I'm wanting to thank everyone here for your understanding, great advice, moral support and kindness, ever since the first day I found this wonderful forum a couple of years ago. Your caring and sharing has helped me more than words could say. |
The strife is over for my Mom. Her battle with Parkinson's has been won, thanks be to God. She fought very bravely.
Mom's last day of earthly life was a week ago Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. What took her was a small bowel obstruction; food stopped moving through her digestive tract. I just found an explanation that this condition can be caused by muscle or nerve damage that results from abdominal surgery, or from disorders such as Parkinson's. (My mother had both factors.) Her PCP who signed the certificate listed her cause of death as PD.
Mom spent two happy weeks at home after both of my parents returned from their 8-9 week stay at the rehab place. There were some early signs of the problem but I did not recognize them. When Mom began to complain of abdominal pain, she was admitted to hospital through the ER. She spent a week there, but usual treatments did not clear it. The only other option was surgery and Mom was not a good candidate. Her PCP advised us that the most humane choice was to make her comfortable with hospice care, either at the hospital or at home, not to put her through more suffering of a surgery that she would likely not survive. My Dad explained the situation to Mom in words that she could understand and asked three times if she wanted to have an operation or if she wanted to come home. Again and again she clearly answered, "come home".
Tuesday through Friday Mom was happy to be here at home with all of us. She did not talk or open her eyes again once she was settled in her bed, but gave little expressions that she could hear us... smiling when we sang, lifting her eyebrows when we told her that Dad was about to hold her hand, like that. We expressed our hearts to her, prayed with her, played music for her. My sister is a medical professional; it was a great blessing that she could be here to administer morphine and other meds every few hours. That was a labor of love but exhausting for one person to do. Mom's home hospice team was wonderful, available with support and advice 24/7.
Mom's physical condition was so weak, they expected her to go sooner, but she kept hanging on. Her spirit was very strong. It became more difficult to take each breath but my mother was comfortable and she kept fighting. She most definitely won this battle. Her social worker thought she stayed for Thanksgiving because she was so happy for us to be gathered together. the following morning at 8:30 AM her heart was weaker and her nurse called everyone into her room to be with her as she breathed her last. But Mom kept breathing for several more hours. She was so resilient. We thought something might be holding her back. I reassured her that we would take very good care of her husband, something I had not thought to do sooner. Some people wait until they are alone to pass, not wanting to upset loved ones; that seemed to be the case for my Mom. We wanted to be by her side every moment, especially my father, but she waited until she was alone.
I sat next to her and prayed with her for a short while then went upstairs to get a new sheet. It was around 3 PM, the hour of Divine Mercy. Mom was finally by herself and made some loud sounds like she was talking with someone. Not realizing, I went back into the room to rearrange a sheet from my Dad's bed. Mom's breathing was very soft. I went over and sat quietly beside her again. Her breathing was very peaceful. I forgot to say before: her face was so beautiful and smooth the day she came home from the hospital. She looked so young; she looked like a angel. There were longer pauses between each breath and finally her breathing just stopped. I looked at my watch and waited a couple minutes to make sure. Then something very beautiful happened. She was not breathing any more but Mom lifted her arm under the sheet as if she was reaching for someone. Then she lifted her head off the pillow, moving toward the person she was seeing with her heart. She had no physical strength of her own to do that. Then her head gently lowered to her pillow again. That was such a beautiful grace and consolation for me, to be beside her at that moment. I feel that I witnessed her first vision of heaven.
Sorry this message is so long. I should try to edit but too tired. I am feeling very peaceful and joyful for my Mom, very grateful for her life and everything she taught me. This physical loss is very hard for my Dad. He loves her so much. Grieving is more difficult for a spouse. Please pray for us.
This hymn is one of Mom's favorites. She always had a gentle spirit and grateful heart.
"Let All Things Now Living"
God bless all PWPs and caregivers.
edited July 2017:
I've been wanting to clarify something I misunderstood at the time my words above were written, in case someone else in a similar situation might ever read this post again.
When I said "it became more difficult to take each breath" for my Mom during her last few days in hospice - that was not the case. It is not unusual for a person at that stage to have secretions which collect in the throat and rattle each time they inhale and exhale. The audible sound can be uncomfortable for loved ones to hear. The dying person is too weak to clear their throat but they are not struggling or experiencing internal anxiety because of that. For my mother, her breathing just became slower and weaker in a gradual way. It was a peaceful process.