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Friday, May 22, 2009

Big Daddy

So much happened from when Big Daddy went into the hospital and the time he died, I know I have forgotten so much that I learned during that time. But I want to capture some of it.

It was the day after Bubby's adventure to the hospital that we started realizing that we needed to take Big Daddy to the hospital. He did not get out of bed that Saturday. By the middle of the afternoon, we made the decision to take him thinking he probably had pneumonia. Sure enough, he did. We were up at the hospital until around 1am. It was a very long night. Miriam, his aid, graciously agreed to stay with him for us. I came back the next day early to relieve her. He had been sleeping more and more and was having a lot of trouble breathing.

Long story short they discovered that he had been aspirating his food and aspirated almost everything straight into his lungs. Then came the hard decision of whether or not to put in a feeding tube or not. It was either feeding tube or constant pneumonia. After much confering, it ws decided to put in the feeding tube. He also came home with a catheter.

When Big Daddy did come home, it was different than the previous year. He was very weak and require total care for any of his needs. It was so hard seeing him like this. I remember him carrying me around, tossing the ball, working on the farm. Now he his body was reduced to a lump in the bed, unable to do much anything, even swallow his own secretions.

Those six weeks he was back home were some of the longest and hardest of my entire life. I was literally responsible for his care around the clock even when others were here. I had tube feedings, catheter care, suctioning, exercising, positioning and countless other chores. Just a few short days at home, it became evident that someone would also need to be with him all night in case he choked. So I was also staying up all night as well as taking care of the kids during the day.

There were days I did not know how in the world I would make it. In the middle, we did get a repreive and got to go to Florida for a few days rest. Right prior to leaving, we made the decision to put him in hospice because it was obvious he wasn't getting any better. He was sleeping 23+ hours a day.

I have been around death quite often as a nurse. It does not intimidate me at all. But I began to get nervous as the signs became more frequent that his life was drawing to a close. I wanted to be able to keep him comfortable and for him not to suffer. He was at times drowning in his secretions and struggling to breath. Medications helped some but not a lot.

My Aunt Fran and Uncle Philip came to stay with us and ended up staying almost two weeks. It was such a relief having a little help now and then. And I know Big Daddy was glad to have all of his kids together. He got to see his dear childhood friends, and brother and sister in law also.

It was the end of October and he was getting worse and worse. His blood pressure was steadily dropping. It was Halloween and he was seemingly slipping. Mom had mentioned she just prayed he did not pass on Halloween. Mark was able to come home from Crossville. He and I spent Halloween night sitting by my grandfather's bedside just visiting and reminiscing. Mark mentioned how thankful he was to make it back to say good bye.

Big Daddy was slipping even more. We decided that it would be best if Aunt Fran and Mom took turns sitting up with me that night since things were looking worse. Aunt Fran's shift ended right before midnight and Mom had come in.

It was 12:04am on November 1st, 2008, when Big Daddy had his first seizure. I helped him and then called hospice to find out what meds to give him. I have him a few medications. He did have one more seizure. By that time we had gotten, Uncle Philip, Aunt Fran, Mark, and my dad up as well. Big Daddy slowly quit breathing and at 12:34 I listened for a heartbeat but none was to be heard.

Gathered around his bed were Mom, Aunt Fran, Uncle Philip, Mark, Dad, myself and sleeping on the floor, Emma Grace, Big Daddy saw Jesus face to face. All of his kids were there, his two oldest grandchildren and his oldest great grandchild. I then called all the hospice people and we spent the next few hours getting arrangements made before crashing to sleep.

The funeral was beautiful. Such a perfect fall day. Emma stood in the cemetery, dancing around during the graveside saying, "Big Daddy is in heaven". That summed up my feelings.

The last few years Parkinsons had taken my grandfather, so that day I did not mourn but rjoiced that he was restored! I do miss him, but I had said goodbye so many many months before and over and over through the time he lived with us. It is just angering to see how disease so ravages a body. And so reassuring tht we have a Redeemer!

I am still processing, and probably still will be for awhile. I am glad for that experience. It taught me much. Until we meet again...

1 comment:

bruce said...

A very special post Mary. I deeply appreciate your sweet heart and character. Death is not pretty but Jesus has conquered death and so will we who believe.
Blessings, Bruce