IN THE BEGINNING~
It has taken me almost a month, to write about the passing of my mother. Although we knew that her dying was a distinct possibility, we secretly hoped for a miraculous recovery, or at the least...the ability to stand.
For the last 3 years, my mother has been wheel-chair bound. She has only had the ability to feed herself. I've watched my father check her sugar level, administer shots, give her showers, and clean her up in ways we never thought we'd have to do. I have teased my Dad
that he should have earned his CNA by now.
Poor mom has had a catheter in place for years. This has led to many infections. Her sugar has remained out of control, and she had heart disease and chronic leukemia. Ultimately, it was her diabetes that took her.
At the time you are watching someone age, and deteriorate before your eyes; it's difficult to remember that person in better days. My mother was a survivor, a wife, mother, grandma, and great-grandmother. She was a sister, Aunt, and great friend. Mom was never one to shy away from hard work, or difficult things.
Her will to live, propelled her through many difficult health problems. Many times we were sure that she would not survive, but she would rally and live on. That is why it was extrememly difficult to accept that she had left us on May 21, 2013. For my posterity, and my own need to process; I want to describe the last few days of her life, and the aftermath.
First of all, Mom had gotten to the point where Dad and I could not care for mom any longer at home. She could not assist us in getting her up. This was a heart-wrenching conclusion for my father to come to. He so wanted her to be with him at home, and he had given his entire life up to take care of mom. So when we finally took her to the hospital; it was very difficult because we knew that from there, she would have to go into a care center ( that name is an oxymoron if ever there was one.)
Mom was put into a local care center. We picked the one in the area that was rated the best.
Dad would come and stay with her every morning until noon or after; then I would come at 5:00 and stay until she went to bed. It wasn't home, but we felt she was safe there, and hoped...well cared for. There comes that word "care" again. I will discuss that later in this piece.
On Friday, May 17, 2013 we met with the director of nursing, the Social Worker, my husband, my father, and myself. At that time we all signed off on the plan for mom...which instructed the care center to provide only comfort care. She had a DNR on her, there was no chance for improvement, and there was not anything that could humanly be done to help her get better. We directed them, that there was to be no life saving attempts made on her.
She was not to be transported from the facility.
Over that weekend, Mom became weaker and was completely unable to feed herself. She didn't want to eat, her sugar was very high, and her blood pressure was equally high. However, she was responsive and talked to all of us. Monday morning, May 20th, Kiley and I went to see mom. My sweet little grand-daughter was the last great grandchild to see grandma. When we left Kiley gave her a big hug and kiss, and I told mom I loved her and would see her that evening.
Herein begins the beginning of the end. When I came in around 5:00 PM Monday evening. Mom was not in her room. She was never out of her room. I went from wing to wing of the hospital, and couldn't find her. Eventually, someone at the desk told me she was out in the ambulance that I had walked by coming in. I ran out to the ambulance, looked in the back of the ambulance, and saw mom's face. She looked so afraid and confused. I told her everything would be ok, and I ran around to the side of the ambulance to talk to the EMTS.
They said they had been called because her blood pressure and sugar were high! They had been high, and some little twit didn't read her chart and called the ambulance. Once she was in there, they were obligated to take her to the hospital. I was beside myself. Neither my father, or myself had been called. They knew she was not to be moved. I will be forever haunted by my mother's face and eyes looking at me.
Dad and I rushed to the hospital and awaited mom. After waiting well over an hour, I asked for the fourth time if we could go back. We were taken back only to find they were getting ready to do all kinds of x-rays etc on her. Dad told them no, and I went and talked to the ER doctor, who was pretty good about the whole thing.
I can't even begin to recount the numerous mishaps, and miscommunication that happened in the ER over the last three hours mom was there. It was one thing after another. Finally, they called Red Cliffs (care center) to come pick her up. A CNA arrives in a van with no wheelchair, gurney, or anything. Mom was completely despondent after this. She never spoke a word while she was there, and we never heard another word from her. That breaks my heart.
The actions in the ER certainly hastened her demise. They flushed her catheters until blood was draining like a hose through it. The doctor said she was not going to live much longer. By the time we got Mom back to the care center, I really felt like I was going to combust at any moment. I was furious at what they had put my Mother through.
Tuesday morning arrived, and I received a call from the care center that they couldn't find a pulse on Mom. I rushed over, and there was dad. He looked 20 years older at the moment, and had obviously been crying. My kids all came over and told her good-bye, and dad and I stayed with her until she left this life.
All day we watched the blanket go up and down as she fought to breathe. She was laboring so hard to stay here. Finally, Jonathan asked the nurse if they could give her something to help her breathe easier and relax. Eventually, as approved by the doctor, they gave her some morphine and adavan under her bottom lip. They couldn't get it in her because her teeth were clenched. But the drugs helped, and we watched as the blanket rose slower and slower.
Dad and I had talked to her all day, held her hands, and loved on her. Just before 3:45 PM, I told dad that I didn't think the blanket was rising anymore. We heard the death gurgle, and felt the life come right out of her mouth. Her eyes were opened, and looking upward as if someone was there for her. We called a nurse to listen for the heartbeat, but she was gone.
I threw myself over my mom and cried like a little child. My mom was gone. Dad was so chocked with emotion, that I just wanted to make everything better for him.
It was not a Hollywood death. It was a wrenching, painful thing to watch. But I am so grateful that Dad and I were there with her. She wasn't alone, and Dad wouldn't leave her until the mortuary had arrived, and assured him that he would take good care of her.
How grateful I am for the Plan of Salvation, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know I will see my mom again, but I miss her so much.
Now, I mentioned the care center. It was anything but caring. No one cared when she died, and she was just another patient to them...but she was special to us. We never heard one word from them after she died. Not a phone call, a card, nothing. Let me list the things I saw while I was there.
1. Someone took my mother's soiled sweat pants, rinsed them out, and hid them in an empty closet. I would never have found them except for the fact I was looking for her lost slipper.
2. One day I went in, and there were ants everywhere. Their custodian came in and sprayed something that was so strong, we had to change rooms.
3. Many of the employees there, do not know what they are doing. They were rough when changing her, and moving her about. Heaven only knows what she went through when we weren't there.
4. As mom was dying, her bowels let loose. The smell was awful. I asked a male CNA in the hall if they could come change her. He questioned why, if she were dying. There was no thought of human dignity in her last moments. When he did change her, he flopped her around like a bag of potatoes. If I hadn't been standing there, my Mom's face would have hit the side bar several times. But I put my hand between mom's face and the bars. Her arms and legs were just like a rag doll. It was frightening to watch.
5. People who worked there, did not communicate with one another. People were coming in with her lunch, to check her blood, etc. We had to tell them she was dying.
A care center is nothing but a place to house the elderly, and those who can't help themselves. It is not a caring environment, but rather one of forced duty, and "poor me" attitudes.