It was a very good day today, given recent challenges. The summary is: She went to her Tuesday morning group; the Hospice Nurse visited her; Mary brought Baskin & Robbins (yeah!); and the Hospice Social Worker came and spent some time with us.

Mary Ann decided that she should get to her Bible Study Group this morning, even though it appeared that she was too tired and would not be able to get up in time.  As I fed her breakfast she said something very revealing about her perception of Hospice.  I was not sure how much of what we talked about through the family meeting and meeting with Hospice folks.  She asked what she would be doing the rest of the day after her group study and if she would be spending the night here at the house or not.  It dawned on me that she had somehow gotten in her mind that enrolling in Hospice meant she would spend her time at a Hospice place.  We do have a Hospice House here.  Our Parkinson’s Support Group meets at a local Hospice office.

I reminded her that one of the main benefits of Hospice was that we could stay home to the very end.  I told her that the Hospice folks would come to us here at home.  It was an interesting conversation.  She seemed to understand.  It did reveal just how significant the decision about Hospice was for her.  When she said yes to Hospice, she must have been saying yes to going someplace other than home from now on.  That is a thought I still could not tolerate.  As strong-willed as she has always been, it has surprised me how readily she has generally accepted what the Kids and I have thought best for her.  We always made clear that we would honor whatever her wishes were to the extent possible.

At Bible Study, apparently she participated appropriately at the beginning, then soon put her head down for the rest of the time other than pill time.  It is such a wonderful thing that the group is so accommodating to Mary Ann even when she cannot fully participate.

She wanted to eat at the New City Cafe, but thought better of it when we got to the parking lot.  She was still struggling in the car just to keep her head up.  I went in and got her favorite meal there, the Seafood Tortellini Salad to take with us.  When we got home she ate lots of it, along some bread they sent with it and her usual Pepsi.

Early in the afternoon, Hospice Nurse Emily came by.  She is young and enthusiastic.  She did a great job with Mary Ann, who was in bed napping by that time.  She took her vitals and checked her out.  Again, her blood pressure was pretty high. The equipment company had delivered the wrong style shower chair.  When Nurse Emily got back to the office, she followed up with the supplier and, hopefully, a more appropriate chair will be delivered tomorrow.  Bath Aide Zandra’s Supervisor called and said that tomorrow’s usual shower and hair washing would be a bed bath instead.  I am hoping the shower chair will allow showers to resume.

Another reason that I am hoping the showers can resume is that Mary Ann seems to be regaining the ability to help in transfers from bed to transfer chair to shower chair to the chair at the dining room table.  The curled hands seem to be loosening some.  It may still be wishful thinking, but it seems that her hands are also less swollen.  The medication, Amantadine, that was stopped certainly has a powerful impact.

The Hospice Nurse will come twice a week, Tuesdays and Fridays.  We can cut that back to once a week if that often does not seem necessary.  Soon after Nurse Emily left, Mary came by for a visit, bringing the Baskin & Robbins ice cream treats.  Mary schedules the Volunteers who visit Mary Ann.  As I have mentioned on occasion, we use the free website http://www.lotsahelpinghands.com to schedule times and days of visits.  It is a wonderful tool.

Just as Mary was leaving, Hospice Social Worker Kristin came by.  She spent quite a while since it was the first visit.  I was pleased at how responsive Mary Ann was with her even when the questions were not easy one word answer questions.  Mary Ann answered many questions about how she feels in different areas.  There were questions about how anxious she was, or scared or depressed or hopeful.  Mary Ann seemed to answer as I expected, with a lower level of concern than most would have in Mary Ann’s situation.  I understood one of her responses well enough to bring up the dreams about our divorcing and the kids divorcing (all not true, of course).  She admitted that those dreams were upsetting to her.

Social Worker Kristin also asked how I was doing in all the same areas.  As I responded, it seemed to me that while I am experiencing fully all the dynamics of our situation, it is happening in a fairly healthy way.  When she asked if I was grieving, I answered by saying I am using the pay-as-you-go plan.  I am trying to surface the feelings and face them as they come, rather than hiding them from myself and others.  She asked about guilt feelings.  I told her that I choose to admit pretty boldly the mistakes of which I am aware.  It was an opportunity to reveal a bit of my understanding of the unconditional love of God.

After that conversation, I felt as if both Mary Ann and I are as okay as we can be given our circumstances.  If we were more okay with them I would really worry about our mental health.  If we didn’t get down and a little depressed once in a while, we would have to be crazy!

I am certainly pleased with the care Hospice is providing.  I am also pleased with so many good people’s willingness to show their concern and do whatever they can to help.  It is as if there are two worlds out there, the one reported on in magazines and newspapers, on the radio and on television and computer screens — and the world made up of the flesh and blood folks with whom we live in community.

Mary Ann did get to sleep last night and slept well.  Me, too.  She ate well at all three meals (I fed her) and she is now in bed.  As always, I will not presume to predict how the night will go.

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