Saturday, November 19, 2011

Still coughing...

After noon yesterday she took a left turn and visited a brane world that hovers slightly above our dimension, close enough to participate in ours a bit, but clearly different. She has many conversations with people we can't see. She is quite active, gesturing and waving her arms about. Her posture took a noticeable change, slumping more and her head is canted to the left. It has to be uncomfortable, so today we are going to move the bed into the family room so she can participate to whatever extent she is able, but be able to lie in relative comfort, with the head of the bed elevated. It's the way she wanted it. She took no food and almost no water yesterday. I tried to get her to take little sips of water so she could take her pills orally but was unsuccessful. So we have to go to the alternate delivery route. She is coughing quite a bit - the nurse gave us some medication that we could use but it causes extreme dry mouth and I would just as soon not go that route. I gave her some additional meds at 2am and 3am that helped a bit - at 6am she gets her normal dose and we will see how that goes. I do like being able to give her the main three meds via the cream - that is a great advance. She is not getting her pain meds, although that does not seem to be an issue - if need be I can go to oral drops of morphine at a very low dose and counter the nausea with IV delivery of compazine.

The hospice nurse gave the boys and me a very good overview of the dying process and what to expect. They each asked questions of her. The nurse has no idea how long it will take with Meagan, barring some major event like a stroke. It could be anywhere from 2-8 days - she is relatively young and healthy despite the cancer. It is hard to wake each day and realize that based on an assessment of her condition, she is likely to be around another 24 hours. Because she is there, but not there. And so as a coping mechanism, you necessarily adapt. As one of them said, 'Dad, I feel numb, just like you said". It's true - it's not that there is not love and care and depth of feeling for Meagan. It's that the Meagan we know is gone, except for the shell of a body and a small flicker of spirit. So what we are left with is a physical body to tend, without reciprocal acknowledgment or recognition or connection. It makes it a challenge, because you want to remember all the fantastic things - not the last days of delusional and disconnected sound and movement by a physical entity that is not what you associate with your mom or your wife.

I don't buy into the notion that there are great lessons to be learned by this slow dying process or that it is a gift in some way. We have said our goodbyes, we have our good memories and her life lessons emblazoned into our hearts and minds, and we can carry forward the legacy of her spirit (in a non-religious sense) and joi de vivre. I'd rather it end sooner than later so we have the energy and positive associations of her final days to go forward. I know we don't have a choice in the matter - but if I had a wish at this point that would be it.

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