I woke up extra early this morning to get Anna up and ready for her orchestra trip. After prodding from her Grandma, she decided she still wanted to go. I'm so glad. I began reading and writing emails and ended up writing the following. . . just reflecting over the events leading up to my Dad's death. . . I am not well skilled in writing so I apologize if this might be painful to read. . . :):)
Dad was released from the hospital this last December after having kidney failure and congestive heart failure. He was so happy to be home before this New Year, excited about making some changes to his home, purchasing a new car, etc. He seemed to be recovering very well. I would say, about the beginning of February, he began complaining about how he hurt all over, he wouldn't get up as much to do anything, and basically sat for most of the day. The rest of us all thought that we was just feeling his old age and that if he would get up and do more things, he would feel better. Soon he complained of how nothing tasted good and we would nag him of how he needed to eat. He never did make those changes to his home, nor buy his new car.
One test led to another and on March 31, Dad was diagnosed with Bone Cancer and Liver Cancer. We have no clue where it originated. I guess that really doesn't matter. . . No wonder he was in pain and didn't want to eat. More tests.
On Thursday, April 9, his doctor confirmed the cancer had spread throughout his body. He didn't recommend Chemo. We (his daughters) wanted a second opinion from the Oncologist so waited before seriously thinking about hospice. The Oncologist was going to do more research on Dad’s condition before making an opinion. I don’t know if we ever got this second opinion…
On Wednesday, April 15, he had a very difficult day when his catheter wouldn't drain. For hours he hoped it would. Then finally, about 8pm he and my husband arrived at the Summerlin Hospital. More than 4 hours he waited. Agony. I honestly believe this set him back immensely. My thought was "There is no way he can EVER do this again." So I looked into home-health care, which led to hospice and forwarded the information to my sister Annette.
Friday, April 17, my sister Lori arrived in town to help. I am so thankful! Carla from Solari Hospice came over. Although he had such a bad night before, she and Dad had a wonderful conversation. He signed on. Within hours, there was a hospital bed in the living room, oxygen, wheelchair, walker, nebulizer and a whole panel of pain, nausea, anxiety, constipation, and other medication. All to make him more comfortable and take away his pain. This day was the last day I was able to have a "real" coherent conversation with my dad.
Saturday, April 18 - Dad's last time walking. With a burst of evergy, he got himself out of bed and walked to the living room to rest in his new bed. It was disturbing to see him later that day in a daze. It was as if he was in the hospital ICU again - only this time with no beeping machines, no IV, no annoying blood pressure cuff hurting his arm every few minutes. This really bothered me but he did look more at peace. More relaxed. Ayren said he must have been in so much pain for so long. We just never knew how much. He was in the midst of family - I'm so grateful for that.
With each day following, things just seemed to decline quickly. Maybe too quickly for me. He was so tired. He would raise his arms and say "I want to be free!" My friend told me we needed to tell him it was okay to be free – I wasn’t ready to say it. . .
This past Tuesday night, I gave Dad his medication. I was a little nervous because Lori had been doing it all. His morphine medication was time-release so was not to be cut. Well, he had such a difficult time swallowing it, he ended up biting into it. I SHOULD have fished it out, but wasn’t thinking straight – and it went down. Later that night, Lori said he looked as if he may have been a little “high” as he was waving his arms in the air seeming to be having a good time. By Wednesday, the day before yesterday, he really couldn't swallow his pills anymore. Liquid meds were ordered. Lori told me she told Dad Wednesday night that he doesn't need to worry about Mom - she will be taken care of. I had this feeling since she told him that, he felt like he could leave and things here would be okay. He now had permission to be “free.” I was getting nervous but still felt – or hoped – he would get through a few more days.
An infection ultimately took him "home" yesterday. He had a fever of 103 degrees and the nurse couldn't stablize him at home so they admitted him into in-patient care at the Hospice center by about 12:15pm. I feel really bad that I wasn't there. Annette tried to call me at 1:30 but I didn't have my phone on me - I was in a meeting. She called back at 2:08 and said where Dad was and that they were going to try to get him through the night. She said I should hurry there and that Lori was on the way down with Mom. Annette held him and she could feel the heat leave his body - he was cooling down rapidly. After the last shot of morphine, his labored breathing calmed down. Soon the nurse told Annette to tell him goodbye and that she loved him.
I think Dad knew Mom was on her way, that he wanted to leave before she got back. Maybe he didn't want even Annette there. What a special moment for her, however. . . I hope she is not upset I wasn’t there. . . Annette was always Dad’s “favorite” – and I don’t mean that in an angry or harsh way. She always had a special way with him. She is the one that saw him through this whole ordeal, taking him to doctors appointments, making sure he was always properly cared for.. It was truly a break for her that Lori was here these last few days. I am so thankful to both Annette and Lori for all they have done!!! I hope Annette feels this was a special blessing for her to be there when he passed. She said it was so Peaceful - his last breath. He is now free of pain, free of agony, free of worry. My Aunt Julia worked with the elderly at Kula Hospital in Hawaii before she retired. She said it was very very painful for those who had bone cancer that had to endure the extent of it. She said it was good that Dad was spared that anguish. I am so glad and relieved.
When I walked into the room at the Hospice Center, it seemed so strange to see Dad’s lifeless body. I was so relieved at how peaceful his room was. He looked like he was asleep and I kept expecting to see his chest fill with air – nothing. During the time I was there, talking with Mom, Lori, and Annette, his hands just got so cold. I kissed him on his forehead before leaving and was a bit surprised at how cool his head was. When we finally left, it was so hard to say goodbye and just leave him. I had to remind myself that all was there was his empty body – not his spirit.
How joyous it must have been for him to be greeted by HIS mom and dad, by my mom’s mom and dad, his brother, his 2 sisters, and all those that loved him that have gone before. My husband and I remind our children of how he is happy now – no pain. That he can now help us in other ways.
This is good for me to reflect over the last few weeks. I am grateful I was able to be with Dad every evening during his last day. I am also grateful my children were able to be there as well to tell him they loved him each night.
Good-bye Daddy. I love you very much!! I miss you already.