FOR GREGORY. He was not a VICTIM of ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE, he was a HERO!
PLEASE NOTE: Even though this blog is now dormant there are many useful, insightful posts. Scroll back from the end or forward from the beginning. Also, check out my writer's blog. Periodically I will add posts here if they provide additional information about living well with Dementia / Alzheimer's Disease.
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Gregory's Last Days
One of the final skills to go is the ability to swallow and that can cause un-chewed food and/or water to go down the wrong pipe and into the lungs, causing aspiration which can lead to Pneumonia.
(Aspiration pneumonia is an inflammation of your lungs and bronchial tubes. It happens after you inhale foreign matter. It is also known as anaerobic pneumonia. This condition is caused by inhaling materials such as vomit, food, or liquid.)
On Wednesday, September 30, Gregory had a haircut. He looked great. He was sleepy and only a little responsive. I spent a couple hours at his bedside chatting, singing, and touching. Manny was with him from 11:30 am until 6:00 pm.
On Thursday, October 1, Gregory had his routinely twice a week bed bath provided by Northwest Hospice CNAs. He slept through breakfast, all of the morning, and all of the rest of the day he was non-responsive but resting comfortably with the help of Hospice.
Hospice informed me that Gregory most likely was developing pneumonia but that it could go either way. I had signed off on not giving Gregory antibiotics, feeling that if he survived it was because he was not ready to die and if he did not survive it was because he was ready to leave us.
We decided it was time to administer small doses of Morpheme which quelled all of his coughing and helped him breath easier. Oxygen to help with his breathing was put in place as well.
I spent 12:00 noon until 5:00 pm at his bedside, talking, singing, and giving him permission to leave us if he was ready. Manny was there 11:30 am until 6:00 pm.
I decided that Gregory did not need a vigil person with him as he was very comfortable and the Lieberman Nurses were doing a superb job making sure he stayed comfortable and not in any trouble. They would call me at home if there was any change.
On Friday, October 2, Gregory was still sleeping and non-responsive. Hospice informed me that in all probability he was preparing himself to die. He was unable to eat or drink for a second day because he was not awake enough to be able to do so. Often when a person has decided to leave this world, they stop eating and drinking anyway.
Nice that he had a fresh haircut and was clean with his bed bath. He looked very comfortable and was resting peacefully. Morpheme and Oxygen continued.
Many of our friends and family spent the day with Gregory, all of us in the room at the same time. We talked about what was going on, after asking permission and apologizing to Gregory for talking about him instead of to him.
But we also talked with him, to each other about all kinds of things. We joked and laughed and told stories. It was as if Gregory was in the room with us to be part of the "goings on."
I was with him from 12:00 noon until 5:00 pm. Manny was with him from 11:30 am until 6:00 pm. Again, Gregory got his privacy over night as he prepared to transition to whatever lie beyond this life.
On Saturday, October 3, Gregory's condition worsened but he continued resting comfortably. He was still non-responsive, on Morphene, on Oxygen, not eating or drinking.
I again gave Gregory permission to leave when he was ready. Now the many visitors were talking to Gregory, not each other, holdings his hand, massaging his arms and legs. Mostly quiet prevailed. People started spending alone time in the room with Gregory, with the door closed, saying their goodbyes.
I was with Gregory from 12:00 noon until 5:00 pm and said goodbye by crawling into bed with him, telling him what I needed to say, gave him permission again to leave when he was ready. I crawled out of bed, kissed him all over his face many times.
We had what we called "Ceremony of the Seven Kisses with the only rule being that after announcing out loud, in a sing songy way, Ceremony of the Seven Kisses, there could be fewer than seven or more than seven but never seven. Fun being silly.) Finally I kissed him on his open mouth three times.
On the third kiss, Gregory mustered his energy from somewhere deep inside and kissed me back. No words. Just a beautiful last kiss. A final Magical Momentary Monumental Experience.
Manny was with him from 11:30 am until 6:00 pm. Again, Gregory got his privacy over night as he prepared to transition to whatever lie beyond this life.
On Sunday, October 4, God-Son Isaac and I lit a candle to help guide Gregory as he continued preparing to die, as we were leaving the condo headed to Lieberman. The candle, placed on the stove, allowed us to notice it was 12:04 noon. The phone rang at 12:07 noon. It was Manny who informed me that Gregory just took his last breath.
I was glad that Manny was with him but also felt that I had made the right decision not to be there when Gregory passed because our great love for each other would only complicate and might cause Gregory to want to hold on longer. "They" say that often people wait until they are alone to die for this reason. But I was glad that Manny was there.
Jan, Jake, Isaac, and many Lieberman staff came through to sit with Gregory to wish him safe travels. I sat with him and talked to him and cried for a while. I held his still warm hand and kissed his cooling forehead and lips. I had wondered if I could get through this part of Gregory's leaving us and it turned out to be fairly easy. It was still my Greggie lying there his bed but it was obvious that his essence, his spirt was no longer living there.
The Hospice Nurse arrived to complete the Death Certificate details. We all left and the Nurse supervised the removal of his remains when the Cremation Society of Illinois people arrived.