A journal of healing

Posts tagged ‘hospice’

The Sunset years


Although the alternative is not what I want, getting older is a bitch. I don’t feel myself aging, but I know I am. I am not sure anyone feels it like they do with a growth spurt at 11. I see the physical changes reflecting in the mirror. However, I think back to my grandmothers when they were my age, and I certainly do not think I look as old as they did. I know I was looking at them with a child’s eyes, but even in photos they looked and dressed so much older. I love the fact that my age is now considered the new forty.

All this thinking is being brought about because of my poor mother-in-law. (MIL)  She is in a nursing home with a broken pelvis and severe dementia. My sister-in-law has finally had her admitted as a hospice patient. She is 91. She has not eaten now in almost 2 weeks but they are giving her a supplemental nutritional beverage. I am not sure if she is consuming that either. She lies in bed and mumbles most of the time. Some days she is a bit more coherent. Other days, like last Wednesday, are terrible. They found her on the floor and no one is confessing as to what happened. She is alone as her three children harbor ill feelings about her, especially her sons. She was not always a nice woman and I will let it go at that.  But still, it is a horrible ending of her life.

In my in-laws situation, they retired at 55. My FIL worked for the post office and they were very frugal. They traveled and lived in Florida until eight years ago when my MIL had breast cancer. They moved up here to be closer to the family, especially their daughter. My FIL was not sick for very long before he passed. My MIL’s dementia progressed rapidly in the last  years and she should have been placed in a memory care facility years ago. My FIL probably would have lived longer, if not happier.

Now, because she is private pay and has money, her options of care are extremely expensive and limited. Believe it or not, she would have better care if she was living with one of her children. But no one would do that. My brother-in-law did take my father -in-law in for his last healthy months this summer. She cannot go to certain hospice facilities because her needs are covered at the nursing home and because of her private money, she does not qualify for a comfort care facility.

My husband is partially retired. I work my ass of at my job and I am not ready to retire but I am also coming to the realization that time runs short. It is true that as you get older, time seems to speed up. We have spent our entire lives saving and creating nest eggs for our old age. WE have pensions and SSI and savings and annuities and stocks. Why? So that when we get old, it will be there for us. That is what THEY told us to do. And if we die tomorrow, all of that will be for naught. It will go to some folks but we will not have enjoyed the fruits of our labor. The thought of it going to pay for ridiculous nursing home costs so I can lay in bed and rot is incomprehensible.

This morning as I was thinking about creating this post I realized that I have been very depressed. The change in the season coupled with having a tough time with my Psoriatic Arthritis symptoms has exacerbated this condition. Seeing my poor MIL deteriorating helplessly and the splintering of my in-laws has not been conducive to making this a pleasant time.

But, the holiday season is upon us and I am the original “Christmas cheese”.  I am not as obnoxious as some, but I do love the season for it lights and decorations and the whole deal. The past years have been marred with forced in-law functions that ceased to be fun many years ago. When I first met my husband, his large Italian family would get together for these big fancy dinners and party. Once my MIL became so ill and nasty, we would all pile into their tiny apartment at the senior living facility. It was miserable. One year, my husband and I spent Christmas Eve with my MIL in the rehab center she was in after she fell for the first time. No one else came.

It is time for me to snap out of it. I want to enjoy this season for a change. This year, we do not have to attend any family functions. We are having a quiet Thanksgiving with just my hubby and my step-daughter. We seemed to have moved to a place on quite contentment now when we are together. We are talking about our holidays together this year with pleasant anticipation.

I am really thinking about my remaining years. It is actually a very stressful stage of life. When do you decide to stop working for retirement and old age? When do you live it? I know I do not want my retirement to be in a hospital in hospice. I think the answer will come but for now, I want to live in celebration of life. I want to hold on to some good times and create pleasant memories because those will be the things that will sustain me in my old age.


