Saturday, June 06, 2015

Caregiver: Grieving

The Pink House On The Corner
Friday, June 5, 2015

I don't know what to say, but the writer in me sits at my desk, cigarette in hand, glass of whiskey and Coke at my side, wanting to type out my sorrow -- but "sorrow" is a stupid word, it doesn't begin to describe this hollowness I feel as if some unknown hand has reached into my belly and cut out my very soul and left me empty inside...

But I feel the need to relate the events of this past week, to all you faithful readers, who have supported me and given me such comfort these past four + long years.

On Tuesday, Bob was fine. Did his exercises, his speech therapy at home.  The week before we had visited a doctor to get the results of his lung CAT scan, Bob had been sounding a bit more "gurgly" than usual and I was worried about another bout of pneumonia, but the doc had given him an "all clear" for pneumonia, the scan had looked good except for the chronic fluid accumulation in Bob's right lower lung lobe. This had been an ongoing problem since the stroke, when he suffered a pulmonary embolism that had collapsed that lung completely. Since then, the lower lung lobe always retained a bit of fluid, but the doctor called this his "baseline", said it was "chronic condition" and told me not to worry.

On Wednesday, Bob said he was "tired".  He slept in and I let him.  I certainly had plenty to do, laundry, cleaning etc.  I woke him up at noon for his noon meds and asked him if he wanted to dress and/or get up in his wheelchair, but he said he was still "tired" and just wanted to change into fresh pajamas.  Concerned, I took his blood pressure and his temperature.  His BP was fine and his temp slightly elevated (98.9) and I checked the pee in his bag and it looked, maybe, a little darker than it should, which concerned me a little bit, worried that he might be getting another UTI.

I asked Bob how he felt and he said "Fine".

The urologist had given me a script for Cipro and said that if I suspected another UTI, to give Bob a two day dose to "knock it out" at the onset and if that didn't work, then come in to see the doctor. So, to be safe, I started him on the Cipro.  I also gave him a breathing treatment with his nebulizer. He fell back to sleep, but rallied round about 5:00 p.m. I noticed then he seemed to trembling a bit.  I retook BP and temp (99) and asked him how he felt and he said "fine". He still sounded gurgly so I gave him another breathing treatment. I was growing concerned, kept asking him if he was OK, if I needed to take him to the hospital, but he kept reassuring me he was "fine" and did not want to go to the hospital and when I said, "you don't seem fine to me", he looked at me, a sort of sideways glance and said, "I'm happy, happy, HAPPY!!  Oooh-kay?"

He then fed Zenith & Ripley some treats. We watched a movie. He fell asleep before the movie ended. I still thought his breathing didn't sound good and gave him another breathing treatment, and before I went to bed, I gave him the second dose of Cipro, then suctioned out his mouth with the suction machine.  I was worried, but he assured me so many times he was "fine" and said that he did not want to go to the hospital.  I told myself if he wasn't better in the morning, I'd take him to the ER.  And I went to sleep.

At around 4:00 a.m., I woke up and the room was quiet, and I thought "good, his breathing is better, the Cipro is working" and fell back to sleep.

Then morning came, and he was gone.

Just like that.

I still can't believe it.

I did shake him, I did try to wake him up, I did scream his name at the top of my lungs. But he didn't wake up.

I will say that he looked peaceful, like an angel, like he was still sleeping with his eyes at half-mast. His sheets were still tucked in as I had left them.  It did not look as if he had struggled or suffered.  It seemed as if he had just slipped away.

I did call 911, and the dispatcher wanted me to start CPR, and she first directed me to "get him on the floor" which I tried, following her directions, to pull the sheets around him and pull him off the side of the bed, then when that didn't work, she told me to pull his feet, to pull him off the bed that way. But I couldn't move him and really, I knew, already it was too late -- he was so stiff and by that time the paramedics arrived.

The paramedics got out a defibrillator and started to put the paddles on Bob's chest, only to stop before they completed connecting him, to tell me that they were "sorry" and "my husband had already passed."

Zenith, his beloved cat, would not leave his side, even when the men in black from the funeral home came to take his body.  I had to scoop that cat out of his bed, and she struggled out of my arms and followed the stretcher to the door.

Zenith has since stopped eating, has been vomiting again and hiding under furniture.  I had to call the vet who brought IV fluids and anti-vomit shots, and something to stimulate her appetite, B12 shots and an antibiotic (just in case) plus a "kitty calming collar" to reduce her stress. She is finally coming around but is on three new meds and I have to give her IV fluids every other day....

We are all grieving here at The Pink House.  Boomer paces the floors.  Ripley sleeps on Bob's hospital bed.  Zenith is sick.  And I am just lost.

And, I tell you, I am beating myself up for not insisting he go to the hospital the night before.....

And thank you, all of you, for your kind comments and emails.  I do appreciate them.

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