Sunday, October 27, 2013

Bittersweet

If you read my 'life is fragile' post a couple weeks ago,
then you already know why I haven't been keeping up with my 31 days of posts.
Sorry, not sorry.
Maybe I'll try again next month.
We shall see.

A lot has happened since that post.
Hubby spent almost all of his time (day & night) at the hospital by her side
& could tell that his mom was in a LOT of pain.
Although she has had to endure quite a bit of pain over the past 20 years
with her various health problems & surgeries,
there was something different about seeing her in this pain.

They were able to take the ventilator out on Saturday,
which I'm sure helped her feel a little more comfortable
but she still wasn't able to talk much.
When she did try to speak,
it usually didn't make much sense
& it wasn't very easy to understand what she was saying.
Most of the time it was nonsense,
but other times she made perfect sense.

One special time in-particular she said she wanted to go for a walk.
Hubby explained to her that she was in the hospital & was in no condition to go on a walk.
To this she replied that she wanted to walk with her Dad.
Her Dad passed away many years ago,
so Hubby asked her if she saw him.
She said yes.
We believe her.
After all, she was gone for at least 15 minutes.
We wish we could have asked her more about her experience,
but she wasn't exactly in any condition to have lengthy conversations.

The kidlets weren't allowed to visit in the ICU
so I stayed home with them.
Later that night,
a close family friend (that wonderful realtor)
came to visit her in the hospital.
That was the last lucid conversation she had.
Gram clearly expressed to her friend & to Hubby that she was dying.
She asked him if he would be okay.
I'm sure that was probably the hardest question that he's ever been asked.

Some wonderful friends from church were able to watch our kids on Sunday,
so I was able to be with Hubby at the hospital & see her for the first time.
I guess she had a rough night with a lot of pain
because when I got there she had an oxygen mask on & wasn't doing well.
Whenever she was awake,
we were able to talk to her
& let her know how much we loved her.
We weren't able to understand her at all with the mask on
but she was able to shake her head yes or no letting us know she understood us,
& she would occasionally get teary-eyed while we were talking with her.
Those moments were bittersweet.
A couple more of her friends drove all the way from Nashville to see her that evening.
They hadn't really kept in touch over the past few years,
but they had always been like second family to Hubby
so it was great seeing them.

Hubby came home to get some rest that night since he was getting sick.
He already had a scratchy/sore throat,
but stress & sleep deprivation were easily making it worse.
After a decent night of sleep,
he got a call from a doctor at the hospital early Monday morning.
The doctor basically said that Gram had another difficult night.
She wasn't responding well neurologically & continued to have arrhythmia.
The doctor said they could implant a defibrillator to 'kickstart her heart'
to prevent cardiac arrest from ventricular tachycardia,
but didn't think that she'd be able to physically handle surgery at this point
(nor would she want another surgery).
The only other option was to just make her comfortable.

This was probably one of the hardest decisions Hubby has ever had to make.
Gram had a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order
but removed it ten-or-so years ago
when she had asked him about his opinion on the matter.
He had always said that he would want the doctors to try to keep her alive...
No matter what.
But his perspective changed after seeing her in such intense pain.
Knowing that if they were to somehow keep her stable,
she would never get her independence back
& would never be her normal self again.
She would be just that...
stable.
We knew she wouldn't want that.
She has never wanted that.
She never wanted Hubby or anyone to have to see her like that.
She never wanted anyone to have to take care of her basic needs.
She never wanted her grandchildren to remember her in a nursing home.
She has had to put up with so much pain for such a long time,
trying to be strong for Hubby,
trying to tough it out so that she could play with our kids,
& trying to just make it through each day.
We could tell that things were different now though.
She didn't have much fight left in her.
So we told the doctor to send her to hospice & make her comfortable.
Then we held each other & cried together.

The hospice staff was wonderful.
They said that sometimes (although not often)
patients actually improve in hospice
since they are comfortable,
they aren't restrained,
& aren't attached to all the monitors.
This wasn't the case for Gram,
although we could tell that she was comfortable.
Ever since they moved her down there,
she was resting & relaxed.
We brought some of her favorite blues cds...
B.B. King
Buddy Guy
& some others
so that she could enjoy some good music
while we were there holding her hand
& keeping her company.

She spent most of Tuesday & Wednesday sleeping,
but something special happened Tuesday night.
Our bishop from church came to visit,
& after talking with him for a while
Hubby & the bishop laid their hands on her head
then Hubby gave her a priesthood blessing.
The room was filled with peace, comfort, & love.
It was incredible.
Shortly after our bishop left,
the nurses came to re-position her.
She opened her eyes for the first time in two days.
Hubby & I got to talk with her one last time while she was awake.
We were able to explain to her that we would be okay.
That it was okay for her to go when she was ready.
That she didn't have to be in pain any longer.
That she would never be forgotten.
That we love her.
That her family & friends love her.
That people that didn't even know her love her.
That people she had disagreements or arguments with in the past love her.
That everyone was praying for her & for our family.
We talked to her for 20-30 minutes.
She would occasionally shake her head,
shed a few tears,
nod her head,
& finally went back to sleep.
Bittersweet.

The kidlets got to see Gram one last time on Wednesday,
(they were allowed to visit in hospice)
although we didn't explain much to them at that point other than that she was sleeping.
Early that evening Hubby went home to shower.
While he was gone I noticed her fever had gone away,
her hands & feet were beginning to get cold,
& her breathing was different.
When he came back we headed to the cafeteria to eat dinner,
then headed back up to the room.
We noticed the cd had restarted so we switched it out with the Great Blues Masters cd.
Her realtor friend was on her way back to visit again
so I figured I would stick around until after she left just in case I needed to watch her son.
Hubby was laying on the recliner next to the bed & was holding her hand.
I was getting cozy on the couch-bed.
We were exhausted.
After about 40 minutes of sweet blues music in the background
we each got really relaxed,
& started to doze off...
We weren't out very long,
maybe 5-10 minutes.
It's hard to say exactly how much time had passed when Hubby woke up,
but he knew instantly that she was gone.
Her breathing had stopped.
All was quiet except for the music.
Everything was still & peaceful.
He woke me up so I could get the nurse.

Gram passed away on Wednesday, October 16th at 10:20pm
at exactly the right moment.
She wanted us there with her when it happened
but was thinking of Hubby rather than herself...
She waited until I was there at the hospital
so that I could be there for him,
& waited until a moment when we were both asleep
so that neither of us would have to see or hear her final breath.
Again, bittersweet.

We held each other & shed a few tears,
but we didn't linger too long.
Although we are sad that she is no longer physically with us,
she is so much happier where she is now
& is not living in constant pain anymore.
Knowing all of that
& having the knowledge that we will get to see her again someday
has made the grieving process much easier.
We are so grateful for that.

Since this post is already lengthy & overdue,
I'll post about the funeral & the wonderful help that we have received later.
Thanks so much for all your kind thoughts & prayers.
You all are wonderful.
xoxo
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4 comments:

  1. Simply beautiful. What an experience. Such a gift that she gave you. Thinking of you. I've had 2 good friends die this month. It's hard. But a family member is hardest. Sending prayers. --Lisa

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for sharing this account of your Mother-In-Law's final days. My heart goes out to you, your husband and your kids. I can only imagine the grief and relief you must be feeling right now. May your faith in God sustain you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The Master's DaughterNovember 22, 2013 at 11:21 PM

    So sorry for ypur family's loss. How sweet ut us to be certain she is no longer in pain and In Heaven. Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete

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