Still Bonnie

Patrick and I made good time on our trip back home. It was a beautiful day for a long drive. My mood has been stable except for when Patrick’s mother called this morning to wish us a safe trip, or when I read kind and supportive comments on Facebook, this blog, in email or in texts. “I know it’s a rough time for you,” my mother-in-law said when she called. We were both choking up. She has been through this – with her husband, which I imagine is exponentially more painful. So many people have been through this with parents, too. Of course I will miss Mom and this is a rough time. But I want this to be over for her because now what I see when I look at her is suffering. And I have missed her for a long time. When the hospice social worker asked me during the admission process how I expected I would feel when Mom dies, I said that I worried I would never remember what my relationship was like with her before she got sick. My brother and sister are flying in Friday night. I imagine we’ll share stories, and they will help me remember.

This is the most recent photo I took of Mom, when she was having a good day and was very alert during lunch - there is even a hint of a smile on her face.

This is the most recent photo I took of Mom, when she was having a good day and was very alert during lunch – there is even a hint of a smile on her face.

Mom improved a little bit today. She was more alert and even tried to have a laugh with a nurse. She was not interested in eating, but she did enjoy receiving sips of juice. The fever she had yesterday, which seemed like a bad sign, was gone today. But a new wound opened on her other, previously healthy, foot. When Patrick and I entered her room, an aide tried to prop Mom up a little bit in bed so she could look at us. I was surprised that she did this, because I just wanted Mom to be able to rest and let us look at her. But she was trying to be helpful. “So she can see you,” she said.

Mom is receiving steady doses of morphine and she is typically asleep by 7:45 p.m., which was about the time we arrived. The upper part of her bed is elevated to keep her somewhat upright, presumably to reduce the complications of aspiration. She is producing a gurgling sound in her upper airway, which the nurse described as a signal that the dying process has begun. She had oxygen tubes in her nose – this is strictly for comfort, not to prolong life. She moved her mouth from time to time as if she were dreaming about eating. She had some involuntary spasms, which I have noticed for awhile. She didn’t look quite comfortable enough for my taste. But I’m hopeful that anything that looks like distress to me is something her brain doesn’t register. We held her hand and she seemed to respond to that touch, at least a little bit. The nurse said she does still seem to be trying to communicate. At one point, she briefly grimaced. I hope we didn’t hurt her with all of our touching.

Tomorrow I’ll be back to watch her during the daylight hours, and to quiz the hospice social worker, who said she plans to look in on Mom. Even if the dying process is in progress, which appears to be the case, I get the feeling it is impossible to predict how long it will take.

4 comments so far

  1. Jennifer Knowles on

    This is so hard!!! Nothing can make it easier for you. I miss my Mom everyday but she was gone for years. I am so sorry Emily!!

  2. Barb Vogel on

    Very hard and sad. At least we remember when she was witty and fun loving.

  3. patwhite67 on

    Emily, I am thinking of you as you sit with your mom. Just remember that she can appreciate your physical touch and your voice as you speaking soothingly to her. When you feel the time is appropriate, perhaps after your brother and sister arrive, let your mom know it’s okay for her to go. Reassure her that you all will be fine, that you will miss her, but it will be all right. I well remember this unique time with each of my parents. Maybe your mom’s hospice nurse has already spoken to you about speaking to your mom. During this non-verbal time your mom may in her own way be reviewing her life and making peace with situations important to her.

  4. joolzmac on

    Thinking of you… xxx

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