiation on her brain tumor quite well. She’s got maybe a year. They are trying to keep that brain working well as long as possible! I forgot to get recent word on the lung cancer---first focus has been brainward!
Enid is still very much a part of this team. The very Essence of what being a good neighbor can mean. Other neighbors have dropped off little sweet treats like brownies and donuts. And I attended one of the coffee parties, as did Sonya and enjoyed meeting them all.
I can usually get in 2-3 20” walks in the hallways each day, as well as my workouts in the living room first thing. I do indeed give Mom a full report on all changes in Door Decorations! Helena and the baby have been here a couple times to our delight and it looks like we get to see Daniel this weekend, too. In case any of you have missed the news---Sebastian is not just walking---he’s soaring, it would appear. The world is new all over again for him every single day!
Mom loves getting cards and news---oh and some of you have sent computer photos and those have been great too. All these things engage her and me, too!
Enough and more than enough. Be well all.....J
More notes. I hope you don't mind.....Also available to me through Hospice is a "Home Health Aide". He or she is certified to do showers and change bandages and the like. But I find that doing these things involves a Mother-Daughter Tenderness that I won't relinquish just yet. Might have to before the End, but not yet. Interesting and not expected. Mom is slightly less humiliated if I am doing these things, and that is a big part of it, even though sometimes we think a stranger might be better for that reason. But then, I am the elder daughter, and I suspect that is part of it in her somewhat looney brain (Dementia increases as the kidneys fail).
Today she was concerned with catching a plane to go home---seemed to think since I was with her, she was in PDX! Yesterday she was upset because she had done nothing to "make arrangements for and plan" her own funeral (she has. just can't remember). I am comforted, though, to know I can call on such a person if only for the most basic practicalities of such situations---it will probably get harder to get her in and out of the shower, for instance!
These evenings are so peaceful when she is all snug in her covers, and so I seem to be in the mood to write!.....Best to all, with fondness, as ever.....Picture is of me and my sister administering pain meds during her last week: