Sunday, May 31, 2015

Long Night

It was a long night for everyone...

A couple of years ago I reconnected with a college friend on the Facebooks, you know, like you do.

My friend has advanced cancer of the colon and I think the liver. She vanished from Facebook for over a year and a lot of people on a regular basis were calling out to her ... are you there? hello? anyone? can someone get us an update?

She updated us that she was in and out of hospitals, receiving treatment. but nothing was working. I got a text from her one day saying she was in the hospital, she wanted to see me. So I went.

She is in great need of 24 hour care but only gets partial care. I won't go into what she has to do on a regular basis, but she's incredibly uncomfortable and just really wants to be admitted to hospice and finish this life.

Hospice cannot admit her, she's not at "that point" yet. She was not receiving the kind of care she wanted from one hospital so she went to another hospital, not for more treatment but just to try and get relief from her pain and discomfort. The second opinion from the other hospital resulted in the decision that she needed a surgical procedure to try and widen her colon to allow her to more successfully go to the bathroom. That procedure was done last week and she came home from the hospital yesterday morning. She asked me to come be with her on the overnight. I had told her I could be available on the weekends to help her out and I think she heard "I can stay every weekend."

She was in a panic when I told her that I wasn't sure that I could come, so I came. I spent the night here... came without real hesitation but I'm sure that she should not be home alone. Part of me is incredibly worried and upset - there isn't 24 hour coverage for her and I can't do this every weekend. I have no idea how long she will live... it could be 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years?

Anyway - I brought my laptop and did some work for work. My other laptop for the job that I don't really have anymore that I'm helping with got a virus so my friend is clearing it up for me. I have to pick that up today.

I got a horrible night's sleep, not because of my friend but because of her neighbors. She lives in a beautiful old one-story ranch house with a mother in law apartment tacked on the back - one room, kitchen, bathroom, private entrance, parking on its own.

The people who live in the big house have a room butt up against this one where they watch TV. I can see the kitchen and living room from here - it is an L shaped house, and the lights were all blazing, the tv was turned up all the way, and a 2 hour infomercial for classics of American Country Music from the 60s and 70s was in full force.

Dear God. Two hours!

I had turned the air conditioner off so I could hear her if she got up or needed me.  I didn't realize how good the AC was at drowning them out next-door until I stood here in the dwindling cool and the silence.

My friend took meds at 11pm and told me she needed to take the round of pain medication again in 3 hours. 3 hours later, with Johnny Cash blaring through the wall, I went in to see her. She told me she could skip the pain meds for another hour or two, so I set an alarm for 4:30am to go check on her. The people in the next room started having a fight about something. I just wanted desperately to pound on the wall and scream, but I don't know them, and I didn't want to get my friend in trouble here. Which also is part of the reason why I think she wants to go to Hospice.

The yelling stopped, I dozed, the sky started to lighten, my friend needed medication so I hooked her up and we went back to sleep. Pouring rain began so I closed the windows and listened to the birds, the rain, the crickets, with the one open window so I didn't suffocate (it is super hot in here).

My friend woke up at about 7:30 and called my cell because I was so deeply asleep that I didn't hear her call me from the next room. We did her pain pills and I made her a hard boiled egg and she ate it with some yogurt and tea. We sat together quietly for 2 hours.

The hospice nurse came to the house and knocked on their front door at about 9:30am. POUNDED on it. I think the neighbors are all still sound asleep, so I sat here laughing. Ha ha. That's what you get for keeping me awake until 3am!

I need to leave here at 11, and the next person does not come until 2pm so I am feeling horribly guilty and sad. I don't want to leave her alone here. She doesn't really like the guy who is coming, and it is kind of hard to watch her treat him. He's trying hard and she doesn't appreciate it. He is, admittedly, a little annoying and I bet I'd be annoyed if he was here trying to take care of me.

It's hard - I asked her where her family was. They live an hour away but her dad is ill, and a recluse, and doesn't ever leave the house. Her mom can't drive or travel. Her brother lives an hour beyond them and I guess hasn't made a huge effort to be of assistance.

I'm sitting in the living room while the Hospice nurse is doing her second round of paperwork. Turns out she was on the list, and receiving Hospice at Home for a week or so, but the procedure she had done this week actually kicked her out of Hospice eligibility ... so yesterday she called them and unleashed. So the nurse is here. Doing her intake over again. Doug explained to me that in a six month period you can only go through intake to Hospice twice, so ... this would be her second. And you can only be on Hospice for six months. I hate to say it, I really hate to say it, because I love my friend but ... I hope this sticks, and I hope someone sees that she really needs to be in patient somewhere. I don't think this is fair to her.

Meanwhile, in the living room here I'm surrounded by tons of stuff. She has a ton of things, stuff, boxes, gifts clothes, some sort of a wooden barrel with blankets in it. Styrofoam ice boxes. There is a ton of stuff in here. And I can't imagine who takes care of this when she's gone. It's only one room. I think that when she goes into in patient care or she passes away, that's when everyone will show up to help. All the people who don't stay over. I just have a feeling. I don't want any of her things.

So I'm okay being here for her. I don't know for how long. I would love if she was able to move into a skilled nursing facility or something but ... she's here. We'll see what happens next.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:01 AM

    God bless you for being such a good friend and person.