MEMORIES WE SHARE – Part 10
It is not the young lovers who stroll, arms around each others waists that I envy. It is the old couple helping each other walk down the street, hand in fragile hand, slowly making their way home to spend their evening together over a cup of hot tea as they watch a cold rain pouring from a blackened heaven.
It is barely morning and already my energy is spent, having been awakened, once again, by Charlie horse spasms in the calves of my legs. Even in your last stages of life, I scream out in pain and you are at my side, rubbing the cramped muscles and telling me it will be all right. We have coffee, you have your pain pills and drift back to sleep perched on the edge of your lift chair and I watch, fearful you will fall and hit your head on the table any second. You finally agree to sit back but without oxygen and without your legs elevated to prevent you feet from turning the horrid dark purple they do now.
In the night, your own spasms that started in your wrist and have now consumed both arms, send your glass of water flying all over you and your blankets and I am so exhausted from the day that I don’t know a thing about it until you sadly tell me about it this morning.
I was so livid yesterday that I used up way too much energy striking out at shadows – shadows of your symptoms, shadows of what we used to have and are being robbed of, shadows of this death that is headed straight for you like a speeding train now and knowing that even if I throw myself in front of it, death will win. I know that in Eternity we will be reunited but I want all of the years in between too. I saw so many elderly couples yesterday when I went to my cardiologist and the grocery store. They were helping each other and making appointments six months out and I had to pause and think what will we be doing six months from now? Will there even be a we … six months from now. You told your friend this week that you don’t think now that you have as much time left as you had thought before. A person knows their own body and I have no doubt that what you verbalize is this insidious disease speaking through you.
The Hospice doctor remains silent after my call telling his nurse we will not blindly follow his instructions to taper you off from the Valium and onto Flexeril, a muscle relaxant, until I know why he is treating symptoms without checking for the cause. He chooses to take away your only anti-anxiety medication and put you on one that is contraindicated because of the narcotic pain medication you take and by another prescription you must take. And, the scariest of all reasons,
“Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine. An overdose of Flexeril can be fatal. Overdose symptoms may include drowsiness, fast heartbeat, tremors or shaking, slurred speech, confusion, nausea, vomiting, hallucinations (seeing things), chest pain, or seizure (convulsions).”
You have already mixed up your pills three times now, taking more than you should, even though they are in the compartments labeled with day and time. Add to this the fact that the side effects of confusion, drowsiness, dizziness, weakness, lack of coordination … and the list goes on … have already manifested with the medications you’re on presently. I told our Nurse Practitioner this and she said she oversees your health care but she has to follow the Hospice doctor’s recommendations, to speak with the Hospice nurse. I can’t reach your regular two nurses and speak with another who questions my audacity at questioning the great doctor who is not God or even the Wizard of Oz, as far as I know. He does not live with you. He does not watch your already shallow breath move your chest so slightly that he has to pause and watch for what seems like minutes before he can see a slight rise and fall of your chest. And he has not spent twenty-four years with you, learning to know you and your medical history and reactions to a plethora of medications … I have!
Am I a control freak with access to the internet? Probably. Am I so bold as to presume I know more than a man with a medical degree? Possibly. Do I have more of a vested interest in his choice of treatments – most definitely! Are we going to follow his instructions? Not until or unless he gives me a viable diagnosis of what is causing the spasms in the first place. Blindly treating symptoms, without knowing the cause, is not an accepted practice if you were an otherwise healthy patient who had no intent on slipping quietly and peacefully away instead of trying to treat your COPD. Just because you are already dying does not mean we will hasten your death or increase the likelihood that it will come sooner. These people can either work with us or take their lift chair and kiss my big fat rosy behind!
And that’s all I have to say about that.