Friday, November 18, 2016

A week of travel, excitement and a Memory Care death.

Whirlwind week, for me at least.

Monday found me on a plane to Dallas.  The afternoon consisted of Executive Director presentations and valuable bonding and tours.  The evening produced a fabulous meal at a Mexican restaurant with great conversation.

Somehow I ended up at the table with two fabulous colleagues who knew nothing about my life nor did I know anything about theirs.  We started talking and of course the subject turned to my marital life of caregiver and working College Administrator.  As the shock unfolded of Gary and my story, the mood grew more somber.  I felt horrible and apologized for going on about myself.  They kept asking questions so I kept answering.  Somewhere in the meal, I realized how pitiful it must all sound and I changed the subject. 

The next day found us flying to Miami and checking into The Trump National of Doral.  An exquisite resort with a perfect feel.  We had a fabulous meal and again, great sharing of stories from our varied educational backgrounds.  I am blessed to work with and for such great people.  While lying in bed that night, I received a return call from Gary's Hospice Nurse to discuss his recurring "tremors".  We volleyed back and forth with information and she said she would have the Doctor call me when he has examined Gary.  I went to sleep worried about the future, the outcome of this horrible disease and how I might handle the grief.

The next day took us to our Miami campus for more great presentations and a fabulous tour.  Around 1 we left for home.  I was home by 7:00 pm and exhausted.  After working 8:00 am to 9:00pm and traveling, I had nothing left.  I could not go to see Gary.

On Thursday at work, the phone rang.  It was the Hospice Doctor, Nurse, Case Manager, Memory Unit manager and I'm not sure who else.  The doctor had examined Gary and went through an extensive conversation that resulted in him diagnosing Seizures.  He will be back on a medication that he took for three years but was stopped when he moved into Memory Care.  I hope this does the trick.

We also discussed the possible duration of Gary's life.  It is unknown but we will recertify his "last six months" until it really could be six months or it could be.....well, only God knows.

Tonight, while at a Pinning Ceremony for the school, I had much time to think.  My brain went from the excitement of the week to my feelings of loneliness.  The ceremony drug on way too long and my emotions were difficult to keep in check.  I found myself angry, weepy and tired. 

The night of the first dinner, one of my colleagues had said something very interesting.  He said, "So, are you telling me that every time you are here with us is valuable time you are not spending with your husband in hospice?" As I pondered that question, I felt so out of control.

As soon as I could get on the freeway, I headed for "The Happy Place."  I hugged and kissed on Gary who grabbed my hand and I knew I had not been there.  After I pulled the knife out of my heart, I clipped and filed his too long nails and scratched his head.  I longed for him to hug me and really tell me that he loves me.  Those days are long gone an only I can hug him.

As he held my hand, he scratched my palm.  An old signal.  My heart lept with joy.  He looked into my eyes as he repeated everything he heard on the nearby television.  I explained to him what my week was like and told him about his new medicine and planned treatment.  He repeated, "Seizure medication.  Seizure medication."  He appeared to be thinking about it as I pretended that he was thinking "Great, maybe that will stop the hell I have been living."

When I left, Annie the dog ran out past me and one of the caregiver/angels chased her.  After we separated the two resident dogs, she raised up and said casually, "Did you hear about Mary P.?" I said that I had not heard.  She died on the 15th.  We walked to the entry piano and looked at her picture.  Sweet Mary.  She was the one that had a black and blue face a few weeks ago from a fall.  She had fallen, broken her hip and the family decided not to operate.  She died.  She died. 

As I stood there and looked at her picture, I felt overwhelmed with grief. Not just for Mary but for all the families in all the world who are suffering tonight as a result of this horrible disease.  I shed a tear and came home.

My dog was happy to see me and seemed to realize I was in a bad space.  I got a little extra love. My home is extra quiet as the family went to the Central Valley to a funeral. 

It seems I am alone a lot lately.  It is convenient because it gives me time to grieve and rest.


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