I started writing this post a year ago. WordPress tells me I last updated it in December. I may actually finish editing it and publish it this year. And I’ve scheduled it to post while I’m off doing something that will hopefully make me forget all about it.
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Jesus. I just wrote the title and realized it’s a double entendre. I was intending to write about Pops’ death one two years ago. But… I suppose it applies to Right Guy and our losses as well. Fuck. That’s another post. Or not. Since he doesn’t talk.

Anyway… here’s the disclaimer. Death is not pretty and neither is this post. Seriously, stop reading now if you think you might not want to hear about what it’s like to die. In this case, of lung cancer. But I think the end process is similar regardless.
Not every death is like this one. I’m sure there are people who go peacefully in their sleep – really and truly. Someone more flowery than me might have described Pops’ death as just that – if they hadn’t been there in the hours just before, they might have said he died peacefully in his sleep. If you had found him in the morning that’s what it would have looked like. But he didn’t.

At least, not from MY perspective. Right Guy says different. I suppose he’s seen more horrible deaths. In the grand scheme of things, perhaps he’s right. But I have no basis for comparison. To me, my father’s death was traumatic.

I watched him struggle to breathe for hours. It was painful to watch. I kept giving him more morphine with the hope of him not knowing he was struggling to breathe.

I was with him all night. I saw the labored breathing. I kept him as doped as possible. At the time I wasn’t even completely sure I wasn’t overdosing him. I was trusting Right Guy’s medical advice – not knowing whether he was abetting euthanasia (he wasn’t). I just saw how clearly difficult it was for my father to breathe and I desperately wanted to make it easier on him – in any way I could (can you imagine?). If euthanasia had been explicitly mentioned at the time I likely would not have said no, although, I couldn’t have done it myself.

I can only hope now, as I did then, that he was too doped to know what was going on. That he was, in effect, sort of asleep and not aware in any way. Unfortunately, I won’t ever feel sure of that. He struggled so much to breathe, I find it difficult to believe that he wasn’t aware of it on some level. But I hope. In the same way I #hope that I can become pregnant with one tube and old eggs I will one day have a child.

He died in the wee hours on a Saturday morning. The day before Father’s Day. Friday afternoon the Hospice nurse had said she thought he would make it through the weekend. Which was kind of disheartening actually. It was clear to me that he was suffering quite a bit at that point. For it to go on for the whole weekend seemed cruel. But death is often like that.

But it didn’t happen that way. He tanked. FAST. More or less. He was gone just about 12 hours after the Hospice nurse left. It didn’t seem so fast at the time. I had given the newly hired nurse the night off and taken the overnight shift myself. And Right Guy happened to have that night off and came to help.

Neither of us had any clue Friday evening that we would be awake all night. Or that 12 hours could feel like an eternity.

In the end, I did what he asked. What he had asked me to do eight months before. He had asked me to be there with him at the end. He was afraid of dying alone (I think). I don’t think he knew what a burden that might be for me. He just wanted someone there with him when he went. And I understand that. And I wanted to be there for him. But, just so you know, this is a MUCH more difficult task than it sounds like. It’s not only hard at that moment but it’s something you carry with you… forever.

Last year I relived that night. Apparently the date of his death matters less to me than the way it played out. I was up all night that Friday night with him. And last year, on that Friday night, I was trapped in a hell of living it all over again. SO many things are blurry in my memory after his death. But that night… I remember it vividly with remarkable detail. I’m writing this before Friday night. I can only hope that this year it will not be as bad.

There’s a lot more to this story. Maybe, one day, I’ll get it all out. But for now this is it. His last day. The day before Father’s Day. Forever imprinted on my brain.

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So here I am again. Sitting in Pops’ room at the hospital waiting to see if he gets his mental faculties back. His pneumonia is under control. But his brain hasn’t made it back yet (if you haven’t heard of infection induced delusion/delirium you can read about it here). In fact, he’s worse mentally today than yesterday. I’m hoping it’s my imagination but his face seems ever so slightly droopy so I’m worried that maybe he had a stroke. I’m waiting on the head CT results now.

The OT (Occupational Therapy) and Speech therapy ladies have been in to evaluate him. I got the speech therapist to rescind the order for nectar thick liquids. That happens every time he enters a health care facility. He’s prone to coughing (or aspirating) when he eats and drinks. So they always think he has a swallowing problem that needs to be fixed. I understand the dangers of him essentially breathing his food – it can get stuck in his lungs and cause more infection. But he’s had this issue ever since I can remember. It’s not going to change now. And he hates drinking the thickened liquids. Motor oil he calls it.

