Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A Good Day

After blogging and grading one set of papers, I went to bed at 4 am and got up shortly after 6 am feeling refreshed. Sometimes I'm so grateful for two hours of sleep.
I left the house at 7:30 am, as did John. Neither one of us did the cat's tube feeding.
"Well, they said to wean it," he said.
I thought to myself, "That's cold turkey, not weaning." I knew I wouldn't be back until evening.
My class went well; I stayed until 2 pm so a student could take a make-up midterm.
Then instead of driving straight to Mom's residence, I drove to Fuller Theological Seminary to pass out flyers for an EEWC meeting this coming Monday. (See www.eewc.com.)
Back in Santa Monica at 4:30 pm, I went directly to Mom's room.
I thanked and dismissed the private caregiver, wanting to sit alone with Mom myself until the evening person arrived at 7 pm.
Mom wasn't talking, just responding with nods to questions. She seemed quiet and maybe bored but okay. I wondered if maybe she'd like to leave the building, get out for a ride to my house.
"Would you like to go to my house?" I asked her.
Her eyes opened wide, her face suddenly expressive and smiling; she waved her arms and tried to talk. It was a clear yes, so I removed her blankets and pillows, pulled the wheelchair in.
As I started to move her legs off the bed to pull her into a sitting position, though, she cried out in pain, the most pain I've been her express in days.
"Oh, I'm sorry," I said. "That's painful for you. Maybe it's not a good idea to go to my house."
I called the meds dispenser, realizing that Mom probably needed morphine. She hadn't had any since noon.
Chhandita gave it to her--0.25 ml in her cheek (5 grams).
Then at 6:15 pm the night caregiver came in, and she and I settled Mom into her bed for the night. I said we would skip the sponge bath, trusting the Home Health Aide in the morning to do it. Clarence Torres, the aide, said she had enjoyed reading Mom's book the previous night during her 12-hour shift. I noticed that the stack of nine books that I had set out had disappeared, so there was none for Clarence to look at tonight.
Though I'd intended just to go home and sleep, I told Clarence I would return with 10 more books.
When I returned and parked in front of the building, I saw a person with an unfamiliar face, very angry looking, parking near me. Inside, she was taking my elevator; I wondered if she was the hospice chaplain, the only hospice person I hadn't met yet.
She turned out to be an LVN, Nellie Davydova, sent from hospice to check up on Mom after the director of Mom's residence called to complain that we hadn't seen a hospice nurse since last Thursday. Being a novice at this hospice thing, I didn't know we were supposed to see the nurse more often. It turned out that she was upset at being delayed in heavy traffic.
The first thing Nellie did was count Mom's respirations, only 12 per minute. Then she scolded me: if her respiration is 12 or below, don't give her morphine. It can slow down the breathing too much.
"Wow, no one told me that!" I said. It was scary--my ignorance could have killed her.
We had been so alone this long weekend--from Thursday at 6 pm until Tuesday at 7:30 pm, no RN or LVN from hospice had paid a visit. The only one we'd seen was this RN on Tuesday evening.
After taking Mom's vitals and making various health arrangements, Nellie left.
At that point I went home and collapsed into bed. No dinner, no nothing. It was 10 pm.

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