The Time Has Come
After four years, Parkinson’s is winning, as we knew it eventually would. Gary has had several bad falls that have caused bruising, wounds and, finally, a broken hip on May 17. He has been back and forth between the hospital and the rehab facility, Hilltop, where he stayed in March and April after an earlier fall. Rehab wasn’t working, and when I met with an administrator she kindly recommended hospice care.
It seemed like it would be a hard decision, but it wasn’t, because his quality of life is so poor. He will remain in the same room, with the same staff, but with the addition of hospice services, and they will keep him out of the hospital so he doesn’t get disoriented with each ambulance ride.
Our 26th anniversary was May 31, but of course we couldn’t celebrate. I’m not sure whether he was in the hospital or Hilltop that day. He fell two days before my birthday, also not celebrated.
My goal, and the goal of the wonderful hospice and Hilltop staff, is that he be kept comfortable, safe and out of pain. I remember years ago when we talked about the ailments of aging, he repeatedly told me, “I do not want to be in pain.” I intend to honor that. When I go to see him the first thing I ask him is “Are you having any pain?” Since the hip and back surgery, he’s healed and doesn’t seem to be in pain.
He’s exhibiting every Parkinson’s symptom there is. He’s not eating much and his 6’1″ frame is down to 137 pounds. I discovered he eats better for the nurses and staff, so I’ve stopped going at mealtimes. He’s on supplemental calories as well.
I’ve put a picture of him as Clarence Darrow on a shelf in his room, and tell everyone about his amazing run of at least a dozen performances, a 90-minute monologue. His last few shows were after he was diagnosed.
When we were dating he told me he had two passions: theater and golf. Parkinson’s has robbed him of both. He is a good, kind, generous-spirited man with many, many friends who love him.
The hospice folder contained a booklet, “When the Time Comes.” It’s very helpful. I have so much to be grateful for as this chapter inevitably draws to a close.
I will try to share more as we go through this rather sacred time. I need to be fully present while still taking care of myself, my granddaughter, the dog and, of course Gary, with the help of caring professionals.