Saturday, March 21, 2009
Hospice, Day Two
The nurse who came today told me that Dad's got a lot of stuff in his lungs that shouldn't be there: she strongly suspects he's developing pneumonia, which would downgrade his life expectancy from a month to a week.
I also learned that last night's nurse put him on the GIP program -- meaning hospice picks up room and board, but also that they anticipate death within two weeks -- and made him "Code Pink," which means, "Going downhill fast, needs extra attention."
The nursing-home people were as startled by all this as I was: they told me that they took Dad to the dining room for breakfast this morning, and he ate all his food (pancakes and ham). He refused anything for lunch when I was there, although I did get him to eat an entire cup of applesauce.
Since hospice is now paying the room and board that I paid for yesterday, I arranged to have the money we gave them go towards a private room -- it's only an extra $50 a night, a bargain under the circumstances -- and we got Dad moved to a corner room with more space and privacy. I'm home for dinner now, but tonight I'm going to bring our camping cot to Dad's room so I can stay with him. I don't want to miss any final moments of lucidity.
When I was there today, he was mostly gorked out, but (acting on the theory that he could hear everything, even if he couldn't respond) I'd told him that I was going to camp out in his room. An hour or so later, he suddenly opened his eyes and said very clearly, and with evident irritation, "You're doing too much! You're overdoing it! You're blowing this up into an emergency!"
"It's not an emergency, Dad, but it's a life passage,and I want to be with you. And if I decide it's too much, I'll go home, okay? It will be nice to have the cot here anyway, in case I want to take naps during the day."
He grumbled assent to that, but the nurse and I laughed about it later. "He's being a parent," she said, "worrying about you."
I'll be curious to see if he eats any dinner. He said he'd like to see Gary tonight, so Gary and I will go over with the cot etc., and then I'll drop Gary home before going back to stay with Dad.
I'm arranging for coverage for classes next week, at the hospice nurse's recommendation. "This is the time you have with him." Yup.