My mother is getting ready to move on. She is in a Hospice House in Palolo Valley, a neighborhood in Honolulu -- an 8-bed facility operated by the Hospice organization which has provided her care since mid-September. It is a converted private home, and a perfectly lovely setting. I refer you to today's earliest posting at iLind.net, where Ian explains how we got to where we are right now.
The RNs on duty this afternoon explained carefully that our mom is clearly on the transitioning path, recognizing her own mortality. Apparently she has accepted that this is inevitable and is finally at peace.
No one is making predictions or attempting to second guess our mom's choice of timing. They say it could be this hour, or next week. The end-of-life behaviors are there, but not the imminent warnings. Her eyes are glassy, as Ray's were when he opened them just before taking his last breath. But Ray kept his eyes shut for the last 5 days of his life, so I don't know when they began to glass over. "She may," RN Geri told me, "be one of those who just goes to sleep one evening and wakes up in the next world." That is the ideal, after the last week of struggle. "Or she may be one who doesn't want to do this very private thing with an audience," Geri added. "I've seen patients hang on through a family visit, then pass within minutes of everyone's departure." I can see my mother doing that. In addition to being fiercely independent, she is also a very private person who does not wear her heart on her sleeve. She might have passed on the independent streak, but my emotions are right out there for the whole world to witness -- good, bad or indifferent.
This morning I forwarded to Islands Hospice a link to Ian's morning posting about ambulance response time for our mother (nearly 75 minutes after the initial call) and our very positive response to Island Hospice services and facilities. Then added my own thanks to staff for going, in my view at least, above and beyond the job requirements to make a difficult experience as unstresful as possible. Within an hour the telephone call came -- from the Executive Director of Islands Hospice, thanking me for forwarding the link and for our kind words about his organization. It seems that extra mile is one of their team priorities.
The seeds of a new cause have been planted -- improving health care accessibility for all the people of Hawaii, beginning with ambulance response times for lower priority patients like my mom was on Sunday evening. Even the paramedic who responded told me that his unit was available and could have responded far earlier if they had been dispatched in a timely manner.
Give thanks for those medical folk at any level who specialize in pallative care. Recognize them when they come into your life.
Don't forget to pray....