Sunday, June 30, 2013
Her Last Day
Mom had fallen about three weeks earlier and cracked some ribs on a cement step. She'd been to the Prompt Care and was seeming to do better. So, I left town to attend a conference. I stopped at my son's on the way home for a short visit. On Sunday, I stopped to see Mom. She'd been admitted to the hospital the day before. She had some internal bleeding from the rib fractures and the fact that she was on coumadin for Atrial Fibrillation. She was in a lot of discomfort. I spent the afternoon with her, then, went home to my husband. The next morning, I was on my way to work when I got the intuition that I should go to the hospital instead. I've learned over the years to trust that feeling. So, I called my principal to tell him I would not be coming in that day. When I got to the hospital, her physician was just leaving. I had time to ask him about her kidney function and he just dismissed my concerns and told me it would return to normal as soon as she got better. The first words out of her mouth were, "I don't want to live another day if I have to endure this much pain." The plan as I understood it was for a consult with a thoracic surgeon, vitamin K shots to coagualte her blood, and then typing her blood for possible surgery. The very first problem we encountered was the inability of the phlebotomist to hit a vein. This process was very painful. They finally found someone who got the job done. Then, the surgeon came in. He told mom that if they could get her blood count up through transfusions, he would do surgery on her the next morning. He said he'd have to leave a drain in the incision for several weeks but that she could go home with home nursing care. As he laid out the whole process, I could see her withdraw. After he left, she put her head back in the chair and closed her eyes. I believe in my heart she asked God to take her home that day. Shortly afterward, everything started happening so fast that it is a blur. I just know that soon the nurse came to say they were transferring her to Intensive Care. The last thing I heard her say was, "Help me." When I got to the Intensive Care Unit, they were getting her settled in her bed. They finally let me in. She was lying on her back, breathing, eyes closed. I don't think she was there anymore. Her body was alive but I felt no connection. The nurse asked me if I had anyone to call to be with me and if I wanted her put on a respirator. I asked for a minute to think. As I stood there beside the bed, I "knew" she'd be very upset with me if I allowed that. She had a "Do Not Resuscitate" order on file. Just then a thoracic specialist came in and suggested we try to get her some air by draining the fluid from her lungs. I reminded him of her DNR order and gave permission for him to try. Her heart stopped while he was in the process. Although I still miss her terribly, I am at peace because I think we tried what we could but it was her time to depart.