Sunday, August 19, 2012

Leaving and Living: Lessons Learned

It's been a intense few days. During my time on the West Coast. I've come to be adopted by the family of my former roommate.They gave me a good deal of support when my Mom was sick and through my own illnesses. Some of them live in the same condo complex where I'm at including his 85 year old grandmother, V. Over the last few years we have all kept an eye on her as she has been slowly failing. Friday afternoon she suffered a massive stroke and was placed on a respirator with no expectation of living without it or a feeding tube.

Yesterday I went to the hospital CCU to see her. Once I arrived with her ex-daughter-in-law we found out they were going to take her off life support. Not all family had arrived, but they made the decision to go ahead. Her daughter didn't want her to be alone just in case she passed before the nurse could get the family back into the room. Given that I work in the medical social work world, it was agreed I would stay. Once she was off the vent, I could tell that V. would not pass as quick as they thought due to her vitals (again experience working hospice). One of the questions I asked the family members was would they like a chaplain. They said yes. The hospital did have someone on call so they proceeded to call to bring him in. I went while we were waiting down to the cafeteria with a couple of the family who hadn't eaten and when we came back we were met by the news that V's insurance wanted to move her across town to their hospital. Her son/daughter where upset by this. I quietly asked them at this point if they were interested in hospice to bring her home and keep her comfortable. They looked stunned and then said oh yes. By this time also the chaplain had arrived and he was from one of the local hospice programs as luck would have it.

Long story short V. was brought home late yesterday. I spent time late into last night with her/family. I cooked breakfast this am for them. Tonight I'm really exhausted. I think it's bringing back the emotions of my Mom leaving us last year. Plus I'm even feeling my own mortality. It was a contrast because I'd been feeling so good. Didn't sleep well last night and fell a bit away from my diet. I think it's a preview of what I'm going to have to do to handle stress. It also proved to me that I'm wise in not returning to work yet, as I'm still working on being able to handle my job when I return better if I'm to stay healthy. And this situation smacks of the stresses I will face.

Tonight I'm praying for V.'s peaceful passing, although I think it will be a few days yet and I'm grateful to her and her family for their including me in their family circle. And for the continued lessons on leaving this life and the importance of continuing to live it in it's fullest.

Jesse Cook, "Sad Dm":

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