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Monday, August 3, 2009



Over this week just past, I watched Jr's mind go away. It went like pulling the plug on a bathtub drain. He slept most of the morning. When he started to sit up on the side of the bed, he couldn't make it. I put my hand in the middle of his back and helped him rise. I asked what he wanted to do. He didn't understand me. I asked again. I said, "If you'll tell me where you want to go, I'll help you get there." He said very weakly, "I know." I asked if he wanted to go to the bathroom. Yes. I brought the walker around so he could use it to help himself stand up. It took a long while. Then his knees wouldn't separate to allow him to take a step. Neither foot could make the effort of a step.

When he was finally able to get some forward momentum going, he crept like a snail. About half way he didn't have energy for one more step and started fading. I ran to the back room where I'd put a wheelchair bought a couple weeks ago toward a day like this. I brought it for him to sit down in. He was so grateful, there was no mention of the wheelchair as acceptable or not. Suddenly, it was acceptable, because it was all that would do. I wheeled him to the bathroom door. It wouldn't go through the door. I lifted the walker over his head placing it in front of him. All of it turned out to be quite awkward. He managed to hit the toilet seat when he sat down.

He wears sweatpants and sweatshirt day and night now. He didn't get the pants down very far and peed into the back of them, which I spotted when I put him on the bed, seeing the sheet was wet where he sat. I told him to sit up, we're changing pants. I picked up some other s and pulled the wet ones off and put on the clean ones. Then I had to change the sheet. I lifted him over to the wheelchair and let him watch me change the sheet, arranging the covers to receive him. I lifted him from chair to bed, him calling to me, "Don't hurt yourself," like he was in a minor panic. As soon as he lay back on the bed, he went into quiet, turned within, and was gone.

Then his woman friend called. She asked what she could do to help. I mentioned needing to get to town for the grocery store, and asked if she could come here and stay with him an hour while I get groceries. My motive asking her was for her to experience him as he is today and see how far he's gone in just a few days. I want to get everyone who is close to him here to see him in the next day or two while he's able to see them. It hurts to see him this way, but it hurts worse to be this way. Perhaps the worst part of it is that he's aware of it. His consciousness is still clear, but mind is gone and he can't find it.

When she drove up, I went into bedroom, told him she was here and helped him into the chair. I rolled him into the living room and transferred him from wheelchair to his customary seat on the couch. She came in and sat beside him. He was perked up, performing like he's not as bad off as he is, and they talked pleasantly while I prepared to go out the door.

When I returned, carrying groceries in the house, she said as I passed on the way to the kitchen, "I don't know how you do what you're doing." She was at her extremity of what she can handle. He never made any sense. He said no every time she asked if he'd like some chicken she brought or some strawberry pie. No. He hadn't shaved good enough to suit her. And that is a problem. He has an electric razor given him last Christmas that wouldn't shave teenage fuzz. He tries to make it work and it never works. He shaves with bic razors, but doesn't like them. I've been wanting to find him an electric razor that works, but can't get away.

She was glad to see me return, because she didn't know what to do. She has a difficult time with him being "stubborn" anyway. I think it's a little different from stubborn. It's just that 3-year-old way of answering no to every question. Ask him any yes-no question and no is automatically the answer.I don't believe he chooses to say no consciously. He doesn't like being asked questions, because he needs to think to answer them, and he can't think, so he says no. I don't know if that's the reason why, but I've had to quit asking him if he'd like this, that or the other. Back from the grocery store, where my primary mission was to get some ensures, I handed him one and said, "Drink it." He did.

I expect much of the time she was here, he sat with his chin on his chest dozing. After the initial performance of the usual talk, I imagine him dozing off as he does, and she trying to wake him up to talk to her, and him muttering something she couldn't decipher. She was glad to get out of here, mentioning several times she didn't know how I stood it. She gets mad at him when he's like this.

He looks to me like he's not coming back this time. Yesterday he mentioned he didn't believe he was going to come back. I've been seeing this all week as his mind slipped away. I see him fading on out in the next week or so. I don't mind him going on, because he's so miserable now and has been for so many years. In the back of my head is anticipation of charges for manslaughter brought by the Absentee Police, and every kind of accusation there is: he could have lived a week longer in a nursing home! But I don't care. I've done what I was given to do, and that's all that matters to me. I look out the window and wonder how many more days I'll be seeing this view.

1 comment:

  1. Hang in there, TJ. You're there for a reason. You have it right. Don't forget the mission of Hospice is to allow the passing at home when the time comes. They should also be able to offer you some ground support in the mean time when needed.