Seems like it’s been forever since I blogged. Life keeps happening, and I get overwhelmed, and my anxiety goes through the roof, yadda yadda. At any rate, I haven’t blogged since April of this year! My goodness.
My mother’s 91st birthday was in April. May was the month from hell with regard to my job, and in June, my mother suddenly passed away. I still have a hard time typing that sentence. I miss her every day. When my dad died a year ago, I was sad but he was in such bad shape and in so much pain, it truly was a blessing. My mother, however, was in excellent health for 91, but she called me one day and said she wasn’t feeling well, and would I come over. I rushed over and Mom was complaining of fatigue, weakness, was dizzy, and just generally didn’t feel well. I became very concerned, and encouraged her to go to the hospital. I called the ambulance and requested Code 2. (urgent, but no lights and sirens). That was a Sunday evening.
After several hours in the ER, the doctors determined that Mom had had a mild heart attack and they wanted to admit her overnight for observation. They also diagnosed her with mild congestive heart failure, but they didn’t seem too concerned.
About 2am early Monday morning, I received a phone call from the hospital, and the hospitalist said that Mom was having difficulty breathing and that she would not last until morning, and he wanted to put her on a bi-pap. Mom has a DNR, and the doctor told me this does not violate her DNR (Do Not Resuscitate). He said it would not breathe for her but would give her some oxygen so that family members can gather. I was shocked. She went from mild heart attack to almost dying! I called my brother and sister-in-law and urged them to come the next day. When I went to the hospital the next morning, she was really out of it. She had been given morphine for the pain she was having in her chest, so she was in and out of sleep.
My brother and SIL arrived about noon, and I went home while they visited her (COVID protocols only allow two visitors at a time). I called my aunt (her sister) and suggested that she come the next day (Tuesday). My uncle is 91 also, and didn’t feel up to traveling. My cousin planned on driving her (they live about 3 hours away). In hindsight, I wish I’d encouraged her to go ahead and come down that same day, but we had no idea of how quickly she would go downhill.
I received a phone call about 6am Tuesday morning and said to come immediately, that Mom was dying and wouldn’t last long. I called my aunt to encourage them to leave immediately, and they jumped in their car and started driving. I rushed over to the hospital and got there as quickly as I could. I think I arrived around 6:30am but it took me awhile to get through security, because 6:30am is not normal visiting hours, and I had to ask the ER desk how to get up to the regular rooms because my mom was dying and I was told I could have special permission. It took awhile for them to confirm that and by the time I got up to Mom’s room it was about 6:50am. Mom was clearly not doing well. She was on the bi-pap again that morning, but she was really struggling to breathe. She kept saying that her chest hurt really bad, and since the doctor had ordered comfort care, she could have morphine basically on demand. I asked for some morphine for her about 7:30am. The nurse said that she would see to it, but for whatever reason it didn’t arrive until it didn’t matter anymore. I know that morphine is a schedule 3 narcotic but when comfort care is ordered by the doctor, it shouldn’t take 45 minutes to get her pain meds. In my opinion the hospital unnecessarily caused her suffering because of their delay. But I digress.
Mom was restless and kept saying “It hurts! It hurts!” while clutching her chest. It was awful to watch her suffering like that, but my guess is that is normal dying behavior. I was too worried about Mom to shout at the nursing staff for delaying her pain meds for whatever reason. Plus, if you make a fuss about getting opioid based pain meds, then they start looking at you like you’re an addict.
I sat at her bedside, held her hand and talked to her. I told her it was okay to go, and that we would be fine, but if she needed to let go, she could. I prayed for her, I sang her favorite hymns to her, I told her how much we loved her. Her breathing slowed until it was barely there. Close to the end, Mom was no longer restless, and did not seem to be feeling the pain as much. She looked up at the ceiling, closed her eyes and passed away. My aunt didn’t make it in time, but she did get to speak with Mom by phone the night before, so that was a blessing. My Mom and her sister were very close. They were each other’s best friends. My brother and his wife live about three hours away in the opposite direction, and had gone home the night before after visiting with Mom. I told him to stay overnight in a hotel but my brother is a cheapskate and didn’t want to spend the money. If he and his wife had stayed overnight in town, they could have been with me while Mom died. Since I didn’t have anyone, a very nice respiratory therapist stayed with me the whole time. I am very grateful for that.
My beautiful, sweet, kind, generous mother passed into the arms of Jesus at 8:18 am that Tuesday morning. I miss her every day. I can’t even tell you how much. It’s a deep ache that doesn’t go away. It was so sudden, and that was what was most difficult to wrap my brain around, that she was relatively fine on Sunday and then passed away 36 hours later.
Hug your mom and dad, tell them you love them because they could be gone before you know it. Don’t take time together for granted.