Let’s Talk About Death

Our mom started this blog to educate and we’re not done educating yet. Mom made it clear to not treat Cancer or death as taboo. There’s another phase in this journey.

Recently, mom decided to stop treatment. The last treatment was no longer working and all the tools in the toolbox, all the treatments, have been tried. Upon determining there were no more options, Mom entered hospice and it’s not what you might think it is.

Our in-home hospice nurse, we’ll call her Nurse T, comes over three times a week, but only for one hour. She checks mom’s vitals, administers medicine if it’s the time of day, and asks her pain level if she needs medications. Nurse T set us up with a wheelchair and shower chair. Aside from that, it’s up to us, her caregivers, the remaining 23 hours a day. We are very fortunate to have both the insurance and personal means to receive an in-home private duty nurse if it comes to that. However, finding a private-duty nurse has not been as easy as we would have expected. We’re still trying to figure out that piece of the hospice puzzle. We now use a pill organizer and check off a chart to keep track of medications, we get mom water (with a straw; she stopped eating food), we help her to the bathroom, and to change her clothes. We help her sit up. She no longer can use the stairs so she hasn’t been downstairs. She’s confused about certain things. She’s jaundiced. She’s unsure of her medications. She picks up a TV remote and isn’t sure how to use it. She needs information to be repeated to her, even five minutes after we told her it.

This happened so fast. About one week ago she was still able to go on her iPad, she no longer is on social media. She was able to hold conversations with people, although extremely tired, now she dozes in and out of conversations. She was able to go up and down the stairs, although a struggle, now she stays upstairs in bed. She sleeps about 20 hours. Her body is tired. It is hard for her to speak, she only whispers and in short sentences.

Mom is dying. It’s the awful truth. She’s not losing a fight or a battle, she hated when people said that about others who died of MBC. Mom is ending her journey with MBC, and damn did she show us all how to live with what happens in our lives. We all knew this was how it would end. There’s no god up above that could deliver a miracle where her cancer goes away now. There is no medicine left to help her. She says she’s not in pain, she just wants to go to sleep and not wake up.

We’re mad “Death with Dignity” did not pass in Massachusetts in 2012. It failed 51% to 49%. So many messages sent to us and mom have said people hope she ends her journey peacefully. Death with Dignity would have been the most peaceful way. She would go to sleep and not wake up, just like she wants. But, that’s not the case. Now we drag out this process as her body slowly shuts down, she may enter a period where she is in pain. She is confused. This is not a glorified, dignified, or peaceful death. We’re watching our mom die.