Saturday, June 30, 2007

Saturday, June 30, 2007


January 27, 1920- June 24, 2007

Robert Terrill Corliss was born at home to Robert E. and Marion M Corliss in Orting, Washington during a snowstorm on January 27, 1920. He went home to be with his Lord and Savior after a brief but courageous battle with pancreatic cancer on Sunday afternoon, June 24, 2007.

He graduated from Sumner High School in 1937 and spent two years at the College of Puget Sound before taking charge of the Corliss Grocery and Cold Storage after his father’s death in 1940. He moved to Seattle in 1941 to work for the Boeing Company as a pattern maker. In 1944 he entered the U.S. Navy and served as an Aviation Storekeeper in San Diego. After receiving an Honorable Discharge from the Navy, Bob returned to Seattle in 1946 and worked as a cabinet maker for two years before beginning his 30 year career with Seattle City Light. He was especially proud of his work on the lighting design of the Japanese Garden at the Washington Park Arboretum and the “KiloWatt” conservation program before his retirement in 1978. Bob worked for several more years in Arizona conducting energy audits, finally retiring in 1985.

His interests included building houses, watching a good horse race, working around the house on repair projects, playing golf and tennis, discussing his faith, having a good political discussion and spending time with his family. He leaves behind his wife Genevieve, his son, Mark (Sharon), three grandchildren, Danny, Josh and Lizzie, his daughter and best friend Bonita and her partner Pamela. He also leaves his sister Josephine and her husband Leonard, his brother John and his wife Pat, his sister-in-law Shirley as well as numerous nieces and nephews. Bob was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Joe.

His family will miss his patient and loving presence and wonderful sense of humor. As he said at the end of his life “No one has ever come back complaining”!

Special gratitude goes to Lynn Kefgen, RN, Gwendolyn Roush, MSW, and Kate O'Sulllivan, Chaplain, all of the Shoreline Care Team and all the members of the Tahoma Care Team of Providence Hospice of Seattle. The family would also like to express their thanks to the staff at Anderson House and Park West Skilled Nursing Center.

A memorial service will be held at Alki United Congregational Church of Christ, 6115 SW Hinds St. in Seattle, WA on July 14, 2007 at 1:00 p.m.

Forest Lawn Cemetery is handling arrangements for the family.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Friday, June 29, 2007

As I write this Dad's body is being cremated. The funeral home called to tell me that his cremation would take place this afternoon. I drove over to Blietz Funeral Home in Fremont on my way home from Mom's apartment to check to see if he had been cremated yet. The woman there told me that they had just put him in the chamber. It was approximately 3pm. I asked her how long it would take and when he would be delivered back to the funeral home in West Seattle. She said it would take about an hour and a half to perform the cremation and several more hours for his remains to cool. Most likely his remains will be coming back to West Seattle tomorrow sometime. I started to cry so she took me into the chapel and got me some tissues. I sat there for awhile talking to Dad and praying for his peaceful entry into the kingdom of God. I am having a really hard time with the fact that I will never see or talk to him again. He always made me feel that everything was going to be alright. I always felt he was on my side...that he loved me unconditionally. I know that this intense grief will pass...I have seen it pass for Pamela...but I have to agree with my friend Bea...who lost her mother suddenly last year...this is going to change me for the rest of my life.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Atenolol - Atenolol is used alone or in combination with other medications to treat high blood pressure. It also is used to prevent angina (chest pain) and treat heart attacks. Atenolol is in a class of medications called beta blockers. It works by slowing the heart rate and relaxing the blood vessels so the heart does not have to pump as hard.

Atropine Sulfate - This medication relaxes muscles in the eye, which causes the pupil to widen (dilate). It is used to treat inflammation of certain parts of the eye (uveal tract).

Enalapril - This medication is used alone or in combination with other medications to treat high blood pressure. It is also used in combination with other medications to treat heart failure. Enalapril is in a class of medications called angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. It works by decreasing certain chemicals that tighten the blood vessels, so blood flows more smoothly and the heart can pump blood more efficiently.

Halodol - This medication is used to treat psychotic disorders and symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and hostility and to control muscular tics. I gave this on the hospice nurse's direction the day he was admitted to Anderson House. Mom had been up all night with him...trying to get out of the bed and fussing a lot. He also had hallucinations...a guy named Bill was standing by his bed he said.....but he knew it was a hallucination. This medication was discontinued once he was settled in at Anderson House.

Hydrocodone or Vicodin, is a semi-synthetic opioid derived from two of the naturally occurring opiates, codeine and thebaine. Hydrocodone is an orally active narcotic analgesic and antitussive. As a narcotic, hydrocodone relieves pain by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord.

Morphine Sulfate- This medication is a strong analgesic (painkiller), to relieve pain. In liquid form, this was put into Dad's mouth the last couple of days of his life.

Prochlorperazine - This is a drug that belongs to the phenothiazine class that is used for the treatment of nausea and vertigo. I don't know if Dad ever got this drug.

