Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The trouble with dying

Well, I suppose there's lots of troubles with dying. But the one that strikes me most through the years, and now most immediately as my mom winds down, is how difficult the process is, far more so than the actual final event.

Unless one dies suddenly and unexpectedly, one never goes from lively to dead in a quick and easy process. I spent the summer waiting for my mom to have the big one, a quick and catastrophic stroke. Instead, she has had a series of tiny strokes that gradually have cut her easy mobility down to a standstill. First we battled bedsores from the lack of movement, now it's the lungs.

No movement means no deep breathing and no clearing of secretions. Her oxygen levels are now dropping, and it's taking more and more supplemental O2 to get them back up to near normal. I suspect she's throwing tiny clots from her barely moving legs and pelvis into her lungs, and these pulmonary emboli are blocking off the interface between air and blood that's critical to oxygen uptake into the bloodstream.

What a sad and slow downward slope this continues to be.

6 comments:

janeywan said...

I'm sorry for you and your mom.
We sure have something in common at the moment.

Mauigirl said...

So sorry your mom is continuing to decline. I agree, the process is horrible. Just lost a friend who was my age (she was almost 54) to complications of MS and malnutrition (long story). She apparently had been on a downward slope for a long time until she had a fall and then once she went into the hospital a week ago she never made it back out.

It's very sad, and very stressful for you as you watch it happen to your mom.

Laura said...

My daddy has Alzheimer's, and even though he's in great physical shape now, (still runs and plays tennis at 73, two years after diagnosis) the eventual slow decline is what terrifies me.

I'm praying for you and your momma.

KGMom said...

I hope you have lots of support as you go through this process, which is what it is.
Nancy Reagan, in referring to Ronnie's Alzheimers, called it the long goodbye. That's an apt term too for the slow dying process you describe.

"his-self" said...

Doc,

I lost my mother a year ago this past August. It was a very difficult time. As a doc you undoubtedly have seen death close up as I have as a soldier. It an altogether different thing with your mother or father. No words can make it easy...my sympathies to you.

Smalltown RN said...

I'm sorry to hear about your mom. Yes death can be a slow process...having been a palliative nurse ...and nursed my mom and sister on their last days...I am very familiar with the process...but since I have experienced this so many times....I have a thought about all of that...and I wonder if there is something greater than ourselves, that during our loved journey to death are they drawing family together....gathering us together as we once were when we were young....making amends for those that need to...what ever the reason...there is just something inside me that makes me think there is a purpose to it all....I wish you well.

Oh by the way I found you through Janet's blog...and I am glad I dropped by...