Acting Up

My musings, thoughts, rants, and discoveries. - Scott Maddock

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Location: Redmond, Washington, U.S. Inc. (Formerly U.S.A.)

Allie's Journey

For the next several months this will be dedicated to information pertinent to Allene M. Maddock. Her care has been assumed by Hospice as of 06Apr12.

Please feel free to call or write her. If you call be patient and take time to explain who you are. Currently she remembers, but you have to help her focus so she truly knows who she is talking to at the moment. We have to do this too, and I frequently say something like, "Yes this is Scott, your oldest."

Her phone is area code two-zero-six, and the number is 216 3816.

Her Address:
Allie Maddock
c/o Queen Ann Manor
100 Crockett Street
Seattle, Washington
    98109

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fair Travels Mum

Annie the hospice nurse on duty called me at 5AMf (0500). Mom died at 0430 this morning. I posted the following as a comment to my post on fb announcing my Mum had died:

I popped over to pick up the few things she had in the hospital type room she moved to last Tuesday--mostly cards and little things I've dropped off weekly. I had a silly little game, a birthday card a week since her birthday. This Thursday would have been her 79th birthday + 12 weeks. She wanted to make it to 80, and she liked the way I worded it. So, it is 12 weeks into her 80th year.

She was still in the room when I arrived, and it was comforting which surprised me. The tension she carried from the pain the last year or so was gone and released tension lines eased. Her face was so peaceful and I could again see the beautiful woman she was when I was five.

I don't know of any memorial service at this point. We (the kids, and any others who desire to go) are planning to take her and Jack, her husband who died eleven years ago, to Neah Bay for a family farewell to spread their ashes. She wanted that, and couldn't remember what they'd celebrated as their anniversary, it was a common law type marriage so there is no official record. I didn't think to ask until several months ago and she couldn't quite remember. So it will be on her birthday, July 19th. She liked that plan.

She was still and calm, and I felt so much relief for her. Still warm to the touch, and I gave her a light kiss on the forehead and another brush on the lips. I'm happy and sad at the same time. She had a rough time the last couple years, but now she is gone. I hope she is in a better place.

I've been tearing up. Little tiny cryings, like waves lapping at the shoreline. I feel there are larger waves coming, and I'm working to let them come. Funny, you have to work at not working.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

The Last Visit

It turns out this was my last visit. Eric(ka) sat with Mom most of the day, and I happened by while she was out for a little while saying thanks to the folks at Queen Anne Manor. I was on my way to see Frankenweenie at the IMAX with Richard who kindly waited while I visited. I didn't know my sibling was there the whole day, though when I got missed calls from Bayview Manor I guessed it was the case.

This time I talked of Snerd, her Burmese cat back in the mid 70's to mid 80's. Mom was his favorite, and he would sometimes tolerate me. I was the favorite of the other cats so he was her very special little friend. I talked about how he liked to suck on the end of his tail until we started dipping the it in cinnamon or peppermint extract which did the trick and got rid of the bulbous knot on the end of his tail from the sucking. I again told her it would be soon, and she was doing well. Her eyes didn't open this visit, and the jaundice color was increasing. Her right eye seemed a little off track the last few visits and that with her color made the end seem near.

Monday, October 08, 2012

On Deck

Mom is not a baseball fan, but I think she'd like the association...

Mom was slightly more responsive today. I stopped by on the way to rehearsal for a class assignment.  Still, nothing more than opening her eyes and hints of fleeting attempts to smile. Like on Sunday I felt she was looking at me. I repeated what I did on Sunday, just reminiscing in hopes of creating pleasant and comforting images and memories for her. Sunday I talked a bit about Jack, and the different beaches she lived by and knew. I forgot to mention Kalaloch as we had a lot of good times there in the 60's and 70's and hoped the talk of beaches and driftwood fires brought it up for her, or at least memories which have the same nice connotations for her as myself. I told her I'd try to bring by some smoked tea the aroma of which brought up memories of those magical nights by the fire on the beach.

Again, I told her she was doing well, and it wouldn't be much longer. I asked her to say "Hi" to Jack for me. Puzzling as it is for me she seemed to have nice feelings about her mother the last few years so I mentioned Grandma Seal as well. That name reflects on a time of innocence for me, before I was eight. I was the first grandson and couldn't say Lucille, so she became Grandma Seal for all her grandkids.

