Monday, January 26, 2009

The Journey's End

It is with a broken heart, yet a soaring spirit, that I tell you Terry is now in his eternal rest with Jesus Christ, Our Lord. He breathed his final breath here and his first breath in heaven at 1:30 a.m. this morning. His final 24 hours were very difficult. Although I will miss him forever, I am so very thankful his suffering is over and he is at rest. Please continue to pray for me and our family as we face this difficult time. I will post more but it will most likely be later in the week. Thank you all for your prayers, love and support. May the Lord be with each of you.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Journey Continues

First of all, let me apologize for not posting an update on Friday evening. We had company and in addition to that, Terry was very agitated and I didn't really have time to post.

Our hospice aid came yesterday and we gave Terry a good bath and changed his bed linens. It was agitating to him, but once we got him settled, he seemed to rest so much better. Also, the technician came and installed the DirecTV in the bedroom and I turned the T.V. on for him. Of course, he couldn't watch it but he enjoys having it on in the room with him.

Melanie stayed for at least 2 1/2 hours and just really spent every minute taking care of Terry. She is such a treasure, as are all the Hospice people. Carol, the nurse, and Debbie, the Social Worker, both called and talked to me for quite some time. The three of the ladies seem to agree that Terry has deteriorated much faster than originally anticipated. When Melanie left, she hugged me and told me she would see me next week, IF I still needed her. Carol is in agreement with that.

We had visitors in the evening and he was restless, but not necessarily agitated. Later in the evening, the restlessness progressed into agitation and I had to give him another dose of the Lorazepam, as well as the Haldol. I am also giving him Atripine drops to help dry up the secretions in his mouth and throat. He is having trouble swallowing these now and they are trying to choke him. His lungs are also beginning to fill with fluid and you can hear the 'rattle' I have heard older people speak of so many times.

He moans and mumbles almost constantly, talking to the unseen person again. He laughs and reaches out as though he is performing some sort of task. He keeps looking over his right shoulder toward the southeaster corner of the bedroom as though he is seeing someone in the corner. I have been told all of these behaviors are typical of a dying person and nothing to be concerned about.

I didn't get a lot of sleep because the one word I can still understand is "Di". If I go away from his bedside for too long, he calls out "DI" so I will come back to the bedside. So, I know he's still cognitive to some degree down in there somewhere. The fluid in his lungs is causing him a lot of irritation now and I pray that doesn't last for too long. It is so difficult to watch and listen to.

He tried several times during the night to climb out of the bed. Thankfully, I was able to calm him down relatively easily and get him settled in again rather quickly. I know he's fighting dying because he doesn't want to leave me. I have talked to him and told him not to worry because the Lord was going to watch over me. That everything would be fine and he should just take Jesus' hand and go with Him when He comes for him. That we all love him and we don't want him to suffer anymore.

Ms. Gladys called in the evening and she was understandably upset. She couldn't talk for long because she heard him coughing and strangling and it upset her too badly to talk further. I feel so bad for her! I wish there was something I could do for her to make this all easier for her, but there isn't anything. Please pray for her, this is just so hard for her.

I have been in a really good place mentally, emotionally and spiritually for the past 24 hours. I get teary and feel sad from time to time, but overall I am doing really well. The Lord has just shrouded me with a peace that is just too sweet to describe! I have no illusions that this is going to be easy, but I am dealing with it well at the moment.

It is dawning now and he seems to be settling down quite a lot. That is also something the Hospice people told me and that is that dying people seem to be more restless during the night than the day. He continues to mumble, but it is definitely more quiet than it was three hours earlier!!!

I hope to be able to update you all more often today, but I cannot promise anything. It all depends on how it goes with Terry. Please continue to pray that he will have as little pain as is possible and be as clear minded as possible. Thank you all so much for all of your prayers and support. You are a great group of family and friends and I love each of you so dearly.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Hope For A Brighter Day

As I sit typing this update, the bright morning sun shines through my window bathing me with warmth and reminding me of the assurance that brighter days are a promise from our Lord.

Yesterday was a monumental day of changes for Terry. His journey toward his brighter days is well underway now.

