End of the Season

At the end of the season, our communal pool is opened up for a Doggie Splash Day.  Residents can bring their pups and they get to fart around in the pool before the final cleaning before closure for the winter months.

This has been one of Mr. Pickles favorite things – and this is a dog whose favorite thing is generally whatever he is doing at the moment.  Today was a storybook perfect early autumn day – blue sky, wispy clouds, and warm, dry air.

Because of other commitments, i took a few hours off work today to make sure he had a chance to enjoy it.  Arriving promptly at 4:00pm, he wasted no time jumping in to steal a toy from another dog, Morgan – an elderly Chesapeake Bay Retriever.  This has become something of an annual tradition.

Devil DogMr. P, having more heart than brains, threw himself into the water with reckless joy.  He’s not always cognizant of where the steps are, so this meant i had to throw myself into the water to guide him back to safety on a few occasions.

He played.  And he played some more.  Other residents – even those without dogs – were entertained by his spirit.  After about 40 minutes, he was getting tired, and i repeatedly had to shepherd him to the steps to rest, but he would have none of that.  i very nearly had to carry him home, because…. well…. DOGS!  WATER!  BALLS!

It was hard to leave, but i was worried about him.  He’d jump in, completely submerge, pop to the surface and snag the tennis ball – but he was starting to gasp to catch his breath.  There is a fine line.  He might push himself too far… But, he’s thirteen years old.  It’s entirely possible that he won’t be alive next year for the Doggie Splash Day.

As i was walking him home, i got a text from my niece, DQ.  Mom has been feeling pretty rotten this week, and has been mostly bedridden with fatigue.  Earlier this week, she told my brother-in-law “I’ve lived a good, long life.  It may be my time…”

When i talked to her last night, her mind was firing on all cylinders, and she was ready to give up.  Given her symptoms, i was pretty sure it was an infection of some sort, and encouraged her to let DQ get some blood work done… Maybe even go to the emergency room if necessary to get checked out.

The text message from DQ was to let me know that Mom has been admitted for pneumonia, which is generally treatable.  She’ll also have to have fluid drained from her lungs – the last time this happened was in early July.  It has come back just a few months later.  Untreated, it will kill her.

Another fine line.

Ultimately, it is Mom’s decision.  i am hopeful that 24 hours of antibiotics will have her feeling less miserable, and perhaps in a better position to sort out her chosen path forward.  i will support it, whatever she decides.

Fingers crossed that she still has some enjoyable days ahead, even if the longer term prognosis sucks.

Happy Pup

28 thoughts on “End of the Season

  1. What a wonderful idea for dogs, to have a Doggie Day at the pool! I have to say I feel the same way about getting every last moment out of swimming as Mr. Pickles does.

    Sorry your mom is battling pneumonia. Been there, done that with my mom a couple of years ago. Back before the advent of antibiotics, they used to call pneumonia “the old man’s friend,” meaning it was a fairly quick way to exit this mortal coil. She just may be feeling depressed from being ill and, like you said, perk up when the antibiotics take effect. You’re a good daughter, daisyfae. Hang in there.

    • If the weather is nice, we even get the option to keep the pool open an extra week – so long as we can find seven residents kick in $35/day to do so… which i did. i enjoy the pool – and even more, i enjoy having someone else handle maintenance and upkeep!

      Mom is stable. She’s still called the game plan – we are executing it. So far, the family is holding steady with minimal unnecessary drama…

  2. What a nice thing to do for the doggies. I’ve never seen that before. Now that it’s past Labor Day, dogs can walk on the beach in NJ. They’re banned during the summer. So they’re pretty happy about that.

    They ALWAYS talk about dying! Old moms, that is. Not old dogs. My wife’s grandmother prattled on for YEARS that she was dying and we told her she wasn’t. She finally proved us wrong.

    • The doggie day has grabbed hold – the first year there were only four of us with our critters. This year? Probably a dozen dogs by the end of the splash party, and a lot of residents WITHOUT dogs stopping by to watch the fun…. i think it has officially become tradition!

      Mom wasn’t kidding. She’s seriously ill, and this is likely the end of the game for her. Family is behaving well so far…. that’s all i can hope for.