I don't have any particular beliefs about the afterlife if any, just a mild curiosity. If there is more than a switching off of the lights I'll be pleased and happily surprised, if not it will simply be a long sleep. Funny how my funny brand of faith prefers what I consider the honest mystery of not knowing, and that comforts me. Funny and contrary of me I suppose that the unknown is my comfort. It will be as it should be is my hope and faith. Still, I talked of it in a way which she believes and finds comfort. I don't disbelieve so it is not insincere, and Mom's beliefs are an amalgam unique to her. We have that in common, the uniqueness of our beliefs, so they can't be the same.

Jack was a story teller, and I told her I missed his tall stories. And weren't they all tall? I think that earned a fleeting twitch of a smile. I wasn't there long, but I flittered through topics like that in addition to reminding her she'd soon be seeing those who preceded her. For all of these last visits I also reminded her we'd be taking her and Jack to Neah Bay for a farewell and scattering of their ashes. It sounds morbid when I think about it logically but it was anything but. She asked me to remind her, so I did and it made the conversations for the last six months frank and open about her passing.

Immiment

I talked to the Hospice nurse working with Mom a short while ago.  Yesterday when I said we were probably looking at weeks was likely optimistic, which I suspected even as I wrote it.  Rene(e?) said that she is no longer able to swallow.  She is medicated to keep her comfortable, and there is no indication she is over medicated.  They have been watching the pain in her legs, and we already knew the cancer moved to the bones.  It appears to have metastasized more, including the brain which is a possible or likely cause for the inability to swallow and her increased problems forming words lately.  Of course right now she doesn't seem to be speaking at all.

Rene said that two weeks would probably be a stretch.  The bottom line right now is that she could go at any moment and what they are working to do is ease her passage.  It won't be a situation where we'll be able to there at the precise moment.

I can't think of anything to add.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Moving

It's been a while. I didn't write up my last visit which was three and a half weeks ago. For that visit she was a little tired, and pleasant enough but really sleepy so I didn't bother her to long. Just long enough to let her know I'd be out of town on vacation for my next two visits. As part of that I left a couple more birthday cards for her birthday plus nine and ten weeks, along with chocolates. The folks at the Queen Anne Manor reception desk thought it was really cute and fun for her and did bring them in on subsequent Thursdays. That was especially nice as I wasn't able to get her to answer the phone when I called from the road.

I was over this last Thursday, but I hadn't remembered all of my sister Terrie's Email. I was thinking they'd moved her to a new room, not a new facility. She was falling down a lot, including falling out of her bed and the nursing staff felt they didn't have the necessary support for her. The folks there at the time didn't have a clear idea on where she'd moved and when I tried the GPS the closest place for Bayview was over twenty miles away. More talking with Hospice on Thursday and I was able to get the phone number which I was able to plug into the gps.  The new place was also on Queen Anne, much closer to Seattle Center, and is called Bayview Retirement Community, and she is in the medical care unit.

She is now in a situation like a hospital room and ward, and is either depressed or sedated to the gills. I'm going to follow up more with Hospice to get a better feeling. The other obvious possibility is her systems are starting to shut down. Her bed is not elevated at all, so she is only a foot or so above the ground. Her dentures were out giving her that widened facial appearance when the mouth closes half an inch or so more than we're accustomed to.

Waking up, or getting her to open her eyes was easy. There is not much expression there, just minute hints of recognition. She fell back asleep several times in the ten minutes I was there, and seemed to push my hand away. Not sure why, but my guess is dreams and waking were blended. I think she did recognize me, but maybe not that I was actually there. So she might have pushed it away because it made her hand sweaty. I didn't bother opening the card I brought for her birthday plus eleven weeks, maybe she'll be more alert again in the future and we can go over those. I'm not sure how much she remembers of my silly little weekly birthday card game but there wasn't a point today.

Instead of the birthday card I tried something else to comfort and maybe entertain her. I talked about beach fires made from driftwood and how I make tea which is smokey, an aroma that reminds me of those beach fires. That seemed to bring a tiny smile and bit of wistfulness, so I went on to talk about Farmer George's hotdogs which used to be so good. I used very short simple sentences. I was trying to start a conversation or to even get her to engage. I also mentioned Grandpa Maddock filleting salmon and the story I wrote in grade school about it, which she loved. I was hoping I could evoke images which might lead to some nice dreams and reminiscences.