The oxygen was delivered by 11 p.m. last night. The gentleman who came with the delivery was such a blessing. He worked quickly and efficiently getting everything set up and was calming a reassuring while doing so. He spoke to me of his own faith assured me that he would be praying for us, as he did each individual who became 'his' patient. How precious that the delivery technician would be so loving and compassionate! The Lord has placed His mantle of love and protection over us during this period and is sending amazing servants to meet our needs!

Terry's breathing continued to change back and forth until about 1 a.m. this morning. He continued to be very restless and easily agitated. Then, around 1 a.m., he settled down and his breathing seemed to ease and he slept so peacefully. I soon fell asleep as well and got a good 4- 4 1/2 hours of sleep. He awakened me about 5:30 a.m. this morning with restlessness and agitation beginning again. I gave him the meds as instructed by the Hospice nurse last night and he started to settle down again around 7 a.m. He is now sleeping and resting somewhat peacefully.

I am so thankful to all of you who have prayed for us and who continue to do so. I was in desperate need of good rest last night and the Lord, as always, provided beyond my needs or expectations! His supply is always MORE! I am well rested this morning, but feeling somewhat weak and thinking I will just continue to rest for a while longer, especially since he is resting right now. If there are significant changes, I will post; otherwise, I will post another update this evening.

May the Lord bless each of you for loving us and for praying for us. Without the Lord and each of your prayers, I could not make this journey.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thrusday Evening, Jan. 22 Update

"And the evening and the morning were the first day." Genesis, Holy Bible

And so it is that the first day is drawing to an end. The first day of the next step in Terry's journey home. He is in his hospital bed and resting, although not very peacefully. He moans a lot and mumbles as though he is speaking to someone unseen to me. He laughs as though this unseen person and he have enjoyed a wonderful funny story together. I can't' help but wonder who he's enjoying so much?

Perhaps it's his maternal grandfather, or 'Big Joe' as he has always called him. Or, it could be my paternal grandmother, Maw McDonald, whom he loved so dearly and never tired of 'joshing' with, as Maw would say. It could be Momma, who would always call our house, he would answer the phone and she'd ask "What are ya up to?" and he would answer "Oh, about six feet!" Then they'd both laugh, every time for years! Whomever it is, they are having a grand old time!

The hot water heater was a complete loss, so I now have a brand, spanking new hot water heater. Good heavens, do you know how much those things cost now?! I guess, when you think about life without hot water, it sort of makes it worth it though? Now, if I can just get the mess all cleaned up and everything back in it's place, we'll be in the money. But, I'm not worrying about all that tonight. The water has been mopped up and the wet towels are soaking overnight. I will deal with the remainder tomorrow. And you know what they say, if tomorrow never comes...............

Terry's cousin, Tracy, brought Ms. Gladys out this afternoon. She was able to stay for a bit over three hours. Terry was able to tell her he loved her, which was all she had hoped for. It was difficult for her, but she was so pleased just to sit in the same room with him. We talked about how fast Terry was getting weaker. She told me that, if there was time for her to get here, she would like to be here with him when he passes. I promised her that I would do my best to get word to Tracy to bring her out if there was enough time. She is content with that.

When I started writing this post at around 5 p.m., Terry was doing fairly well. About 8:30, he began to show signs of a change in his breathing patterns and seemingly struggling with fluid collecting in the back of his throat. I called the Hospice On-Call and she directed me as to what to give him from the Comfort Kit and also is having oxygen delivered. The driver has already called saying he was on the way with the oxygen and should be here within the next 15 minutes.

Terry's breathing patterns seem to be changing quickly now. He has periods of a seemed easing of the struggle, followed by periods of struggling and having a guttural, gurgling sound to his breathing. I have had to raise the head of his bed to a significant degree in order to assist his breathing. I have to go back and forth and change positions in order to keep him breathing more comfortably. At this particular moment, he is breathing somewhat easier, but is returning to the guttural moaning and gurgling sounds.

I will post again in the morning. Please pray for rest for both Terry and me. Pray for his breathing to be eased and for the secretions to continue to be controlled by the meds. But most of all, pray for the Lord's will in everything that transpires throughout the night.

