Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Baja sessions

There's a small tamper-proof plastic box under my mother's pillow containing a loaded syringe and a 9V battery-operated pump to infuse the mixture of morphine, a mind-altering sedative and an anti-nausea drug through a narrow white flexi-tube to a catheter port in her abdomen.

This is palliative care.  Or, 'comfort cares' as nurse B calls it as she fusses with the blankets and strokes my mother's forehead.

Hospital entrance at the Cashmere View Rest Home and  Retirement Village.

I like nurse B very much, and nurse G.  They are wonderfully caring and gentle even though I sometimes feel their ministrations leave me awkwardly outside the loop; like my mother is somehow theirs.

I find myself apologising for taking up the already cramped space around my mother's bed as they manoeuvre the 'slippery Sam' to help turn her two-hourly.

And whenever they tentatively knock, I always seem to be eating and reading magazines, or eating and playing solitaire on my phone.  I feel like a slack employee; jumping to my feet justifying my seeming inability to keep vigil by my mother's bed in a more productive, nurturing kind of way.

They're not around when I flounder with words and tears.  They weren't in the room when I vowed I would stop watching for every breath.  And they didn't see my face flush with guilt as I pondered which day this week she would die.

Tonight, we watched the Bee Gees 'One Night Only' on television.  At least, I hope she was aware of it.  She loves that particular concert and had the CD in her car, along with several others that are now rotated on the portable player by her bed.

She also has the Three Tenors, which I confiscated after arriving to find, "Time to say goodbye" playing during the weekend.  I am coping better with Chris Isaak's Baja Sessions.  It has a sameness that is easier to block than those tenors belting out "Nessun dorma" etc.

But then, it's not meant to be about me.

I have received several texts asking how long do I think?  I'm thinking: if that's your question, you probably already know the answer.

My brother sent a text from Sydney asking me to let him know when she was a day or two away.  What do you do with that?

Meanwhile, yesterday was the official start to the school holidays, with a two-week term break ahead.  The girls are desperate to get away to the snow - anywhere really, as long as it's not Christchurch.

But I can't leave.  We can't leave.  Not yet.


Miss 7 is diverted with retro fizz and an afghan biscuit - for now.  



7 comments:

Tattie Weasle said...

{{{{HUGS}}}} It is so very difficult; don't feel guilty even though you think you should. You are there. THAT is important. Being with someone when their life draws to an end is hard. I watched every breath and I longed for each one to be the last. I found it intolerable. But it was not about me, the last breath taken was the right one, the one when she was ready and I was privileged to be there. Cherish the moments despite the pain. You are a guide making that step so much easier. I promise.

Michelle Trusttum said...

Tattie - a long overdue, thank you. What a thoughtful and well timed comment. You are good at that!

My mother died after I stepped out of the room for 20 minutes to check on my children at home. I had been keeping vigil all day! x

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