March 7, 2014

Hanging on

My dad continues to cling to life, but the signs of approaching death are increasing. Hospice feels he has two weeks at best to live. It is hard for me to imagine him hanging on that long.

A few nights ago, he tried to get out of bed. Nurses found him on his knees on the floor. He now has a nurse by his bedside around the clock.

I saw him yesterday and he was clearly in pain, despite the best efforts of the hospice team to keep him comfortable. He is very restless, agitated even, which I have read is a normal part of the end of life process.

He looks like a dying person. I don't know how to describe it, but he doesn't look anything like himself. It is disturbing. The changes just since his birthday less than two weeks ago are shocking.

He is unable to speak, though he does try. He has been eating and drinking a little bit. Eventually, that will stop. His vital signs are changing. Blood pressure, heart rate and respiration rates are lowering. He is difficult to wake, slipping more and more into a coma-like state.

I took SB to see him late last week at the hospice facility. It was a very good visit and this photo demonstrates to me she understands what is going on. The expression on her face hurts my heart.

Dad took great pleasure in seeing her. At that point, he was very clear. The most lucid I have seen him in a long time. It was unnerving, to be honest. But is also something I have read about happening as death approaches. We made sure to take full advantage. It was lovely to be able to have conversation with him again.

I have been debating whether or not to take SB one more time. I want to leave her with good memories and not scar her. But I also want her to have closure. It's really a tough call.

She has been asking repeatedly to visit him, but based on what I have seen in the last few days, I'm just not sure how she would handle it.

When hospice feels death is imminent, mom and I plan to "hold vigil" in his room. I've made a playlist of his favorite music. We will play that, recall cherished memories and just be together, and with him.

I hope it is peaceful. I am praying constantly that God opens his arms and takes my father, and that dad lets go and gives in. Watching him suffer is the single worst thing I have ever had to do.

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