Four years ago tonight, the RN from the Alzheimer's unit called about 3 in the morning and said I had to make a decision right then on whether I would enter my mother into hospice care that night (a legal, as well as medical, decision,) or have them transport her to the hospital for aggressive, invasive medical treatment. I had about five minutes to listen to her explain what was happening and tell her where we were all going next.
I made the right decision, but to this day I feel like I signed her death warrant. I
had to get up and go immediately to sign a sheaf of authorizations and
have everything lawfully and properly explained by the hospice admitting
nurse manager. I
had no family to support me, no one ever put their arms around me to
hold and comfort me, it was just me walking it out in a cold, cold
blizzard that I feel again now.
Who understands what it's like to sit in the lobby by yourself at four in the morning, waiting
to declare your lawful intent to let your mother die? She had a
husband, a son, a sister, grandchildren, a best friend. Why were none of
them there? Why did not one of them want a call at that hour that she
was going to die, no turning back? Why did none of them really want to
speak to her over the phone one last time?
It was a barefisted champion's punch to my face, not the gut. It can still make me reel and wobble, but there isn't anyone who understands or cares how much it hurts now, either. Four years ago, I still had the confidence and determination of the hopeful and the unknown. Tonight it feels colder and more scary than ever.