By the Light of the Moon

My girls drifting together

It is 1:52 am. Molly, my sixteen year old beagle is snoring lightly. She has just had another period of excessive panting and coughing in the night. All I can do is get down on the floor with her, pet her gently and speak softly. She too has comfort and care orders, and is preparing for departure.

Fortunately, this gave me an opportunity to look in on mom, who is also snoring lightly, although the TV remote is still tightly in her hand.

A Visiting Nurse Bag sits by our front door awaiting pick up. In it is the cardio care monitor that we have taken her vitals with every day for the past three months. Mom and I have had our struggles with the woman on the monitor who sometimes annoys the heck out of us, but she has been a vital part of our routine. Her absence, although providing a bit more room on the table in our den, is ominous by implication.

It was a tough day. The hospice nurses came to review our plan. We signed our third DNR and there is now a bright yellow sheet of paper on our fridge instructing those in her company to call hospice rather than 911.

Mom was in terrible pain all day. After lunch I came out of the bathroom to find her doubled over clutching her abdomen, and she had to spend the afternoon in bed. In the midst of all that, we got bad news about not being eligible for a program that would have helped financially, due to my designation as her guardian. At dinner time, more effective meds arrived and we began to get her discomfort under control. She looked better by bedtime, although very tired.

All of this came after a few days of excitement that included the 4th of July Parade, and two days of visits with family members from Connecticut and Pennsylvania. A few days ago mom got to live out one of her life dreams of seeing the Tall ships from the water. Although she was sad during the trip not to share it with her best friend Ruth, she enjoyed the day very much, and I am including the slideshow here, because I want to remind us all that there is great joy sprinkled liberally amidst our sorrow.

As I sit here in darkness aware only of the illumination caused by my keyboard, I notice a great moon glow coming through the tree outside my bedroom window. I stop writing and press my face to the screen trying to absorb an air of ancient to get me through the night. I think of IJ, Celestine, Glennie Bee, Naima, Gary Muncy, Amy, Rosemary, Clare, Sharmishtha and all the other wonderful people who support us through this blog, and imagine each one bathed in the light of the moon.

Returning to my computer I remember that we have been invited by Naticksqw, the chief of the Natick Praying Indians to receive a special blessing at Elliot Church in South Natick this coming weekend. It couldn’t be coming at a better time.

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24 thoughts on “By the Light of the Moon

  1. I can tell you are going through a new phase with your mom. I hear more sadness in your voice but somehow you manage to find the beauty in the smallest things. You are a treasure, Beth. xxxxxx

  2. I hope your mommy get well soon, Beth! I loved the slide show! I love the zeal and enthusiasm cradling your heart and soul and I am glad to rejoice and appreciate your determination.
    Much Love,
    -Naima.

  3. You so aptly describe the ups and downs, and the joys and tribulations of caregiving. It sounds as if this day- filled with anticipatory and actual losses- was a difficult one. I am hopeful that your mother is experiencing better pain control and that your many support systems are providing you with the comfort you need at this time. Thank you for sharing your story with others.

    • Thanks Terre, Yes, the pain was in better control today and we managed an outing that she thoroughly enjoyed. It is quite a roller coaster at times. As for sharing the story, I can’t think of doing it any other way. It is a wonderful feeling to have so many people I care about along for the ride.

  4. Hi you, enjoyed your post. Sorry to hear about marcia in pain all day…much be terrible to sit by and wait for it to get better. The DNR and call hospice sign on the fridge makes me sad even though I know it is all part of the plan…just another sign of the ending phase you two are in…
    On another note, have you seen the bobble head ad on your page? wasn’t expecting that…

    • It was horrible. By the end of the day I was at my wits end. I went to the pharmacy to see if a script had been called in. The pharmacist was outraged (she and I have come to know each other pretty well over the past months) and while we were waiting for the on call doc to call her back, it was all I could do not to curl up in a fetal position in the baby wipe aisle and sob uncontrollably. Luckily the hospice pharmacy delivered much needed meds and we were able to get the pain back into control. We had a MUCH better day today. Bobbleheads? who knew, what are they????

  5. Bless you in your time of need. I admire your forward planning and awareness, there are many families that are not aware of the options or the process of a DNR or MOLST. They wait until the end and call 9-1-1. That is not the time to be deciding what the family wants to do, or not do for the patient. EMS procedures are very clear, pronouncement if they meet the criteria for death or have a DNR present, if not, full code we do.

  6. Reblogged this on Paramedic Mastery and commented:
    My friend Beth posts about dealing with care of her mother. we need to remember the family side and realize there are emotional needs and tough times in families. The call is about the family, not us. The treatment can be caring and listening, doesn’t have to be an ETT and IVP Meds.

  7. It was tough to read about your monther’s day of pain – It’s all still so close to me. You’re doing a great job Beth, your mom is so fortunate to have you there looking after her so devotedly and such consciousness. The pic of Molly sleeping next to your Mom is precious, I have to smile whenever I look at it. Something very sweet going on there.

    • Thanks Ira, I have wondered if sometimes reading my blog is a bit like picking at a scab for you. Oxygen compressor and spare tank delivered today, and a no smoking sign is now in place on the front door. Pain seems better in control but she has been sleeping most of the day due to their increased strength. The hospice team is very responsive to her needs and responds immediately to my concerns. The connection between Mom and Molly runs very deep I am not at all surprised that they seem to be leaving together.

  8. You are really doing an amazing job. Taking advantage of your mom’s good days and making them special. Keeping her as comfortable as possible on her bad days. Always being there as her advocate and seeing to it that she gets the appropriate care that she so deserves. Continue to cherish every moment and don’t forget to take care of yourself. Jane

    • Thanks Jane. On the bad days it is hard to feel like much is going well, even though it certainly is, so it is great to hear your perspective, which is always so positive and warm. The new hospice team will be able to provide some respite hours now and I am hoping to take advantage of them to regain my physical health. I looked in the mirror yesterday and barely recognized myself. I know I am in here somewhere and look forward to getting to know me again.

      • You’re right, on bad days it’s very hard to see anything good in the day. In the future you will be able to look back and be grateful that you were there to make it as good as possible for your mom. It’s all part of the “complete circle”. Your mom being there for you when you were younger and couldn’t do things for yourself. And later she was there when you had difficult days and there to celebrate your successes. Now you are there for her in her days of need and share wonderful experiences with her on her good days . Keep on hanging in there. Jane

  9. Thank you, Beth for your wonderful and positve thoughts. It is not easy to car for a sick person, especially if that person is close to you and you see their pain all the time. That pain becomes yours too. Sparing a thought for others at this time only shows how generous and kind you are. May God bless you adn my He bring much needed relief to your mom. Bless her heart. Many thanks to you for the trip to see the Tall Ships. Lovely hugs to you, Beth.

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