Communion Of Dreams

“You always have such a beautiful smile.”
January 31, 2008, 4:03 pm
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Health, Hospice, Predictions, Sleep

Lisa, our regular hospice nurse, arrived while we were getting my MIL dressed this morning. She sat and watched, observing my MIL, seeing how she interacted with us, how she moved, how she looked. Then she went through her usual examination, checking vital signs, listening to heart, lungs, intestines, asking the usual questions about sleep, and appetite, and signs of pain. She sat back, looked at my MIL, and said pleasantly to her: “you always have such a beautiful smile.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

There is light snow falling, but the winter storm which had been predicted has missed us for the most part. The grey fits my mood.

In anticipation of the storm, and in response to the accelerated use of wood mentioned in this post, I spent most of yesterday afternoon out at our farm, cutting seasoned downfall and then hauling it back home. It felt good to be physically tired, rather than just emotionally exhausted. The soreness I feel today is a reminder of just how out of shape I am, but also holds a promise that I can once again get back into something resembling decent condition. Pain isn’t always bad.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

The last few days have been oddly quiet. My MIL has slept most of the time, for all but 3 – 4 hours each day. My wife and I move through the house as silently as possible, even chastise the cats and the dog if they get noisy. We want her to have whatever peace and quiet she can.

When she is up, she is confused about where she is, who we are. We roll with it the best we can, though sometimes we’re caught off balance and react poorly. At least a couple of times we’ve played the “oh, here, let me call your mother” game again.

Today at lunch she was worried about where she had left her purse – she was concerned about how she was going to pay for her meal. I told her it was all taken care of, that she didn’t need to worry. She looked at me with such gratitude, the thanks not given a son-in-law of 20 years, but rather of someone offered unexpected shelter and food by a stranger on a long and difficult journey. Then we watched a squirrel play, and she laughed.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

We were just getting her tucked into bed for the night. My wife leaned over the bed rails, down to kiss her mother on the cheek, as she usually does. “Sleep well. Have good dreams and pleasant journeys.”

My MIL looked away for a moment, rather than replying, “you too, dear,” as she usually does.

“Something wrong? Is there something you need, do you hurt?”

A glance, almost embarrassed. “Could you stay with me?”

It was my turn to be on-call. My wife looked at me, back to her mom. “You mean just for a little while?”

“No. Sleep here with me.”

“Of course. Let me go put some things away, and I’ll be back in a little while.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Any further signs of T.I.A.s?” asked Lisa, once she was done with her exam.

“No, but she’s been sleeping so much we likely wouldn’t have noticed.”

She nodded. “Her heartbeat is now much more irregular, and that can frequently cause a T.I.A. at this point.”

We nodded. The signs of hypoxia were very clear, and there was a mottling to my MIL’s skin in places we’d not seen previously.

“Her lungs are also very crackly, breathing labored just from sitting up. Pulse is weak, blood pressure low.” She looked calmly at my wife and I. “Is there anything you need? Do you want someone else from the team to come out and give you a break, so you can get away together?”

My wife and I exchanged glances. We have discussed this. As tired as we are, we don’t both want to be gone at this point. One of us is always here now, both of us most of the time. “I think we’re fine.”

“OK. But this is exhausting. I know it is.” Lisa brushed my MIL’s hair again with her hand, smiled at her. And repeated what she had said moments earlier: “you always have such a beautiful smile.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Jim Downey

(Cross posted to UTI.) 

3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

As usual Jim, I wish you the best. You really do seem like an awesome guy (and I really like your writing style).

Comment by RickU

Hey, thanks Rick – and thanks for dropping by.

As I’ve said before, I’m no saint – in fact this morning due to tiredness and frustration I wound up shouting at my MIL and getting quite cross with her. Stupid, but human. These things happen, and you just try and recover and do your best after.

Jim D.

Comment by Communion of Dreams

[…] doesn’t always. Here’s a passage from the chapter December: Passing that was taken from a blog post about a week before Martha Sr died: The last few days have been oddly quiet. Martha Sr has slept […]

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