Saturday, 2 February 2013

By on February 2nd, 2013 in Barbara

08:47 – Last night, things took a major turn for the worse with Barbara’s mom. Barbara headed over to her parents’ apartment straight from work. I thought she was going to have dinner with her dad and then visit her mom in the hospital. Visiting hours end at 7:00 p.m., so around 8:00 I called the apartment and got the answering machine. I thought that was odd, but I figured Barbara would call when she had a moment.

She finally called around 9:00, almost in tears. She, her dad, and her sister were still at the hospital, which had somehow lost her mom. They finally found Sankie, wandering around undressed. They’d moved her to another room, but had not moved her clothes and other personal possessions with her. So then they had an encounter with a very nasty nurse, who told them visiting hours were over and they had to leave without seeing Sankie, even though it was the hospital’s fault that she’d been missing during official visiting hours. Barbara, of course, hit the roof and started working her way up the chain of command. She eventually got to speak with Sankie’s doctor, who asked her if she knew the name of this bitch nurse. Barbara told him, and he said, “Ah, that explains it.” I hope that means they’re going to fire that nurse’s ass.

Sankie is in very bad shape mentally. Barbara said that she just kept repeating over and over that she wanted to die or that she was going to die. She even told them that she was going to die in the next five minutes.

When Barbara called at 9:00 she was just on her way out of the hospital with her dad and sister. Neither she nor her dad had eaten since lunch, so they stopped on the way back to the apartment to grab a quick meal. Barbara called around 10:30, still very upset. She said they’d all talked it over and thought that Sankie had decided to die because she didn’t want to outlive Dutch. That actually makes sense. For weeks now, Sankie has been trying desperately to keep Dutch from dying. She’s now apparently decided that’s not going to work, so she’s shifted to Plan B. If she can’t keep Dutch alive, she’ll just die first. In her current mental and physical state, I’m afraid she’s going to get her wish. Elderly people who lose their will to live often don’t last long, particularly if they’re seriously ill on top of that.

Barbara, Frances, and Dutch, of course, are going through hell. I’m afraid that Barbara and Frances in particular are close to breaking down completely. Short of them just writing off their mom, which neither of them would even consider, I’m afraid that Sankie is going to end up dragging both of them down with her.

16 Comments and discussion on "Saturday, 2 February 2013"

  1. Ray Thompson says:

    Elderly people who lose their will to live often don’t last long

    Very true. My wife’s grandmother over the course of a week invited family members for a visit. The grandmother said that her reason was to say goodbye to everyone. Her husband had died a year or so earlier and she was tired of living. No one believed her. But after the last family member had visited she died the next day. She was old but had no fatal health issues. She had just decided it was time to pass on and she did. Actually not a bad decision as she got to go on her own terms in her own way. She was happy during the week of visits and I suspect she died quite happy.

  2. bgrigg says:

    A sad turn, and not altogether unexpected. Doesn’t make it less sad, though. My thoughts are with Barbara and her family today.

  3. Robert Bruce Thompson says:


    It’s never easy, and Barbara pointed out that we went through the same thing with my dad and later with my mom. I pointed out that, first, my dad and even moreso my mom did not have this long slide. Both were in reasonably good condition both physically and mentally until their final illnesses. My dad lingered weeks; my mom only days. For Barbara and her sister, this has been going on for months in terms of the really serious problems, and for years if you count the multiple hospitalizations of her parents over the last 5 or 8 years. Also, with my dad we were in our mid-30’s and with my mom in our late 40’s. Now we’re in our late 50’s, which makes it even more wearing.

  4. bgrigg says:

    I was in my 30s when my parent’s both passed (1991 & 1996) and while it sounds morbid, younger people do “bounce” better. My dad was very quick, we just got a phone call about his one and only heart attack, which was no surprise, really. My mom took almost two months to die of her cancer, and of course Anne suffered for three years. Quick is better, and what I hope for myself. All I know is, it never gets easier to deal with.

  5. brad says:

    Damn, that’s hard. All the best to Barbara and her family…

  6. MrAtoz says:

    My best to you, Barbara and her family. I hope peace comes to Sankie soon.

  7. Chuck W says:

    My sympathy and empathy, too. We are going through a very similar situation with my aunt and uncle, both 90. My uncle went into the hospital here Friday a week ago, and was mis-diagnosed pretty badly by the weekend B-team. He had what appeared as severe bronchitis that was not getting better. They did tests which indicated that it was not pneumonia. They did no further tests, but loaded him up with IV liquids, some addictive narcotics, and he started blowing up like a balloon and the ‘bronchitis’ got worse–even though he had been on antibiotics for about 5 days by that time.

    My cousin’s wife was an RN before they had kids and at the start of the next week, she started jumping up and down and demanding more tests and better care, or they would move my uncle to Indianapolis. They rolled in an EKG and ultrasound, and discovered that my uncle had had a “silent” heart attack sometime during the last 2 years, and what he was experiencing was congestive heart failure from a weakened heart, the congestion brought on by the bronchitis turned congestive heart failure when they overtaxed his already damaged heart with the excessive IV injections.

    Treatment was immediately changed, IV’s pulled, and he instantly came around, losing 7 liters of liquid through his catheter in less than a half-day.

