Saturday, September 22, 2007

Caught by surprise

Thomas was the LPN's name who brought me the Roxanol. There were two bottles. There was an eyedropper but I was only to fill it to the least little line. So I had to insert it and squeeze the little bulb and way too much fluid filled the tube. So then I had to squeeze some out until I had it down to the line. I thought it would have been easier to use a pipette.

It wasn't for pain so much but for helping dad's breathing. The doc explained how concentrated it was and scared me enough of it to where I put on gloves. Because he said that it really didn't have to be swallowed and not to get any on me. I didn't want to find out what it did so I was pretty careful.

Thomas watched me as I administered the first drop. He graduated from my high school but 22 years later. He had callouses on his knuckles. I asked him if he was practicing karate. But he said he was a boxer. He was also a psych nurse. I can see having a boxing hobby if you work psych.

I showed him dad's knees and asked him if that was the mottling that I had been told was a sign of impending death. I had not known about the mottling as a sign. He said it was just the beginning and that as death approached the mottling would become darker and cover more of the legs and arms. He was planning on returning before his shift ended to check the progress.

He showed me how to count the breaths per minute and we talked about that a little. The concentrator was so noisy and hot that I had turned it off two days earlier. But I thought I might need it so I moved it over in the dressing room area and put it on top of a bathroom rug to keep it off the wood floor. Then I unwrapped the air hose and put it there on the side of the bed.

Later when I checked dad and his breathing was more labored I decided to turn it on and hook him up. I counted breaths and gave him more Roxanol. It seemed to help some I thought. Or maybe it just helped me by making me think I had helped him.

After I called hospice it was Thomas that arrived first. He pretty much did the same stuff I had done earlier. Except I had already turned off the concentrator so I could make certain there was no breathing. And he had a stethoscope and I just used my hand and my ear against dad's chest. He looked at dad's legs and remarked the mottling had not changed. But dad's arms were mottled now. They weren't that way though when I had given him the Roxanol. I was surprised how cool dad felt already. I think Thomas said his temp was 93 but I might be wrong.

Thomas said we had to wait for the RN on duty. Apparently an LPN can't really tell that someone is gone but an RN can. Her name is Donna and she was the one that put in the 2nd catheter the previous night. I liked her a lot actually. She arrived at 8:55 and said she was so surprised.

She was a little apologetic about it but said that the earliest time of death she could record was 8:55. I didn't see what difference it made. She called Doc Adams and the funeral home and did a bunch of other stuff. They took the ABH, Roxanol, hydrocodone, and Temaxepan and disposed of them. Thomas had to squeeze all the cream out of all those little ABH packets. I thought that was interesting. Doc was surprised and sent his condolences. He told Donna he had expected a couple of weeks at least. Guess that's why there was so much Roxanol.

Then my regular nurse called and she just could not believe it either. I think the hospice people feel a little badly that they had not been there.

The funeral home people came all dressed up. It was a man and woman. They were trying to offer condolences along with introductions when I opened the door for them. But I became distracted by this snake that was crawling on the stone right there at the door and just above the floor of the porch. Snakes have a way of distracting me. Distracted them, too.

I suppose the dressing up is a way of showing respect. But they had quite a little bit of trouble getting their gurney and dad's body down the stairs. I bet dad had lost 25 lbs in the last 2 or 3 days. I think the gurney outweighed him. I don't think they could have handled someone my size. I noticed they checked for the snake when they left.

Judy (that's Mrs. Flinty) had already left for her house before they came. We didn't know how long it was going to be and there wasn't any point of her staying. Thomas was there and he wasn't going to leave until another nurse came to relieve him. So I wasn't alone. Everyone seemed really concerned about me being alone. I figured I would just spend the night here because the equipment people are coming today to pick up the bed and concentrator. But after everyone left Judy sent me a text message and told me to get my butt over to her house.

This thing about people being concerned about me being alone and sad and grieving and stuff is understood and appreciated. But honestly there is no difference. I bet Lori understands this.

It struck me suddenly that I could go anywhere I wanted at anytime I wanted and I could stay away as long as I wanted. I think that's the biggest adjustment I'm going to have to make. I haven't been able to do that in so long. It quite disorienting.

So I (my name is Terry by the way) went to Judy's and spent the night and then drove back over here this morning. I'm sitting on the porch and listening to the CD player. It is exactly the same as so many other Saturday mornings. Except there is no patient upstairs that requires my attention.

My brother will be here in a bit. I'm going to exercise a few minutes now.

I'll post more about all this.

Thanks to everyone for the good wishes and condolences and prayers and all the love and care.


steflovesnonna said...

I am so sorry my friend. I once again feel so helpless. I wish I could do something. I wish I could say something. There is not much to do or say though is there. Please just be strong, don't be afraid. Remember he loved you. There are a lot people who care about you. Thank you Terry. For being a good friend.

nancy said...

i could so identify with what you were saying. about the mottling, the air concentrator being loud and noisy, disposing of all the narcotics afterwards, the funeral home people all dressed up and the concern of others. i too am glad the medical equipment was picked up early the next morning. it was a young man who obviously felt very uncomfortable and did not know what to say. there was no need for words.

thursday night after russ died, everyone finally left as well. bob usually skates on thursday nights and he offered to stay home. i told him to go as well. the peace of the house felt good, even though it was different.

i really have been feeling as well what you described about not being tethered down. it's a very weird feeling, to know that i can come and go as i please without having to worry about coverage for russ.
i think that may take a very long time to get used to.

thanks for sharing that with us flinty.

it may take a while to get used to calling you terry and judy but i'm glad you shared that with us. i'm glad to know mr. and mrs. flinty have first names.

may God hold you and surround you with His love and peace.

cornbread hell said...

my condolences. take good care of yourself.

Lori1955 said...

Ah Terry, it is so good to finally know your name. I understand about people being so concerned about me being alone. The only difference between that night and any other was that there was no one for me to watch breathe.
The freedom to come and go as I please is still very strange to me. I find myself going out and continually looking at my watch as though I need to be home. I bet it will feel good though to be able to spend so much time with Judy.

rilera said...

I'm so sorry Flinty. I can't believe it happened so quickly but I'm grateful that your dad is no longer suffering. God Bless you.

~Betsy said...

I can't even begin to imagine what it feels like - my day revolves around my mom and her needs. Everything I do, I must consider her. Is there someone home with her? What dinner should I prepare so that Mom can eat with us and not choke or find it impossible to chew? Even scheduling my dog to go to the vet revolves around Mom.

I hope you can soon relax and get back to some sort of pre-caregiving normalcy.

redcedar said...

Dear Flinty,

While we always say we are sorry when death finally comes to a long-suffering loved one, I also feel a sense of liberation for both you and your father. I know I felt that way when my mother died last month, along with the sorrow and the awe in the presence of such mystery. At the end of such a long hard road, death can be a great gift.

I want to tell you how much your postings have meant to me over the past months. There is a sense of quiet calm even in the worst of times that is a great comfort and inspiration. Thank you for that, and the very best to you in the future that is opening up to you even now.