Resting At Last

I am so relieved to tell you that Terry is now settled in his hospital bed! It is such a great relief for me. Not only is he more secure there, but it is so much easier for me to care for him there. The move highly agitated him, but I gave him the second dose of Haldol and he has settled down and is sleeping. Also, he was able to empty his bladder, which is a huge success and means we can delay the Foley for a bit longer. I spoke with our nurse and her CNA. They have decided to wait until tomorrow to come unless I need them before then. I have had no sleep whatsoever and Ms. Gladys is due to arrive around Noon.

Also, I walked into my Utility Room earlier to find a floor full of water! My hot water heater has busted and basically emptied into the floor. The plumber has been here, but needed something more than what he had on his truck, so has now gone to pick up the part he needs and will return to complete the repair. So, I'm thinking sleep is out of the question until at least after Ms. Gladys leaves later this afternoon. Oh to be 30 again when I could sit up all night and work all day for several days in a row! Once the water heater is fixed, I still have to deal with the mess.

I will update as circumstances warrant. Thank you all for praying. I feel the effects of your prayers!

The Lord Is Near

The night has been an eventful one. Terry woke up enough to eat about 1/4 of a sandwich and drink about 2 ozs. of Dr. Pepper. He settled down and slept well for about 3 hours afterwards. He woke up about 3 a.m. and had been trying to get out of his chair since. I have had to give him the smallest dosage of Haldol and will have to give another dose in a few minutes. I have called Hospice and 911 for lift assist to get him into his bed. They should be arriving soon to move him. The Hospice nurse will be coming out about mid-morning to re-assess him and catheterize him.

He has mumbled all night and groaned, but says he is not in pain. I just don't know. He keeps mumbling and seeming as if he is talking to someone and reaching out. I believe his transition has begun. His eyes are now rolling back into his head when he opens them to look at me. He knows me and has told me several times he loves me and wants to stay with me. I talked to him and told him I loved him too and that I always would. I also told him it was okay to go when Jesus called. He looked at me and leaned his head over onto my shoulder and became very quiet. After that, he rested for about a half hour and then was restless again.

I will post again after he is moved and settled into his bed. I feel the presence of the Lord so near to us now. A peace has overtaken me that I cannot describe, but have felt only one other time in my life......the night my Maw McDonald went home to be with the Lord. I have no inside track on what will happen, nor when it will happen; I only know what I feel and I want to share that with you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Mother of the Man I Love

In the middle of everything that I am going through, I don't want anyone to forget that there is another woman going through this with me; a woman who has loved Terry since before anyone else knew of his existence.........his Mom. My mother-in-law is a very petite little lady, about 5' 1-1/2" in her prime and weighing at this point about 90-95 pounds when she's soaking wet!

Ms. Gladys married at a little later age than many, if not most, women of her generation. She was about 26 when she married Terry's Dad, Mr. Bob. Although she wanted children badly, it took her about 5 years to become pregnant with Terry, which put her at about the age of 31 when he was born. Terry was born in 1954 and 31 was an advanced age for a woman to birth her first child in that time.

Ms. Gladys suffered a blocked kidney while pregnant and went through a lot just to carry her pregnancy to term. When the time for Terry's birth finally came, she had to have a Cesarean section, which was a major surgery in 1954. To add to her troubles, she also had to have a blood transfusion due to having had the Rh blood factor. This was before the expectant mother was tested and given injections for this situation during pregnancy. At that time, either the mother or the baby had to have a transfusion after delivery. In her case, she had to have the transfusion. Although it was difficult on her, she was so happy that she had to endure it instead of her newborn son.

Terry was the light of his Mom's life; everything she did revolved around taking care of Terry and his Dad and making a home for their little family. She was definitely in her element, nothing in this world gives her more pleasure than homemaking, gardening and cooking. She worried over her young son, maybe was even a bit over protective. She had been through so much in order to bring him into the world, and his Daddy didn't want her to try for another after him because she had had so much trouble with Terry. So, she doted on Terry.

