Saturday, April 17, 2010


Having just realized I haven't updated in a while...

First off - Bill, I know you're trying to get hold of me. I've been scrambling around like a madwoman this week. I should be mostly available Sunday, except for possibly needing to be at the airport from about 2-3:30pm EST.

Yikes! Checking back for the last entry, so much has happened it feels like a whole different life.

The big changes:

1) PET scan results came back. The primary tumor is bigger - much bigger (it was about the size of an orange to start with). Worse, it's metastasized into the lungs, and possibly the brain - though we have no proof of the latter.

2) His doctors universally agree that there's nothing left they can do for the cancer. The remaining prognosis is a few days to a few weeks.

3) Dad W. spent most of the last week in the hospital with aspiration pneumonia - he had a crash of his condition that had to be seen to be believed. He is now recovering from that, but nobody is sure where the improvement of the departing pneumonia will meet the decline from the progressing cancer. He's currently sleeping about 22 hours a day, and is only intermittently coherent when awake.

4) We did (finally!) manage to get the various useful end-of-life legal documents done, signed, and attested to. This was, in fact, almost two full days of work, due to the intermittent coherency. It takes an unbelievably long time to read twenty pages of legal documentation to someone, and make sure they understand it, when their coherent periods are about five minutes long.

5) Dad W. has been moved to a nursing facility around the corner from our house (literally less than 2 minutes away). We had to ditch his supplemental insurance to do it, but heck - it's not like he has other things to spend his retirement fund on, right? There was no way he could come back home - not without completely renovating our downstairs - and he didn't want to stay in the hospital until he died. Plus, the new place allows me to bring the dogs to visit (one at a time).

6) We've called in Hospice, and they sent their first evaluator today. It was a little surreal, but I did like the guy. I had to grind my teeth a couple of times - such as when he asked Dad if he'd discussed end-of-life issues with his family, and Dad replied "I've tried, but they don't listen!" As if he hasn't been dodging that subject with all the agility of a fencer for the last six months. Or likewise, when they asked about problematic issues, and he said he had a problem with how dependent he's become. This from the man who will ask me to push the nurses' call button for him, because it's too much trouble. (It's strapped to the bed about 2" from his left hand.) Dad finds it disturbing when he can't do something - but he sure as hell has no problem with me doing stuff for him if it's even a tiny bit difficult.

And now the dilemma of the week. As of this morning, I have legal authority to take Rascal to the vet and have him put down. I feel, very strongly, that I ought to do this. In my opinion Rascal should have been put down three months ago. The poor dog has no quality of life left. On the other hand, there's no doubt at all that Dad W. would disapprove of this decision wildly - and what the Power of Attorney is for is letting me make the decisions I believe Dad W. would want.

On the gripping hand - Dad W. is so turned inwards by this point that he doesn't talk about the dogs or ask about them at all - ever. If I bring Scooter by to visit, he enjoys the visit, but unless I bring up the dogs, he doesn't ask after them. Am I obligated to keep this poor, ancient, decrepit dog alive because Dad W. would want me to, even though he doesn't seem to care, wouldn't ever know, and chose freely to give me the legal power to do otherwise?

I guess that wasn't such a quickie after all. Posting will probably be uneven for the next little bit, for obvious reasons.


Becky said...

So sorry to hear about Dad W. I will keep your family in my prayers.

About the dog, I cannot tell you what you should do. I can only tell you what I would do. I would end the dog's suffering and deal with the fallout as it comes up. But you have to do what you feel is right in your situation.

Harriet said...

That's a really hard one about the dog. I had to let Andy go about 2 months ago, and it was incredibly painful. But, if Dad Wood is not even asking about the dogs, then I think you might be off the hook. Hard to say. My only suggestion is to take a long walk and pray about it.

Love ya!


Felicia said...

Sending hugs and prayers for you and yours, Cindy...

Michele said...

I will keep you and your family in my prayers.