Tuesday, August 25, 2009

As We All Gather Together....

*

Gradually, much of the extended family has arrived here in the swampland of Louisiana, and we sit for hours and hours by Mamo's bedside....her deathbed. The few times Mamo has been able to converse, she talked of Indian things---perhaps remembering her parents, especially her half-French/ half-Indian mother...

At first, everybody pretty much got along with each other. But now things have changed...

My uncle has suddenly changed his attitude around 360 degrees.

When Mamo first went into renal failure, he stated that he would not consider dialysis, as it is very rough on a person's body and she is 90 years old. Mamo is bedridden, so weak that she is unable to turn herself in bed or even hold an object in her hand, her body is swelling up with retained fluids, and she is sleeping most of the time--- but, nevertheless, she states that she is not in any pain or discomfort.

The doctor said that as her creatinine lab value goes up, she will sleep more and more--- and that she will, at some point, simply "go to sleep" and pass away peacefully. And both of Mamo's doctors have stressed the need for hospice care.

But suddenly my uncle is desperate and grasping at straws---and he is pressuring the doctors to send her to a nearby town's hospital, which is bigger and has kidney specialists, nephrologists. He states that he wants Mamo to begin dialysis--- so that he can "keep her alive longer".

No matter how much you tell my uncle that the stress of dialysis will change Mamo's present status from being pain-free and comfortable to that of the extreme fatigue and pain which a dialysis regimen would cause, he simply will not listen.

He even lost his temper and "had words" with my mother, the only voice of reason in the room. My mother wants Mamo to die painfree and comfortable--- not in the trauma of dialysis, which will not reverse her terminal condition but only prolong the inevitable by a few days or a month or two.

My mother and uncle's other sister is right in the middle of the fray, and is not helping much. Every time there's an uncomfortable moment, her usual response is: "I need another Ativan....."

I'm praying a lot. I pray that Mamo passes away without suffering. And I pray that I can be of maximum help to my beautiful mother as she goes through this horrible time.

7 comments:

Rachel said...

I'm so sorry to hear of this trying time in your life. Facing death makes people do weird things. I hope she continues to be pain free. My thoughts are with you and your family.

danielle said...

That sounds so typical - everyone at different points in the grieving process - but especially the male vs female points of view. If she is comfortable and pain free, that is the optimum. Why put her thru the painful transport process and testing? But you know what - she, and God, will decide this as they will.

Nurse Stella said...

Families... this is why I encourage everyone over the age of 18 to have an advance directive. It takes the burden of deciding off the family members. My thoughts are with you.

Eve said...

Letting go of those we love is such a difficult thing to do. We all act differently, and some will grasp at straws. I think men especially need to be problem solvers and really have challenges with being still and letting life happen. I'll pray for you and your family that she continues to be pain free.

Steph said...

Prayers to you and your family, Steph in NH

Macy from Buffalo, NY said...

Bo, how terrible! Rachel is right when she says "facing death makes people do weird things". I understand him wanting to hold on for personal reasons, but the benefit for her is nil & the risks are huge. I pray along with you that Mamo stays comfortable & pain-free, and that the voice of reason prevails. Hugs to you, Bo and TAKE YOUR MEDS!

Anonymous said...

As an elder law attorney, I'm afraid that I see this all the time. Sorry to be sexist, but sons are usually the ones that have a hard time letting go of their mothers especially and will often override a parent's wishes.

All things being equal, when a parent is choosing a health care decision maker and trying to decide between a son or a daughter, I always counsel them to choose the daughter, for this very reason.