Edson, Carl Beck
We buried Dad on Saturday. It wasn't easy to see him go, but it was a relief to let him go. His health had been on a slow decline since his fifth stroke. We tried to keep him at home with one other person to watch after him, but it took two people to help him do anything and we couldn't manage that with all of us still working.
We moved him to the same personal care home where mom lived after Alzheimer's claimed her mind. At first Dad was unsure of how he would like it, but the routine and having someone near made him comfortable.
The time between hospital visits were getting shorter and shorter. It became apparent that he wasn't able to stay with us forever. He still had a great appetite and as long as he could enjoy eating and was comfortable we as a family were satisfied. He had a problem off and on caused by a medication he had once taken, Reglan. If taken over a long period of time, it can cause tardive dyskinesia, which is a series of involuntary moves and jerky repetitive motions.
The nursing home interpreted it as restlessness and wanted him medicated. I know it was tiring and caused some problems, but most medications that can be given for the "restlessness" cause the dyskinesia to get worse or cause it to reoccur.
It was an almost daily battle to keep him more relaxed and calm. Because he had a great appetite and was still able to eat, we did not want a feeding tube. To deny him the last thing that was his and that he still enjoyed was the height of cruelty and we said not to a feeding tube and allowed him to eat. We did everything possible to prevent aspiration of the food, but eventually something would go into the lungs instead of into the stomach. He would get a pneumonia and have to be hospitalized.
He had gotten out of the hospital about a month when this last illness began. He was so weakened after his last hospitalization, we knew that even if he was readmitted, he wouldn't improve nor survive, his health had actually been on the decline after that discharge.
It seemed now his illness progressed rapidly and his strength declined just as quickly. My brother and sister continued to visit every day and my midday visits two or three visits a week remained constant, it was hard for us to see his health failing, but the last two days it became critical. His breathing became a struggle and we decided on hospice. We knew the end was sure and soon.
Hospice came and they were supportive. Family members came and went as their schedules allowed. Some had to work. My brother had to undergo a procedure and could not be there part of the time. My sister and I stayed close.
I began my vigil at his side from 10:30A.M.on Wednesday when Kathy left. I was able to do it and was glad. Ken came in, still miserable and in pain from his procedure. I told him to go home and take something for pain, rest, and come back when he was feeling better. My daughter Anna and Ken's son Kenny came in to visit, but left to go to work.
The nursing stall, from hospice and the home kept a close eye on Dad, medicating and repositioning him. It would have been impossible for the to have stayed in the room to suction him each time he had either coughed and his airway was impaired, I suctioned him frequently. It allowed me to do something for Dad.
His breathing got slower and his pulse weaker. Ken came back with his fiancé and son just in time. Dad lasted about another fifteen minutes before he took his last breath.
It hadn't been a hard decision to let him go, but it was hard to say good-by.