The fourth from last line in my last post was “In the meantime, my dad has stabilized and appears to be out of the woods for now.”
Not so much, it turns out. He died Monday, December 5 at 6:05 a.m.
Marion, my dad’s wife, transferred him to the hospital. He was placed in isolation in the emergency ward, but the folks there didn’t mind allowing as many visitors as wanted to go in.
I showed up to relieve Marion around 9 p.m. Sunday night. My dad had double pneumonia and kidney failure. The doctor wasn’t sure my dad would make it through the night.
I offered to stay overnight. Everyone else left to get some much needed sleep. I stretched out on three plastic chairs and drifted off for about a half hour. My dad’s heart rate was about 125 bpm, his breathing rate about 25 per minute, and his blood pressure was too low to be recorded. Metabolically, his blood potassium was high – his kidneys weren’t clearing it.
Now, I wrote “my dad” and I’ll continue to do so, but since I’d left him Thursday afternoon, he was only a body that gasped rattly breaths while being fed 100% oxygen.
The night shift doctor came to visit around 2:30 a.m. He was careful in introducing the subject of morphine, which my dad might not handle well, he explained. I told him that if it had been up to me, I would have stopped my dad’s feeding 13 months ago. The doctor quickly pointed out that he wasn’t advocating euthanasia; he was only hoping to make my dad more comfortable. I was pretty sure my dad wasn’t feeling anything, but the morphine couldn’t hurt, so I approved it. Shortly thereafter, Marion responded by phone and approved it, too. It was legally her decision. So sue me.
At 3:20, my dad’s heart rate took a tumble. It fluctuated between 28 and 70 bpm. Whenever it dropped below 33 bpm, the monitor alarm would beep loudly. The nurses came in to turn it off – apparently it has no volume control – and told me to use the call button if I needed anything.
I no longer had the monitor to calculate for me, but I could tell my dad’s breathing rate was slowing.
The nurses administered a second dose of morphine and a dose of something else that was meant to relax his breathing. I was in the middle of a wicked game of iBubble Shooter when I realized I was no longer hearing breathing. My dad’s face had turned… – what’s that colour? Pallor? I checked the clock and it said 6:06, so I pulled my estimate of his time of death back a minute to compensate for my inattention.
I pressed the call button twice but no one came. I stepped into the hallway and spotted the kind doctor at the main desk he looked up at me and I did that signal for “cut”, swing my hand in front of my neck. he understood and came to confirm that my father had died. He said he was glad my dad had gone on his watch and in comfort.
We had the funeral on Wednesday. The day went perfectly, even with my brothers cracking into laughter at the cemetery, first at my sister’s attempts to shovel dirt and then at my dad’s friend Allen’s near tumble into the grave.
I have a few things I want to blog about, but this had priority. I hope I remember what they are. Regardless, I have a pile of grading and freelance to get through now.