Hope is about all that is left. And there’s not a lot of that left, either. We know that on some day, the roller coaster ride we are on is not going to go back up the next hill, but just crash at the bottom.
When I got to the room today she was in bed, with the oxygen concentrator set on four. She was not moving at all, and her breathing was fast and shallow. She could not talk, or make a sound, so I went out to talk to the aide on duty.
They told me that she could not eat at breakfast, couldn’t even swallow water, so they changed her and put her to bed. Because her oxygen saturation was a little low, they put her on the concentrator, but it wasn’t doing much good because her mouth was hanging open, slack jawed. So they put the cannula in her mouth, not her nose, and the oxygen level came up immediately.
She did not awaken until after eleven thirty in the morning, and then all she could move was her eyes. I put her in the wheelchair, took her to the bathroom and changed her, and then brought her into her room again and tried to feed her. She was unable to swallow water.
The Guardian Hospice aides came to give her a bath, but once again had to forego that, as she was unable to move. Two weeks ago, I thought she might be walking by now, but she can’t even begin to stand today. The head nurse from Guardian Hospice came and ordered some new antibiotic for her sore throat, and some other medication with Lidocaine in it to sooth her throat.
Maybe it will work, or maybe not. I have slim hope that will fix much except keep the pain level down, which is good. With arms, legs, mouth and throat all looking paralyzed, I tend to think it’s neurological. Part of the ghastly reality of Alzheimer’s symptoms. It’s not just memory.
Just before dark, after Darlene came to stay with her through the night so I could get some rest, she tried to talk a little bit. Hoping that might signal an ability to swallow, I spoon fed her some strawberry Ensure from a cup, and she was able to swallow two or three ounces before she started choking again.
I know that back before they invented machines to keep you alive with tubes for eating, breathing, etc. not eating before you died was a common way to go. We are not using any machines - we all know what the end of this awful disease is, and we see no reason to prolong the ordeal. We don’t know when this will end, but we know it will.
We hope she can make it to October. We have the wonderful news that our granddaughter Melissa is going to have a baby boy about then. They’ve already named him Cameron. We have always thought it was great to be grandparents, but now we will be actual great grandparents.
The circle of life. A leaf grows from a bud, matures to a big green leaf living a useful life making food for the tree and oxygen for us animals. Then it gets old and shrivels up and eventually falls to the ground, to make soil to grow another tree. In many ways this is comparable to human life.
But it still hurts. Especially those near and dear to her who love her and are loath to let her go. We work to prepare ourselves, but no preparation is possible. The pain is continuous and inescapable now.
I don’t think I’ll ever be without pain until I join her in the ground.