Since we put in the morphine pump Monday, Susan’s been in less pain. But yesterday, she slept through most of the day.
It’s kind of funny: as soon as Susan stopped being in constant, terrible pain I stopped thinking about that, and shifted my concern to how much she was sleeping.
I started thinking that maybe I should reduce her morphine dose. So after talking to the nurse, I cut it back by 25%.
Then I took the boys to the new Harry Potter movie, leaving Susan in the care of one of her best friends, Sue.
About 2/3 of the way through the film, Sue called me, at which point I realized that — for the first time in my life — I had not silenced my phone. I felt stupid, but was simultaneously glad, because I did not want to miss this call.
Sue told me that Susan was crying, terrified, and hallucinating, and in terrible pain. (And yet, Susan had still wanted to make it clear she didn’t want us to miss the movie — even now, she still puts others ahead of herself).
I guess the fact that I’ve been giving Susan meds for so long has given me some useful experience, though. I told Sue to give Susan some pills, then I texted her the phone number and info she’d need to call hospice and have them walk her through resetting the morphine pump to a full dose.
I got back to the film in time to watch the big finale of the movie, but I honestly wasn’t very interested anymore.
The fact that I have his personal cel phone number shows the kind of doctor we have with hospice. And then, when I called him last night, asking for advice on how I could help Susan get through the night without hallucinations and paranoia plaguing her, he talked with me for a few minutes and then said, “You know what? I’m going to come over.”
Fifteen minutes later, he was at my house. At 10:30 at night.
I expressed my concern to him: I don’t want to drug my wife into a stupor if it’s still possible for her to have some clarity. But I also don’t want her to hurt.
It’s not an easy balance to reach.
After he talked with Susan, the doctor reminded me that Susan had started the hallucinations and paranoia well before we started the morphine. And when we cut back the morphine, the terror, pain, and hallucinations were much worse.
So we put together a new medication plan, as well as a plan for how much and when I ought to feed her. The truth is, her body is shutting down; that’s why she doesn’t want to eat. I have been constantly urging Susan to eat, and the doctor told me I need to stop doing that or I’m just going to make things harder for her. If Susan wants food, she’ll ask for it.
I understand this in my head, but how is a husband supposed to let his wife go hungry?
Susan’s calm this morning. Her eyes are open, but she’s not seeing what’s in the room. She’s talking, but most of the time it’s not easy to tell what the words are.
I’ve learned that talking to her mostly just confuses her. Holding her hand and massaging her scalp do more for her than a lot of talking.
She’s asked for water, but not for food. And the truth is I’m not hungry either.