Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Day Three

It has been three days since my mother has had anything to eat or drink. When I try to feed her, she clamps her mouth shut. Not only is that her choice, but from what I understand, people who are dying feel better not taking input.

The changes are gradual and yet apparent. I went in before seven this morning and met her MD, who said, "It won't be long." We discussed turning off the pacemaker, and the doctor delegated that duty to the hospice nurse, who showed up an hour or two later. She spent a good part of two hours chasing around to figure out how to get the pacemaker turned off/discontinued.

First, we started with the pacemaker company. They said they needed the serial number of the transmitter we used to check the pacemaker over the phone lines. Since we had discontinued the checks months ago, no one knew where the transmitter was. We finally found it in a closet near the nurse's station.

Then we didn't need that number, but Mom's patient number. When we gave them that number (keep in mind that she has three binders stuffed full with her patient records), they said we had to call the cardiologist. The nurse called the cardiologist, whose assistant said, "We don't keep any records before 2006, so I don't have her here." Okay, so what has been happening to the pacemaker checks we had sent from 2006 to 2008? The office had to send to Iron Mountain (imagine my mental image), which I guess is a document storage facility, for her records.

Oh, and when was that pacemaker inserted? Like we'd remember?

So we wait. Meanwhile, Mom declines a little more hour by hour. If the pacemaker is what is keeping her alive, then we'll have to wait until the records are retrieved and sent to the MD and then he reads them and gives us permission to turn off the pacemaker, which most likely just needs a magnet to discontinue its use.

However, Mom seems peaceful and is resting, so we can be patient.

But I do have magnets on my fridge...


Reverend Mom said...

I asked once if someone a pacemaker would keep a dying parishoner alive. I was assured that the individual could die even with the pacemaker. I don't remember any details as to individual or situation. I'm glad you have given your mom the freedom to control her food intake. I'm glad that the nursing home is respecting that. It was an ongoing struggle for us with Mom as they went through all sorts of contortions to try to get food into her. I will hold your family in my prayers as your mom completes her journey.

Munchkin Mom said...

It depends on what type of fibrillation Mom has. Considering she has the pacemaker for one of them, we are hoping her heart just stops and doesn't go into fibrillation.

Thank you for your prayers. We are praying she goes these final steps--we have all given her permission, we have said goodbye, we now let her take this journey.