These were the drugs my Dad was on...the first and the third were heart medications that he was on before he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Monday, June 25, 2007

I spent the morning before we went over to the funeral home making calls....the retirement office, the bank, the insurance company, Social Security.

Afterward, Mom and I went to have a little lunch and then made our way to Forest Lawn. I had talked to the Funeral Director over the phone, so some of the paperwork was already done. I brought Dad's Honorable Discharge papers from the Navy. He is entitled to an American flag. I also had to bring a picture of him so they could verify what he looked like while alive. It was a picture of the two of us in Arizona several years ago.

I did a lot of repeating information for Mom. She asked me to pick out the urn for Dad's remains. I found a bronze metal one...very simple. It will have Dad's name, birth and death dates on it. We chose to do a minimal arrangement for him...a wooden tray for his body, a cardboard box for his body, and no special clothing. I will pick up his remains and keep them. Perhaps after Mom passes away I will inter them together.

Afterwards I took Mom home. She is really struggling with her new reality. I am struggling with it to ....I miss my Dad but try to remember good times we spent together or wonderful things he said to me..."We've been friends a long time"...We have been through a lot together over the years"...."When I am a spirit the only thing I want to do is look out for you"...simple but powerful statements from a man that could talk about emotions so well.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sunday, June 24, 2007

After church today I went over and picked Mom up...she wanted to go visit Dad. He was sitting up in his wheelchair in the dining room. I got two chairs for us and sat down to wait for his meal to arrive...mashed potatoes, gravy, sliced carrots, chicken fried steak, apple crisp, milk and water. Before dinner while we were waiting for the meal to arrive Dad said he was thirsty. He drank 3 glasses of water right after the other. He ate most of his dinner and really seemed to enjoy the apple crisp.

After dinner I was wheeling him back to his room when he said "Wait" really loud. This was really strange as he hadn't been able to speak above a whisper at lunch. An aid came over and put his foot back up on the wheelchair footrest while I tried to understand what he was saying...something about getting a basket to take back. It didn't make any sense, so I just rolled him back to his room. He and Mom kissed goodbye...I picked out a golf game he could watch on TV...kissed him goodbye and then headed off to take Mom home. He wanted to lay down but the nurse told me that he had to stay up at least a half hour after eating.

I got Mom home and we had a frank talk about what plans she would need to make for her future. She has been resistant to do anything while Dad is alive. I explained to her that her life with Dad was over and that she needed to be somewhere with other people around. I told her that I was going to look at another assisted living facility in West Seattle. She agreed that I should look it over...which is progress.

Afterwards I went to buy some more outdoor pots and then met Pamela at the University Village street sale. Pamela showed me what she had found then took me over to her favorite shoe store. I found a couple of pairs of shoes that were 70% we bought them. Pamela needed to eat some lunch so we went over to an Italian restaurant we like there. We were sitting there drinking water and deciding on something to nibble on when my cell phone rang. It was the nurse telling me that she was sorry but that my Dad had passed away. They found him slumped in the wheelchair where I had left him. I told her I would be there right away.

While we were walking to our cars I phoned Mark to tell him that Dad had died. I also phoned my best friend and asked her to come with me. Pamela headed out to pick up my Mom. We all gathered at the nursing home. I am a task oriented person so after kissing Dad's forehead I began packing his things. I also trimmed his mustache and shaved him.

Once Mom arrived she and I sat looking at Dad. I could tell that she was having a really hard time taking it in. She moved around the bed so she could kiss him. I sat with my head bowed and said a prayer thanking God for giving me such a great Dad...always there for me, always supportive, always in my corner.

We have made arrangements to have his body taken to Forest Lawn Cemetery. Mom brought a suit for him to wear. He will be cremated. Mom is asleep in the living room. Pamela made us dinner and she ate everything she was served. She says she is numb...I am too, but I keep thinking of things I need to do...things I need to take care this way, I am very much my Father's daughter. He took care of things his whole life..and now he has gone to be with the Lord that he worshipped he whole life. Like Dad said more than once near the end of his life.."No one has ever come back complaining!"

Robert Terrill Corliss
January 27, 1920 - June 24, 2007

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Pamela and I took lunch over to Mom today. She made another wonderful quiche. She also bought her some really good Rainier cherries. We had a nice lunch ...Mom really likes Pamela's cooking and seems to enjoy having people around to eat with her. After about an hour we took off to go to the classic car show nearby. It was fun to walk around looking at cars and spending some time with Pamela.

Later, I went over to the nursing home to feed Dad his dinner. He was sound asleep with one leg hanging off the bed. I moved it back up onto the bed but that made him really cranky. I spoke to the weekend nursing supervisor and she said he hadn't eaten any lunch...but had a good breakfast. She promised to save his tray for him and would make sure he had something to eat later in the evening.

I asked her to call me if anything changed...that I wanted to be with Dad while he was dying. We checked to see that she had my cell phone number and she said she would also put a note on his chart to have someone call me.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Mark called me at work to tell me that Dad had only eaten about a quarter of his lunch and was saying things that didn't make sense. I told him that had been going on for awhile...he says things...sometimes a few words make sense but then the rest of it doesn't follow any rational thought pattern. I thanked him for the update, finished up my work and then headed over to the nursing home. Along the way I stopped to pick up a couple of milkshakes...chocolate and blackberry. I knew that Dad's favorite flavor was I had a pretty good chance of getting him to drink it down. I moved his wheelchair into the area where they have a big screen TV and got us set up to spend some time together.

The shake was so thick that Dad had trouble pulling it up the straw. I went and found a spoon and fed it to him that way while he and I watched a biography of Cal Ripkin Jr. on TV. He seemed to enjoy the shake and finished it completely. After we both finished and the show was over he said he wanted to go back and lay down for awhile. Once he was in bed and comfortable I kissed him, told him I loved him and went home.

Once I got there I threw his clothes in the wash and took it easy for awhile. While I was folding his clothes I noticed that his name was inside the waistband. I vaguely remember the laundry person at Anderson House doing this so she could keep all the clothes in order. Looking at that waistband made me think that Dad was at some crazy summer camp...because that is what your Mom did to your clothes before you went off to camp. I finished folding everything and putting his shirts on hangers..put everything by the door and tried to relax the rest of the evening.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Today was a busy day. I drove to pick Mom up early this morning. I took her to breakfast at one of my favorite pancake houses. She seemed kind of down ...mentioned that she hadn't really eaten dinner last night. Once I got her in the restaurant and got some coffee in her she started to perk up a bit. We ordered and then sat talking for a few minutes. Once our food arrived, she ate with quite a bit of enthusiasm. I gave her a piece of bacon from my plate to get some protein into her.

After breakfast we drove to the bank...which wasn't open...then drove to the credit union...which wasn't open. We decided to go back to the apartment to get the papers together that I would need to complete the Medicaid application for Dad. She had been resisting this...but finally gave in. After we gathered everything up we drove back to the bank and she got the funds she needed for essentials.

We drove out to see Dad next. He was in his we all sat down. He was kind of awake...but seemed tired. After a while it was time for I took him down to the lunchroom while Mom fell asleep in the chair in his room. I fed Dad until Mark showed up to take over. I went and got Mom...we said out goodbyes and then took her back to the car. I insisted that we stop at the store and buy some frozen dinners so she would have meals on hand. Once I got her home we sat down and had lunch. She is so alone and so sad these days. She wants to move into our basement...but I told her it wouldn't work. We are in the midst of finishing the basement...which will probably take the rest of the summer or longer. I took her to a nice assisted living facility right up the street from Dad's nursing home..but she says she can't afford it. In reality, she could probably afford it if we helped a bit.

I headed to the copy shop and the library to work on the Medicaid paperwork. Got it all together and then went to drop it off at DSHS. Headed home....let the dogs out...changed clothes and then headed back to the nursing home to feed Dad his dinner. His appetite is not as good as it was a week ago. He seems restless and distracted...also more remote. He kept putting something in my hand and telling me to put it in my pocket...of course there was nothing there but I played along anyway. After dinner we watched the news for a few minutes and then he wanted to go to bed. There are flashes of the Dad I knew in there...but more and more it feels like he is drifting away.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Today was a big day...long, tiring...but ultimately productive. After many phone conversations, working with hospice nurses, etc. I got Dad transferred to another nursing home closer to me. It took most of the day, but I think it will be easier for me to spend more time with him. The nursing home is in West opposed to the one he was in...out in Shoreline...about 25 miles away.

I was able to get Dad in the car with the help of one of the aides...Mom was along as well as we had to go to the bank to get funds to pay a deposit on the new home, and pick up the difference not covered by the Medicare hospice benefit at the original home. I thought Dad would sleep on the ride over but he stayed wide awake.

Once we arrived I needed to get another aide to get him into the wheelchair. Once that was accomplished I wheeled Dad in and got directions to his room. I dropped off his paperwork and his meds and then went to make sure he knew what was going on.

After taking Mom home, making dinner, eating and cleaning up I headed back to sit with Dad and try to get some financial information from him for the Medicaid application. Mom is resisting applying for this ...doesn't want to give out their financial information. I explained to her that I am trying to save her from having to use so much of what resources they have. She wasn't being logical about it and I am ashamed to say that I lost my temper with her. She can be so difficult sometimes. I am just going to go ahead and do what I can as I am second in line for power of attorney...I'll see how much info I am able to gather from the various places.

Dad seemed kind of confused today....but still had his moments of being lucid. He was putting his hand in his mouth today while I fed him lunch. I would get him to stop by gently moving the food nearer his mouth and asking him to eat. His appetite remains pretty good. Looking at him sitting up in his new room broke my heart. He is so weak sick...but he is still able to say that he loves me...that makes all the difference in the world.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Monday, June 18, 2007

Saw Dad after work today. Made it up to the nursing home in time to feed him the remainder of his dinner. He ate most of everything on his tray...chewing each bite thoroughly. This is something he had done since he has been ill. Once he was finished, I took him back to his room...washed his hands and face and then helped him brush his teeth. The last thing on the list was giving him a shave. Dad has always been fastidious about his personal cleansing I like to help him do the things he can no longer brush his teeth, comb his hair, shave, etc. After I finished, I noticed that he was rubbing his neck in front. I put some lotion on his neck...the shaver had irritated his skin. His skin is so delicate and thin now...almost like parchment.

