Communion Of Dreams


Take everything you think you know…
October 25, 2007, 10:35 am
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Health, Hospice, Sleep

…about care-giving and throw it out the window.

At least that is somewhat what it feels like as we’re entering what is likely the final weeks of my MIL’s life. The routines we’d established previously (Alzheimer’s patients typically like routines – it helps keep their world a little more ordered, a little more secure and predictable in amongst all the other changes they are experiencing) are starting to break down. My MIL is becoming somewhat less predictable, her sleep/awake cycles disrupted, et cetera. What were simple things she could do for herself now require greater supervision and instruction. She tires more easily, and the “sundowning” effect I’d mentioned previously tends to occur earlier in the day.

And there are the medical indicators, as well. Lisa, the hospice nurse, was here this morning for her weekly check-up. Following that, we chatted for a bit outside. As I wrote a week ago, she also sees the signs of end of life approaching. Drop in blood pressure. Decreased heart rate. Congestion in her lungs. It probably won’t be long, and Lisa wanted to make sure we have what is necessary to keep my MIL comfortable through it.

She also told us that we’re doing a marvelous job in providing care. Bittersweet, but as I said back when we started this round of hospice, good to hear.

Anyway, as we enter into these final weeks, the routines to which we’ve all become accustomed are starting to dissolve. To use a musical analogy, we’re shifting from playing well-known and rehearsed classical pieces to playing something which requires more improvisation – it’s not ‘free jazz‘ yet, but that’s where we’re likely headed. As the end grows closer, we’ll likely need to discard the sheet music altogether. This will be difficult, but will likely only last for a limited amount of time. I’m comfortable with predictable routine, and largely prefer to have some order to my life, but know full well that I am capable of dealing with uncertainty for at least a while.

At least that’s been my experience so far. I guess we’ll see how it goes this time.

Jim Downey


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[…] Because she is dying. Because in some sense, while I know that we have done everything humanly possible to care for her, […]

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