As I write, the ambulance is taking Mother to the Hospice House for evaluation.
She had a mild “episode” (chest pain) early Monday morning which the prescribed protocol alleviated. Since then she has slept, day and night, except for meals, which she has taken in her room.
I have not slept since yesterday. All night she has been extremely agitated, disoriented, uncoordinated, and incoherent. I called Hospice (nurse on duty 24/7 with access to all her records ), described what has been happening, and she used the words “terminal agitation.”
I gave a detailed account to the Hospice House nurse just now. I’m going to bed for a while and will both call and go over there this afternoon.
Below is the group email I wrote last Sunday, intending to send it out to everyone Monday morning. She has SUCH a good week last week–several outings, lunch with a friend–and, like most of us, felt so well she forgot she isn’t.
Dear friends and family,
This is a long overdue update on my mother, Esther Freeman. She is doing well! Last week I took her back to her cardiologist who said (I hope facetiously!) “If you don’t stop doing so well, I might have to kick you out of Hospice!”
In the two months she has been in the program, her symptoms have been stabilized, she is sleeping well most of the time, and although she has little energy/stamina, is still able to get up and down stairs and even walks to the mailbox occasionally.
Her Hospice nurse comes weekly, as does a Hospice volunteer, who has taken her (and her wheelchair) out shopping and to run little errands. It’s good for her to have someone other than me taking her where she wants to go.
Her nurse assures me that she will NOT “be kicked out of Hospice.” She has had two middle-of-the-night crises where I have had to dig into the emergency kit they’ve provided and follow their telephoned instructions. I am so grateful to have that service available!
For the first couple of weeks, I had someone stay with her if I had to be gone several hours. I haven’t felt that was necessary since the middle of May. I’m always available by cell phone and seldom more than 10 – 15 minutes away.
Over the Fourth of July I will take advantage of the St. Mary’s Hospice House, which provides “respite care” for Hospice patients for up to five nights a month for $8/day! We took a tour yesterday. It is bright, spacious, nicely decorated, 12 private room/private bath facility with round-the-clock nursing care, nice areas for visitors, lovely gardens, and—to her obvious pleasure—ice cream for snacks any time she wants it!
I’ll take a couple of folding tables and lamp and get her settled on the morning of July 2. Then the dogs, a friend and I will head up to a vacation house in the north Georgia mountains until Sunday the sixth.