So that’s the update on Pops. Time will tell if he’ll make it back mentally.

In other news… I got confirmation yesterday that I did, indeed ovulate. My body was able to finish the job that Clomid started. But with all his stress I have to wonder if there’s really much chance of it working. But at least it’s taking my mind off the two week wait. I’m too busy worrying about Pops to be googling fake pregnancy symptoms. ūüėČ I guess time will tell that as well. So it’s all just a waiting game. As usual.

This week has been… well… fairly craptastic. A few good things have happened but they’ve been overshadowed by doubt and bad things. I’m not just on the Infertility Roller Coaster. I’m also on the Elder Care Roller Coaster. It runs a little slower. And the highs are not quite as high. But the lows might be lower. Despite the fact that he’s not on a roller coaster I always think of George Jetson when I have wild weeks like this. “Jane, get me off this crazy thing!”
Jane, get me off this crazy thing
The week started off pretty great. I knew Pops was sick and I’d need to take him to the doc. But I was concentrating on the positive OPKs I had Sunday and Monday. And the re-blogging of a photo I posted on another blog. I was pretty happy that five whole people liked my photo enough to re-blog it (yeah, my standards are low ūüėČ ). Good photos, ovulation… who could ask for more? On Monday morning all that was overshadowing Pops’ illness.

But by Wednesday I was doubting that ovulation. My temps are not being cooperative. They seem to indicate ovulation. But not definitively. They’re up but just slightly. So I went today to get my progesterone checked. We’ll see. With all the stress of Pops this week I can’t imagine there’s much chance I’d get pregnant even if I did ovulate.

And when I got home last night I found my cat bloody. She’s OK I think. I think she hurt herself ripping off the pheromone collar I put on her to calm her down and hopefully stop the inappropriate peeing. I feel HORRIBLE. Because of me, she has bloody paws and a bloody neck/face. I can’t imagine what made her do that. Poor thing. There will certainly be no more experimentation with pheromone collars.

On Monday, I figured Pops had pneumonia again and I would take him to the doc and he’d be admitted to the hospital. I figured all that would suck but he’d be cared for and I’d get a break. No such luck. He got sent home. And here we are several days later, and many missed hours of work later, sitting in the ER. Waiting. The hospital is full again – there are no available beds. And apparently the heat wave has the ER backed up further. ::sigh::

If you’re here for June ICLW and want to read an introduction click here first: June ICLW. Otherwise, please join me in raising awareness. Many of you going through infertility now will not be confronted with this problem for many years. But, at some point, your parents WILL get older so I tell you this now. Aging sucks!

When Pops got pneumonia last year I told his story to everyone I could think of. Because I learned A LOT. I learned something that I don’t think is common knowledge to non-health care workers. And it was even missed by at least one health care worker. And I don’t want others to have to go through what I went through last year. And what I may be going through again – but this time I’m armed with knowledge. This post may get a little long so I won’t make you read the whole thing to glean the important information. Here it is:

INFECTION (of any kind, pneumonia, bladder, etc) in OLDER individuals CAN CAUSE AN ALTERED MENTAL STATE. Once the infection is treated the mental state returns to normal. My father was so far gone last year that I had no hope he would make it back. But he did. And here’s that story.

Last year my father seemed to be in some sort of general state of decline. But we couldn’t figure out what was wrong so we chalked it up to depression (which he has battled his whole life). Gradually he was becoming weaker and weaker. Hygiene went out the window. Finally, during a routine check up, his oncologist ordered a home health service to come in and help him out. So he had a CNA nurse come in to help bathe him and a physical therapist to work with him. And there was an RN caseworker who was a complete beeyotch.

I started to get reports that he was having serious memory issues. So I spent a week working from his house every afternoon so I could see for myself. I didn’t see it at first. With me he often seemed quite lucid. Perhaps that’s because I was feeding him. It was only after this whole ordeal that I realized he hadn’t been feeding himself properly. He had been eating a consistent diet of microwave popcorn and steamed potatoes with salt and butter. And nothing else.

