Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for October, 2013

Bad news twice.


It must have been another forty-five minutes before a team of three doctors, including the surgeon emerged to tell us that Clara was dead.  The girls seemed shocked by the news, and I was bewildered at their reaction.  One of them flipped a chair and screamed towards me and my family, “I bet you are all happy now, you got your wish.”  With that she stormed out of the waiting room screaming her husband’s name, with the other one following.  Incredibly, at that moment her husband appeared.  He had arrived at the hospital, but due to the late hour, could only enter the hospital through the emergency room for security reasons.  He was lost wandering the hallways looking for us, when he heard his wife’s voice.  I’m sure quite a bit of the hospital heard her voice in her distress.  The timing of his arrival was unbelievable, and since Andy had just run after his sisters again, I could point him in her direction.  It was obvious he was just what she needed for comfort.  I asked the doctors when we could see her and they said they would clean her up, remove the tubes, and then someone would be out to get us.  I thanked them for their time and kindness.  Then I sat there replaying the outburst towards me and my family.  Then I thought, ‘I am happy, I did get my wish, but how could she know that?’  In my heart, I really do believe my wish that evening was all about Clara, not about me getting a break from caring for Clara.  At this point Andy returned, somewhat shaken but in control.  He worried for his sisters.  I told our visitors that we really appreciated them coming, but we had a long night ahead of us and for them to go home.  They all stayed put.  Who knows what to do in these situations?  In time, the girls and the one husband returned to the waiting room.  A nurse appeared saying we could see Clara now.  They were still waiting for the other husband to arrive and they seemed conflicted as to what to do.  I said I would wait and keep an eye out for him and escort him back to the recovery area.  Andy walked back with his sisters.  It wasn’t long before the other husband arrived, with their teenaged daughter.  As we walked back, I saw them all huddled around Clara.  Andy’s sister grabbed onto her daughter as they grieved together.  I went over to Andy to give him a hug and he grabbed onto me and started wailing.  I told myself to be strong for him.  I think it startled his sisters to hear him crying so loudly.  I knew it was in part about seeing them so sad, in part about his mother’s passing, and in part because he never wanted to look at his mother dead.  As I was walking him out of the recovery area, he said, “I never wanted to look at her dead.”  Despite that, I knew he walked back there to support his sisters.  I wondered if they would ever realize the sacrifice Andy made for them that day.  As we returned to the waiting room, my family and our friends surrounded Andy with love and support.  I went out into the hallway to call Mike to let him know.  Mike is very strong emotionally like me, and the few times he has broken down and cried in the past felt like stabs to my heart.  He broke down on the phone but immediately pulled himself together to ask how his Dad was.  He was going to drive up.  I told him that it was late, by now it was around 11:00 p.m., his Dad was going to want to go home and go to bed.  If his Dad knew that he was making the two hour trip up after working a long day, it would just be an added worry on him.  With the hospital waiting area being empty other than us, my voice apparently traveled and Andy overheard our conversation.  He said, “Please tell Mike not to come tonight.”  Mike agreed to come the next morning.

My entire account is available at http://www.createspace.com/3469034 or at Amazon.com, just type in the title of my book, LIFE WITH CLARA – ONE CAREGIVER’S JOURNEY.  I appreciate all of your comments and wish all caregivers the strength they need to cope each day!  

Read Full Post »

Grim news delivered.


As I sat there with many thoughts and unpleasant images running through my head, out of the corner of my eye I saw the surgeon re-emerge.  He had the same grim look on his face he did when he came out after her surgery.  Again, he came and sat down next to me.  This time, Andy and the girls quickly gathered around.  The doctor began that they were having a difficult time bringing Clara out of anesthesia.  Her blood pressure and heart rate were very low.  Each time medicine would be administered to bring her pressure and heart rate up she would respond temporarily.  The medication only lasted about ten minutes then all of her vitals would drop again.  He needed to know if we wanted her kept alive on a machine.  I could not believe this news.  The girls seemed to have a hard time digesting what was being said.  I understood and felt relief for the first time since Clara broke her leg.  I thought, what is wrong with you Michele?  The girls became understandably hysterical, and Andy tried to comfort them the best he could.  Now, I sat with the doctor with him asking me what should be done.  I knew Clara had a durable health care document that stated that she did not want to be kept alive on machines if there was no hope of her making a recovery.  I did not want the girls to know the doctor was asking me this life or death question about their mother.  I also feared that in the emotion of the moment, if the girls had to make a decision like that concerning their own mother, they would say to keep her alive on machines only to later regret it.  I told the doctor that Clara had a great love for life and I have seen her fight to stay alive.  With that being said, I added that Clara had specifically written her wishes that if she was in a position where there was no hope, she did not want to be kept alive on machines.  I asked the doctor if we were to the point that there was no hope and he shook his head yes.  I told him her durable health care documents were in her files with her wishes if he needed to confirm what I related.  I then asked him if he understood what needed to be done.  He said yes.  I knew that meant all of the machines were going to be turned off.  So I asked if Clara’s daughters could come back to say goodbye, he said, “Not now, when it is over.”  My insides were shaking.  The doctor just sat quietly next to me for a minute as I was thinking of how just two days earlier Andy said he was going to step up to the plate as his mother’s appointed health care agent.  Yet here I am, the only one left in this room to make this actual life or death decision.  In my heart, I knew I really was not making any decision; Clara had made her own decision a few years before.  I really was trying to take care of Clara, even in this way.  Then it hit me, Clara was going to die peacefully in her sleep.  She was put under anesthesia, and never woke up.  It wasn’t exactly like I hoped would happen in her own bed, but the nightmare I imagined of her going to the nursing home was over.  I was able to take care of her down to the end, although I hated the broken leg part and the miserable pain that followed, she still died peacefully.  As I was deep in my own thoughts, I did not notice at first that the doctor was gone.  As I looked up to see where he went, I saw Andy running after him down the hallway.  He spoke with the doctor briefly, and then came over to me.  He told me he wanted to be sure that the doctor knew what his mother’s wishes were.  Of course, he had run after his sisters, so he did not know about the conversation I already had with the doctor.  It made me feel better that in his mind, he did not want that to fall on me and he was trying to step up to his responsibilities.  Now was the waiting for it all to be over.  Even though Clara was not declared clinically dead, to me we already received the news that she was dead.  It was a foregone conclusion.  The girls started making calls explaining how things had taking a turn for the worse.  I felt bad for my family and our friends to be with us during such a stressful time, but it was also strengthening having them with us.  

