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March 23, 2016: By My Mother’s Bedside

Last night I did night watch. And I will do this again tonight. I sent El home to get some rest, and if need be will do this again. It’s important – El’s exhausted. I am working at keeping her spirits up. In this respect I feel ineffectual and sadly inadequate. My stories of my life back in Alaska – this is all have – given what she’s dealing with they seem trite and meaningless.

It was a tough day. We were visited by Karen, the Adventist Hospital Palliative Care RN. Karen talked loud and slow – I think she thought that none of us, including my mother, could understand her. El and I later agreed that she was talking down to us – El speculated that this was because we were not very well dressed. We were both wearing jeans and tee shirts, no make-up – and both of us were in dire need of haircuts.

Karen told us that my mother would soon need to be moved. Never mind that she’s on oxygen, getting round the clock meds, and respiratory drugs. El tried to tell her that this isn’t possible at this time. I played good cop, agreeing with Karen, just to keep the peace. However, I did not like her attitude, which was that our mother is going to die, but will have to die elsewhere. Sure, she will die; she’s 86 years old and in rough shape. But my thinking was that we ought not yet write my mother off. I also am of the mind that the family’s thoughts on this matter should be taken into consideration.

Now, having been here for a day, a night, and a day, I have a better understanding of the situation. Dr. Nihilator says mother had a stroke about a week ago, and this affected her ability to swallow. She aspirated some food or fluid and this resulted in a respiratory infection. El thinks that mother had an allergic reaction to lactose and that once this is cleared up she will be just fine. Ms. Palliative care agreed with Dr. Nihilator. We are now spoon feeding her ice chips by spoon. I don’t think that the melted liquid is going down the wrong tube. We also suctioned her mouth out with this suction device, this got the coughed up mucous out.

I am realistic. I understand that if mother lives, that the quality of life might not be as good as previously. But I agree with El, at the very least, she should go in a better place than this – El would like to see her go back to Pacifica, where she was before, that is the assisted living facility.

We also had a visit from the hospital chaplain. After talking with us a bit, she said a heartfelt prayer. El and I later agreed that prayers are a good thing. But neither of us liked the death-related overtone. I did wonder what my mother thought, figured this probably scared the bejesus out of her.

I have been holding my mother’s hand, and sending her my love. I do not believe that there is a God, which is unless God is merely the spirit of love. That I can go with. I also believe that we who live on this planet need to love all people and all things. So I am sending her much positive energy. She has responded in kind by squeezing my hand tightly.

I thought today that I might write a screenplay in which the assembled characters are at a hospital bedside – family members, doctors, nurses, they all come and go. I have a lot of other projects to do but this could be another. I would like for people to know what all these people do and what their feelings are about the work they do. For instance, it is the ultimate form of love, to change a stranger’s diaper.

I am meeting death head on. You get to be a certain age and this becomes an inevitability. I know that I will have done the right thing when this is over, that is my being here. I am doing the right thing now. It is difficult because I am dealing with a complicated individual who lead a complicated life. But this is yet another story.

Next: 81. 3/24/16: Can’t Sleep, Won’t Sleep


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