Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Bleak House

Bea remains comfortable, but her quality of life is close to zero. She sleeps all day now and doesn't seem to want food.

Lisa suggests I offer Ensure again. Bea drinks it.

Lisa reads out loud from the “Patient & Family Resources Guide”: “When a body is preparing for death, it is perfectly natural that eating stops. The body is … slowly shutting down normal body functions …”

“You’re the nicest person I know,” my mother murmurs as I change her brief for the night.

I suppose this is her way of saying thank you.

I don’t feel like such a nice person. I was unable to respond to my daughter’s latest emergency. My husband is depressed. I am barely able to contain my rage that society does not provide a better solution for its citizens of extreme old age, obliging loved ones to sacrifice themselves and enter into a relationship of servitude … In the “Patient & Family Resources Guild,” I read anger is a normal reaction.

Bea is going to die soon. That fact in itself produces such conflicting emotions.

Last month Sven and I began our 10th year of elderly care.

To those whom might say, “You should have put your mother in a nursing home,” I respond, “Visit a few. Then tell me if you would like to finish your days in such a place?”

The answer will probably be no.

I am so grateful that, at least, we have hospice …

Postscript: Thank you to everyone who holds us in their thoughts, like Karyn, a stranger who posted a comment immediately this morning. Bea woke up and said, "Am I ever glad to see you! I'm hungry." She has already eaten half a banana and wants more, so we are off and running again.


Blogger Karyn said...

Conflict of emotion is right. A blessing, a curse, an unthinkable void and unimaginable, unfounded guilt - there is no easy answer, no simple solution, no quick fix and no way around it.

Your story is in my thoughts a great deal of the time...know you are thought of warmly during the course of the day...

6:22 AM  
Blogger EllenDottysyoungest said...

Having gone thru the Nursing Home route with my mother I can only say you will be at peace with what you've done for yours. The ramificatons it has and will have on the rest of your life will, hopefully, be passing and less painful than worrying your mother didn't get the care she deserved.
Hang in there!

7:33 AM  

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