My entire account is available at http://www.createspace.com/3469034 or at Amazon.com, just type in the title of my book, LIFE WITH CLARA – ONE CAREGIVER’S JOURNEY.  I appreciate all of your comments and wish all caregivers the strength they need to cope each day!  

Read Full Post »

Good news delivered unwanted emotions


I now sat there overwhelmingly disappointed.  Her surgery was just one hurdle to clear.  We still did not know what else was wrong with Clara, why she was so weak, what this mass was in her lungs.  I thought of how difficult it was for Clara to get up and down before she had this metal rod in her leg.  I kept getting visual images of her laying in a bed in the nursing home, slowly withering away.  I felt sick that she survived the surgery, but tried to sit there looking happy.  How could I ever express such feelings without sounding like my true concern was about me?  I remembered hearing before those residents of nursing homes that have regular visitors usually get far better treatment than those that do not.  Since the staff does not know when someone will be checking in they keep the patient in good care constantly.  I had already mentally planned on going to the nursing home each day.  I wondered if the other ones would be good about stopping in.  I thought of how when Clara would be admitted to the hospital in the past, her one daughter would always come after work and stay until visiting hours were over.  That was a short termed stay, how would they do with long termed?  I was thinking of things in the future and I still had to call my sons and give them an update.  When I called Mike and told him all turned out well, he said, “So it looks like Grand mom will eventually come back home, huh?”  I said, “Yeap.”  By my tone he picked up right away I did not consider that good news.  As he commented on it, I panicked thinking if he could pick up on it, what about anyone else in the waiting room with us?  I quickly changed my tone of voice to an upbeat, positive one for the rest of our conversation.  I sat there thinking I was going to vomit, I just felt sick.  I knew Clara was in no condition to come home, she needed the rehabilitation at the nursing home, and I knew I was in no condition to care for Clara in this condition.  Plus, we were still back to the original problem that led to the broken femur in the first place, that had not yet been diagnosed.  What was that unknown mass in her left lung that was noticed when she was first brought to the emergency room?  Was Clara slowly dying, and the process was interrupted with this broken leg?  Would this just drag out her misery even more?  My hope of Clara going to sleep peacefully one night and just never waking up, seemed all but impossible now.  How could I take the news that surgery went very well, as devastating news?  

My entire account is available at http://www.createspace.com/3469034 or at Amazon.com, just type in the title of my book, LIFE WITH CLARA – ONE CAREGIVER’S JOURNEY.  I appreciate all of your comments and wish all caregivers the strength they need to cope each day!  

Read Full Post »

Things seemed okay.


Soon my brother Jim and Maria walked in.  We could hardly believe it since they were leaving in the morning for a weekend trip.  It broke up the boredom.  Then my other brother and his wife, Tom and Barb came in.  They were going away on the same trip with Jim and Maria, so we never expected them to show up at the hospital around 8:00 p.m.at night.  Moments later, close friends of ours, Mike and Amber walked in.  Andy’s sisters were familiar with all of our visitors, and they were included in our conversation.  Before long, it seemed like we branched off into little groups to visit, and Andy’s two sisters ended up chatting between themselves. 

As the doors opened, my head turned to see the surgeon walking out with an x-ray film in his hand and a very grim look on his face.  My heart started racing and I thought for sure he was coming out to tell us Clara was dead.  Of everyone sitting there in the waiting room, he came and sat down next to me and started talking.  At first, I don’t think everyone noticed he was there and I asked him to wait a moment and called them all over.  On one hand I felt good that I was the one he came to first, as if he recognized that I was the primary one that cared for Clara.  Then on the other hand I wondered what the girls were thinking about that.  As everyone quickly gathered around, there was no more time for my thinking, just time to listen.  The surgeon said that the surgery went well, and to my surprise I felt a big relief.  As much as I would complain at times that it seemed like I would be taking care of Clara for the rest of my life, I still felt relief at this news.  The surgeon did tell us that when the anesthesiologist put the breathing tube down her throat that some fluid squirted out.  In my mind I was thinking it was good that some of that fluid came out, no matter how it happened.  He showed us the x-ray and the reality of this metal rod attached to her bone with screws hit me.  I asked if we could see her and he said not just yet, her blood pressure was a bit low, so they were slowly bringing her out of anesthesia.  There was a lot of joy on the waiting room, the girls starting calling their husbands and some of Clara’s grandchildren to give them the good news.  

My entire account is available at http://www.createspace.com/3469034 or at Amazon.com, just type in the title of my book, LIFE WITH CLARA – ONE CAREGIVER’S JOURNEY.  I appreciate all of your comments and wish all caregivers the strength they need to cope each day!  

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: