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’

Just Sit Right Back and…

you’ll hear a Tale… a tale of a fateful trip

Yep!  I’m beginning to feel like I’m on a 2020 fateful trip, stranded on an island, feeling pretty damn helpless.

I got a call this morning… my sweet step brother Michael will be having surgery for appendicitis. It hasn’t burst… yet.  That’s bad enough but he has pneumonia as well.  No Covid-19, thank goodness!  Later tonight, they still hadn’t gotten to him. They blame it on Covid-19.  I am certain he will be fine, but good grief!  He said the pain meds they gave him were working and he has a good attitude.  I told him he was a survivor.

I don’t want to bellyache, but I’m venting because what else can you do when you can’t expend all this angst any other way?

Could things get any worse?  In case you haven’t followed my family saga, let me fill you in.

In the last two weeks, I had to put my little kitty down, I know it’s not a human relative, but it was still emotional.  She’d been with us 18 years.  Then, I learn sometime later that my cousin died the same day! Over the years we’d lost touch and I knew she’d been in the hospital with pneumonia, then had several strokes to follow.  She’s the same age as my sister who has been in ICU for over a month and she is family, so all of that was just one more thing.  If I don’t sound unusually sad, it’s because she had Parkinson’s and has been suffering of late, so it was a relief for the family to know she is in a better place.

My sister, btw is showing marginal improvement, not great yet, but we are trying to be optimistic.

Still…

What makes all of this so hard is, I can’t go running to be with either sibling, given our isolation status, besides hospitals are no longer allowing visitors anyway.

Then…

As you know, we sprung a leak, but the good news is, it wasn’t as bad as we’d thought it could be.  Apparently the winds managed to channel water through a vulnerable section which is being sealed, as we speak. The overall roof is fine.  The roofer said he wouldn’t charge us until we knew for sure the repair worked and… we have more storms coming, so we’ll be testing it out soon.  He lives down the street.

And then…

Have you ever felt like Big Brother is watching us?

This was so weird so tell me if any of you have experienced this phenomenon…

After the roofer left, I told hubby what he’d said, about the roof and that we could possibly need new gutters after reinforcing the last layer of shingles, which were not done properly and the wood fascia was rotting at the roof line.  Well, this morning my junk box (thank goodness it went straight to junk, but I still clean it out each day, so I noticed) was inundated with solicitations for gutter replacement.  NO WHERE HAD I WRITTEN THIS DOWN.  It was only a conversation we’d had in the proximity of our computers… and hubby’s phone!!!!

This has happened to hubby more than me and we were in his office, not mine.  I have an iPhone, he has a Samsung.  Whether that has anything to do with it, I don’t know. I’m wondering if Apple is insuring it’s users more privacy.

I’m not inclined to be a conspiracy theorist, but … I am beginning to wonder.

On the good side…

I went to Costco and I’m proud to say Californians are well masked and adhering to the proximity requirements.  At least they were at Costco. I was double layered, in fact.  I knew when I got home I would take my outer layer off in the garage and spritz myself.  Hey!  Can’t be too careful.

masked

I covered my hair and wore glasses so my eyes would be somewhat protected.  If I had swimming goggles, I might have worn those.  Heck who would have recognized me anyway? Hmmm now that’s an idea…

An interesting note.  While I was in line, waiting to check out, there was a grumpy guy in the lane next to mine barking orders to his wife.  In the lane in front of me, the woman saw my cooking oil and realized she’d forgotten to get some, so I told her to run. The checker was then ready for her and she’d not returned yet.  He looked up and around and she came running, shouting “I’m here!”  Then she says how grateful she was that I was behind her.  I said, “Well, you know in this time, it pays to be kind to one another”

Grumpy heard the exchange, “You can’t mean everyone, some people don’t deserve to be kind to”   I looked at him and sweetly replied  “I said, “yes, every one, you don’t know how that might change their day”.  His wife chimed in and said, “She’s right, you never know”.  Secretly, I hoped I had changed his.

the car…

Earlier in the week, I took my car on a drive, I was told it needed to be driven now and again and I happened by Home Depot.  They had roped off a section to filter customers into the store a little at a time.  Home Depot was doing their part, but… the people in the line were not proximity conscious and other than the employees, only two or maybe three were wearing masks.  I did not stop.  Only observed.

Time on my hands…

What am I doing with my time other than entertaining conspiracy theories and whatever else, I can come up with?

Weeell, hubby’s home a lot which means . . .

I get to have lunch with him and . . .

And… I’m actually trying to be useful.  My neighbor, God bless her, is making masks.  I’m not as useful, but I did help a little (very little) with making straps for them.

Strawberries . . .

Now I did buy strawberries from a neighbor, who has a large family.  Her hubby is a gardener, so I’m guessing work may be limited.  She and several others in the household do housekeeping, so I’m sure they’re not working right now. She doesn’t normally come door to door, so I’m guessing things might be tight.  I practically threw money at her, but I just couldn’t turn her away.  We didn’t talk except through the closed window. Her son was wearing gloves and mask, she wasn’t.  He usually goes along to interpret.  I told her to set the produce down and after awhile, I went out and hosed everything down just to be safe.  I felt badly that it had to be that way.  I don’t think she was offended, after all I didn’t just turn her away.

Well, that’s the story of our fateful trip for now and it’s not over yet.  Our mayor is talking about this lock down not being over until we’ve had 28 days of no new cases.

So in the end, like Gilligan and the Castaways, you roll with it, add levity, look for the positives and hope for a rescue.

Soon.