Thursday, December 26, 2013

Random Thoughts for After Christmas

Mom made the decision to come off dialysis. Her last treatment was December 19th.  She was pretty adamant that she didn't want to die on Christmas, and thankfully we have passed that milestone.

This has been a hard journey for everyone involved.  Bittersweet feelings about the holiday.  It just didn't feel too Christmasy to me.  One of the small blessings though is that both of my kiddos said they had a wonderful Christmas. So hopefully future X-Mas times will remain joyous for them.  Time will tell how we adults will do.

We have also been blessed to have so many good friends and family who have visited.  Mom perks up as much as she is able to greet people and say goodbye.  Those who have visited have helped buoy the spirits of those of us here on watch as well.  It is not easy sitting vigil while a loved one dies, even more difficult when all around people are celebrating.

We are at the Hospice House of Mercy in Hiawatha, Iowa.  Another blessing, as many of the things we have done to make Mom's last days so good would have been difficult, I'd not impossible at my folks house.  They even do the dishes, which wouldn't sound like such a chore. But it seems daunting to me as I spend more time here.  They are good people.  There are a couple of outstanding individuals among them as well. Karla and Kramer.  A couple of the RN's who have gone above and beyond in their care for mom and the rest of us as well.

Another strange thing is having a medical background in this sort of thing, knowing the steps most people take while dying signs and symptoms and so forth.  Yet somehow I forget a step here or an indicator there. Almost like my brain is just being a family member and not a paramedic.  Natural to happen I suppose, but strange for me.

Here's the thing about death, though.  When Dad died the first time I remember so vividly starting the drive to Cedar Rapids, pretty sure with my medic background that if they had been working him for an hour, his chances were beyond not so good.  I remember wishing I had said goodbye.  Told him that I loved him and was proud to be his son.  That he had done a fantastic job of being a father, no matter what he thought.  Fortunately he came back and I was able to convey those feelings.  Mom's dying process has been drawn out, and I have had the chance to tell her my feelings and thoughts. I have had that initial shock of grief in realizing that I won't see her again for quite some time. I have had time to mourn the things I will miss about her and reflect on the times we had together.  Don't get me wrong, I am really very blessed to have the chance to do all that.  But now it is just waiting.  Checking her vitals when the nurses do.  Looking for the telltale signs that death is approaching as I was trained to do. Part of me looking at things clinically. Numbly.  Part of me is just really, really sad.  Lump in my throat, will probably cry at cheesy commercials sad.  I am certain that any depression screening done right now would come back with higher than usual scores.

The day is starting. People are starting to visit. Staff is doing their thing.  So I'll go for now.  Watching.