Three weeks ago, I never imagined that I would be saying goodbye to mom this weekend, knowing that she probably had only hours or days remaining in this world.
On May 5, my Mom was rushed to the ER after experiencing what seemed to be another relapse into congestive heart failure. Even though it’s a nasty disease, I expected that diurectic drugs would rapidly solve the situation. Unfortunately, this trauma to her body precipitated renal failure, followed by pneumonia. The doctors started dialysis and antibiotics – and I still held out hope that with proper medical care, her fighter personality would allow her to pull through, just as she had in the past.
Three days ago, everything changed. The message from the hospital suddenly (d)evolved from talk of moving Mom to skilled nursing to a not-so-cryptic comment from my Mom’s hospitalist that we needed to have a “family meeting” with her other doctors and nurse. The gist of the family meeting was that a) there was virtually no chance my Mom would ever be well enough to leave the hospital, even for skilled nursing and b) that several medical professionals, after trying numerous tests and treatments, were finding no improvement in my Mom’s quality of life, and that continuing dialysis, while it would remove toxins, would result in no real improvements. I was asked, as my Mom’s only offspring and the person with power of attorney over her medical and financial decisions, to determine whether to continue dialysis. I told them that one day without dialysis was acceptable, but that I wished to retain the right to resume dialysis after considering the situation and chatting with friends, family and spiritual counsel.
The next day, the universe essentially finalized my decision for me. My Mom’s blood pressure had dropped so low that dialysis was no longer an option.
Since then, I have seen my Mom’s pulse, respiration and body temperatures slowly drop, and have seen the signs of death that I witnessed two years ago when my Dad passed from this mortal coil.
I guess the one positive in this scenario is that she seems very peaceful and without pain. But somehow that doesn’t matter much when I know I am about to lose not only my Mom, but basically my best friend.