Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Bed Bound, Poor Swallow

In the hospice conservatory there is a white board where staff, patients and visitors keep track of the wildlife that frequent the garden: 25 January -  2 squirrels, 1 goldfinch...
There is also a white board above FL's head.
Today it said:  "Bed Bound, Poor Swallow" and I immediately thought of him as an injured bird, grounded by a broken wing.

FL was miserable today.  When I arrived, the doctor was keen to engage me at his bedside, trying to get to the bottom of his refusal to take any drugs last night and again this morning.
"Are you in pain?  Would it help if we gave you your medicines by syringe, rather than you having to swallow them?"
The doctor tried.  I tried.  He did not respond, other than the faintest shake of his head.
The doctor looked at me, but spoke as if she was speaking to him: just press the buzzer if you want pain relief.

I attempted to talk to him, just to say good morning really, but he hardly opened his eyes.  He indicated that he wanted some water, had a sip, then fell asleep.
And so the hours wore on in silence.
Every so often he would signal for water and then subside again.
In the late morning he spoke for the first time:  "I wet the bed". So I buzzed for the nurses and escaped for a coffee in the conservatory.

There, the resident writer introduced me to the resident artist:  "No obligation!  But I saw you were knitting and thought you might be a creative type!"  So we talked about spinning and his family's weaving heritage on the Isle of Lewis, until I was called back to the bedside.

And the day crept on.

It came to be time for me to leave, so I packed up my knitting and my book, and put on my coat.  I offered him some water.  He began to make frantic signals which I did not understand until I realised he was about to be sick.
Fortunately a nurse was just passing the door and we got him into a sitting position before he choked.
She offered him an anti-sickness drug.  He has had it before, when the same thing happened in the night.
He shook his head.
I decided enough was enough.
I told him that he needed to take his medicine, that not taking it would not make it all be over any sooner, it would just make it more unpleasant:  You do not need to be in pain!  You do not need to be sick!

The nurse left us alone for a minute.

I explained to him that if he was not able to make the decision for himself, I would do it for him, that all anyone wants is for him to be comfortable.
At last he spoke:  "But they don't know anything!  They can't do anything to help!"
I replied that they know an awful lot about how to reduce physical pain and that if he accepts their help, he could be made comfortable. But that if he doesn't take his pain relief he will be in distress and there is no need for it!  Physical pain can be treated!

Ha! We both know that his greatest pain right now is emotional.
He is hurting deep inside.
I cannot make it better, however hard I try.

When the nurse returned, he did not agree or disagree with the proposal that he have an anti-sickness injection.  She took the opportunity to install a syringe driver, so that he can receive pain relief in the same way.  She said she would be back in 20 minutes to change his position in bed.
And so I took my leave.
I did a silly dance to the door.
Night night!  No nonsenses!  See you in the morning!
Exactly what I used to say the kids when they were small.


Today I knitted a Vivid Square and began reading a beautifully-written book:  The Fish Ladder by Katharine Norbury.






39 comments:

Twelfthknit said...

Hugs

Susan_in_Peckham said...

O Roo

Lynn said...

You are absolutely doing the right thing -- he needs to be made comfortable, that is what Hospice is about. Suffering and believing it will be over sooner is worst possible thing for him. Take care, Ruth. You are the best wife and partner a man could have.

Louise Perry said...

Glad he has had pain relief. Xxx

CarolS said...

XXXXXXX

Charlotte said...

Oh! Having to scold him for his own good! I live with someone who Will Not See A Doctor and I have done the Don't Be Ridiculous scold myself. Poor man. Thank goodness he has you ... Hope you like Fish Ladder -- I quite liked it myself, although I had to laugh at one point where she mentions visiting Bannock State Park "on her way" from Vegas to Denver -- it's only on the way if you go 600 miles out of the way! But the writing is lovely, as is her journey ... hope you like it.

seamedstraightforward said...

