How evil am I? Sometimes, I wonder. The past few days have been tiring, to say the very least. My new job is exhausting work, but I love it & the people I get to wait on. My feet and lower back are screaming by the end of my shifts, but I actually have fun, real fun, meeting the people and getting to know my co-workers. Sure, there are aspects of the job that I already dislike, but I think that's because my body is so out of shape and the shelf stocking is so labor intensive. Anyway, it's been a nice reprieve from the isolation I lived in for the past few years.
Spouse & I shared such a lovely Thanksgiving day together, if one is able to forget the awful grub served by the nursing home for dinner. Cooking our own turkey and dragging along a can of the cranberry sauce proved to be one of my better ideas this month. I was able to get one of the staff to open the can of whole cranberries sauce and we we celebrated that lovely tradition that began when we first moved from our huge home in Bellingham, WA to the shitty trailer in Plains, MT.
When the time to serve our first official "trailer trash Thanksgiving dinner" came, I was perplexed as to whether it was proper to serve the cranberry sauce from yet another dish to wash by hand, or serve it directly from the can. We opted, being newly arrived at our long awaited dream of becoming official trailer trash, to serve the delicious sauce straight from the can. And, since that first TTT, we've continued with the tradition. It's a running holiday joke my beloved and I have shared, one that has never failed to bring a twinkle to our eyes and sly smiles to our faces.
The dietary aide at the nursing home was fairly stressed and did not seem to give much of a ripped rat's ass about our tradition, but she still begrudingly opened the tin for me. The cook, however, grinned when I explained the can, even though there were teeny plastic cups with dollops of the nearly clear & berry-less sauce sitting at each table. She acknowledged that it was a nice idea for me to bring some of my own home cooking for this special dinner and to include our cute little tradition of the canned cranberry goodies.
We had a nice enough dinner that day, at least with the dessert and the food I'd brought from home. Our visit was nice and the day went too fast. I had to leave, as I do each time I visit, with enough time for me to drive the speed limit and still have some daylight to watch out for deer on the road. It kind of sucks, having to leave a little earlier in the day than before, because I might as well be stone cold blind as far as anything in the peripheal of the headlights when I drive at night. Must be a part of getting older, I suppose.
Anyhow, I took the following day off, to give myself a day of rest, since I'd not had one in quite awhile. When I awoke, my plan was to get dressed, slam some java and get back on the road to see Spouse once again. As soon as I tried to sit up in bed, my sciatica told me a different plan. If I planned on working Saturday, as I was scheduled, then I needed to stay home and relax, as best I could. So, I called Spouse and let him know what was going on. He said he understood, sort of, and I stayed in my jammies until late in the day. My legs were finally relenting and allowing me to stand straighter, with less pain and I drove to Watertown, to do a teeny bit of Christmas shopping. Actually, I went there for one thing and found it... the last one on the shelf! It's a little something, which shall remain nameless for now, in case my grandson's mom knows about my blog. I knew that part of the stress that was tightening up my sciatica was due to not having the time to do ANY Christmas shopping, since I am expected to be at Spouse's side when I am not at work. That's mostly a presumption of my own, since few of his family & friends have actually come out and asked why or how I could stand to be anyplace but near him when he's so ill. A couple of his friends have brought up the subject and were rewarded with THE LOOK. Once they've spent a bit of time with him, now that he's more easily agitated and just downright mean, they seem to have a better understanding of how & why I am able to tear myself away from him for a few hours a week. *pfffft*
On Friday, when I was at home/shopping, Spouse had someone at the nursing home take him to a doctor, since his regular doc at the home was gone for the holiday weekend. This new doctor upped the pain meds for Spouse, because his liver contractions were increasingly getting worse and more frequent. I'd noticed this when I spent the day with him the preceding Thursday and suggested he mention the increased pain and timing to his doctor. The thing this new doctor didn't take into consideration, when upping the dosage, was the ability of Spouse's liver to assimilate the increased dosage. I visited Spouse again on Sunday and he was difficult the majority of our visit. He seems so angry all the time and takes it out on me and the staff, constantly. I do understand that his pain plays a huge role in how he reacts, as well as his inability to do basic math now. In saying basic math, I mean he has trouble keeping facts straight, days & times confuse him and his memory is really beginning to suffer. He gets one visit confused with another, to the point he told one of the nurses that I hadn't seen him on Sunday because I had the flu.
