Dying Alone in the Time of CoVid-19

This blog was going to address the question of what we were doing with our time,  but it’s a matter I’ve seen dealt with in other blogs and even though I only got around to writing the first two paragraphs, when I got back to it, I realized a more important event that some of us may not have thought of is taking place.

My first line was:  What are we doing with our time?  Better yet, what am I doing with my time?

At first I played games and binge watched shows, but to be honest, I was watching things I wouldn’t normally watch, so I stopped. I quit watching doomsday or apocalyptic shows, like TWD and started looking for films that were upbeat. There really isn’t much out there and I don’t get Hallmark.  I think that was when I wrote instead,  “Wishing for a Musical”.

Actually, what I was doing is stewing a lot about my sister in Critical Care and/or ICU, because they, the doctors, kept bouncing her back and forth between the two places. I hated too, that while she was there the past two months, she couldn’t possibly get better because there were NO VISITORS allowed!   I got to thinking about so many others out there like her.  Families like ours.  So I started doing “busy” things.

Sure, I refinished some furniture until three weeks ago when my C5-C6 rebelled and put me in the ER. It was like a charlie horse in my back that wouldn’t go away.  Hubby and I first tried to work it out like you would a charlie horse and it got worse.  So the paramedics came and off I went.

There I was sitting in a wheelchair unable to move, all alone and my previous musings slapped me in the face multiple times until it got my attention.  I looked around at the people I didn’t know, like 4 or 5 of us spaced out in the room, but no family members by our side. One lady decided she didn’t like it or where she was, so she got up from her wheelchair and moved over by me.  I was in so much pain, I could neither stand nor sit without help. Between clenched teeth I hissed,  “No!  You’re too close, go away!” , but she didn’t listen and kept moving in even closer. I was in too much pain to roll away.  I felt helpless. Thankfully, a nurse rescued me and took me away, just as the woman settled in the closest seat to me! I guess I looked like a friendly face despite my hissing.  Some things, I guess you can’t hide.

I didn’t cry but I felt like throwing up, my Bp went up to 249/111 and I could hardly breathe and I waited.  They did scans and ran tests and I waited.  My four  hours felt like an eternity and I waited. That whole time I couldn’t even take a selfie to document my misery! Finally, I was heavily dosed and we called hubby to pick me up.  I was so sedated, I could not focus.  I was the equivalent of an inebriated drunk in pain.  The pills they gave me made my mouth feel so dry and nasty. I won’t tell you all the other things these pills made my body do or not do.  I did have time to think though.

You see, when I worry, I keep busy so I don’t have time to think about it, whatever it happens to be.  If you’re a blogger I follow, I probably hit “like” delete and no comment, or I pretended I’d read it or I read it and didn’t comment because I just didn’t have the energy to do anything else. Forgive me. By the end of the second week they lifted part of the ban, hubby asked if could walk. I was feeling like a walk.  It didn’t hurt to walk anymore, but as you noticed, I still didn’t have the energy to write about our hike until yesterday.

BACK TO THE PATIENTS

Think about all these non Covid-19 patients in hospitals all around the world not getting to see or hear their loved ones voices or feel a touch or a hug from them.  It was no wonder my sister began declining. We are all very close, but if there was a chance for her mind to come back it went with the lockdown.  The question at the top of my mind, “Was there ever a cognisant moment where she wondered where we’d gone?” I wondered and felt an overwhelming sadness.

Finally, this week, the doctor told my nephews that he did not believe she would recover.   Her brain has apparently atrophied.  Of course, if it isn’t being used or recognizing familiar sounds or voices around her… where was her motivation? When she spoke last, I was asking her and telling her about things she was familiar with, so I could get a yes, and finally, an “okay” when I told her “I have to leave, but you get better, so you can visit me in California”.  It gave her mind something to work on.

It made me sad this past week reflecting on not only her situation, but that of others during this pandemic.  She’s not the only one alone right now and my nephews are also not the only ones prevented from being near their loved ones when they need it most.

In November, my cousin, who had Parkinson’s, but because of her weak state, caught pneumonia, was hospitalized.  There, in the months that followed,  she had a series of three strokes, the last one being the most debilitating.  Her family was not allowed to see her because of quarantine.  Hispanic families are very much about family, so not liking the situation, they fought to bring her home.  She, unlike my sister was somewhat aware and once home they said their goodbyes and I love you’s.  Within 24 hours or so she passed.  I know that was how she would have wanted it.  Her siblings never made it in time, but her children, grandchildren and husband of 50+ years were all there. She was 4 months older than my sister.

I’m sure there are other stories like these.  We are living in an unprecedented time, no doubt.  I realize hospitals have to be extra careful, but in my heart I cry for all these folks who can’t be with loved ones.  Some of these patients may not consciously understand why their loved ones aren’t there.  There may even be confusion and concern. It’s an impossible situation.

After the conversation with the doctor, her boys had to decide.  Do we keep doing what we’re doing and not get to see her and her not improving and possibly dying alone or do we put her under hospice care, where at least we can be with her?  On the remote possibility something turns around, where her mind can possibly absorb the sounds of their voices, they opted for the latter.  Sure, they know it may not happen, but then who knows?  There is always the off chance of a miracle.  What if something penetrates and she realizes she’s not alone?  WHAT IF?

In the meantime, she has a room with a beautiful view and she is getting soft massage like music played in her room. (She was a massage therapist) It is peaceful. But, the best part is her family can visit.

The view from her room and she and I, after a bike ride, a few years back.  She’s the tall pretty one.

 

IS IT POSSIBLE?

I know each hospital room has a TV and they are almost always on.  Has anyone thought to video family members talking to them and perhaps cycling positive messages and images from loved ones to these patients?  Many of these patients, even those not totally aware may be staring at or hearing the noise of a horrible TV with depressing news cycling all day long with information, that for the moment may not apply to them or it’s playing some stupid show they’ve seen a hundred times already.  How much better would it be to hear the sound or possibly the face or faces of  loved ones on the screen instead? Or, perhaps a family video of a special moment.  I would think that could aid their recovery.

Maybe someone out there has thought of doing this or maybe not. I don’t have the skill to run with this, though I wish I did.

In the meantime, if you’re with me on this, send all the good vibrations, prayers and love you can muster in all directions on behalf of all these special people.

Just sayin’