  3. I love the expression on Mr. P’s sweet face! He may be older, but in that moment, he was a young pup all over again! 🙂

    I’m really sorry to hear about your Mom. I hope she recovers soon!

    • He is a happy boy – and was only moving slightly slower the next day. No limping! i think it went well, and we probably got just the right amount of play time…

      Pretty sure Mom isn’t going to be going home from the hospital in better shape than she entered. Fingers are tightly crossed that she remains comfortable throughout…

  4. My mom went through many years of suffering from congestive heart failure. She’d get bad, go to the hospital, get pumped out, and go through the whole process again in a few months. It got so that my sister would call me and tell me Mom was in the hospital and not to bother coming up (13 hour trip). This went on for until finally she got really bad. My wife and I went up to see her over a weekend and promised to bring the kids up the following weekend. We were within twenty miles or so and my brother called me and told me she had passed. Damn. I’m firmly convinced she wanted my kids to remember her as a sparkly-eyed little old lady, not a very tired looking person gasping for breath. That was over five years ago and to this day I still find myself thinking about emailing her to share the latest horrible pun. I’m so glad you spend time with your mom. I wish I had had more time with mine.

    • it’s a shitty way to die, isn’t it? COPD / Congestive Heart Failure. Each trip to the hospital has been tougher for her, and after she got out in July has never really recovered to her previous level of energy. Amazing, really, that she’s older than Joan Rivers, and Mom’s even got all of her original equipment!

      We knew when the kids were home this summer that it would be their last visit with Granny. Many ridiculous laughs with her, even though we were having a picnic in her hospital room.

      Pretty sure your Mom called the shots on her way out… i’ve seen that happen fairly often. Suspect you probably still have conversations with her in the car… i still talk to Dad. Suspect i’ll be doing so a lot more in the upcoming days…

      • Tough times – towards the end I could tell my Mum didn’t want to fight any more, but didn’t want to say that to us as I think she thought we’d view it at a betrayal or desertion. She asked repeatedly should she have the new treatment they were considering – I repeatedly told her that was her decision and whatever she decided would be fine with me. In the end she was going down so quickly the decision was taken away when the doctors determined they would move to palliative care only. I’m sure she was glad

        • Mom is in the same hospital Dad was in – owned and operated by a Catholic-based health-care conglomerate. We had virtually no luck getting anyone to talk about hospice/end-of-life care 12 years ago. i was relieved that there was a palliative care nurse in the room with us today as the thoracic surgeon gave us the latest update on her prognosis… We will push as hard as necessary to see that she remains comfortable… and if we can spring her and get her home? That would be perhaps the best possible outcome at this point…

  5. You know what i admire, your mom saying that she’s lived a good, long life… that’s someone who has come to terms with it and it’s something everyone should strive for, it takes a lot of courage to look death square in the eye and say “I’m ready”, to not be afraid… at that point it’s those of us left who have to come to terms with it and that’s never an easy proposition when it comes to parents… of course i’m not worried about you lady, if anyone can handle shit like this it’s you, resilience is your middle name…

    • She’s been very tired for the past two months – frequently saying she’s about done. Yet when she was brought to the hospital Monday, and asked what she would like done if her heart stops, she pointedly said “I want to be resuscitated”, knowing full well what that means – chest pounding, paddles, etc. And so until she is able to tell us, or indicate otherwise, we are in a position to maintain that posture on her behalf. Hopeful that once the ventilator comes out (IF the ventilator comes out) she will be able to give us guidance once more on whether she wants to sign the “do not resuscitate” order – which she has pointedly refused to accept to date.

      i’m fine. a little shell-shocked… i knew she was in rapid decline, and was tired. i thought this was pneumonia, she’d be treated, and sent home again. did not anticipate the rapid escalation of ‘stuff’ yesterday…. So far, the family has been rock solid – communicating well, unnecessary drama has been kept to a minimum, and all of us are digging deep and being kinder than we feel…

  6. I’m thinking of you a lot. I am more and more grateful that my Dad was at home when he went into his decline and rapid death. We were able to honor his request to let him go peacefully, and since we had hospice we were armed with the drugs to make that possible. I wish peace and happiness and painlessness for all of you when your mother finally decides it is time to go through the gates to her next plane of existence.