He was a sick child, suffering terribly with tonsillitis for the first several years of his life. The doctor finally felt he should have his tonsils out, so he was admitted to the hospital when he was about 9 for a tonsillectomy. Again, Ms. Gladys worried over her young son and doted on him. However, her world was soon to come to a crashing halt. On Aug. 5, 1963, only a few months after Terry's tonsillectomy, Mr. Bob was killed in an auto accident.

Suddenly, Terry and his Mom were left alone. Ms. Gladys reeled with the grief of burying her husband and the worry of how she would support and raise her young son alone. She soon went to work in order to pay her debts and support herself and Terry. The life she loved and reveled in was gone forever it seemed. She relied heavily upon her parents for support again. Her family rallied around her and with time, she settled into a new routine of working and keeping house and raising her son.

Barely 4 short years later, her world was rocked again when her Dad died suddenly of a ruptured aortic aneurysm. He died quickly and quietly, falling in his steps in his front yard. Once again, Ms. Gladys was lost as to how she would continue without this wonderful man who had been by her side from the beginning. This man who had loved her and supported her and guided her, who had made unimaginable sacrifices for her, both when she was growing up and since having lost her husband. He had become the father his grandson no longer had.

Reeling again with grief and worry, she pulled herself together and managed to go on, continuing to help her Mother out as she could. Then, about a year later, she remarried and moved herself and Terry to her new husband's farm on the other end of the county. She went about making her new life and trying to help her new husband and her son make their relationship work, which was no small task. She was now back on a farm and was enjoying every minute of it. She continued to work because she could not bear the thought of being left in a situation where she didn't know how she would support herself ever again.

The years passed and life was good. Terry grew up and he and his stepfather developed a loving, yet unusual, relationship. Then, Terry met me. We were in love almost from the day we met. We dated two years while I finished high school and married in June after I graduated in May, 1975. Ms. Gladys was now in the 'empty nest' stage of her life. Although she missed having Terry at home, she flourished while she awaited grandchildren. Unfortunately, that was never to be. She watched as all her family and friends had grandchildren and had to accept that this was a joy she would not be able to share.

Still, life was good. We were happy together, which made her happy. She and I got along so well together and she told me more than a few times how I was the daughter she never had. She and Mr. Bo, Terry's stepfather, were so happy together. The four of us enjoyed so many good times together just visiting and enjoying each other's company and her wonderful home cooked meals. Then, her world took another blow when her Mother died in 1978. Like all the times before, she found the strength to go on and be happy.

In April, 2000, Terry's accident occurred. He was severely injured and permanently disabled. Again, she sat by watching as her only child suffered and she could do little to help him. Her heart ached to bear the pain for him, yet she could not. Terry went through his rehab and did so well, it thrilled her to come to visit and get to come to the rehab unit and watch as he learned to walk again. One of the happiest days of her life was when she walked into our hospital room one day and he was standing there with his walker getting ready to walk down the hall to therapy instead of riding in a wheelchair. She beamed as she watched him and tears of joy rolled down her sweet face.

Life was good again and, as life sometimes is wont to do, it rises up to slap you in the face. This happened again to Ms. Gladys on Oct. 17, 2002 when Mr. Bo died. Once again, she prepared to bury her husband and once again she bore her grief with so much grace and dignity and determination to go on living. It took some time, but she was once again happy and living on her own. Then, in August, 2006, she fell down her back steps and broke her back. That is when Terry and I came to live with her. It took her about a year to really get back on her feet again after that fall.

In October, 2007, we had to tell her that Terry had been told he had End Stage Liver Disease and was not expected to live more than 6 months. She grieved so hard at the thought of losing him, but again she pressed on. On March 25, 2008, she fell again and this time broke her right hip. After surgery to repair the hip, she was admitted to the Long Term Rehab Unit at a local nursing facility. She worked so hard to recover and get back on her feet again. Unfortunately, as she became stronger, Terry became weaker and was requiring more and more care.

Because of the circumstances with Terry's health, we moved her to an Assisted Living Care Facility in August, 2008. She is happy there, yet would love to be at home. This amazing woman has met life head on since her youth. She has faced adversity and overcome so much so many times. She is a rock of grace and dignity and pure determination, which can sometimes come out as a real stubborn streak, but that's another story!

