Since the medical crisis of the weekend is over and dad is now back “home”, it is time to start a new chapter of this journey that we have been on. Dad is now in hospice care at the facility. This means that when he has another situation arise like the one this past weekend, he will not be transported to the hospital, but treated at the facility. This cycle will most likely be repeated somewhat regularly since he is having issues with swallowing. His muscles no longer work they way they were designed and food doesn’t always get to the stomach, but ends up in the lungs which then turns into an infection.
So what does this new chapter of the journey hold for us? I really don’t know. I know that there have been some initial changes – things like his chart is now pink rather than red. It stands out on the cart holding all the patient charts! It tells the staff at a glance that he is in a different category – at least medically! It means that he is now at a different table for meals. They need to watch him more closely. It means he will be taken off of most of his meds – because they are difficult to swallow. It means that the disease is winning and he is closer to leaving this world.
My uncle has been at this same facility and has been on hospice care then entire time he has been here – just over a year. My aunt and cousins have been pleased with how he has been cared for and the relationships that have developed with the staff. I saw him yesterday – he is on his way out of this world and into the next. I spent about an hour with my aunt and cousins as they waited with him. My cousin, a nurse, said it was hard watching and waiting. My uncle was working so hard for each breath. She was just wanting him to let go of this world and step into the next.
Letting go will be the hardest part when the time goes and the hospice nurse said that at some point we will need to give my father permission to go. Not looking forward to that time and hoping that God will give me some advance warning. God has already ordained the number of days that are left for him – I don’t want to hurry through them, but enjoy the time that my dad still has. I want to be able to hold my dad and share the memories that I have of the times we have had together and put together a book of photos to remember him by.
I am not sure I am looking forward to this next chapter. There are a lot of uncertainties and yet a lot of beauty at the same time. Pray for my family as we walk this new path. Pray that we can be salt and light to my family and that we will not miss out on the blessings that the LORD has for us in this time.
Late afternoon update:
One of the things that increases as one comes closer to the end is anxiety. This is definitely happening with my dad. He was told about the death of my uncle and the anxiety was severe enough that they needed to give him medication to calm him down. My dad has not been an anxious type, but then he has never been at this stage before.
In some ways, he does seem to need hospice care – he is back to his cantankerous self. But then if one really looks, one can see the anxiety in his eyes.
Mom is very worn out emotionally. She will be sad to see me leave tomorrow – but she knows that I will be back soon. Since hearing about the death of my uncle, she is starting to plan. I am not sure how to handle all this planning. But I listen and answer her questions – at least I try. There is much to consider.
Wednesday 23 March:
Dad was not good today. He has been taken off of all of his meds and he is only on meds for controlling pain and anxiety. The pain meds are strong and dad is extremely sensitive to medication. This morning he was non responsive and pretty much non communicative. When he did speak, his speech was so slurred that I could barely make out what he was saying. He has lost weight and is not eating nearly as much as he was prior to going into the hospital. Mom is not comfortable with the meds that they are using for pain.
So rather than going home today as I had planned, I am staying to help mom process and to work through some medical issues with the staff at the facility. Pray for wisdom and guidance as I navigate through this particular issue. Thanks.
Thursday 24 March:
Dad was very groggy yesterday and after doing some research and talking with my brother, we are hoping to make a change in his medications. I will be meeting with one of the hospice nurses around 1 PM today. Pray that we can come up with a plan that is agreeable to all parties. Pray that I can listen well and represent my mom and brother’s opinions well. Options are somewhat limited due to his swallowing issues and his fragile state at the moment.