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March 24, 2016: Can’t Sleep, Won’t Sleep

The machines continue to make low pitched, exhale like sounds. I wonder, where is the oxygen coming from? I don’t see a tank. This is something one would not consider immediately upon entering a room – sad to say, my now being here for two days has got me to wondering. It’s night, I’m sitting in the most uncomfortable chair ever made. It’s like it was designed to keep people at bay.

This situation cannot go on. No one can subsist on pure oxygen, and in fact it is over the long haul detrimental to one’s health. The body’s cells need more than this. And the air dries one out. Mother’s lips and mouth are dry – she keeps saying “thirsty,” “dry,” and “water.” So I oblige, by feeding her ice chips out of a Styrofoam cup, one at a time. I first have to raise the bed and after, lower it. The angle of her head has to be just right, so I have to get a CNA to assist me in making adjustments. How could anything seemingly so simple be so difficult?

Mother also can’t go without eating. The current missing link (and there is always one) is the speech therapist, who I am told could give dietary advice, but can’t give it until the oxygen level is dropped. The problem is that feeding the wrong things could lead to aspiration, which could lead to choking, which could lead to death. However, going without food will also in time lead to death, and not a very pleasant one.

No one seems to be on top of the situation. The job of the CNA and nurses is to do as the doctor says. It’s a hierarchy, with the doctor being the one who makes the decisions and the CNAs doing the skut work. A case in point – Mother’s doctor has thus far, only put in one appearance. Dr. Neonater is tall, thin, soft spoken, African American, I think from South Africa. El and I speculated that he probably has been told that dying Medicare patients need to be moved on quickly, otherwise, he gets demerit points. All he told us is that mother is going to need to moved elsewhere. As I understood it, there will be peaks and valleys, in descending order – the final low point being death.

I drew some cartoons tonight and taped them to the walls. One says “Rally Sally,” and another says “Strong like Bull.” The latter is our battle cry. I request, and mother yells it out every so often, and with considerable vigor.

Tough times may be ahead. Yesterday I saw an x-ray of her chest – it looked like there was a baseball at the base of her bronchi. I asked the radiologist for an interpretation, but of course he did not give it. However, Mother’s vital signs have been good, so perhaps her lungs are clearing up.

El and I both hope that we can get Mother out of here. El would like for her to be around for mother’s day – she wants to get her out and show her the flowers. I myself just want her to be moved to another location – her dying here would be absolutely sucky.

I’m not going to get any sleep tonight. I want to sleep because this way time will pass faster. Night is when people die. This to me is a scary thought.

Mother is now mouth breathing. The respiratory therapist told me that this is a good thing, that she’s getting more than just plain oxygen into her system. She’s just raised her hand and pointed to her mouth. I must go and find some ice chips and begin the hydration process anew.

Next: 82. 3/25/16: While She Sleeps

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