December 10, 2015

And it's done

I slept all right, considering I was balled up in a recliner and woke up every time someone came into the room.  I let my mom and sister have the cot.  They needed it more than I did.  

Dad slept peacefully all night.  At one point, they had to clean him up and change his gown, but he didn't struggle with them as he usually did.  The night crew figured out on their own that I was a nurse...probably because the AllNurses.com jacket that doubled as my blanket gave it away.   Plus I kept checking his peripheral pulses and looking at his vitals.

I woke for the day at 0600, went downstairs, had a birthday breakfast by myself.  Not the best breakfast, but it was protein.  And a large black coffee.  That was lifeblood.

Brought coffee up to the room.  Mom and my sister were up and they were getting washed up.  Then I went downstairs with my sister for more coffee, breakfast for her and mom, and a scone for me, because the breakfast really didn't cut it.  And more coffee.

We went upstairs, ate.   No change on him.  He didn't wake up.  His doctor hadn't arrived yet so we're just waiting.

My sister asked for some time alone with him.   She has really been having the hardest time of all...she was in denial.  She keeps thinking that my dad is going to either change his mind about hospice care, or make a miraculous recovery.  So I took my mother downstairs to let her have some fresh air and a cigarette.  She still smokes, and today I wasn't in any mood to lecture her about quitting.   

We sat outside for about 15 minutes, talking, sharing memories, wondering what was going to happen.  I told her that I wasn't upset about it being my birthday because today, he helped me arrived in this world, and that today, I was going to be there when he died.  It came full circle.  My mom said she never thought about it like that.

We're on the way back up when my sister texts:  Come upstairs now.   So we ran upstairs like bats out of hell.  I charged down the hall (dear nurses, I am sorry for plowing through the group of you but I hope you understand) and burst into the room.  The doctor--not his regular one--is assessing him.  My sister is hysterical and saying, "I think he's gone!"

So I check his pedal pulses.  I thought I felt a flicker, but then nothing.    My mom was touching his arm, and said she thought she felt something for a second.  

I looked at his face.  He was gone.

The doctor there called it.

He died before they unhooked all the machines and started the palliative care.  In fact, the doctor had talked to my sister and told her that they were going to get all the equipment to start the care shortly.   But my dad decided to die on his own terms and die quickly, instead of spending the day slowly fading as the treatment team would keep asking "do you want us to do this for him?" with every treatment.

My sister left the room.  She couldn't come back in it at all.

My mother left to comfort her.  So I had some time to talk to him...and I did.  I told him he just had to be stubborn until the very end.  I told him that I had two friends up there waiting up there with coffee and cigarettes, and he can hang with them until we get there.   I told him that I was sorry he wouldn't see little one #2 grow up.  I told him I was relieved that he was no longer suffering and at peace.  And I told him a few other things I don't want to share here.

All of the staff was very kind to us, and so many nurses, doctors, techs, everyone came by to pass on their sympathy.

My sister couldn't take it anymore, so we gave our final kisses and went to my mom's.  Mom needed some time for herself, so my sister and I went upstairs.  We toasted his memory with a glass of ale.   Fitting...and a little twisted since he was a recovering alcoholic.

My mother comes back, so we start making calls and messages to spread the word.  He did not want a service, so he's not getting one.  His wishes were straight cremation, with his ashes to be scattered in the ocean.   And we're doing just that.  Tomorrow, my sister and I have to go to upstate New York to take care of some things for my mom.

Family and friends have been calling and visiting, and we're sitting around drinking (me, coffee) and sharing funny memories of him.   It's nice to laugh and smile right now.

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