He slept most of the time I was there that week. He did seem a bit foggy at times – asking me where my brother was. My brother moved across the country more than 10 years ago. But I had not yet witnessed him forgetting how to dial the phone. The RN caseworker came by one day. Pops’ door is almost always unlocked and most of his friends walk right in and call out to him and/or knock on the door as they open it. It’s been like that for years. Since he’s in the wheelchair now it’s more of a necessity. But this was different. This woman, a relative stranger, walked right in without knocking first or calling out. And then proceeded to interview him while he was eating the lunch I had made for him. No “Sorry to interrupt your meal” or anything. She just walked right in, sat down and started interrogating him. He did not pass her test. His answers did alarm me somewhat but I couldn’t tell if he was just being uncooperative because she was rude and bitchy, or if he was really that out of it. Or both. What pisses me off most, to this day, is that she listened to his breathing with a stethoscope. A two-time lung cancer survivor who had pneumonia and she didn’t pick it up. Grrrr. That meeting concluded with she and I on the front porch. Me sobbing while she told me he had dementia and needed to be put in a home – pronto. She didn’t have the authority to do it herself (although I didn’t know that at the time) but her manner was one of “If you don’t put him away I will.” SO not helpful. I called my brother in tears. He started researching nursing homes online.

It was a few days later that I heard the cough. And noticed him forget how to use the phone. A friend had called and he had answered. But they were disconnected. When the friend called back I watched him stare at the phone. He was looking at it as if he’d never seen or used a phone before. I finally answered it and handed it back to him. That friend, a PhD in Psychology, came over the next day. I wanted his help in evaluating my father. At that point I had begun to believe the witchy RN. I thought he some sort of rapid onset dementia.

The next day was… eventful. The friend came over. Along with another friend. We were having some appetizers and wine and visiting. When suddenly my father wheels himself from the table to the kitchen and starts rooting around in the cupboard for something. We all noticed it and thought it odd but didn’t say anything at first. Then I offered to help him find whatever he was looking for. Once the dish in question was located he sort of sat there for a bit staring off in to space. And then he started fiddling with the drawstring on his sweatpants. We thought maybe they were too tight and helped him loosen it. And then… well… let’s just say his intentions were to urinate in the dish. In the kitchen. In front of everyone. We stopped it from happening but that was a real eye opener. It was clear then I had to take him to the doctor. But I was still unsure of what might possibly be wrong with him. It wasn’t until Right Guy arrived later that he concluded it was likely pneumonia.

The next day we went to the doc. He said it definitely looked like pneumonia. He tried to admit him directly to the hospital but there were no free beds. So we had to go sit in the ER all night until they could find him a bed. The bed he eventually got was on the pediatrics ward. ūüėČ Once there, I thought I was home free. I thought I could go home and rest. Nope. He was so out of it that he kept trying to get up and walk away. Except he was too weak to walk. Even on good days he doesn’t walk well and uses his wheelchair. So I had to stay with him 24/7 for a few days until he became more lucid. At that point he’d lost control of all bodily functions so that was… um… fun. At least in the hospital I could call someone else to clean it up. Yesterday I got to do it myself. Ewww.

Even after he started to regain some lucidity he was still in and out of it. I really didn’t think he could possibly come back mentally. One day the doc asked him if he knew where he was. His response? He very matter-of-factly stated that he was in the Department of Corrections. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. On the one hand he got the answer wrong so clearly he wasn’t all better. On the other hand… a hospital IS a little bit like being in prison. I have to give him that one. ūüėČ

So anyway, he’s sick again. And it made me think of last year so I thought I’d post this story in case it’s ever useful to anyone. The doc said yesterday he didn’t think it was pneumonia this time. Or the cancer. He thinks it’s bronchitis. He sent him for an Xray just to be sure. We should get those results today. But he’s obviously not doing well. When I went to pick him up yesterday I found him lying in a soiled bed and he wet my car seat on the way home from the doc (I knew I shouldn’t have let them give him coffee!). I had taken a chuck from my emergency Pops car kit (it has 2 changes of clothes, some Depends and a couple of chucks to protect my car seat) but it wasn’t enough to protect my seat. So off I went to buy OxyClean in large quantities. I got some spray for my car and some powder to wash his sheets in. My SIL claims it’s the best thing for those sorts of problems. She learned that by having 3 kids. And taking care of Pops is really kind of like having a toddler so… Maybe I’m not cut out for this parenting thing. I’m so exhausted. And after all that I had to go home and find the energy to try to make a baby since the OPK stick still says GO. Oy.

UPDATE: The Xray shows he does have a bit of pneumonia. Just a small amount. No change in treatment. Hopefully he’ll bounce back with the oral antibiotics. Fingers crossed.

UPDATE: 4 days later and we’re in the ER. I think he’s gonna be admitted.

