I'm sitting in semi darkness in my mother's room at The Homestead. I'll be staying a good part of the night with her. Her decline continues. She is now fully bedridden. First she was having such trouble sitting up in her wheel chair that Dad started feeding her in her room on a recliner. She seemed to do better there as it was easier to stretch out her torso and allow the food to go down rather than coming back up which was fairly frequent. It was a number of days before she threw up again. We were concerned about her getting bedsores so they alternated her sitting in the recliner and lying in her bed. Next the hospice nurse decided it was too taxing for Mom to move back and forth so now she stays in bed full time and just gets rotated from side to side every couple of hours. They change her in bed, dress her in bed, bathe her in bed. Who knew you could wash someone's hair while they are in bed? Her breathing became so rapid and labored that the nurse started her on a low dose of morphine when her rate would get above 32 breaths a minute. Her kidneys have started to shut down. We only offered soft food in small quantities. Sometimes she ate and sometimes she preferred sleep. The throwing up started again though and we have realized that her stomach is shutting down. Last night she kept down a couple bites of yogurt but this morning she threw up the 2 tablespoons of applesauce she ate. So now no food. And no water. She will just choke on that and it puts her at a greater risk to get pneumonia which would be an even worse way to die. She is on morphine full time now and today the dosage was upped some too. When she starts doing sit ups, we know she is no longer comfortable. She breathes through her mouth so the hardest thing for me is not giving her water. I can just imagine how dry her mouth is and I want to cry for her. We swab her mouth and she clamps onto the swab to suck every drop of moisture out of it. I wish I could do more. I wish she could just go and put an end to all this. It is hard to watch her and feel helpless to make her feel better. Today employees that won't be working again until next week came in to say good bye to her. It was very touching to see how much they love her. One wasn't even working today. She said she just felt like she should come right now so she did. Another came and whispered in her ear for a bit and then turned and left without saying a word as she fought back tears. That made me weepy and I've been so since. Angie who has been one of our most beloved aides has been crying with us and is ever so tender with Mom. She told us that they have cut back her work hours. No more full time aides. I told her we are all worried about her with fewer work hours. She is a widow and sole supporter for her children. I told her I was afraid she would have to leave for another job with more hours. Her immediate response was, "Not while Inga is here." She gave me her phone number and asked us to call if anything happens before she gets back to work next week And judging from the aides coming in to say goodbye, they seem to think that Mom won't be here past the weekend.
I find that once tender teary-ness has started it is difficult to control. Witnessing the tenderness of the employees here started it for me today. I had been okay this evening until Mom woke up and I could assist her by swabbing her mouth and helping the aide turn her. Then as I looked into her clouded eyes I could no longer control my emotions. I don't know how much Mom understands of what we say to her but I hope that deep down inside somewhere she felt me say I love her and I'll miss her. I wouldn't keep her here in mortality for anything and will rejoice in her being freed from the body that holds her spirit captive but it doesn't mean I won't miss her. I love you Mom.