Ignorance is not bliss


My poor mother in law is exhibiting failure to thrive. Not surprising since she has been going downhill steadily since she has lost any sense of who she is due to Alzheimer’s. We went to see her on Sunday and she was curled up in her bed and would not acknowledge us.

It was difficult for my husband. He would not approach her in the bed. He bellowed hello as if she was contaminated. There is some real issue there and I have known this for a while. He was able to be with his father when he was in hospice and was there when he died. But the sight of his mother, so tiny in the big bed, freaked him out.

I approached her and said softly, with my hand on her shoulder, “Mom, it’s Jane.” She usually perks up and recognizes me. We women who have married into the family have a special bond because of the traits of our collective husband’s process. My husband is every bit the drama king her husband was. She used to rip a good quip back at him under her  breath and then smile at me. I can remember when I stayed with her while Dad was in the hospital; she seemed to resurface and be herself. We chatted and she relayed stories like they were yesterday. But as soon as her daughter came back to the apartment, she would slip away. Even when we visited with her a couple of weeks ago she sat close and would lean a comfortable way towards me, like there was an energy she enjoyed. I will hold on to that.

I also would talk to her a bit in French. Her family is from Nice and she loved to share tales of her youth from there. She married her American soldier boy and moved state side after the war. But in her heart, she was French.

So when she did not respond in English, I spoke to her in French, still softly touching her shoulder. She opened one eye and said she just wanted to sleep. And then she did not say any more.

Today she was admitted into the hospital for tests. She has a UTI, which is no surprise since she does not drink water or fluids unless told to. She has fallen again making it three times, again not surprising since she has a raging UTI. She has a fractured pelvis in two places and is in pain. But she tried to not say anything because the last time she fell she ended up in an icky nursing home. She resides now in a lovely memory care facility which she loved.

But the Doctor today agreed that she is exhibiting end of life and should be put into hospice care. I could have said that on Sunday, but I am not a clinician. She’s just tired and done. She is 92, hurts like hell, has no one left if you ask her, she’s scared and feels totally alone. She did like the memory care facility, but this last fall has taken her out.

Every family has one, and this family is no different. Enter my stupid, idiotic, undereducated, spoiled….I could go on…sister in law (SIL) who just happens to have power of attorney and is the health care proxy. She is refusing to allow Mom to go into hospice. Her reasons are that…HOSPICE is what killed her Daddy…. Seriously. Dad who would have turned 95 in a week, died from kidney and heart failure last month. They are pretty sure that the last episode that put him into the hospital was a myocardial infarction. He had stints put in years and years ago. So when his kidneys went to 5%, it was time to let him go. Unfortunately, dying is nothing like you see on the TV. It is not always pleasant. My Father-in-law basically drowned in his own fluids. My sister-in-law freaked out when he was having difficulty breathing….HELLO….he was actively dying. They should have gotten her out of the room. She became hysterical and ripped into her brothers for killing their father because he was in Hospice. She is so dumb.

So now, my mother in law could return to the Memory Care unit and her room she loves only if she is comes back in hospice. They are not going to provide….and this is where I am confused…acute care. She is not in need. She has a UTI, which with the IV drip and fluids, which will clear up in day and she is an full admit for now in the hospital. There is nothing anyone can do. They want to discharge her to hospice. She does not want to get out of bed. She does not want to do PT. She wants to sleep…. She wants to let go of the fight.

The tragedy is my sister is now looking to place her back in the nursing home she hated. She thinks they will provide PT for her and she will go back to being whatever my SIL thinks is fine. All because the selfish idiot does not understand hospice. My Mother in law deserves to go in peace and pain free, and in her own bed. Her brothers do not have the ability or the legal right to override her choice. I am an outsider.

On top of all this, there is a battle going on between the oldest brother and her about the estate and paying for my father-in-law’s funeral. No one, it seems, has seen the advance directives or for that fact, any of the Will documents my Father in law was very clear were created. She has them. But that’s for another time.