Last Friday my sister received a phone call from the hospital Art was in...They wanted to put him back on a ventilator. My sister said no. She's just the messenger. On the Wednesday before that I was with my mom in the hospital (different hospital - for her) and we talked about how bad Art was. Carol was with us. Carol and I were talking and mom was withdrawn again. She heard us talking and wanted to know what we were talking about. We told her how bad Art was and asked her what she thought we should do for him. It was her wish to NOT have him surviving on machines. So, when my sister got the phone call...She was just the messenger.
By Friday evening Art was not doing very well. My sister (and a third cousin) were the only ones who could be with our Step-dad. By Saturday morning my brother arrived and then me that night. The plan was that on Friday all the meds, etc. Would be stopped for Art. He would be given morphine for his comfort. Once his breathing was down to a certain rate the O2 he was receiving would be stopped and he would be allowed to let his body give in to the disease.
Saturday was spent waiting for his breathing to get to that lower level. The nursing staff had a shift change at 7 pm. Our new nurse didn't like our decision and she had the attitude of "not on my shift". She did everything in her power to disobey our wishes. She gave our step-dad Tylenol for his fever when we stepped out of his room so he could be changed. She told us it was not right for us to "Let his brain fry." We asked her if she understood our whole situation. She said she did know about our mom. She tried to single out our sister, have her leave the room so she could privately talk to her, Eileen wouldn't go. She did not give our step-dad his morphine at the right times. He did seem to be suffering...Not our intent. She kept saying she wasn't clear on what the orders were and the topper was that in the middle of the night she called the doctor at home to have him clarify (1:30 in the morning). We weren't with her when she called the doctor, so we don't know what she said. She did come back and say the doctor said our step-dad should remain on the O2 through the night.
No sleep, frayed nerves and her attitude made us all feel between a rock and a hard place. We started counting down the hours until the shift change and hoping she wasn't doing a double shift.
Our nurse from the day before came back. She wasn't suppose to be with us, but after she checked on us, she decided to be with us. She wasn't in a good mood when she realized what had transpired. Did I mention, she has had four years of Hospice background? She was an angel.
On Sunday, we were back to waiting for Art's breathing to reach a lowered rate. By 2 in the afternoon we were at that point. He was allowed to breath on his own - without O2, that was the last artificial means still hooked up to him keeping him alive. (He was on a feeding tube, but that was not keeping him alive.) About three hours later Art peacefully passed. We were with him, holding his hands and talking to him. I am sorry our mom couldn't be with him, but I am glad we could be there for him and each other.
58 years old. West Nile. Not a good thing. He was unresponsive for five weeks. He had a fever of 104 (down to 101-ish with meds.) for five weeks. Trach, feeding tube, catheter, bowel bag. Swelling of his body - his hand and arms looked like they would burst for the retention of fluids.
We buried him yesterday.
Unbelievable. Last April I never would have believed you if you told me what we were going to go through this year. I would have laughed and said, "yeah, right". When mom was diagnosed with her brain cancer I would have thought we'd be heading to the cemetery for her, not Art next.
I am glad he is a peace and I wish no one else ever had to go through this. But, for those who do have to go through this, may they be blessed with an angel nurse like our Paula.