    Mr. Pickles? Doggy Splash day? We have them all over the Ozarks, and no child has EVER enjoyed a pool more than a bunch of dogs! And what an epitaph it might have been if he had jumped in one too many times… “Drops dead while ecstatically enjoying his favorite thing in the world” sounds pretty good to me.

    • We have been between a rock and a hard place from the outset with Mom. While she said she wanted to be at home, she also refused to sign a ‘do not resuscitate’ order. This tends to lead a person to die in a hospital, with multiple tubes, monitors, restrictions, and other ‘beyond our control’ issues. Frustrating? Of course. She remained Captain of her own ship, and we were an agreeable crew…

      i’m thinking you’re on to something with the Doggie Splash concept. If Mr. P is still with me for Doggie Splash 2015? i might just let him go at it with anything and everything he’s got left! 🙂

  7. I am so sad about you mom. Very hard for you all. 4 times we have been on your journey with moms and dads. All specific individuals with their own expectations of their ends.. Only one of the 4 had an experience close to his expectation. With each situation, we tried to do our highest sense of right. My dear MIL, Marty, we were able to keep her home for 5 years, very comfortable with hospice assistance. She was Compassionate, nonjudgemental, loving to the depths of her soul. FIL George, stroke, 8 years in nursing home care, no control over his previously self-governed, independent life. Frustration anger and regrets were his daily companions. By some rare fluke, My mom went blind over Easter weekend April 1996. Problem on Thursday and Friday, no response from the docs. Saturday & Sunday, we are hit with a freak winter storm over 2feet of snow. governor declares state of emergency, no travel. roads closed, can’t see doc until Monday. Too late,. Sight gone permanently. 8 years of declining health until 08. Finally I had to make the unilateral decision that it was selfish of ourselves to continue and let her go. Highest sense of right is still heartbreaking. The only one to experience his death in control went last and his was the most peaceful. Driving like a maniac the week before, picking up everyone’s booze, candy, cigs, at the assisted living home where he was a king because he could still drive.”..”……and at NIGHT!!!! .once he went down, it was only a month. He got to do anything he wanted including enjoying his cigs until the last few hours,

    Such a journey Daisy, you should be so guilt free and happy that you have really companionend her through everything since your dad died. You are a good daughter.

    • Cheryle — as always, you show up when i’m at the crossroads… and thank you for your comment. “highest sense of right” — yes. we did the best we could to follow her wishes, although she put us in a tough spot by telling us she wanted to come home, but refusing to sign the ‘do not resuscitate’ order. Even though it was painful for us, and possibly for her, we couldn’t engage hospice and bring her home because those two wishes were at odds with each other…

      She went in on Monday, respiratory arrest Tuesday morning and placed on a vent in ICU. Died Sunday. Could have been worse, i think…. she didn’t linger too long…

      If we’re lucky? We go like your Dad! He must have been the king of the world all those years in the assisted living facility! None of us really have much of a say in it, when you think about it… you can plan yourself silly, and then encounter a serious plot twist that you can’t imagine… Thanks again for stopping by… i read your comment as i was taking a break from excavating her ‘stuff’. “highest sense of right” – that’s the best we could do…

        • While we were camped out in the intensive care unit waiting room, there was a family dealing with the loss of their daughter/mother — in her mid-50’s. Gave us a reminder that we were lucky to have her hanging around these past few years – especially given her extensive medical problems…

    • Yes. Although dementia is clearly a curse for family and friends, and must be terribly frustrating for the person sliding along the scale, there is a gentle mercy at the end where perhaps they ARE NOT aware of imminent death.

      Mom knew. She knew and was still calling the shots after being put on a ventilator in the intensive care unit. When asked if she wanted to be resuscitated if her heart stopped during a procedure, she vigorously nodded her head ‘yes’. She must have been terrified.

      i want to be hit by a bus. not a glancing blow, but a nice, solid hit… from behind. and preferably an electric bus, so i don’t hear it coming.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s