Saturday, December 13, 2008
Lots of disappointments today:
* We didn't manage to get over the mountains -- although we hadn't really expected to -- because of bad weather. Donner Summit's half an hour from here, a stone's throw from Donner Lake, which is, as astute students of history will recall, the place that sometimes gets so much snowfall that travelers are stopped in their tracks and have to eat each other. This happens much less frequently in the automotive era, but we'd still rather not take chances. (In all seriousness, driving in the high Sierra in bad weather is scary business. My father, when I spoke to him today, said emphatically, "If there's any danger at all, don't come!" I looked into plane flights, but they're awfully expensive: we'll reserve that option for true emergencies.)
* The nursing supervisor on Mom's floor put the kibosh on informal pet therapy. Nertz! #1 Dino, when informed of this, very kindly told my sister to call whenever necessary for help translating medicalese. The pup visit was such a generous offer. I wish it had worked!
* Mom's doctor told my sister that Mom won't be having another stress test on Monday, because during the first one, her sats dropped to 68 even though she was on three liters of oxygen. Ouch.
* My sister told me that Mom told her that she has nightmares every night now, that "they've become part of my biography." The nurses attributed this to sundowning. When I spoke to my mother this evening, 8 PM her time, I asked about the nightmares, and she said, "They aren't nightmares anymore. They've become the story." I asked her to explain that, and she said she couldn't explain it any better than she had, but she did assure me, when I questioned her -- very consciously wearing my chaplain hat -- that she isn't scared anymore, not when she's dreaming and not when she's awake, even though she doesn't know how the story will turn out. This might sound like dementia, but she was perfectly lucid in other respects: asked how Dad was doing, for instance, knew who I was and where I was and where she was. When I told her that I hope she doesn't have nightmares tonight, she assured me that she wouldn't, and we closed with our usual exchange of "I love you."
Okay, you pastoral/hospice types out there: please help me decode this! I have a feeling she may be speaking metaphorically about her approaching death (as described in the wonderful book Final Gifts), but I'm at a loss to make sense of the metaphor. I asked her if she wanted to go home, and she said she didn't know, because "I don't know if there's anything there for me anymore." I reminded her that my sister and the cats are there, and Mom said, "Oh, but they're everywhere." I pointed out that the cats aren't in the hospital, and she agreed, but I wonder, again, if this is some sort of metaphor for approach to the larger life (where, I have to hope and believe, we're surrounded by love). Any ideas?
I suppose I could have just asked her, "Mom, do you think you're getting ready to die?" but I didn't think of that. In any case -- whether this is coded speech, dementia, meds interaction, what have you -- she seemed calm and at peace, which is the most important thing, right?
All of my posts seem to turning into bullet-pointed lists these days. Sorry about that, but it's what works right now!