The next part of the routine was calling for the aides to help him to the bathroom and get ready for bed. While the aide was walking him to the bathroom I noticed that he can barely walk anymore She was holding him up as he crept across the few feet to the toilet. I stepped outside his room during all of this to give him some privacy. When the aides left I went back in to kiss him goodnight and tell him I love him. I had to make a swift exit because I could feel the tears coming on.

I am glad I went tonight. I love spending time with my Dad. I also had a chance to tell him that we will most likely be transferring him to a nursing home in West Seattle. I told him that Mom was in favor of the move...and that I was working on it this week. He took all of this in and said that it was alright with him.

Each day feels so full of details...and roller coaster emotions. I am tired again tonight...but feel like I am managing to get things taken care of step by step.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day. I selected cards for Mom and I to give Dad. After church I went over to have lunch with Mom before we drove over to see Dad at the nursing home. I try to eat with Mom when I can now as she doesn't seem to be very interested in food.

She looked at the cards and signed hers. She said that both cards were beautiful.

When we arrived we found Dad in the activity room eating. I took over feeding him and kept up a running dialog. He seems to have a fair appetite...he eats a little of everything on his tray. His sister called on my cell so he had a chance to talk to her and her husband. After that we had a meeting with a woman who finds home health care placements for folks. I could tell that Mom wasn't hearing most of what was being said. She finally caught on as I told her things and then said that she didn't think that was the way she wanted to go. She got a little confused and thought the the woman was there to place her in a facility. I think she is just overwhelmed and exhausted with all of the things that have been happening for the last month and a half. I talked more with the woman and then told her I would call her once I could get a more specific decision from Mom.

We showed Dad the cards ....I read both to him. I got a little choked up when I was reading the card from me. He is just such a great and caring man. I have learned so much from him over the years. It breaks my heart to see him so sick and vulnerable.

After a while we went back to his room. He was tired and wanted to lay down and take a nap. We both kissed him goodbye and took off. I drove across the street to Safeway and got Mom to do some grocery shopping. I had to really prompt her to get her to buy food. She made some selections and then was ready to go home.

We are going to have to find another living situation for her. She is lonely and isolated now in that apartment. Once I get Dad settled I will have to switch my attention to Mom's situation.

Yesterday I visited two nursing homes and a home care situation. Of all of them, I liked the nursing home in West Seattle. It definitely has a clinical feel...but it is safe, clean and close. All this driving from Southcenter to Shoreline is taking a toll on me. I am going to check in with the facility in West Seattle tomorrow morning.

Right now I am exhausted. I am sitting with an icebag on my lower right hip is really hurting. I need to go lay down and take it easy for awhile.

One bright is Pamela's 38th birthday. She loved all her presents from friends, me and my parents. I haven't been around much today...but we are planning on having a nice dinner together. She has been a wonderful support for me over the last month and a half.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Spent the morning with Mom. We met with the social worker discussing both practical and emotional aspects of the current situation. Dad will stay at Anderson House as long as he needs to. I liked Gwendolyn. All the hospice workers have been great. I even got a call from the chaplain today. She will visit Dad tomorrow afternoon.

I made Mom's lunch and then took off to see Dad. He was dressed in mismatched pajamas...a situation I quickly took care of. He may have cancer and be a little out of it, but I want him to look as put together as possible. He was confused why he was at Anderson House. I explained that Mom and I couldn't really give him the care he needed. He seemed to understand that pretty quickly. I had him talk to Mark and Mom on my cell ...which seemed to help some. I spoke to his day nurse...she felt like he had had too many meds yesterday. I was just doing what the hospice nurse suggested to calm him..but I have to say I am glad that he was a lot more alert today. He decided to eat his lunch in the activity room so I rolled him in there. He seemed alert and spoke to the folks at his I kissed him goodbye, told him I loved him and headed to work.

On the way home from work I called to check in with Mom. The hospital equipment had been picked up. She had her dinner but was feeling lonely. I told her that I would come out tomorrow afternoon to take her to see Dad...then we would go have some dinner together. She seemed to brighten when I suggested that is the plan.

I am going to head to bed. I am exhausted.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The last two days have been a blur. I spent yesterday at Mom and Dad's waiting for the hospital bed to be delivered. Also met with his hospice nurse. These sound like simple things..but it took all day.

