“It’s a new dawn… It’s a new day… It’s a new life for me… And I’m feeling good.”
from “Feeling Good,” Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricuse
Did you know that February 15th is noted as the day Buddha achieved Nirvana by separating from his mortal body (usually called ‘death’)? According to Wikipedia, this is a day for readings and meditation on one’s own death and the death of loved ones.
This is especially timely for me personally as my good friend and boss has been gently easing the passing of his dear mother. He talks of her transitioning between the physical and spiritual spheres and the enlightenment that she is sharing with family around her. This is a beautiful, enriching and comforting experience for them.
In addition, my own eighty-three year old mother lapsed into a near-coma state Sunday, no food or water intake, fever, unable to stand, largely incoherent — a frightening experience. We nursed her throughout the day but by evening we called 911 to send an ambulance. She was given IV fluids and antibiotic and almost immediately became more alert. The test-based diagnosis of kidney infection was later confirmed and, three days later, she is home again.
Lesson learned from this experience:
- Prepare now; you never know (sounds trite and clicheish but it’s true).
- Know all medications and have documentation of the schedule and history.
- Realize that unless your loved one is a small child you will not be able to lift, carry, maneuver them. They will have bathroom and clothing needs in addition to simply shifting them in bed for comfort and one average person alone cannot do this. My stepfather and I together could not lift or transport my mother and she weighs 160 lb., certainly not obese.
- Don’t be afraid to call the doctor or 911 for an ambulance.
My mother purchased a long-term care plan that includes assisted living. I have resisted this move for several months even though she (they) have brought it up occasionally, but I think it is time to seriously consider the move. I cannot take care of my mother the way she needs. That may sound cold and heartless for many, but it’s the truth. I am not strong enough physically, am still low on energy from my own bout with breast cancer and treatments. My stepfather is eighty-five and has plenty of his own physical (heart) problems. If either of them falls, that’s it, they’re down.
We have the comfort of knowing that she has this plan available, many do not. Unfortunately, one of the first things dropped from Obama’s Health Care Plan under extreme pressure from congressional Republicans was the long-term care provision. This puts many, many people in the position of not being able to care for their aging parents in need without either giving up a needed job or spending their own retirement savings in the process. Either way, society in general loses.
Death comes to us all, it’s part of life itself. One step, then another….