When Things Change

#POLST #alzheimersawarenessmonth #advancecareplanning

Last week was a difficult one. Not a complete surprise, but it still overwhelmed me. It was time for changes in our circumstances.

My alarm alerted me it was time to get Mom’s morning started. I always open her blinds and administer her medicines, then bring her a cup of black coffee.

I strolled down the hallway, opened her door, and my hand froze on the doorknob. “Mom! What’s going on? Are you okay?”

Mom sat on her bed, bent over, with her head against her arm. She lifted her face toward me, “I don’t know,” she croaked. “My chest hurts.”

“Where?” I leaned her back against the raised head of her bed. “Point to where it hurts.”

“Here.” Mom touched her right chest. “Mostly when I breathe deep. Or cough.”

Mom’s cough started during all of the wildfire smoke which hung around us for months.

A phone call later, Sis, Mom and I headed for the emergency room. After several tests, and six hours spent in the full and hustling waiting room, the doctor read the results of a CT Scan, “There’s a mass in her right lung, just about where she pointed earlier. Plus nodules on her lungs. It could just be pneumonia, but we aren’t certain without a biopsy. We could keep her overnight and do the biopsy if she wishes…do you know what she wants?”

If clocks still hung on walls and ticked the seconds, I’d say there were ten clicks. My thoughts scattered, I held my breath, and then I prayed. Help me accept what Mom wants to do. I think I know. “Yes, she has an Advanced Health Care Directive.”

Because Mom’s hearing isn’t pristine, and sounds echoed all around us, I repeated her options. “I don’t want anymore tests. I’m going to be ninety-years-old.” Mom pleaded in her gentle way, “I want to go home. I just want to go home.”

Sis and I stared at each other and nodded, “Okay. We understand.”

The ER doctor counseled us about filling out a POLST form for any providers that we encountered. She referred Mom to a case worker who encouraged us to get care at home due to Mom’s wishes.

We chose hospice care when her GP offered it. I’ve always heard how wonderful hospice is. Now, we experience it first-hand.

That old circular clock ticks away in my mind. We take one day at a time on this voyage of life. God knew when we’d be at this eleventh hour and I must trust Him to guide us along to midnight.

 

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