Friday, August 2, 2019

The hardest post I've ever had to write...

I'm back but carrying my grief with me.  My son passed away on July 24th at 7:15 p.m.  I had been staying at his bedside since I got there except for the first night and one other as Annie was with me but got sick again while I was there.  Annie was at my daughter's house and my grandson Sam who just turned 12 was taking care of her.  He really did an excellent job too and my daughter gave her her meds..  My son was only 38 but had struggled with alcoholism most of his adult life.  He had also contracted hepatitis and was cured but it did it's damage to his liver also.  He was at the University of Iowa hospital in Iowa City who had been caring for him as an outpatient also.  I couldn't talk to him on the phone because he was so weak and miserable but the day before I left I got a phone message from him that he loved me and that was really the last time we talked.  I am so afraid I am going to lose the message on my answering machine.  By the time I got there the next day he wasn't conversing.  He could hear and did say "no" a few times when the nurses tried to get him to take pills but it was an effort.  We continued to talk to him though. I met with his "team" of doctors and he had a lot of them.  There was Family Medicine, liver specialists, Palliative Care and more.   His father arrived the next day and discovered that Jim had named me the one to make the decisions for him if it got to the point where he couldn't.  He didn't like that and let it be known the rest of the week.  They had also talked to Jim about his wishes which they were able to convey to me. That was a godsend because I only wanted to carry out his wishes and no one else's.  After talking with the doctors and realizing there was no hope, all I wanted to do was make him comfortable so we moved him to the hospice floor where he was made comfortable and had no more pills or any invasive procedures.  The nurses and hospice people were so wonderful not only to Jim but to the rest of us.  My "ex" not so much. His whole family is into drama and some of them were enablers of Jim and have drinking  problems themselves.  They were calling constantly and I finally had to block their calls to Jim and bar them from visiting.  Thank God the "ex" did not express a desire to spend the night at the hospital.  When Jim had called him to tell him he was in the hospital he told him "Well, you brought this on yourself."  I won't comment further but he made the whole process even more got ugly.
Jim had been resting so peacefully.  He had had one episode where he couldn't get his breath and that was scary for him and for me but they were giving him phentynol and some other intravenous meds which they increased so he would not panic or be in any pain.  They talked to me and gave me booklets on what to expect and I thought I was ready for what was to come but I was not.  He was resting peacefully and they had just turned him and so I ordered some supper.  As I was walking away from the phone by his bed, I saw something out of the corner of my eye and turned to see him flailing around and he was having a seizure.  I ran out in the hall and screamed for the nurse and by the time she came in it was waning and then he was calm and then she said he was gone.  I was in shock....I didn't expect a seizure and I didn't expect him to die from it.  I was devastated......I guess you're never really prepared when it happens.  I was alone and I had the nurse call my daughter as I couldn't even speak.  My daughter said she could hear me in the background and it sounded like a wounded animal and I guess that's what I was.  I kept talking to him through my tears long after he had passed and later my daughter told me that the hospice team said that the brain still processes up to 30 minutes after the body dies.  I hope he heard me.  My baby, my youngest was gone and I'm not sure I will ever get over it but I will "carry on".  Grief is funny, it grabs you at the most unexpected times.  All of a sudden and you can feel it in your someone is squeezing it.  I guess that is what they mean when they say your heart is breaking. 
I know my son was an alcoholic but he was also a wonderful human being and someone I was very proud of.  He had a heart of gold and would do anything for anyone.  Sometimes I think that the gentle souls of this world have a  tough time dealing with the evils of this world more so than the rest of us thus the need to turn to something that numbs the pain.  He loved animals and was so artistic.  Even when he was young he could draw anything.  On Saturdays, he and I would watch Bob Ross on PBS.  He was also a great cook and I enjoyed many of his wonderful meals. His guacamole was out of this world!  He was a painter, a drywaller and a construction person by trade and gave away so many hours of his labor to people who couldn't afford it.  He did not have a head for business but he had a heart for people.   
While I was there my car broke down....the antifreeze compartment was leaking so I couldn't get it in until Monday, then there was Annie who I took to a wonderful veterinarian there and she seemed like she was getting better but then the next day she was not good at all.  She couldn't stand and could barely lift her head.  I had to have her put down.  After funeral arrangements were taken care of and the car and Annie........I headed home Wednesday.  It's a 10 hour drive and I had nice weather both times.  I am still grateful for no more suffering for those I've loved and lost, for safe journeys, for money to pay for everything and being able "to do all things through Christ who strengthens me".
No one gets through this lifetime without pain and suffering of some kind.....we are all fighting battles of different kinds so when someone cuts you off in traffic or snips at you.....try and remember that they could be in the battle of a lifetime that you don't even know about.....unless it's your "ex" and then "give him hell, Harry!"
P.S.  My dryer just quit....woe is me!  Not's just a blip on the radar.  I'll be by soon.