The syringe driver has got to be a good thing.
Poor man, he must be bewildered to find himself in this situation. You're doing a great job, keep it up.
In my thoughts, as ever.

ambermog said...

Oh Ruth , Sending much love and vibes your way. Glad you "persuaded" FL to take his meds xxx

Athene said...

Xxx

Star speckles said...

Oh Roo, poor you. Take care of yourself, thinking of you xx

MaryinTN said...

You are right. Not taking pain medications when needed will only make this horrible situation worse. Glad you convinced him to take the painkillers. FL has already proven his courage and grace in the face of this illness. You too are brave beyond description. Much love and peaceful vibes

Wakeymakes said...

Boys and then men! Stubborn but they need us. You are amazing. Love the knitting. Love and hugs K xXx

Lynne said...

Oh, my word... tears for you two. For your poor FL... for both of you. Hugs and prayers. Truly. Beautiful knitting... love the color of that yarn!!

Carol said...

You show so much external bravery during this time which I suspect is emotionally draining and painful for you, as
you love and support FL. In my thoughts. Hugs x

Jenni said...

Virtual hugs x

Mad about Craft said...

Thoughts, love and hugs xxx

Miss Norm said...

xxxxx

Jane Neave said...

Xxxxx

Mags said...

Full of admiration for you. Hugs xxx

Miss said...

Roo, you are a brave and wise woman. And a tremendous, loyal wife and love to your FL. Like Mags above, I am full of admiration for you.
Hugs, love, hat off to you.
I pray for peace for both of you.
xxx

HappyAcademicRunner said...

Much love xxx.

HappyAcademicRunner said...

Much love xxx.

from103 said...

Hugs from here- such a tough path. The syringe drivers can be really helpful. My mum didn't like taking painkillers but the driver helped a lot. Sx

poppyinstitches said...

xx

colleen said...

I took my 82 year old mum to the dentist today to have four extractions. I suggested she take some paracetamol beforehand so that they would have kicked in by the time the local anaesthetic wore off. She poo-pooed the idea. This evening she told me she was uncomfortable. I suggested she take some pain relief. No, she might have one at bedtime to help her sleep! Is it a generation thing? A Penance? A control thing? All three?

I know that these are conversations we should have sooner rather than later but oh my goodness, how difficult and complicated they can be. I do hope tonight brings some rest for you both.

Kirsty said...

Much love to you xx

Funkbunny said...

Xxxx . In awe of your strength.

Glasto63 said...

Hopefully he will have a better night. Sending you both virtual hugs

Sarahel said...

Do hope today is more comfortable for FL and less frustrating for you.

OOXX

rosylea said...

I do hope some medication will have helped by now. You are doing a hard job really beautifully. Take care of yourself, R

Jennifer Hill said...

I guess it's about control. Medication is about the only thing he maybe feels he has control over now. Is there anything else he could be given control over? Has the writer been to see him yet? Still reading and thinking of you daily, Jen

Violet said...

Thinking of you. Glad he has a syringe driver in - it will make him much more comfortable.

Minigranny said...

xxx

Carmel said...

So sad for FL on a journey that he will, ultimately, take alone. So sad for you Roo having to watch him take that journey. Best wishes. X

Nita said...

((( hug)))

tim's wife said...

I believe that denying himself the meds is hurting him in two ways. He is having to deal with the pain and the sickness more, and the pain and nausea drugs generally do have a sedating effect, which would help, in at least a small way, to numb his emotions just a bit, maybe tamp down the anxiety and upset just a tad. None of us can even imagine how frightening it is to face what your beloved FL faces now. I would think that any help he could get from meds would be worth it. As a myeloma angel I knew used to say about her anxiety meds, "better living through pharmaceuticals." Again, wishing peace and comfort.

Redhedhels said...

Thinking of you both xx

Redhedhels said...

Thinking of you both xx

andsewtoknit said...

Love and hugs x