    Meanwhile, they discovered from admissions by my uncle, that my aunt had been keeping him awake at night, as her Alzheimer’s had her getting up in the middle of the night, thinking it was daytime, and getting dressed and leaving the apartment. My uncle would wake up, find her gone, then have to get dressed and go looking for her. She was variously walking the halls, going outside to ‘wait on a bus’ (there is no bus service in Tiny Town anymore–and never was past 8pm), and sitting in the dining room commons, waiting for a meal. My uncle had been covering for her declining mental condition, and it was exhausting him. This all alerted my cousin to the fact that my aunt (my mom’s sister) cannot be left alone at all anymore.

    My uncle is recovering quickly, and is getting around again, after being confined to bed over the misdiagnosed weekend. He is going to need several weeks of therapy, which can only be done in the nursing home part of their retirement place.

    All I can say to those facing the situation of a loved one not being able to live at home anymore: our experience here has been that there was very significant decline in the months after moving to the assisted living. Better to be in a place that supports a nursing care option, too, instead of expecting years of no further decline in an assisted living-only place. Being moved away from the home seems to cause immediate decline in a lot of people.

    My thoughts are with you and the whole family as this works out.

  8. OFD says:

    Our sympathy and mindfulness are with you all who experience this stuff, esp. Bob and Barbara and Frances, and Chuck in Tiny Town where there is no damn bus service anymore.

    My dad got early-onset Alzeheimer’s in his late fifties (my age now, ha, ha) and finally died at 71, after the usual episodes of taking off in the car and MIA for hours and being found miles away, lost; walking out of the house at 03:00 and leaving all the drawers open and stove burners on in the kitchen; later occasionally getting violent at the nursing homes with other patients who got in his face; and near the end when he didn’t know any of us except for a once-in-a-blue-moon nanosecond when we could see it in his eyes that he did know us for that one nanosecond.

    Now our mom has a nice variant of that, called Pick’s Disease, which now, at 81 as of Monday, is causing her to obsess with times of day and night, food and eating, and being incontinent and foul-mouthed, all behavior which would have been shocking and humiliating to her when she was in her right mind, which, truth be told, was probably never the case her whole life. She has been living in an in-law apartment connected to my next-younger brother’s house down in MA and he and his wife and two daughters have been saints for eleven years of this. Mom has more frequent moments of lucidity and can communicate normally and sometimes function normally in public, but it’s a crap shoot, literally, if they take her out to eat in a restaurant or to the store; my brother does her grocery shopping and she gives him a lot of grief and hassle about it all.

    It does get rough as our parents and other elderly relatives live longer and then have all sorts of medical and psychological issues while we also deal with our own, sometimes, and still try to raise and take care of children, and now their children as well.

    From what I’ve seen on this board of mostly atheists and agnostics, there is a lot of goodness and compassion and empathy, so some of us hardcore Roman Catholic crusader types have learned that this is so, belying, perhaps, previous idiocy and prejudices, and been grateful for it. We’re all just human beings trying to get through the day and the night and it is all too often a hard row to hoe, but the alternative sucks even worse.

    Best wishes from Retroville, as the snow squalls blow across the inland sea here, and it is 19 and dropping; Pax vobiscum!

  9. Dave B. says:

    Mom has more frequent moments of lucidity and can communicate normally and sometimes function normally in public, but it’s a crap shoot, literally, if they take her out to eat in a restaurant or to the store; my brother does her grocery shopping and she gives him a lot of grief and hassle about it all.

    I can relate to that. Since she’s been in assisted living my mom is now eating more like she should and taking all her meds. So she’s now doing better than she was when she moved into the assisted living. Which makes her more of a handful. It’s easier to take my daughter to the grocery store than it is my mother.

  10. Lynn McGuire says:

    I have prayed for your wife and her sister and your in-laws. And you. I know that these are very trying times.

    I saw recently that we in our 50s and 60s are being called the “sandwich generation”. The wife and I (way mostly the wife) are caring for a disabled daughter, aged 25. Her mental health is good but fragile, very fragile, but her physical health is still declining. Luckily none of our parents need any type of care from us, although one could argue about her father.

    I cannot decide if I would rather have declining physical health or declining mental health. Either is horrific. I watched all four of my grandparents go through varieties of either one at ages of late 50s (1) or late 80s (3). All were unhappy about it to some degree but rarely complained about things.

  11. brad says:

    We’re all just human beings trying to get
    through the day and the night…

    Well said, and exactly right.

  12. Lynn McGuire says:

    Lee Strobel preached at my church today to about 2,000 people. He is the author of “The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus”:

    He was an atheist who converted to Christianity at age 35?. His speaking was compelling and heart touching. Of course, he was preaching to the choir, a progressive Church of Christ in Texas. He made the statement that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most documented event in recent human history. Recent being 2,000 years ago.

  13. Miles_Teg says:

    Reminds me of Frank Morison aka Albert Henry Ross, who set out to disprove the resurrection but became a believer instead and wrote Who Moved The Stone?.

  14. Lynn McGuire says:

    Sigh. Again and again, I prove my incompetence. I put my Sunday comment on Saturday.

  15. Miles_Teg says:

    Okay, since you’re so incompetent I’m going to come and get your guns. Oh, they’re at the bottom of the Brazos. Sorry, I forgot.

  16. Chuck W says:

    Documented? or proven with concrete evidence and reproducible acts? There is a difference. Talk, no matter how oft written and repeated does not make fact out of fiction.

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