End of an Era
I miss my Mom.
My Mom died yesterday.
This was a very sad, emotional time for my family and myself. We had known that she didn’t have long for quite some time, but never really had any indication of exactly how long that was.
A few weeks ago Annelise and I, who are Mom’s primary care givers, had a visit with Mom’s doctor to go over what was happening to her and what we could expect. At that time her doctor had already agreed to be her palliative doctor through till the end of her life. Mom and her doctor had discussed her wishes for how she wanted to go out of this world in detail prior to us having this meeting. We talked about how her condition had deteriorated, and the doctor said she would come out to see her to get an idea about what stage Mom was at.
Mom's doctor arrived at approximately the same time that the her nurse was there. After checking Mom out, and talking to Mom herself, the nurse informed us that Mom had gone from a 0 on the PPS scale (PPS stands for Palliative Performance Scale) to a 20 and if she went to a 30 that she needed to be in hospice
While Mom's doctor was there, she told us Mom was in the “honeymoon stage”, which made it seem like she was on an upswing health wise, but was in fact deteriorating.
Mom's doctor had a long conversation with her about whether or not she wanted antibiotics because we knew she had another UTI, and mom said no. She asked her if she wanted any further measures to prolong her life and she said no. I asked Mom what she was agreeing to, and she said that we were going to let her die in peace. So it was agreed that we would no longer force her to take Boost or Ensure, or food or drink because she didn’t want it anymore. The only thing mom asked of the doctor was that the doctor would promise her she would not be in pain. The doctor promised her that she would do that and did the best she could. Mom's doctor, with the nurse beside her, then had a conversation with Annelise and I to make sure we knew what we were getting ourselves into, because we were essentially letting her die, and it would be difficult when she started asking for water. Giving her water would only prolong her suffering because it would jump start her system again. We were told to give her mouth care, which we made our selves because we couldn’t get them at the drugstore. Mom's doctor told us how brave and strong we were to be able to follow Mom’s wishes and let her die in peace, with dignity, and few families let their elderly go on their own terms. We decided to send a post out through the Eskesen Family group on Facebook to let everyone know what was going on.
The rest of the week passed quietly, with Annelise, Sharon and I taking turns to sit and talk with Mom, sometimes all of us at once. If we weren’t in her room, we were out on the balcony. While in her room, we simply reminisced, or watched TV with her, or simply watched her sleep. I taped several sessions of the reminiscing so that I can transcribe it later for her scrapbook. I am also hoping I can string all the sessions together and create a CD for the grandkids to have.
During those days, Mom suffered repeated seizures, and was declining faster than we could handle. It was time to get her to the hospice for her final days. This would ensure she was well taken care of, and we could be there as her daughters, not her care givers.
Unfortunately, what followed was a roller coaster of emotions, as she went back and forth between being able to go to hospice, and being to fragile to be moved. Another one of my sisters arrived on the weekend, and the more people that were trying to help, the harder it became. Tensions were frayed, fights were had, and feelings were hurt.
We finally had Mom moved to hospice a week after the doctor had visited for the first time. The move itself was difficult, but the nurses and volunteers at the hospice were incredible. They went out of their way to make sure that not only was Mom taken care of, but so were we.
Mom had several visitors during those last few days in hospice. PSW's came to visit, family and friends stopped by. At this point, Mom was in a medically induced coma, so we were talking to her, but no longer getting a response
Once Annelise and Helen were asleep, I sat quietly talking with Mom while watching the show. It was close to midnight when I told Mom I was going to go to sleep and I turned off the TV and gave her a kiss. I had just closed my eyes and was in that state between awake and asleep when I realized Mom wasn’t breathing. I sat up and gasped, and reached for Mom. Annelise lifted her head, and I said “I don’t think Mom is breathing”. Annelise climbed out of her cot, and went to get a nurse. Helen sat up and I told her I thought Mom was dead and she just sat there, then went for the cord to pull for a nurse. Annelise and the nurse came in the room, and the nurse checked Mom for a pulse and heart beat. Then she looked at us and said “she’s gone”.
I didn't know what numb was like until I had to deal with everything after that. But she is in a better place, and no longer in pain. I know she is smiling down upon us, back with Dad once again, having a glass of wine and watching over us, as she did her whole life.
I miss my Mom