Now, after a lifetime of sacrifice and overcoming, she has to face the very real probability that she will have to bury her only child. This child whom she has made the center of her existence since the day she found out he existed. This child whom she has loved and sacrificed untold things for. This child whom she loves more than her own life. My heart breaks for her. I cannot begin to understand the depth of her suffering at this time. I cannot comprehend the pain she must feel at the very thought of having to lay him to rest. Yet, I know these are the exact things she has looming before her.

I don't' know how to help her. I am not a mother, not in the since that I have raised a child. I can't know what she's feeling. And, I have quickly learned that, while you may think you know what someone is feeling or that you may be imagining their pain and grief, there is no possible way you can know unless you have walked in those shoes. Someone who has not raised children cannot possibly understand how painful it is for a mother to bury her child, just as someone who has not watched their spouse die a slow and painful death cannot understand the pain of having to endure that grief.

I want so much to comfort her, to make her pain more bearable, yet there is nothing I can do for her. I love her with all my being. She has been so good to me and always treated me like her own. Yes, there have been times when I was so frustrated with her I could squeeze her little neck. There were times when I felt that same way about my own Momma and there are still times when I feel that way about my Daddy. But, I love them all and I would move heaven and earth if I could in order to prevent them from suffering. However, that power is not within my grasp.

So, I will be here. I will love her, I will take care of her, I will do everything in my power to make her son's last days comfortable and help him meet the Lord with dignity. It is my last gift to him and my most precious gift to her, this precious lady who is the mother of the man I love.

Pray, Please!

The Hospice nurse came to visit today and left just a short while ago. After examining Terry, she feels the time is near. She says his body is shutting down quickly. I am beside myself. I don't want Terry to suffer; I want his home going to be peaceful. I have to be ready to let him go, and some part of me is because I know it is the right thing to do. It's that other part that's tearing my soul apart right now!

We have his hospital bed, but I haven't been able to get him to go and get in it. He is now too weak to get out of his chair without complete assistance. Carol, our nurse, is going to call the local First Responders tomorrow morning and have them come and lift him out of the chair and move him into his bed. She says she doesn't want him to be in the chair when the Lord comes for him because it could be while I'm sleeping and it would be hard to deal with him if he were in that position for a period after he passes.

I know from experiences with other family members that moves of this sort can hasten a person's passing. I want him to be in his bed and comfortable, but I am so afraid of the consequences of moving him. However, I know it is the right thing to do for him. If that is the time the Lord has set for his crossing, then it will be; and if not, then he will be comfortable in his bed when the time does come.

This is so much harder than I could have ever imagined. I feel as though I cannot catch my own breath, yet I keep breathing. My mind is in a thousand different directions, yet I can still concentrate and think about the things I need to do. How can that be? How can I possibly be able to keep moving and doing when my life is unraveling a stitch at a time? Is this what it is supposed to feel like? Cause I just feel numb, like I'm making the motions out of some predetermined plan but nothing feels real. Nothin,g that is, except the pain that won't let go of my chest and the coldness that has settled into my innermost being.

Please pray for us. Pray for Terry's crossing to be pain free and peaceful, if that is the Lord's will for him and please ask God to let that be His will. Pray for me to have the strength to let him go and to be able to move forward. That prospect scares me totally to death at this point.

The Journey Home---In The Beginning

"You're an ignorant woman!" That was Terry's last words to me before he settled back into his chair to sleep this morning.

He had tried to get up twice already during the night. He needed to go to the bathroom. As much as I tried, I could not get him to understand what he needed to do in order to let me help him out of his recliner. Each timed he ended up just settling back into his chair and going back to sleep.

Finally, about 3:30 a.m., he woke me calling my name. I got up from the love seat and asked him what he needed. He just sat there staring into space, saying nothing. I got up and walked over to stand in front of him and asked him again what he needed. He had thrown his blankets off into the floor and was just sitting there continuing to stare across the room.

