Friday, December 08, 2017

Comfort Care

Thursday we (Dad, Will, Sherri and I) met with doctors,  Face Timed (Or something like that) with Nate and Heather, who live overseas, and called Michael. We all agreed Mom had been in pain long enough. She quit eating on the 2nd. They were doing all they could and the pain was not gone. It was time for Hospice. If God wanted her to be healed, he would heal her. Dad believed Mom would be healed. He said it best for all of us, "She's suffered enough. We'll put her in God's hands. He can still heal her."

Mom's life was about sharing Jesus with others. She wanted others to see Jesus in her. She wanted her illness to result in good in the lives of nurses, doctors etc. She'd worked in hospitals.  After her first hospital stay, when we were told her cancer was back, she shared with me that it bothered her she was in such pain that she was "acting crazy," and others can't see Jesus in that.

When she was admitted the second time she was in bad shape. In the midst of the pain she was praying, and it was noticed. Questions were asked. Seeds were planted. We had the opportunity to share Jesus and our view of the afterlife with every doctor, nurse, aide, and volunteer that came into the room.  I wouldn't have WANTED to be having end of life conversations with palliative care doctors - but I quickly saw our responsibility to share what Mom could no longer verbally share.  Jesus was seen through mom's last days, though it wasn't the way she'd planned it to be.

Mom's friend of over 50 years came to sit with Mom while we met with doctors. 

Some will fault this photo below, but my kids and I absolutely LOVE Dad's sense of humor.  We needed a laugh at that juncture and dad sensed this. 

Friday, hospice came to meet with us. They were surprised at mom's condition and said they didn't feel she was a good candidate for hospice. The palliative care team admitted they felt she had days to weeks and that it would be best for her to stay in the hospital for Comfort Care. We were already in the Comfort Care wing.  I cannot say enough about the team on that floor.

I had seen these carts earlier and wondered why some patients got a hospitality cart. Ah, this signifies the patient is on Comfort Care - and the staff is trying to care for visitors as well. I was touched by such a tangible show of compassion - as well as by what it signaled.

Throughout Friday they came in and unhooked mom from various things. They began the morphine drip, which finally brought pain relief by Saturday evening.  Mom hadn't been talking for a few days, but she quit responding as the meds began to enter her system.

The choice to go on to comfort care is not a one time choice. Throughout the day I was asked if I wanted various procedures to be made it really easy. For days she had been sneaking her hand up and blocking the oxygen hose or pulling the oxygen off.  Staff and family were finally able to follow mom's lead and only do those things which she wanted done.
The last picture I took - I needed it  - she was pain free & peaceful 
I learned a big lesson here. As important as an advance directive is, more important, as you can never think of every situation to put on an advance directive, is to have the conversations often about what you'd like your end of life to look like. It was hard making choices for mom...and yet the choices were easier as we ALL remembered comments mom had made about what she did and did not want done...and so we were able to answer with confidence - even when situations weren't covered on the paperwork Mom had signed.

As I think through my life,  I can say this was the toughest week of my life. Yet, I felt God's presence every step of the way. He is a faithful and good God - even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death - maybe especially then!

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