Sunday, June 8, 2014

Bobbing Along

I love the Taoist proverb about the old man being swept down the river.  He washes up on shore and two bystanders ask how he fought the mighty river.  He replied "I did not fight.  I just held my breath when my head was under water, and breathed deeply when I my head was above."

I remind myself of this often, and more than often in the past week.  Daddy got his feeding tube installed, had several scans and I had a medication review with his primary doctor to try and figure out what he was supposed to be taking.

Then we had the results meeting with the oncologist to tell us what we already knew.  It is terminal and there is no treatment available.

Then I spent a lot of time on the phone with different home health agencies, some ok, some not so ok.  For instance, some will tell you medicare does not pay for X, when in fact they don't pay THAT particular agency for X.  I finally gave up on being nice and told the last person I talked to which hospice to refer me to because that's what I wanted to do, and things began to unfold rather smoothly after that.  Most likely because I had sense enough to pick an organization that already worked with Dad's healthcare benefits.

As with Uncle John, I still suffer from random anger at how people take advantage of people who are upset and don't know or question.  Hospice seems to suffer less from that than home health care, so if you are fortunate enough to be in the last 6 months of your life you may not ever have to deal with this.

As you might suspect, it's a little more delicate with two living parents.  I have to support both emotionally, and that includes being firm and sometimes just being the person that gets vented at.  I'm getting really good at disassociating and just allowing myself to not be the daughter being growled at but being a friendly listener letting an upset person vent.

I'm also getting good at feeding tubes and shots.  I've never actually dealt with a feeding tube on a human before and the only human I had previously given a shot to was myself, but the skill set transfers pretty easily.

It's amazing what and how quickly people can accept things.  The tube I thought was going to be a huge ordeal and it's just not.  And it's helping.  His color is better, he's more alert and his vital signs are more stable.  It's a temporary victory, but it will buy us a little time to do whatever else it is we need to do.

I'm juggling as best I can work and the end of my father's life.  I will hang on to work as long as I can, and go back as quickly as I can when I have to set it aside.  Death has a way of making you feel incompetent, and I need work to give me that boost.  And it pays the bills.

I'm a raw feeder (for the dogs) but they are on kibble until I'm not doing medical stuff.  That made me a little sad, and then it made me sadder to realize it's only for a couple of months.  Most things make me sad right now.  Even having a happy thought can make suddenly burst into tears.  It's the emotional version of the river-cry when you can, hold it back when you can't.  It' keeps you from drowning in a river of tears.