Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Living with Dying: Denial or Reality?

Originally posted on MySpace blog, May 26, 2009

Current mood:confused

It should come as no surprise that the past two days have totally surprised me. Seriously. I know what I just said and it makes no sense and yet it makes perfect sense.

After getting Harriett installed and all comfy in her hospital bed, which has become the focal point of our living room, we 'settled in' and began to wait. For two days I camped in the living room with my book and computer for company and watched Harriett breathe like a new mom watching a newborn.

Then things got weird. At one point Harriett asked me where her sandwich was. Okay, not only odd that she hasn't eaten or drunk anything for three solid days, but she hasn't had anything as firm as a sandwich for MONTHS. I don't believe I could have understood her correctly so I ask her to repeat herself. Yep, she wants her sandwich that she had asked for. I know for a fact she has not requested a sandwich but I want to make her as comfortable and happy as possible so I go along with it and ask her what kind she wanted. Tuna. Dang, Mark & I had just finished off a tuna salad 30 minutes earlier. I find a small can of salmon and make her a salmon salad sandwich and hope she won't notice.

After giving Harriett her sandwich, which she barely seems aware of, a friend stops by. After a visit she prepares to leave and stops by the bed to chat with Harriett on her way out. She asks her if there is anything she can get for her and Harriett told her she was still waiting for her soda and didn't understand why we hadn't brought one yet.


I know she didn't ask for one and I began to wonder if she thought she was back in the hospital because that's where she always had soda brought to her. I'm a little dazed by all this but I go fetch the soda, and when I bring it back I notice she actually has eaten half of her tuna sandwich. She seemed to have little control over her hands, but she ATE.

Everything the hospice nurse has told me and all the literature I've read states that in the dying process there is little desire to eat or drink anything and that it's okay. As the body and the organs begin to shut down it uses too much energy to eat or drink and digest food. This is very strange behavior indeed!

This morning Harriett wanted her usual coffee and malto meal. I'm not saying she's eating like a logger, she's still barely eating anything but the fact that she even wants to or is hungry is quite amazing.

Harriett's voice is barely a whisper which makes communication challenging. I hate asking her to repeat herself but it's my only choice. She said something to me today as I was setting up her cereal for her to eat. I asked her, "what?" and she replied:

"I am not dying."

You know what? I believe her.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Living with Dying, approaching the end.