Sunday, January 13, 2013

A difficult week

Saturday Morning
Jean on the rebound drinking a green tea latté
with some help from her sister Anne

Jean has had ups and downs over the past 4 days, so we've been on an emotional roller coaster here at the hospice.  The short version is that on Friday, Jean wasn't talking, eating, drinking or even opening her eyes; one of the nurses here implied that she might never open them again.  But she did, Saturday morning, and then she started eating and drinking, and is now able to talk to in an extremely quiet whisper.

Here's a longer version, day by day.

Wednesday, January 9

The Wee Hours For the first time since she has been at the hospice, Jean woke up in the middle of the night afraid to be alone.  She asked one of the nurses to hold her hand, and when that nurse needed to attend to another patient, she got me from downstairs and I sat with her to the morning.  Since that time, there have been only a few hours when Jean has not had family and friends sitting at her bedside.

Late Afternoon

Jean had Skypes sessions with Yao Louis in Ann Arbor and Laurie Abbott in New Mexico.  She was not very talkative, and the sessions were short.  After that, the Zen Hospice Chorus came to our remove, and sang what sounded live a very old song with this haunting refrain:

We may not need words
We may not need songs.
We may just need our two hears beating.

The Evening.

Jean was nauseous three times.  This made the 6th day of the last 7 that she nauseated, and the hospice decided to give her 1 mg of Haldol as needed every two hours to try to control it.  In retrospect this was probably a mistake, the Haldol and lorazapam (for seizure control) had a powerful sedating effect on Jean.


Susie Dranit, with her gifts of
a fleece cap and an orchid
The Haldol appeared to be working, but Jean had no appetite, was not talking much, and appeared to be dozing a lot.  Susie Dranit came to visit at 2 pm, bringing the orchid and the fleece cap that you see in the photo.  Susie was a colleague of Jean's at URS, and had many warm memories to share, and some tears to shed.  She ended up staying for several hours, holding Jean's had and talking even though Jean did little in response.  Susie seemed to get a lot from the experience.  After Susie, Ken Eichstaedt from URS came by, bringing an ivy plant in an ornamental pot that had been a prized ornament in Jean's cube.  Like Susie, he chatted for a while, held hands with Jean, and it seemed to mean a lot to him.

Karen Creech, with gifts of flowers:
Nick Galloro brought the irises Tuesday;
Ken Eichstaedt brought the ivy Thursday;
Susie Dranit brought the tall orchid Thrusday
Jean's sister Anne and brother-in-law John arrived from Florida in the evening.  This was an event Jean had bee looking forward to since Anne returned to Florida December 11.  Jean did not acknowledge the event, but somehow she was already aware that Anne was back when she opened her eyes Saturday morning.

Karen Creech visited to, as she has many times, and her loving patient presence was much appreciated.


Ian Austin, Jean, Anne Lewis
A bad day.  The hospice stopped the Haldol, and went very lightly on the lorazapam, but Jean appeared to sleep the whole day.  Of course Anne and John were there from early until late, and Ian Austin from URS came by in the afternoon. Like Susie Dranit and Ken Eichstaedt Thursday, Ian spent several hours just holding Jean's hand and talking about life in an engineering consulting firm. Jean did not say anything in response, but made a couple of gestures that seemed to indicate agreement with points Ian was making.


Jean's eyes opened in the early in the morning, and Jean regained more ground during the day.  She ate applesauce, poached eggs, squash soup, home fries, and chocolate covered graham crackers (the sacramental stress reduction food she liked to share with Alison Drury), and so far it's all stayed down.  She also had two green tea lattés, her favorite recreational beverage.  In addition to Anne and John, Phil Cushway came by to visit, sharing memories of Jean in her Ann Arbor days, and showing mock-ups of his latest publishing project, the poem of protest books.  Derek and Tara came by around 4, and Derek read Jean a Damon Runyon short story named "Lily".  Derek was Jean's last manager at URS, and has been keeping all of her colleagues there informed about her situation.  Derek's wife Tara has been visiting Jean weekly for several months.