Somewhere between Bell's Palsy and death
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Feelin’ broody (Must be in the air, yo)
I've had some crap about my sister, SC, that I've been processing the past few days, and I was all ready to throw it out there, but then I went to this chocolate fundraiser thingy tonight and had a conversation that really kind of knocked the wind out of me. It was with this nurse who works hospice with end-stage Alzheimer's patients, and I asked her how does she and the other nurses know that the patients are in fact Alzhemier's patients and not just dying of old age. Well, she said, aside from the fact that they've been diagnosed with the disease (which, Ok, duh), the biggest sign is that they stop eating; their bodies just start shutting down and don't really need food anymore, so hospice comes to manage pain. Often, the patients really don't need it because endorphins take care of it kind of, but if they do, the nurses are there, etc. etc.

Now, I know I've mentioned before that Dad's cancer got into his spinal cord and rather quickly killed his ability to swallow, so I of course told her a little bit about that. And she of course hit it on the head that I wanted to keep him around a little longer, but she also told me a little-discussed bit of info: Feeding tubes are often a bad idea, because pumping nutrients into a person whose system is dying off makes it more painful for them. Dad didn't make it to the feeding tube part, but I can buy that as good information. What I'm having a hard time with is that I'm guessing that Alzheimer's is a totally different critter, that it's more of a natural process of the body shutting down and frankly, they've just forgotten they need to eat. But see, up until the week before he died, Dad was asking for food; he kept going for the closet so he could get dressed and he and Mother could go for ice cream. So to me, it says that even though he might've been losing his faculties, the will to live was still there. I mean, Mother tells me that Dad was ready to go and talked with her about selling the house and shit, but this is a woman who swears she's not going to be around in a year. Would YOU believe her!?? Then I start thinking about the night he told me he would have the spinal chord chemo, and I remember being so happy because there was my proof that he wasn't ready to go.

Yeah, I know the cancer got into his brain and all the nurses said he was in a coma at the end and didn't know what was happening to him. But he told me he wanted to live, so how could that have changed? To me, it didn't, and yet there was nothing anyone could do.
Posted by Broad8:49 PM
It is the job of a good person to be honest. To be self-aware. To deliberately explore the fault lines of your character and try desperately to not inflict suffering in this strange, ghost-ridden world of worked and fabricated objects. Sometimes the jobs of writer and good person coincide. But more often they don’t. There are way more writers in the world than there are good people.

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