A month or so ago we all were getting pretty worried because Mom was giving us fits about eating. And we had the worst time getting her to drink. We'd try to give her a drink and she's spit it right back at us like a fountain. And then she'd smile, ornery thing. So, I'm clueless with this whole "death and dying" thing so I called one of the most capable and professional and super-duper people I have met lately, Mom's nurse in Joplin. She always acts like she has nothing more to do all day than to take care of us and tell us what to do next. God bless her. I explained that Mom wasn't eating and we all figured that wasn't a good thing, but I didn't know how to contact Hospice or what to say. She asked if we had chosen a Hospice program to which I said, "I have no clue who I'm supposed to call or what I'm supposed to do. The problem is, I don't know if Mom is going to live another week or another year....I just can't tell." She said, "Well, I'll tell you what. I'll call my favorite Hospice group and get you all set up." (Yeah, as a nurse, she's probably 'legally' not supposed to pick favorites, but I'm so glad she knows when to follow the rules and when to break them) I told her I would LOVE for her to do that. (I'm right in the middle of new teacher orientation at work this whole time, of course.) Within a day I received a call from "Marjorie,' the sweetest lady you could imagine who set up an appointment for Friday evening She came at 5:00 p.m. and and poured humanity all over us. This lady knew exactly what we needed to hear; they would take care of Mom and we would take care of each other, and they were there for us any day any hour, and they would do it all. Christine, Molly, Dad, and I all breathed a sigh of relief.( Mom smiled....she was intensely interested in the lady's computer.) Much to my amazement, however, Dad suddenly asked, "Well, uh...it all sounds real good, but how much is this all going to cost?" My eyes got large and my jaw dropped. I thought, "He's never heard of Hospice? What cave has he been living in?" She smiled her angel smile and told Dad it was absolutely free and he didn't have to worry about one thing from here on out. I could just see his shoulders relax. How do you put a price on that? Makes a person want to sniffle.
Anyway, she said, "Would you like me to call the nurse now?" It was about 5:30 p.m., so I said, "Oh, no...I wouldn't call her this late and ask her to come over here." I'm sure she was thinking, "They are just not getting it." She explained that oh no, that's what they do. This particular nurse works from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. (or something like that.) And just like that, we waited, and here she came. She took all the vital signs and Mom is healthy as a horse on that count. Ninety-six percent oxygen, great blood pressure and everything. Molly was intensely interested in the whole thing and had her blood pressure checked, too. She hauled in bags of hygiene supplies, much to our amazement, pads for the bed, and even little deals to clean Mom's mouth and moisten her lips. (If you've ever bought Depends, you know how much money was in all those bags.) We stood amazed. She acted like she was our new best friend and coming over to see us was just a real treat. Sniffle again. (It makes you just want to quit your job and start working full-time for Hospice.) Molly was dancing around like a nut when she left declaring it was "Just like Christmas!!"
So now, we have two nurses that each come twice each week! One checks Mom's vital signs, (and I'm sure Dad's mood) and another comes and does the same but also bathes Mom, (which is a MAJOR task for Dad, which he does not like doing.) Dad loves the company and looks forward to them coming---four days each week---still can't believe it! A chaplain also came out to see if he could be of service. Dad told him kindly that he appreciated his mission, but he'd call him when he needed him. (Stubborn mule father of mine.) Also, a social worker comes out once a month. I asked Dad why she came. He said he figured she was making sure he wasn't abusing Mom or nothin'. "Dad! She does not! She's coming by to see if she can help you in any way and she's coming to see if YOU are ok!" He's so goofy. :)
So, it appears that Mom may never have to go to a hospital or nursing center at all. It appears that she will just pass away at home, which....crazy as it sounds, make me want to throw my fist in the air and yell, "YES!!"
Yeah, the whole thing is stinky, but let me tell you, it could be a LOT worse. We could be doing it all alone with no clue, thinking we were probably responsible for Mom's decline, and completely stressing out.
I can't remember all these folks names but, "God bless Mom's nurse, the paperwork lady, the evaluating nurse, the vital sign checker nurse, and the bathing nurse. May they be as blessed in their lives as they have blessed us in ours!" A-men!
P.S. The photos are of Eric checking out the new air-circulating mattress cover on Mom's bed, which keeps her from having bed sores---so cool. Also, there is a photo of Mom and Dad watching t.v. Dad says she seems particularly into "I Love Lucy" right now.