I wanted to write this post before Al gets home so I can look at him and be happy and smile as if nothing is going on. Actually my insides are filling like I ate a bowl full of cow crap. If I went into the bathroom I am sure I would have no problem being sick to my stomach.
But instead I am drinking the hottest coffee my innards can take and puffing a way on my cigarettes.
Actually today was a good morning. Nice and calm. Got Al up and the morning went smooth. All weekend I have been playing mind games with myself. I guess it is the devil actually playing with me if I am real honest. I am a firm believer of God but yet Satan manages to squeeze his slimy ass into my thoughts.
The game I have been wrestling with and winning on my own cheating methods is called, Al is not really that sick. The doctors are wrong. Maybe we don’t really need Hospice. It is a really fun game. You look at Al and you have seen more smiles this past several days. He is talkative and carries on conversations with me better than usual.
I blamed his foul attitude on the lack of proper care at the nursing home. I blamed the too dry food they served. I blamed them for the lack of personal attention. I was winning this game in my mortal mind and I actually spoke to the Hospice nurse today when we had our meeting.
I bragged to her about how Al got his new truck over the weekend. How he has held it and talked about it hours upon hours. I bragged how he has smiled. She sat there and was taking notes from what I stated and she smiled, but it didn’t seem like a genuine smile.
You know those smiles I am talking about. The ones that you wonder if they were glued on with Elmer’s glue? I dismissed it because after all, she was jotting on her note pad. She then turned from my friend/nurse and became a drill sergeant.
She asked,” Is he urinating ok?”
“Is he having any problems eating?”
“Well some, a little choking and I had to feed him off and on this weekend, but no big deal.”
“Has he had any problem with sleeping?”
“Oh no, he sleeps a lot.”
“How often do you think he sleeps in a waking day?”
“Well, um, probably about fifty percent while he is here through the week nights.”
“Has he had any problems with his memory?”
“Well, um, a little. He asked for his bed time snack right after breakfast. He told me he had just finished supper.”
“What about his vision?”
“Well I have noticed that he couldn’t see the remotes properly. One time he couldn’t see the table that he hangs onto when he gets in bed, but I think it was only twice over the weekend.”
She is jotting to the point I am thinking about offering her one of my own pens in case hers runs dry. The questions are over and she reverts back to the friend/nurse. She says that she is now ready to go see Al.
We go and knock on his classroom door letting them know we are here. Al looks at the nurse who he has seen at least six or seven times now and ask, “who are you?”
The nurse looks at me and then smiles at him and tells him who she is. She proceeds to take his vitals. She hesitates on his heart area, re checking two different places. My own heart begins to race slightly but I ask no questions as she doesn’t say anything either.
After vitals are done she checks his ankles for swelling. They are always swollen but no more than usual. She checks his eyes and then she checks his hands and fingernails. She chats with him a little bit about his new truck and then she and I excuse ourselves from the class.
Once out in the hall we usually chat alone for a few minutes. Stating when she will be back. Making sure we wish each other good days until the next visit. You know the routine my friends. Chat, chat, kiss, kiss, hug, hug.
Instead she said, ” I know you want to believe that Al is getting better. Whether you use Hospice or not is your choice, but Al is declining.”
I am thinking, what? I just told you about all the chatter and smiles this past few days.
She goes on to say that I am in denial. Not me, I never deny anything. I always like the truth except for today.
She said that Al’s memory is starting to slip a little more. She was surprised that he didn’t know her. Well, that is no big deal, sometimes I forget my own name. LOL
She said that Al’s heart didn’t sound as strong. Uh-oh
She said that his hands are taking on a different look. His fingernails were gray half-way from the moons. She said his pinky finger had a disturbed look to it, that it was a little dark. Oh, I see
She told me her job is to make Al comfortable. She went on to say he is comfortable here at home and used to his class at Day Program, but no, the illness has not started to get better.
She said that I better get things settled within my own mind because Al’s breathing and heart are changing too. Her last words to me before we said goodbye were, he is following the path as most patients follow that are on Hospice.
I smiled at her and she gave me a big hug. Tears formed in my eyes. She left and I sat in my car and lit a cigarette. Taking off down the street it is hotter than hell here and the humidity is terrible. I didn’t even notice it as all I could do was make sure my eyes were clear enough from tears to drive.
My visit with Hospice was not what I expected today. Instead she burst my bubble.