Got a call last night around 9:40pm from Mom. Dad was on the floor again having worked his way out of the hospital bed despite the side rails. I drove across town and got Dad up off the floor and into his chair. He told me that a guy in a bathrobe named Bill had been beside his bed. he also said he saw water on the ceiling. I listened and told him that there wasn't any water to worry about in the apartment. He said he wanted to go back to bed so I lifted him and moved him the few feet to the bed. Once I got him positioned I talked to Mom and told her to call 911 if he got out of the bed again.

I woke up this morning at 5:15am and called Mark. I asked him to go check in on them so I could get to work. On the way to work my phone rang again. Mom was upset because Dad was so restless. She was fearful that he would fall again and asked me to come over right away. I turned the car around, pulled into a parking lot and called the hospice nurse. I told her that I thought the home care was not going to work...she agreed that Mom could not handle him. I can't be there 24 hours a day....she called in a prescription for some meds to help with Dad's anxiety. She also told me that they would start calling around looking for a place that would be available for Dad.

When I got to the apartment Dad seemed kind of agitated. I talked to him and saw that he was pretty disoriented. I eventually moved him from his chair back to the bed. I told Mom that it was a good time for her to get some rest. She laid down on the sofa and went right to sleep. I was in communication with the hospice nurse and social worker all day. I also got the hospice meds out of the mailbox and gave Dad a Haldol and some liquid morphine. It took a couple of hours but he finally settled down and seemed to drift off to sleep.

I got a call from the hospice nurse. She had spoken to his oncologist about the posibility of admitting Dad the hospital. I had also spoken to his nurse. He refused to admit Dad. I asked the hospice nurse why...her answer floored me. She thought he didn't want to do the paperwork! I told her I had had a problem with this guy from the beginning when I spoke to him about my concerns regarding Dad staying at home. He agreed it was dangerous..not a good situation...but offered no alternatives. I am going to write the Polyclinic a letter and give the administrators a piece of my mind. This guy may be a scientist and a good diagnostician, but he is not a well rounded doctor. He should be caring for the whole patient.

The social worker called with the news that a place had been found around 2pm. Shortly thereafter the hospice nurse showed up to talk with Mom and I and assess Dad. After she left Mom and I got Dad's things together...undershirts, socks, underwear, toiletries, comb, brush, and bottles of pills.

The cabulance driver arrived right on schedule at 4pm. She informed me that the person who normally moved him would need to put him in the chair. It was up to me to make sure he got transferred to the chair that would take him to the safety and comfort of the nursing home. I got him in the chair..he was complaining that I was hurting him. I had to just block that out and do the best I could to move 120 lbs. of limp weight. We got him down the steps in the main lobby..fortunately the housekeeper came along and helped us. Once he was buckled in we took was a short ride...the driver told me that Dad was smiling while they were driving.

We rolled him in and and took him to his room. They switched out the beds because Dad was prone to getting out of rails on the bed...but it can be moved very close to the floor. I talked with the night nurse, explained his meds., etc. The night hospice nurse came in and we talked for a few minutes. I really liked her...enough to really talk about Dad and cry a little while we were standing over him.

I left and went back to Mom to tell her how the admission went...what the place was like...what his room was like etc. She was glad that I came over to talk with her and said that she felt numb. I told I felt the same way. I told her I would be back in the morning to meet with her and the social worker. We need to work out a longer term plan as this current situation is a 5 day respite stay.

Drove home, cleaned out the refrigerator, ate the great dinner Pamela prepared. Talked with my good friend Meredith in California...she is a great help...having gone through this with both of her parents. After I finished this entry I am heading to bed.

Dad is safe tonight...Mom is getting some sleep and hopefully I will too. It has been a day of mixed emotions...Dad is slipping away. All I can do for him now is make sure that he is safe and comfortable.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Went to work early this morning....out of there in under two hours. Headed home, picked up Pamela and then went to pick up lunch for all of us. Did a little birthday shopping with Pamela at Allusia on Greenwood while we waited for our lunch to be prepared down the street. Mom had requested Chinese food.

Got to the apartment and started the routine. Pamela helped Mom get lunch set out while Dad and I navigated our way to the bathroom. After getting him cleaned up and to the table I fed him some food. He is eating less, but still eating, which is good. Got the call from the hospice intake nurse during lunch that she was on her way and would be there in half an hour.

Carissa arrived and we began the intake process. She spoke with both Mom and Dad and got as much info from them as possible. Mom was pretty tired and not really able to help much...Dad mostly slept through all the paperwork and discussion. It seemed clear to both of us that we are going to have to get Mom some paid nursing help. She can't manage Dad with just hospice care.

Carissa told me what to expect as Dad declines...sleeping more, eating cold fruit, Ensure etc. He will become incontinent, need morphine to help manage the pain, and as he nears death, his breathing will change...and there will be a rattle in his chest. She wrote down all his meds and we decided to add Ibuprofen back in to help manage the bone pain.

After she left, Pamela and I rearranged the living room to accomodate the hospital bed and commode that will arrive on Monday. I will be there on Monday to help with that...and to greet the person who will be his primary hospice nurse. He will also have a home health aid a couple times of week. As his death approaches the nursing visits will increase. There is a possibility that we may have to move him to a hospice facility near the end. I have to play that one by ear.