It was a hard visit for me. Nothing surprising there. I was there maybe ten minutes, and it seems it was both shorter and ages longer.  After only a bit over three weeks it was a more rapid change than I'd anticipated. Last time she had a decline like that she had a rebound and we were still able to go out to the park and dinner with all three kids. I don't anticipate that kind of a comeback. I do hope for recognition before the end. I accept it may not be possible, or it may not be worth the effort to her. Even with that acceptance I still hope, with the realization it is more of a selfish hope for myself.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Mini Reunion

We all met at Mom's about 4PM. We'd planned to be there earlier, but Terrie and Eric were running a little behind. Mom wasn't quite ready to go, so it worked out for the best. Eric and the med tech helped her get ready. Mom wanted to go to a park, so I headed down to Gasworks Park and we sat and chatted a bit. It was still pretty warm so we found a nice spot on the eastern end of the park with some shade and not too many people. We had a nice visit and Mom tired out after about an hour so we headed to Ivar's Salmon House.

Mom wasn't hungry for anything and started feeling out of sorts about half way through dinner so Eric took her to the car, and stayed with her turning on the a/c while Terrie and I finished up and took care of the check. It took a little longer than expected -- we ate quickly but it was a busy Saturday afternoon so Terrie and I got caught up a bit waiting.  We had a nice outdoor seat, around the corner from most of the outdoor seats, which reduced the freeway noise from the Ship Canal Bridge to about a third.

On the way back I drove by the Fremont Troll. I'm not sure Mom really saw it -- I'll have to ask her when I see her this week. We enjoyed the drive by visit with the Troll which was on the way back to Mom's digs. She was feeling a bit better when we got back, but exhausted, wearing a happy and bemused little smile most of the time. The nurse helped her get ready for bed around the three of us giving her a hug and a peck several times each. I will remind her of the visit a few times, and try to get some pictures to her before long.

In summera, it was a nice visit with Mom, and Terrie too.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Put Upon

Mom met me in the lobby. She'd called just before I left to tell me it was an emergency and I had to come down right away, so I told her I was planning to come by anyway. She felt the caretakers were manhandling and not listening to her. There is a long history in my experience that she fumes about things, until imaginings take on reality, complicated by a Romney-esque belief that everyone else in the world is her personal servant. I tried to kindly remind her that she is sometimes unreasonable and mean to people. "Remember Mom if you are not nice to people sometimes they respond in kind. They shouldn't, but sometimes they do." A bit of back and forth on that, but she acknowledged the possibility, as I acknoweldged she might be right. Reality is somewhere in between I'm sure.

I told her I would follow up with the staff and her Hospice coordinator to check up on things and to get her more pain medication. She has been very light on meds the last few years as compared to most of her adult life. I did get in touch with Danielle from Hospice the following day who said she'd follow up, and had already. I'd also talked to Sharon at the front desk. Mom thought there were new staff people, which is not the case, but Sharon was quite concerned about the feeling she was being manhandled and ignored. My personal take? Well, I think people did get impatient with her -- I don't spend as anywhere near as much time with her and I get impatient. Still, the staff and myself followed up as you don't want to find that you ignored something the one time it was real.

She was experiencing a lot of pain, and it sounds like the pain is moving around. She was talking of the tumor(s) like they were moving from place to place. It is hard to see her in pain, as there is nothing I can do about it. Between the pain and the medications I expect the lucid periods will become shorter and less frequent.

I reminded her we'd be getting together during the weekend because Terrie was coming up from Vancouver so we could have the reunion with all her kids she'd asked for.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Chipper

Mom was doing really well and we had a great time chatting about the past, present, and future. I brought truffles again, nice sweets that she can chew up easily. She was complaining about the floor and wanted a clean up. I said I'd try to bring along my vacuum cleaner for an upcoming visit.

I'm writing this a bit after the fact so many of the details have slipped my mind. We talked about Jack and how we'd take her and Jack's ashes to Neah Bay on her birthday and I think she was present enough that she will remember a little better. She really likes being reminded of the memorial plans, so I'll keep doing that for her. I let her know her wish to have the kids to get together was coming together and it looked like it wouldn't be too long.