The reason I know about this conversation is because the nurse called me Sunday evening, to report that Spouse had fallen, when he tried to get from his wheelchair into a regular chair about an hour before she called me. He was blabbering incoherently, unable to walk on his own and was clearly over-medicated! The new doc had upped the prescription to 20mg of morphine each hour, as needed. Spouse took that to mean that he was now able to have it every hour, whether needed or not. I know he was thinking it would be better to stay on top of the pain, rather than wait until he could feel it coming on, but what happened was his liver was unable to assimilate such a high dosage, with such frequency after awhile. Bear in mind, Spouse was getting the same dosage, every two hours, prior to the new uppage. That, along with the phentynol (sp?) patch that was increased from 50 to 75, and the 30mg of slow-release morphine that Spouse gets twice a day. *the 20mg is the instant release kind* The nurse told me that she wasn't going to give Spouse any more morphine that night, until he wakes up, which happened around 3 a.m. His last dose was at 8 pm and that was the one that sent him soaring with eagles.
With that episode now behind us, Spouse has realized, in some small way, that he was watching the clock to get his pain meds, instead of listening to his body. If/when I try to approach the subject now, he gets really hostile and totally pisses me off. I see someone who has a problem - a major problem - with his morphine and it's a two-edged sword. He cannot function without the morphine, because of the tremendous pain he is in, yet his liver is proving incapable of handling the amount needed to control the pain. It's really difficult for me to decipher whether Spouse is actually in pain because of his liver failing, or if he's in pain because he's addicted to the morphine and he just may be going through withdrawals when certain levels aren't maintained. I don't know. I don't know. I just plain don't freaking know and it sets upon my shoulders like a huge, heavy, stone gargoyle.
Today I went to see him again, resenting having to leave our home and brace myself against the frigid temperatures. When I awoke at 8 a.m., it was a frosty 2*F here in Clark, and only a few temps warmer (4*F) in Redfield. Going outside was certainly NOT something I planned to enjoy, and I didn't. Perhaps I have mentioned previously to my friends here, how much I absolutely loathe cold? Really, really loathe it, especially if it hits the back of my neck, which nearly always throws my back muscles into spasms. I truly appreciate those heated seats in the Jeep even more now!
Anyhow... back to my original question when I began this excerpt of my life... am I evil? Today, Spouse was thinking that eventually he would outlive the contract which the VA has with the nursing home and he'd have to go back to the VA hospital, until the contract was renewed. He told me & the social services director of the facility that he refuses to return to the VA hospital, but instead he would rather come home to die. He would merely ask his sister (who cannot afford it, nor would she want to leave her own husband alone for that long) to come stay with us to help me out. I told him I would have to quit my job, if he insists on coming home. He seems to think that wouldn't be necessary, if his sister was there to help out. The thing is, she's not in much better health than me, as far as strength of the physical nature is concerned. There's also the fact that our home is ill-equipped to deal with his needs, especially when he gets to the end, the very end, stages of his disease.
So, I called his sister tonight and we talked about his rantings (he was yelling and ranting, when he divulged his plan to go home) and whether we felt we'd be able to fulfill his wishes. Here is where the gut & heart honesty come into play, folks, and it isn't pretty. I don't want him to come home to die. My love for him has not faltered a whit, but the thought of him coming home to die scares the shit out of me. I haven't forgotten how difficult life was when he was at home the last time and he got so sick. Does he expect me to let him lay in a bed and die, if he could live longer in a facility that provides round the clock care for him? I guess he does. He has already pretty much outlived the VA docs' prognosis and is going into his third month of Hospice care. Those doctors thought he'd be lucky to live two months, let alone four. He has begun to make a slow, progressive turn toward the downward spiral and the waiting makes him so angry. I get that. I really do. The problem is, he's not the only one who has been waiting (not happily expecting, please bear in mind) and dealing with the slow, lingering crawl of the Grim Reaper to his bedside. This man, who bears the name of my beloved, whom I have visited as often as possible, is not the man I married. The man I married was intense, passionate about many things, but was not a mean spirited person. My husband was thoughtful and generous, often putting the needs of others before himself. He cared about other people. This man that I visit curses at other residents, often saying awful, hateful things about them. This stranger who telephones me is my beloved, my darling and my tormentor, all tied into one human.
It's obvious to me, he thinks if he comes home, he might die sooner, than later. I wouldn't be surprised if he has some not so ingenious plan hidden in the deepest corners of his befuddled mind, something devious which might even speed up the process. He knows that if he were at home, there would be plenty of opportunities for him to fall again, where he would only hurt himself further. Or perhaps he might "accidentally" take too much of his medicine, when left alone in his room for a potty break... who knows? All I am sure of, whether this fact makes me the evil bitch some might see me as, is I would rather continue dealing with the stress of driving so far to visit him, on my days off, than have him come home to die. I feel quite certain his life has been extended, thus far, because he's getting the round the clock care that I cannot give him at home. He wants to come home to die. I think he's being a selfish bastard for asking this of me. As much as I love him truly, I hope death comes more quickly for him, so that his misery might be ended.
For those of you who might be offended by my honesty, I shall not apologize. Feel free to wear my shoes, when you exit & take your bowel movements with you. To those of you with far more understanding, thank you, bless you & I miss you more than words can express. I'm so tired, kids... and it's not even December, yet!