Monday, December 28, 2009

a fitting metaphor for life these days

I got my haircut and paid with Dad's credit card. While walking back to the hotel and speaking with Dad on the cell phone, I got pooped on by a passing bird ("passing" in both senses, I guess: travel and excremental). Some folks joke that such moments are a blessing from Mother Nature, but these days, such an incident doesn't feel like a blessing.

Mom's in about the same condition as she was yesterday, but slightly better: no fever, and both her heart rate and blood pressure are slightly down (though still elevated).

Sean tells me, based on his visit to the hospital, that there's a big decision coming up as to what to do with Mom. It's Dr. Berlin's firm belief that the longer Mom stays on the machines, the more likely she'll be permanently dependent on them. It may be possible to radically increase the aggressiveness of current treatments in order to make her transportable, but even then, it's not likely that Mom will ever breathe without a ventilator again. She came into the ER with respiratory failure, and that essential condition hasn't changed.

Along with the logistical problems of getting Mom back to Virginia, there's the problem of where to place her. If we opt for Fairfax Hospital's ER, we may have trouble securing a space. As David pointed out, the ER is there to help people and get them out, not babysit the dying for an indefinite period. We might also choose the hospice option, but we need to study up on what services, specifically, a hospice provides. 24-hour surveillance? An on-call doctor? Proper facilities for someone in Mom's condition?

In terms of allowing Mom the most peaceful passage, keeping her at home, with hospice care provided, would seem ideal. The problem here, though, is that every time she had an emergency, Mom would need to be whisked to an ER. We can imagine this happening with increasing frequency as the end comes nearer. How comfortable would she really be at home?

So-- a family discussion is in order. I'm off to see Mom now, after much delay. Luckily, my brothers have been good about relaying information. A text message from David at 2:30 said that the docs are performing a bronchoscopy on Mom, at last attempting to find out what's really going on inside her lungs. Dad, David, and the Texan contingent are all out in the waiting room, and I understand that Pastor Kim has made it up to New York as well.

Our thanks, as always, to all the people who continue to express concern, care, and love.



John said...

Do check the hospice option out Kevin. A dear friend spent her last days in one and I was really impressed with her treatment from a warm and caring staff. The whole emphasis was providing as much comfort as possible.

Stay strong, I know how hard this all must be.

A Wandering Heart said...

Kevin, My dad was in hospice at Arlington Hospital so maybe that's still an option as well? Praying for you guys and ... of course, your mom, too. Lots of love, Nancy