I asked him if he needed to get up. He said he did. I said "Do you need to go to the bathroom?" and he said he did. I got the dining room chair and sat it in front of him. For several days now, he has been unable to get out of his chair without my help and the chair to hold onto. He scooted up in his recliner and took hold of the dining chair with his left hand. The usual way has been for him to do this and then push himself up from his chair with his right hand while pulling himself up with his left hand. In addition, I hold the dining chair steady and lean over it to place my hand under his left arm to help pull him into a standing position.

After taking hold of the dining chair, he just sat there looking at me and saying nothing. I told him to push up with the other hand and placed it where it needed to be. Instead of pushing up, he held on tightly to the recliner arm while trying to pull himself up with his left arm. Several times I tried to help him, but he couldn't understand how to do it. He was getting worn out and my back had gotten into a bad spot and we were both getting exasperated.

I tried once more and, thankfully, this time it worked. He stood up but could not stand without holding onto the chair. I moved the chair aside while moving myself under his right arm to support him. I started to move forward, but he wouldn't move forward. It took many tried in order to get him to understand that he had to walk in order to get to the bathroom. I finally got him to the bathroom and onto the toilet.

While he was there, I went to retrieve his walker from the dining room, which is where he left it the last time I tried to get him to use it. It returned to the bathroom to find him propped up on the vanity cabinet and asleep on the toilet. I gently woke him and asked him is he was through. He said he was and we started the process of getting him up. That took several minutes, but we were finally successful.

He had not eaten in 24 hours, so I suggested that we go into the kitchen and try to eat something. It took me a while to get him to take hold of his walker and then to help him understand again how to use it. Eventually, we did make it to the kitchen table, where he didn't quite understand how to get into the chair and take his walker with him. I explained to him how to sit down and then push the walker aside. He sat down and I pushed the walker aside.

He ate maybe four bites of a sandwich and one bite of a peanut butter cookie and drank about 3/4 of a 12 oz. Dr. Pepper. I had a hard time getting him to eat anything, he was mostly interested in drinking the cold Dr. Pepper. He didn't want me to hold the cup for him, but his hands were jerking so badly he couldn't hold it still enough to get it to his mouth. I had to turn my back for a minute and he dumped the remainder of his sandwich in the floor. I asked him if that meant he was through eating and he just looked at me. He hardly talks anymore.

I managed to get him up and holding onto his walker again. He didn't want to go, just stood there holding onto the walker. I asked him if he wanted to go lie in his bed and he said "No". I asked him if he wanted to go back and get into his recliner and he said "Yes", but then wouldn't make a move for the living room. I said "Okay, follow me and we'll get you back into your chair." He followed me into the living room and we stopped in front of his recliner.

He looked at me and said "I want to sit in my chair". I explained that we were standing in front of his chair and that he needed to let go of the walker so he could sit down. For several minutes, we went back and forth with those few sentences being repeated several times. I finally convinced him to let go of his walker and got him positioned to sit down in the chair and that's when he issued his final edict on the matter, "You're an ignorant woman"!

I was cut to the bone by the comment, but I quickly reminded myself that it was not Terry talking, it was his liver. I got him settled into his chair, put his feet up and covered him with his blankets, taking care to tuck his feet in good so they wouldn't get cold. He is always so cold these days. I put his walker away so it wouldn't be sitting in the traffic path from the kitchen into the living room and went to put things away in the kitchen.

I wanted to sit down and cry, but I knew it wouldn't do any good. It's just the beginning of what could become a very long and drawn out path on his journey home.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Dream Lives On

I've just been thinking a lot today about Dr. King and his impact on our world. I was barely over 10 when Dr. King was murdered in Memphis. I can't honestly say I have any actual memories of him, as far as the fight for Civil Rights is concerned. I do well remember black people having separate entrances at the doctor's office, separate bathrooms and drinking fountains, etc.

I don't remember anyone in my family ever being overtly racial. We lived among black people and only knew them as neighbors. We all helped each other in tough times but they didn't go to church with us and we didn't socialize in any way except just farm related things.

When I think back on that time, I never remember being taught that black people were bad or unequal to us, but I do remember going to school at the 'whites only' school and that the black children went to a separate school down the road. I also remember how upset everyone was when the black children were first allowed to come to our school.