June ICLW

June 21, 2010

This is my first ICLW (if you don’t know what IComLeavWe is just click on the red banner on the right). I’m a N00b. Presumably there will be a lot of new traffic this week so I thought I’d write an About Me post to sum up what this blog is about. There are also some informative links at the top (you know, like the one that says ‘About’ ūüėČ and Infertility Timeline ). I started this blog just a few months ago when I started to feel an overwhelming sense of needing to get everything out. I write it for me but it would be nice if others found it useful or helpful in some way. I’m still keeping it anonymous for now so that I can feel comfortable venting about people I know in real life and to protect my boyfriend’s identity – he’s a private person. On this blog I refer to him as “Right Guy.” In the Twitterverse I’m known as @StolenEggs.

I’m 36, divorced, and I have Premature Ovarian Failure/Insufficiency (POF/POI). I discovered this by experiencing hot flashes and night sweats while on Nuva Ring (I’ve been on BC for years due to endometriosis). For those that don’t know, POF is very similar to menopause – it essentially IS menopause that occurs in women under 40. It means I’m running out of eggs and I don’t ovulate very often. It means I have a pretty slim chance of having my own biological child. It also means I’m at a greater risk for heart disease and osteoperosis. After receiving the official diagnosis Right Guy and I decided to alter our relationship timeline and go ahead and try to get pregnant now. Because it’s now or never. Marriage can happen anytime. The babymaking can’t.

As if that’s not enough to deal with, I also still take care of my father part time (I did it full time for a year and part-time for the past 4-5 years). He’s a two-time lung cancer survivor who has been weakened by chemo in both body and spirit. He currently still lives alone but that situation is always precarious. Last year he stopped eating properly and ended up hospitalized for pneumonia and malnutrition with an altered mental state (due to the infection). Once I finally got him to the hospital I still had to stay with him round the clock for three days straight until his mental state normalized. So every cough or ache or pain he experiences makes me wonder if there’s more chemo or hospitals in the near future. I’m also moving away in a year and I have to figure out what to do for him when I leave.

There have been a few studies that equate the level of stress women (and men) experience while going through infertility with the level of stress for cancer patients and people in war so I’m trying my best to do whatever I can to relax and be healthy. I’ve gotten back in to swimming which I used to do when as a kid and I’ve gotten back in to photography which has been an on and off again hobby since I was in high school. I’m contemplating acupuncture but I think I’ll just go get a massage to start with. At some point, I’d like to incorporate some wine posts in to this blog but I’m drinking a lot less these days for obvious reasons.

There are a lot of pictures on this blog. I decided to start my own series called Sunflower Sunday where I post a flower picture every Sunday. Lately I’ve gotten really into macro flower shots so I’ve got plenty of material. And I also participate in Calliope’s Photo Friday series. You never know what those themes will be!

As for recent happenings I’ve just started a low glycemic diet and am following other advice from my cousin who just started and Age Management Medicine practice. It’s really interesting stuff! I’m not sure I’m really a convert just yet but I’m giving it a whirl. On the fertility treatment front, I’m currently regrouping after a failed Clomid cycle and waiting to start an injectibles cycle next month. I have no idea if the shots will work any better than the Clomid. Essentially ALL fertility treatments work in the same way – by raising your FSH. My FSH is already high. My body is doing that all on its own. Which means I might be completely screwed on this one. I am slowly crawling out of the crater of devastation caused by the diagnosis and that realization.

Feel free to explore the blog. There’s a lot of potentially useful info in it as well as some rants. If you look to the right you’ll find a tag cloud (you may or may not need to scroll depending on your screen/resolution). You can click on any of the tags to see the relevant posts. Or, if you’re feeling lazy here’s a good place to start: Last Week’s Recap. Here’s some info on Premature Ovarian Failure/Insufficiency.

HUGE sigh of relief

May 19, 2010

Sometimes when I go to see Pops he never even wakes up. Sometimes he wakes up long enough to grunt a Thank You for bringing him groceries. Still other times he’s up and awake but practically catatonic in front of the TV. Other times he seems to be awake and somewhat coherent but doesn’t really follow the conversation or remember things said five minutes later. I’ve recently determined that this is likely more due to hearing loss than actual memory loss. That and the depression – sometimes he just doesn’t care about what’s going on around him so why bother to retain it? Sometimes he acts like a little kid when I leave and gives me a sad little boy face and a heavy dose of guilt when he asks, “What would I do without you?” And… on rare occasions… the man I used to call Dad comes out and shines. ūüôā

The point is… I never know what to expect when I go see him. I wanted to tell him that I’ll be moving in a year but I just had no idea who I was going to encounter when I arrived. Which Pops was going to greet me when I got there? After dealing with repairmen all week on his behalf (his AC and hot water heater have both needed repair and I took care of that stuff for him) I was worried that I would get catatonic Pops who just can’t deal with life. But I was lucky. Incredibly lucky.