I took the car keys for their car, we bid Mom goodbye and drove home. It felt so strange to be driving off in my Dad's last car. It is a Nissan Altima that we hope to sell soon. We are going to need the cash, either for Mom's care or to help with Dad's expenses...or both.

We got home...watched TV for awhile and then went to the movies. I felt flat...and exhausted.

I go back up there tomorrow after church. I am going to have to step up my time up there....Mom needs more help.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Friday, June 8, 2007

Up by 6:45am this morning. I called Mom to check in. She had called 911 early in the morning. Dad fell out of bed again at 4:30am. The fire dept. got there in just a few minutes and got Dad settled again in his chair. I told Mom that she had done the right thing. I promised that I would be there in the afternoon then called Mark. He was getting ready to come to my house to work on the basement bathroom, but I asked him to go check in on Mom and Dad.

I went to work...and then got out of there by noon. I called Mom and told her I would buy her some eggs on my way to their apartment. Once I got in the store, I picked up a few extra things for them and then headed out to their apt. Dad was still really cranky and out of it when I got there. While he slept, Mom and I had a little lunch. After lunch I managed to get him to the bathroom and then back to his chair. I fed him a small piece of strawberry rhubarb pie. Also got him to take his pills with some water. He fell back to sleep. I told Mom to get a little sleep herself...she is emotionally and physically exhausted from dealing with Dad. While she slept I cut up cantaloupe and watermelon, fixed their dinner, did the dishes and laundry.

When I was done with all of that, I gave Mom a short microwave lesson. We talked some about Dad's health. She hopes that he doesn't last six months. It seems to me that he is failing more with each passing day. I am not even sure if the hospice care is going to work out at the apt.

Pamela is coming with me tomorrow afternoon after I get off work. We are going to move things around in the apt. to make room for any hospital furniture that is needed. We will also bring their car back to our house to put it up for sale.

I am tired. I still feel like my Dad as I knew him is gone. I watch him getting smaller and weaker each day. I don't want this to be a long miserable existence for him. I am doing all I can to make him more comfortable. I am wondering if some of the moodiness and anger is from going off the oxycodone so quickly. Hopefully it will be out of his system soon.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Just returned from taking my aunt and uncle to see my Dad and Mom. Josephine is my father's only sister. Of his whole family, I am closest to her and Leonard. They had as good a visit as could be expected in this situation.

Dad was pretty drugged up when we arrived. He was talking about seeing red bugs on the wall of the bathroom while I was helping wash his hands. He made it to the table with help and ate a good lunch. I had made a casserole, cucumber salad and sliced watermelon. He was more out of it than I have ever seen him. Josephine and I talked about it and I decided to call his oncologist. His nurse called back and we talked over what was happening. She said to take him off the oxycodone completely. It isn't the right drug for him. He still has the vicodin, so he can take that every 4 to 6 hours. Also, no more drugs at all today. I got his oxycodone and took it with me. I also explained the new plan to Mom. I will also have to talk about this with the hospice nurse so they don't put him on the 12 hour time release oxycodone. He just can't tolerate it.

I had just fallen asleep at 10:30pm when the phone rang. Mom called to ask me to come over...Dad had fallen out of the bed. I didn't even dress....just wore my pajamas as I drove across the city. I arrived a litte after 11pm to find Dad laying on the floor fast asleep. Mom had covered him with a blanket and put a pillow under his head. He was really out of it. It took several trys to get him alert enough to be moved. Mom and I managed to get him up and then hoisted him onto the bed. By this time he was in a really bad mood and said that I was hurting him. I tried to ease him over as gently as I could...but it was difficult because his body was so limp. Finally got him where I wanted him and then put pillows on the edge of the bed wedged next to his body...hoping that this would help keep him in the bed. Before I left, I told Mom to call 911 if he fell out of bed again.

Drove back across the city and got home about midnight.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

I am taking a day "off" today...only working. Got a call from my brother to say that he was getting extra keys to Mom and Dad's complex and apartment made. He also checked in with the onsite manager and told her what is going on with Mom and Dad. He learned that the police and fire departments can get into the building. Nothing in the way of news on whether or not his children will honor Dad's request to see him.

Dad called early this morning just to check in on me. He said he would call back in a few minutes. When that didn't happen, I called him back. It was clear from our conversation that he had no memory of the earlier call. He asked if I was working today...I told him I was. He wished me a good day and we rang off.

I was in the store later shopping for groceries for the special lunch I am making for them tomorrow when my phone rang. Mom was agitated because she did not understand which pill to give my Dad. I explained that it would be the Vicodin. She seemed stressed out and asked me if I was coming out today. It took everything I had to say that I wasn't coming out today. I explained that I needed to go home to cook the lunch I was bringing for tomorrow.

Mom is definitely having a hard time. I am doing everything I can do to make the situation easier for her. I am hoping that the hospice service will help once we get it going.

