Tuesday, November 30, 2010

As previously mentioned

I mentioned in my last post that I might be out of town for a while. Well, I was. On the Tuesday of the week before Thanksgiving my dad found out that my grandma, his mom, had a stroke in the night. Her left side was completely paralyzed. On Wednesday it was determined that it was massive and she would not recover. She was moved into hospice. Dad left on Wednesday to go see her in Colorado. On Thursday dad called to say that the doctor told him she would be gone in one, two days at the most. So Friday morning mom and I headed out to Colorado. She was more or less unresponsive by the time I got there and was completely blind so she just kept her eyes closed. She was unable to talk (a combination of the stroke and lack of energy). She just kind of...laid there.

Let me just say, I never want to go through that again. You never want to see someone in that condition.

Particularly hard on my dad was having to make the decision to not feed her or give her IV fluids. He felt like by doing that, she would die of thirst and that can't be comfortable. What the people in hospice told us is that when people start the dying process they no longer require food and water the way others do because their body cannot process it. So by denying her these things, her body will feed on her fat in amounts that her body can handle, and will put her into a state of mild euphoria. It sounds nice, but I just wonder how they know these things. Because I'm not so sure that's true. And it bothers me.

To add to the stress, she did not last only one or two days, but five. So she went a week without any food or water. Ugh.

I won't go into the other details but suffice it to say it was quite hard to watch.

The night she died she were finishing eating dinner when we got a call from the hospital. They said she's really not doing well and we should come sooner rather than later. So we dropped everything and left. She passed before we made it there some 10 minutes later.

The hospice there was really wonderful, though. When we walked in to see her that night they had a bunch of flameless candles going and some nice music with the lights dimmed. The counselor that was there was with her when she passed. The counselor said she was peaceful, warm, and not alone. I suppose you can't ask for much more than that. Everyone in the hospice was so great. They put her in real night gowns, not hospital gowns. They made sure her oxygen levels were good and that she was comfortable, and when she would moan or grimace they would up the morphine, then started giving her regular doses of something to calm her down when she seemed unable to remain comfortable. When we came in the nurses would always ask if we needed anything and were very responsive when we asked if they could do something to help her (suction her airway, swab her mouth, etc.). And there were some great volunteers - one came in to give massages to anyone who wanted one to help us de-stress. Another group came and sang some of grandma's favorite hymns to her. It was so nice. Anyway, they were a great help during the whole process.

She passed away Tuesday night, November 23 around 6:45 p.m. She was 89. Her memorial was at 10 am Friday, November 26.

I was surprised at how many people came to the service - I thought it was nice. Her neighbors from Boulder even came up. One of them said she talked about me all the time. That was nice.

So anyway, that's what I've been dealing with the last couple of weeks. Given everything I haven't exactly cooked or worked on anything, and since I'm now playing catch-up I can't guarantee that I will soon, either. So I don't know when I'll be posting. Sorry.

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