Momma dying

One of the hardest things when my mom was dying was not being able to be with her.  She was only two hours away but, I had no means of staying in a hotel and she was not in a private room at the nursing home.  To take the stress off of me, my mom emptied her house prior to her going to the nursing home.  I actually remember her consulting me on what she was giving to who and I told her over and over, momma its up to you.  She felt as if I had a say as her child.  To me, so many people had told her what to do her whole life, I had promised her I would honor her wishes.

My mom had refused to take pain meds.  As a nurse, you can tell when people are really in pain or not.  Some patients claim their pain is at a ten but they have no problem eating and checking Facebook.  That is not a ten.  My momma was so tiny and literally skin and bones that multiple pillows were required to make her comfortable.  The nurses could tell by her reaction and vitals she was in pain.  Normally my mom was lucky to have her top number be 80.  One time when I was told her BP was normal 120/80, I politely explained to the nurse that for my mom that is hypertension.  Mom denied the pain consistently.

The last time I saw my mom was a couple of days before she died.  I have never seen anyone so tiny in my life.  My guess is she was maybe 50 lbs.  I actually cried that time.  I couldn’t help it.  She no longer had the strength to pick up a cup and take a drink so I helped her.  She even told me its ironic, I spent my whole life avoiding food, now when I crave mashed potatoes i can’t even swallow it down.  Her stomach was so swollen from the tube feed, she actually looked pregnant.

For months we had been trying to bring momma to a nursing home back home.  I did not have the room where I was to properly take care of her.  Otherwise I would have in an instant.  The problem with this is hospice here locally would not take her without being able to evaluate her in someone’s home or at a nursing home.  Most available beds in a nursing home are saved for patients needing therapy.  My mom did not qualify for one of those beds.  The last time I saw my mom she told me, Sarah, I don’t think I can survive the trip back home.  Is it okay if I stay here.  I knew she was right.  I said of course mom.  Your safety and comfort is what is most important.

The doctor was trying to get my mom to discontinue the tube feed and take pain meds.  I was able to get a call connected to her and I cried begging my mom to turn off the tube feed and take the pain meds.  I said mom you have suffered enough.  Ironically, she told me she was afraid people would think she was starving herself to death.  Yeah the irony was not lost on me.  I told mom not to worry, I had her back.  Like I said I had no place to stay and physically I could not make the drive.  My legs were killing me with the fibromyalgia and I did not have an available ride.  My boyfriend (now my fiancé) had to work.  No one else was able to help.  So I called my mom a few times.  The last time I talked to her she was barely able to speak..  I said good night momma, I love you.  Her words were not fully formed, but I know I heard her say I love you too.  The hospice nurse was gracious enough to let me know.  The next morning, five minutes after my boyfriend had left for work, I got the call saying she had passed away.

One of the hardest parts was not being able to be there.  I was there when my daddy died.  I wanted to give my momma the same gift and I couldn’t.  This was not a choice.  I truly could not safely make the trip alone.  That weighs on me to this day.  Sure I have had critics, but they don’t have to live my life.  My fiancé has been my rock thru it all.

My mom’s death certificate reads as the cause of death being respiratory depression related to stomach cancer related to anorexia.  I know my mom is at peace now.  Per her request she was cremated which I found rather fitting.  Her body was a prison almost her entire life.  Now with her angel wings, she was finally free.

–Sarah Cobble


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