Every day there is a new bend in the road on this journey. I am learning to expect the unexpected, be ready to go into action at a moment's notice, and be very patient.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Today has been a productive but intense day.

I was talking to Dad on my cell from the dog park around 7am this morning when I heard all this noise on the line. It sounded like he had dropped the phone. Mom got on the line and said that Dad had fallen and hit his head. I immediately called the dogs, went home, showered, dressed and was out to their place within the hour. Dad was laying on the floor with pillows under his head and a blanket over him. He seemed calm despite the fact that there were two nasty cuts on his arm. I got down on the floor, sat him up and then lifted him up to his feet and walked him to his chair. I got the first aid supplies, cleaned his cuts and put bandages over them. I told him he had to stop falling...we are running out of bandaids. He thought that was pretty funny.

After all of that, he wanted me to call his life insurance company and change his address information. It took awhile to get both policy numbers, his pin number and get it all squared away. He was happy to get that taken care of.

We talked again about the appt. that I was heading to with his oncologist. He was very clear about not wanting to do chemotherapy. We agreed that hospice care at home was the route he wished to take.

I arrived at the appt. 10 minutes early and ending up waiting almost an hour to see the doctor. My brother, Mark, was there so it gave us a chance to talk. He was bemoaning the fact that Dad had said something recently about wanting to see his grandchildren. This started Mark on a long tale about how he had felt abandoned when Mom and Dad moved to Arizona in 1979. Mind you, we were both adults when this occurred...with our own lives. I explained to him that I didn't feel that way...and that there were ways he could have felt more connected to Mom and Dad....going down to see them, flying the kids down to see etc. He said he never had the money for that ...and that Mom and Dad had never offered to help financially to make that possible. I found this hard to believe because Mom and Dad had always helped me come down when I was low on cash. We couldn't continue the conversation because the doctor finally called us into his office.

I presented the latest information on Dad...that he was getting weaker, had fallen, and didn't want to pursue treatment. The doctor agreed and said he would initiate the paperwork to get Dad into hospice care. We shook hands...and left.

As we left the building Mark said he wanted to talk more about the whole grandchildren issue. I said it was pretty simple...Dad wants to see his grandchildren before he dies. Mark said he would have to talk to his wife about whether or not they wanted their children in that situation. Death is a part of life....and he is just being a selfish narcissist. His wife has issues with our Mom...this is not about is about DAD! I got so upset I had to just walk away. His lack of compassion just blows my mind.

I picked up lunch for Mom and Dad and headed back to their place to fill them in on the doctor's appt. and the hospice information. Dad didn't eat all of his lunch..but he did eat all his ice cream and strawberries. I told him the one bright spot in all of this is that he can have as much ice cream as he wants from now on. After lunch I got him settled in his chair again and then did some laundry for Mom.

I checked in with the hospice supervisor and found that the doctor's office had already faxed over the orders. We discussed hospice service and then set up the initial intake appointment with the nurse for this Saturday afternoon. When I told Dad this he said that things were moving along and that he was impressed. Here he is ...really sick and he is complimenting my skills in managing his care! He is an amazing guy!

As I left Mom hugged me and asked how she could have done all this without me? I told her she didn't have to worry about that...because she does have me.

When I got home I discovered an email from my aunt. I am taking her to see my Dad (her brother) on Thursday afternoon.

This has been a full day...but I feel good that we have the hospice care in motion. That will ease some of the stress on Mom and provide Dad with a higher level of care. I feel happy about the small graces along the way...the hospice supervisor that returned my email yesterday and talked with me today....setting up a Saturday appt. All these small steps are focused on my one goal...keeping Dad as safe and comfortable as possible in his last months of life.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Monday, June 4, 2007

As has become my habit, I got up this morning to call Mom and Dad first thing. Dad answered and sounded so tired, not just tired...weary. He told me that he didn't see any point in going to see his oncologist tomorrow morning. He has decided not to pursue treatment. I told him I would call the doctor and see if it would be ok for me to go the the appt. in his place. I explained to Dad that what we needed from the doctor now was his referral so I can get Dad in hospice care. I told him I would follow through with that today.

I spoke to Mom and explained what I was going to try to do, my voice cracking with tears. I know we are doing the right thing for Dad but it is so hard to let go of the man who has always been my touchstone in this life. He has been the one that I could always go to and talk things out. His constant support and positive attitude have been source of strenght for me over the years. Now it is my turn to be his support and his strength.

In the midst of all of this, I am overseeing the potential sale of his property in Rio Rico, Arizona. I hope the deal goes through because the money will probably come in handy. It seems so surreal to try to complete a real estate deal while Dad is fading day by day. I guess this is one of those big goes on no matter what.

I saw Mom and Dad this afternoon. Dad wasn't himself...he is agitated and indecisive about whether or not he should go to his doctor appt. tomorrow. He seems sure that the chemotherapy "won't do any good" and sees his situation as hopeless. I tried to cheer him up by giving him a shave, but he didn't like me using a razor and shaving cream. He has used an electric razor for years...but the blades need to be replaced. I would replace them, but Mom doesn't want me to spend money on much right now.