From all I've read and seen about Dr. King, he was a peace-loving man who only wanted black people to be treated as equals in every way as white people were. I have always thought it was so much more than a tragedy that he was murdered. To think that someone would murder a man just because he wanted his children to grow up equal with every other child is unimaginable to me, both then and now.

It is no secret that I am no fan of Barack Obama. I think he was elected to the Presidency of this country for all the wrong reasons. Be that as it may, the fact remains that he will become our 44th President tomorrow. Therefore, I choose to support him and pray for him and have since Nov. 5, 2008.

Whether I personally like him or not, what a message it sends to all black Americans on this day that Dr. King's dream may finally actually become a reality. How amazing for black children to look up and see a man who is President of the United States of America and he looks very much like them.

Dr. King had a dream for equality for all. I pray we have reached the time in this country when his dream can become a reality. I pray people will look at each other without prejudice or judgment; that we can meet each other on level ground and move forward. That is my dream. Only time will tell if both Dr. King's dream and mine can actually become a reality among human flesh with human frailties.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Roller Coasters-{Part II}

I cannot believe it is already the tenth of January, 2009! Time goes by much too fast! I last wrote about Roller Coasters on December 15, 2008. I left you in March, 2008 where we had passed our 6 month window in Terry's life expectancy. A lot of changes came on in a hurry and slapped us back to reality in a hurry.

On March 25, my mother-in-law fell in the den and broke her right hip. After surgery to repair her hip and a week in the hospital, she had to be moved to a local nursing home that had a long-term rehab unit in order to get back on her feet again. The days were stressful for us all, but especially for Terry. He got so sick with concern for his Mom that his own health soon began to show deterioration. By mid April, it became evident that we were soon headed back to the hosptial.

Surely enough, a few days later, we found ourselves once again in the ER with his disease causing major problems for him. The encephalopathy was really bad again. He was so disoriented that he didn't know where he was or basically anything going on around him. They got his ammonia levels under control and he began to rebound. Then, he started to bleed from his mouth. He insisted it was only his gums bleeding, but I knew it was more. I pointed it out to the doctor during rounds one evening. He agreed with me and scheduled an endoscopy for the next morning.

While performing the endoscopy, the doctor discovered three seperate variceal bleeds in Terry esophegus. Varices are basically varicose veins of the esophegus or stomach. The varices would have to be banded in order to stop the bleeding. The doctor proceeded with that procedure and everything went well. We were discharged the next day. Terry was in extreme pain and could barely stand to swallow water, much less food. On our follow-up visit to the doctor's office, we were told his liver functions were getting worse and were now critical.

Over the next few months, Terry continued to get worse. He was weaker and there seemed to be no rest that would make him feel well enough to get out of the house. The Christmas season was upon us before you know it and he was drastically bloated from the collection of fluid in his abdominal area. I all but begged him to let me take him to the ER, but he would not agree to it. He did, however, promise me that he would go in to see his doctor right after Christmas.

I made the appointment for the Monday following Christmas and waited and prayed and watched him continue to balloon up and get sicker. The time for that appointment came and went, and Terry was not able to keep the appointment. Again, I began to beg him to let me take him to the ER. He was so breathless, he couldn't even talk in sentences anymore. He said reschedule the appointment. I promised I would, however I also made him promise me, that, were he unable to keep the second appointment, he would go to the ER.

The day for the second appointment arrived, January 6, 2009. He was even more bloated than ever and almost completely unable to take an even shallow breath. Of course, he was unable to keep his appointment. So, I called 911 and ordered an ambulance. They took him to the ER. He was assessed and they immediately wanted to take him to radiology to remove some of the fluid from his abdomen. They removed well over 2 gallons of fluid and then took him to his room on the surgical recovery floor.

We spent the night and were discharged late the next afternoon. We were referred to Hospice Home Care. Terry's liver no longer functions at all. Whatever lies ahead is simply the time it takes for his body to stop functioning now. It seems the final chapter of the Roller Coaster ride has now begun.

{Visit again for the next installment of "Roller Coasters" will be the journey home.}