I broke the news to him. He’s not exactly thrilled about it but he took it OK. And he even remembered that Right Guy had been interviewing a month or so ago. Since we’re not moving for over a year, his first response was: “14 months? I might be dead by then.” Morbid humor – gotta love it. Although he’s not entirely kidding. At present all signs point to him being alive for awhile. But after 2 bouts of lung cancer and another with pneumonia he, unfortunately, has a point. But at the moment I’m just glad to have it out in the open and not have him put on his little boy face that tugs at my heart.

Whew. Breathing out a huge sigh of relief. Now I can go back to the mundane things like dealing with the repairmen and cleaning out his voicemail.

No, I’m not literally in between parents. ¬†I’m just in between major conversations with each of them. ¬†Both conversations can be equated with sticking a fork in my eye.

I’ve been a bit emotionally hungover from my encounter with Momz. More so than I really would have expected given that it went more or less like I thought¬†it would. I think these birth control pills are mucking with my hormones. And I need that like I need to stick a fork in my eye. I don’t think my recent¬†mood swings are solely due to Mother’s Day. The girls are a bit achy, I’m prone to tears for no reason whatsoever and I’m a bit crampy. And my old friend nausea is back. I just feel crazy¬†and hormonal and I have no idea WHY. But I guess that’s just how it goes on this roller coaster where I’m on a different set of hormones/drugs every single¬†month. If I’m going to be on a roller coaster I just wish I could enjoy ther ride!

Since I’m not TTC this month, I have other things on my mind. Of course the TTC is never far from my mind and I keep wondering if somehow my body will defy¬†science and ovulate this month and I’ll miss it. ūüėõ But I digress.

Now that Momz is out of the way (at least the intitial encounter – I still have tons of emails about diet, supplements, vitamins and who know what else to¬†deal with), it’s time to focus on Pops. You may, or may mot, remember that I mentioned I might be moving. And since I take care of Pops that would be a¬†dilemma. Well… Right Guy will be moving across the country in a year. And I intend to follow. Despite the fact that noone seems to realize that it’s¬†even a possibility. Lots of family and friends know that he’s been applying for jobs mostly on the west coast and that he might therefore be leaving. ¬† But somehow they don’t finish that thought and realize that I’m going with. I guess because we’re not married? I don’t know. We live together and we’re trying¬†to make a baby together. So why wouldn’t I be moving with him? It’s kind of a ‘no brainer’ to me. Of course the decision to immediately TTC after being¬†handed my diagnosis was also a ‘no brainer.’ But apparently the rest of the world doesn’t always see it my way. Again, I digress.

I have 14 months to figure out what to do with Pops and make it happen. That might seem like a lot of time, and it basically is, but if I can convince him to¬†move to Assisted Living that whole process will take some time. First there’s the convincing part. That will be the hardest. It may actually prove¬†impossible. We’ll see. But then there would be deciding what stuff to keep and what to sell and what to just throw out. The physical moving. The selling¬†of the house – which first requires getting the house in a state so that it CAN sell. That one’s a tall order. And I don’t expect much help with it. And¬†I’ll be doing all of that with my own house as well. Major suckage.

My brain is almost always about 5 miles ahead of my body so mentally I’ve already started the list of what to keep/sell/ditch for my own house. And I’ve¬†already started making some repairs/upgrades to help it sell. My brain is working on the logistics of how to get all our stuff – and our 3 cats – across the¬†country. Thanks to my military ex-husband I’m well equipped for this daunting task. It’s still daunting though.

But back to the task at hand (see how my brain likes to skip ahead?). I haven’t told Pops yet. I’m not sure how to bring this up. Or when. I just never¬†know what kind of mood he’ll be in. Or how coherent he’ll be. Some days he just chooses to check out so it can be difficult to have a real conversation with¬†him. But I’ve still got to figure out the best approach. Ideally, I’d love for this news to shock him out of his depression so he magically starts taking¬†care of himself and we only have to make a new plan for prescription and grocery delivery. I know that’s also my brother’s hope. But I don’t think that’s¬†very realistic. And my brother isn’t here so he often forgets what the exact situation is. In a weird twist of fate, I’ll be moving to the same city my¬†brother lives in.

What I would really like to avoid is the 4 year old inside Pops. The one that looks at me with a sad pathetic face and says “You’re leaving so soon?” every time¬†I leave his house. Despite the fact that those are virtually the only words he said to me while I was there. It makes me feel sad and guilty every time. Somehow I don’t think I’ll be able to get through any of this process without feeling sad and guilty for leaving him. ūüė¶