I helped her microwave some White Castle hamburgers. She ate at the table while I sat and fed Dad. Dad has been upset today because now he can't hear in his right ear...which was always his best ear. I finally figured out how to install the battery in the hearing aid and get it positioned just right in his ear. I adjusted the volume and he said that was better.

It is beginning to feel to me like my Dad is already gone. I know he is really sick and drugged up all the time...but it breaks my heart to know that this is all part of the dying process. He is beginning to disengage and let go of this plane of existence. I just try and make him as comfortable as I can. Today's success was getting him a new toothbrush and helping him brush his teeth.

I will go to his appt. tomorrow whether he goes or not. I want to get the hospice arrangements in motion. Mom told me today that she can't lift Dad and I can't be there 24 hours a day, so it is time to have professional help. Luckily, I just got a response from someone at Providence Hospice. Medicare A totally covers the cost of this service. Hooray...something to be happy about in this tough situation.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Sunday afternoon, June 3 2007

Just back from Mom and Dad's apartment. I took them stuffed pork chops, asparagus, green salad, potato salad and few other items for them to eat early in the week.

Dad made it to the table on his own, but needed help adjusting his chair close enough to the table. Once I got everyone served, I sat down and starting feeding him pieces of meat that I had cut up, bits of stuffing, and some salad. He loved the asparagus...partly because he can pick it up and feed himself. I fed him jello for dessert and cut up some fresh strawberries for Mom.

Dad seemed really quiet today...not really wanting to talk much. To see if he was listening to me I started listing off his options for dessert and snuck in a 1964 convertible Mustang as one option. That made him smile...and I finally got him to place his order for jello.

Mom ate most of her dinner but also seemed pretty quiet.

After dinner Dad and I went to the bathroom so he could go and also so he could rinse his mouth out. I learned how to take his partial out today so he could fully rinse his mouth. I brushed his teeth and sponged down his face, arms and neck. Once he was done he went back to his chair and sat down.

He told me that his doctors had a rough job...knowing how sick his was and having to do all those tests. It is typical of him to have empathy for others.

I reminded him again that I would be taking him to his doctor's appt. on Tuesday morning.

As I left Mom cried and told me that she just couldnt believe all of this was happening. I gave her hug and kissed them both goodbye for the day.

They are both really miserable...Dad because he is not able to do anything and has to stay drugged up all the time, and Mom because she is losing Dad day by day. I am sad because there isn't anything I can do to really make this situation any better for them even though Mom acknowledged that I was doing everything I could to help them.

Cancer is an awful disease. It saps the essense out of a person and leaves them unable to defend their lives.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Spent some time with Mom and Dad yesterday afternoon. Got Dad to eat some coleslaw and jello salad with apples. He sat at the table while Mom and I had lunch. He is talking less but seems to be more sure about not wanting to do chemotherapy. I told him that I would support whatever decision he made about treatment.

I brought some information for Mom to read about hospice care. I told Dad that if he does decide to do the chemotherapy, we will have to wait to set up the hospice care. Doing the chemotherapy is considered "treating the cancer" and hospice care can't happen until the patient has abandoned the idea of treatment and just wants end of life care. I am fairly sure that Dad will not do this point it will make him sick, open him up to other opportunistic illnesses like pneumonia, and potentially speed his death.

Mom is really having a hard time. She said it is a long day for her to sit and watch him sleep. I told her that I could take her for a drive but she does not want to leave his side.

Pamela is doing some more cooking for them this morning while I am at church. She says this is what she can do to help and both I and my parents appreciate her skills in the kitchen.

I walked around Greenlake with my friend Dan yesterday. I find it hard to talk about Dad without crying. It felt good to be outside on a sunny day just walking and enjoying the beauty of the lake.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Friday, June 1, 2007

Two new stages today. I gave Dad a shower and the three of us talked about Dad signing up for hospice care. He had it all figured out if Mom protested about having strangers in the house. He didn't have to tell her because she agreed to it before it came to this extreme...but his plan was to stop eating if she refused to let him have hospice care. Mom has never liked strangers coming into her house, but she understands that Dad is rapidly getting to a point where I won't be able to handle all of his needs. I am sad that this has happened so quickly, but thankful that it went as well as it did. We will discuss hospice care at his next doctor's appt. next Tuesday morning.

He was pretty tired today but managed to eat lunch and talk a little. He was glad to get a shower...I told him we were all glad that he had had a shower...which made him smile. He still gets my sense of humor and seems to be ok with me helping him with intimate bodily functions.

Mom asked me again today if Dad has cancer. I always pretend this is the first time we have had this conversation. When I told her he did, that is was serious and that we needed to start making some other arrangements so Dad could stay at home with her she seemed to understand. I think she may have some senility problems or just feel stressed with all that has gone on for both her and Dad regarding their health. She broke my heart when she looked at me and asked "What will I do without him?" I told her that I would be with her every step of the way. She has lived with Dad for 50 years and can't imagine life without him.