Saying Goodbye, Part 11: Earthquakes and Landscapes

I awoke on Wednesday to my first day home without my father.

I had spent the greater part of February in his home 3-hours away, in an unexpected whirlwind of emotional chaos, intense vulnerability, and the eventual release of him as I watched him being taken away for cremation.

I know enough to not expect that I’d return home to life as I knew it. “Now back to your regularly scheduled program” does not apply here.

I know that my life is now altered. Yes, everyday, our lives change. Each day is unlike the next. But this is different. There are these life-altering events that completely changes the landscape. Subtle shifts become earthquakes and aftershocks.

Upon waking, I take it slow. “What’s next?” in every moment. I try some “old life” on by checking e-mail (that felt okay, let’s try…) listening to a recorded call from a training I’m in (yeah, not quite feeing it. Let’s try…) suddenly it’s too much. My heart aches and I feel my energy in my belly. I remember a song that feels the way I feel now.

I listen to “Winter” by Tori Amos on repeat and break down sobbing just as I need to. Every part of me vibrating in grief. Why does life seem so stupid. All the things that took up space in my life seem to riduclous. I should have spent more time with him. Should have, should have, should have….

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Saying Goodbye, Part 3: The Danger of Wishful Thinking

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Lines Hold the Memories” by Silvia Pelissero

Sunday morning arrived, and my father was still silent. despite his increased strength the day before, he began to show subtle signs of decline. He needed more time and help moving from the bed. His ate less, and had more difficulty drinking. because of this he was unable to take most of his medications.

A Hospice nurse came by to take my dad’s vitals and give us some suggestions of how to help my father with these new challenges. Now, I was a bit surprised to hear that Hospice was providing services for my father. I know Hospice provides end of life support, but, my father wasn’t at the end of his life. He was just diagnosed with dementia and, and had a UTI which caused delirium. The UTI and delirium are treatable, so what is Hospice doing here?

My sister (who lives with, and cares for, our dad) informed me that my father’s primary care physician connected her with home support services to care for my dad and his growing needs. These support services provided the hospital bed, bedding, bathroom modification supplies, nurse visits, bathing, and 24/7 access to a nurse. This made sense to me because one person can only do so much.┬áSince my father’s primary care physician connected my sister with home support to care fro my dad, and this support showed up as Hospice, I assumed that Hospice also provided support care in addition to support fro end of life. If this sounds confusing and illogical, that’s because it is.

That night my father began to cough. His cough became louder and gurgled as the night went on, so we called the nurse who provided a machine┬áto help suction my father’s phlegm. Although it helped some, the cough continued throughout the night.

Without much food, hydration, or medication, I began to worry and mentioned taking him to the emergency room. After talking with my sister’s we decided to se if he got better in the morning, and if not, then we would take him to the ER. Our hope turned to wishful thinking.

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