She Went Through With It
2007-01-10, 4:39 p.m.
Long fucking day. Mom takes forever to get out the door, especially when someone calls her. In this case, it's the hospice person from Walnut Creek, who says that some people last for hours when they are taken off the ventilator. I think, "oh GOD no, do not make everyone wait two hours for his last breath."
Meeting #1: with various staff members at nursing home. Pretty pointless. Mom and the PITAS seemed to be under the impression that the doctor was going to be there (she wasn't), and that they could discuss hospice stuff (they couldn't). They were told that hospice is in charge of all non-life-saving stuff, and we'd have to call them to put that in motion. (Meanwhile, I'm sitting here thinking, "Hey, I TOLD Y'ALL to make an appointment with hospice after this one.") The PITAS are remarkably well-behaved and sane, I am quite impressed.
In the hallway after meeting #1 while Mom calls hospice, the PITAS tell me that they've got DNR's/directives, etc. set up so that they don't get into a situation like this, and say that we should go on a vacation. I continue to be impressed at their sensitivity, something I can't say I've seen much of in like years. I tell them that I haven't been able to stand going to see Dad in the home because I just feel sick. They don't say anything about this at the time.
Mom gets ahold of someone at hospice, and we run over there ASAP.
Meeting #2: with hospice grief counselor and chaplain. Mainly they tell the PITAS the same stuff Mom and I heard last time and explain the whole concept to them. They take it well. Auntie Dolores asks if they have hospice in Reno because Janelle is apparently calling them every other day and crying and they have about hit their limit on dealing with it. I am quite surprised to hear anything at all about Janelle these days.
Mom says she wants to start hospice. They say that it'll take them a few days to set it up, and nothing can be put into motion before (as it turns out, due to holiday) Tuesday.
How to kill him is discussed. Auntie Dolores and I are in favor of ending it ASAP and aren't exactly clear why they'd want to take out the feeding tube days in advance. It is explained that if you don't, the person can end up vomiting, aspirating, choking, etc. when you take them off the ventilator. Well, okay then, I guess we're stuck with doing it the long way then. Much is discussed about pumping him full of morphine so that there is as little reaction as possible when the ventilator is removed.
Mom is told to call Dad's doctor in order to put it all in motion- then she calls hospice, etc. She says she'll do it later that day. I wonder if that will actually happen.
Around 3 p.m., we go to lunch. All things considered, the PITAS are remarkably well-behaved. Out of Uncle Bruce, there's one "do you have a boyfriend" comment ("no" is actually taken for an answer) and one "someday you'll have a big diamond on that finger!" comment. I promptly go off about how I don't like diamonds, and Auntie Dolores sticks up for me and says that you don't HAVE to have a diamond. I am impressed with her. Uncle Bruce's response is "Are you a real woman?" Nope, I am not, I think, but restrain myself on that one.
4 p.m, we go back to the nursing home and...guess what, the doctor happens to be here!
Meeting #3: So, Mom goes through with saying she wants hospice. *faint* *thud*
On Tuesday at 10 a.m., there will be a meeting, during which we sign a lot of paperwork. Some kind of plan will be designed as to how to kill him. Sometime that day after the meeting, the feeding tube will be removed, and then we will have to wait around for who-knows-how-many days (no, they wouldn't say) until they decide they are ready to turn off the ventilator. The doctor thinks he'd die quickly off the ventilator.
Mom makes a big deal about not wanting Dad to die on anyone's birthday, because Granddaddy dying two days before Alicia's birthday apparently scarred her for life or something. (Okay, this sounds mean, but she didn't exactly like him all that much, and it wasn't ON the day, so I am kind of baffled by this. Maybe that's just what Mom thinks?) The family birthdays in January are on the 17th and 30th, so sometime in between there would be good.
I am thinking, "Well, if they're not going to actually do it the week of the 15th, can I just go back to work for a few days and come back for the big event?" I ask the doctor. She says NO.
After much argumentation between everybody, because I really, really didn't want to take off for longer than a week (being as a week is about as long as I can stand to be around the family)... I have to agree to taking two weeks off, starting Tuesday, on doctor's recommendation + family pressure. One week off to wait around on deathwatch because he could go at any time once the feeding tube comes out (except well, he probably won't), and one week after that for the funeral. I claim I need to get back to work after that because if I don't have work as an excuse, I'll be trapped for even longer. I make various arrangements with the doctor about getting FMLA paperwork done, including procuring many fax numbers.
5 p.m.: Meeting over, they all go to (finally, because with all of the meetings they still haven't done their duty) visit Dad. I slink off to the rec room to hide.
5:15 p.m.: The PITAS come and find me. And are fairly insistent that I go see Dad. (Yeah, the real them had to come out sometime, I suppose.) Now, to be fair about it, they aren't being totally asshole about it, they're trying to be as nice as possible, considering that I literally start backing away and then crying. I keep hoping that Mom knows what's going on and will come in to rescue me from them, but she doesn't. (She doesn't know this is going on, as far as she knew they were leaving the place.) I end up snotting and sobbing all over Uncle Bruce's shirt, much like in When Harry Met Sally. Except Uncle Bruce's response to my apology for snotting is "That's okay, I'll send you the bill." Auntie Dolores promises he's peaceful at the moment and it's not disturbing. I blubber on about how I'm just an asshole for not wanting to see him. Uncle Bruce says I'm not an asshole. Coming from him, this flabbergasts me.
I eventually cave in. Uncle Bruce's argument that going in now will make it less bad when I have to go in for The Last Time makes sense, even if I don't want to. He escorts me down the hall, I feel like I'm walking off to be executed (yes, I know this is pathetic).
In the room, I can say this: this is the first time I've ever gone in to see Dad in a decade where he didn't look a lot shitter than the last time I saw him. They managed to pack some weight on him via the feeding tube here, apparently. Despite Auntie Dolores's "Go hug and kiss him!" admonishments, I just hang all over Uncle Bruce and sob. Apparently, this is enough for most of them, and even Auntie D lays off of me for that one. Lots of hugging goes on. They escort me back to the rec room and leave me there to wait for Mom.
Eventually, Mom and I leave. We go back to my town. I ask if I can hit Cost Plus to pick up some dessert for volunteering tomorrow, seeing as I'm out of time to make anything. She picks up a lot of food while in there. Then we go to Borders so she can pick up the new Stephanie Plum book, and she ends up spending something like $100 on books all of a sudden. Some people do drugs: we shop and eat.
We do dinner. We discuss being there when Dad dies. I don't want to be there, but feel obligated not to leave her alone in there without me, so there you go. I suggest that we go to Disneyland (I've been making a joke once in awhile that after he dies, we should go, since we haven't been able to since he got sick and we used to go a lot) for real. She seems to like the idea of going after the funeral. We shall see if that happens.
I think I outcried her today, all things considered. Once she actually said the dreaded words, she dried up. She said she was numb. I will be sad when the numb wears off, on both our parts.