Thursday, February 16, 2012

deathwatch (m)

Aunt Y's death is imminent.  Her blood counts are "incompatible with life" according to the doctor.  Aunt X makes a very brave decision not to have her sister undergo blood transfusions and all sorts of IV infusions.  It would only prolong the inevitable.

I arrive in the ER in the morning and see Aunt X, my brother Phil and my sister-in-law B, all surrounding Aunt Y's bed.  They are crying.  I whisper to Aunt Y that it will be all over soon and that we will watch over her until then.

Then, we decide to embrace death. 

We call a priest and have him administer the last rites.

We have her transferred to a private room.  We turn on the music channel to a station that plays her favorite music. We remove those awful compression stockings and massage her legs with cream.  We hold her hands and tell her we love her. Her friends come up and reminisce with her even though we're not sure she can hear us anymore.

We call for Hospice care and they come and tell us what to expect from now until the end. They give us a book which explains everything.  As I a, reading the pamphlet, I come to a section about eating.  It says the dying will stop eating several days before they go.  First thing they stop is meat.  Then vegetables and fruits that are hard to digest.  Then mushy foods.  Finally, liquids. 

The Hospice nurse evaluates Aunt Y and thinks it could take a day or two as she has "meat on her bones."  She weighed 155 pounds just prior to surgery.  She hasn't eaten for two weeks, going on three.  Yet, somehow, she can survive for a bit more.

I look to my brother Phil and say, "How long do you think it will take me to go?"

Without a beat, he turns to and says,  "You could last until November."

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