July 16, 2017
This week has been another learning experience. When I was a young woman, I watched my grandmother, who was a nurse, take care of her mother as she was dying at age 93. It was difficult to watch my great grandmother declining day by day….eating and drinking less and less, moving less and less, fighting infections, sleeping all of the time, urinating and defecating less and less and without control. And it was difficult to watch my then 73 year old grandmother do all the hard labor necessary to care for a dying person. Fortunately my grandmother was bigger than my great grandmother and a sturdy woman. She put my great grandmother on a bed in the middle of the living room and my grandmother slept on the couch during the last few months of my great grandmother’s life so she could be near to catch any changes or needs. What dedication! What love! None of her five siblings or 4 daughters or two sons came to give her a break. They all said, why don’t you put her in a nursing home? She replied, “I cannot do that! She is my MOMMY!” My grandmother and great grandmother had always been close, even sharing a duplex home during the last 20 years of my great grandmother’s life.
Marjorie has been declining this week. She started out the week by telling me when she needed to use the bedpan, but then sometimes I would get her on it and she could not go. Other times she would go without asking to use the bedpan. Now she does not tell me, and when I ask her she says she does not have to go and she is unaware that she just goes. She has not had a bowel movement in five days. She wants to sleep all of the time. She eats and drinks very little. I wake her up to drink if I have to so she is drinking at least six times a day. She loves Pepsi, so I bought her Pepsi in hopes that she will drink more. Today I discovered that she has a sore and swollen left wrist. We are seeing the doctor tomorrow. I scheduled a Wheels ride today. She is not in any pain except for the wrist, and she says it only hurts if it is touched. One of her diagnosis is severe osteoporosis.
My mother, who was a very dedicated nurse and loved her patients, told me that everyone has to die of something. We all just want to fall asleep and not wake up, but the reality is that there is a decline that precipitates the ‘falling asleep and not waking up’. There are many statistics available about the number of falls that cause death among the elderly. In my opinion, most of the time, the falling is part of a natural decline at the end of life. But I am not God, and there is no way to know if a fall is the beginning of a downward spiral or just an accident. I was hoping Marjorie would get stronger and regain much of the function she lost since lying in bed after her fall, but so far that is not the case. All I can do is offer her the foods and drinks she likes and keep her comfortable and clean. And take her to the doctor. And call in other help as needed. I respect and admire my mother in law and would never do anything to hurt her. She has learned to trust me and she has told me many times that she appreciates all I have done for her. I will continue to do all I can for her to the best of my abilities.
May you and yours have a blessed week ahead.