I can’t believe it’s only been a week since we’ve been on hospice. So much has happened, and things have changed so rapidly.
Nine days ago I wrote my plea for hospice. The next day, I wrote my thank you. I also wrote things like this to my brothers:
Dad isn’t doing great, but I do think he will stabilize with the tender ministrations of hospice. These people are GREAT with comfort care. Statistically, people with advanced illness live longer with hospice than without hospice. He could well rally and “graduate” from hospice (be kicked out of the program). Or he could continue to have accelerating problems.
The day after I sent that message, my Dad stopped being able to walk. He walked to breakfast with his walker in the morning, and by afternoon, his legs were unable to support him. My carefully laid plans about the period ahead were shattered. Some time ago, I wondered what I would do if my Dad got to the point my mother did, when she needed to be physically lifted from her chair, to a wheelchair, to bed. I had said to myself, “I don’t know what I’d do if if my Dad gets to that point.” After all, my Dad weighs 200 lbs.
Now I know.
I rapidly went from expecting to need night time care, to needing afternoon respite, to needing almost 24 hour care. It isn’t safe for my Dad or for me to transfer him alone.
Hospice told me that their preference is for Dad to be in bed if he can’t assist with transferring by pushing himself up with his arms and helping to stand. But I just can’t face him spending the rest of his life – short though it may be – in bed. He’s too “with it.”
So we are settling in, and making adjustments to keep him – and me – safe.
Long ago, I danced on my father’s shoes and he kept me from stumbling. Now we are doing a dance of a different kind, as I raise him to his feet and we shuffle together to the wheelchair, bed or chair. It may not be the graceful father-daughter moment that we had when I was five, but it is still sweet. I will not let him fall.
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