Sunday, 12 November 2017
Five days ago, Tuesday, we decided to stop Julie’s TPN, IV nutrition. She was getting more sick, having more abdominal pain, becoming more confused and more weak. We didn’t think the TPN was helping her anymore, and could eventually make things worse for her. We would just have to see how well she ate and drank, to know how much longer she would live.
Three days ago, Thursday, Julie still wasn’t drinking much, and eating almost nothing. That day, it became apparent that on her current course she would not survive long, maybe a week. It really isn’t possible to say how long anyone will live on hospice. There are so many variables, and so much variation in when people are ready to let go. Still, we suspected the end was near. I called our children to prepare them. That night she was so afraid, sick and in a panic despite lots of medication throughout the day. I gave her a different anxiety medication and afterward she slept soundly for a long time.
Two days ago, Friday. Julie woke very upset and sick again and in panic and anguish. Then after she got up and dressed and into the living room in her chair, their was an unexpected change. The rest of the day she was happy, didn’t seem to be afraid, no more panic, much less of saying “I’m sick”, and overall she was more alert, talkative and she started eating.
Friday evening our adult children started showing up. Julie was talkative, fun and positive with them. It was amazing. She got tired early and went to bed around 6 PM, but then around 8 PM, she asked me to get her up and take her out for a drive. We were still waiting for some of our kids to arrive, but she was determined to get out, so I got her ready again and in the car.
We drove to Baskin Robins for Ice-cream, and the whole drive she kept talking. She was having a good time for the first time in a very long time. She was talking about the things that she was seeing, or thought she was seeing, and telling me a lot of random things, but there was no pain, fear or anxiety in her voice. She and I were having a legitimate good time. After getting ice-cream we drove around a little more and she talked more while eating her favorite, Nutty Coconut ice-cream. When I suggested we go back home to see our kids who would be there any moment, she said, “What do you want to do that for, I just want to keep doing this and be with you.”
We did go home though to see our children, and the rest of that night, and yesterday, and today were much the same. Some occasional reminders that she was sick or uncomfortable, a few tears, but mostly just smiles and fun.
I gathered everyone this morning for breakfast and a brief visit about our plans for the day with mom. Just as I finished my speech, and we were going to go eat, Julie interrupted and surprised us with a little speech. This was quickly recorded in Hannah’s Journal as follows:
Brad gathered everyone this morning before breakfast to have a short visit. He emotionally thanked us all for coming and sacrificing to visit our Mom. We prayed over the food and then Julie suddenly asked, “Does anybody have any questions for me of why I’m sitting here in this chair and not doing anything?” Julie then cried, “I always wanted to live. I always wanted to be around and watch you have children. Teach my grandchildren about me. Don’t just forget about me. Teach them about who I was. I don’t want you to forget about me. I know that there will be people there to greet me. I’ll see you guys often, though you may not see me.”
There was much more said throughout the day today, but it was such a happy day. There was sadness and tears at times, but mostly mirth, smiles and laughter. I am not sure what to make of it all. It was a miraculous change. The hospice nurse had told me about “a rally” that sometimes occurs just before the very end. It seemed more like a victory.
I know that Julie will die. I don’t know when. I think we will be OK. I think she will remain happy until then and beyond. For now she is smiling and eating again, at least a little more. Tonight she even finished off a whole piece of pumpkin pie.