Whew! It’s hard spending time at the hospital. They’re kind of like airports, where there’s this strange smell in the air and everything is decorated in a “designer-generic” kind of way. Today Mom and I spent almost 12 hours in the hospital with grandpa, but by the time we left this evening he was finally asleep.
Grandpa was brought in by ambulance on Saturday morning and was diagnosed with a GI bleed. We were told he would probably be ok, but they took him to the Critical Care Unit so that he could get scoped the following day. So yesterday, the doctor told us that they had tried to repair the large ulcer in his stomach but that he would probably continue bleeding unless he underwent surgery. Unfortunately, his chances of surviving surgery would be very low, and even if he did survive, he would probably be put on a ventillator, and the recovery time would be very long, very painful, and very frightening for him. Due to his dementia and the pain he was in, he had been yelling his head off for about 48 hours in the CCU. He’d yell out that he needed water (which we couldn’t give him), that he was tired, that he wanted to go home, and “George Pataki” among other things.
We needed to make a hard decision. We decided that his chances of surviving surgery and the recovery were really low, and that it would just prolong his suffering. So, we had him taken off his treatment (blood transfusions, because he was losing so much blood through the ulcer) and opted for comfort care. We were finally able to unhook all the monitoring equipment and tubes, give him what he wanted to eat and drink, and make him comfortable with morphine. He stopped yelling, took a couple naps, did a lot of smiling, made much more sense when he talked, and now has no pain and is comfortable. We moved him to an intermediate care room, where hospice is overseeing his treatment. Everyone we’ve met has been so attentive and compassionate, has given us much-needed support, and we feel like we made the right decision.
Grandpa will continue to receive morphine and valium (to help with his anxiety and to relax him) as needed. Because he is losing blood at a rate of about a pint per 6 hours, he will probably pass away sometime tomorrow afternoon or evening. There’s always a chance he could stop bleeding, but I’m not expecting that to happen. I’m just glad that I can spend some time with him so that he’s not so afraid, and that I can be there for Mom. This has been tough on her, but I think we’ve done the best we can do. Think good thoughts for all of us – it will be another long day at the hospital tomorrow!