More Than Meets the Eye, True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife covers many aspects of the dying and grieving process and sheds light on euthanasia, suicide, near-death experience, and spirit visits after the passing of a loved one. ___________________________________________

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Update on My Aunt and Nanny

If you've kept up with my blog for a while, you may know that my aunt, Kat, is dealing with terminal lung cancer. She has already outlived the six to eight months the doctor expected she might last when she saw him last November. Kat refused to have any more chemo or radiation and has been in hospice at home where she lives with her sister, Dot (my mom's twin). A hospice nurse comes by once a week to check her progress. Or, should I say demise? No, for a while Kat stayed at a plateau and didn't get worse or better. I think she was on hold until my grandmother, whom we call Nanny, decided if she was going to live or die. It seems to me that Kat and Nanny may have a contract to leave this world together or at least near the same time.

Nanny fell and broke her arm and hip last November, but made miraculous recovery after two hip surgeries. She was about to start physical therapy and learn how to safely put weight on the still-healing leg, when she got a urinary tract infection. The doctor put her on an antibiotic called Macrobid. The drug nearly killed her when she had a cardiac reaction to it. She was on the verge of having a stroke when my mom (her live-in caregiver) called for an ambulance. After spending several days in the hospital, Nanny came home on Wednesday. However, she was again taken to the hospital last night. There is fluid around her heart and the spinal vertebrae that she injured in 1976 is deteriorating and causing significant pain every time she moves.

About two weeks ago, Kat's health began taking a decline. She had been having headaches all along, but they became so bad that a stronger medication was added to the menagerie of drugs she is already taking. She got an upper respiratory infection, possibly pneumonia, but since she is in hospice, she doesn't see a doctor. The hospice nurse prescribed an antibiotic that helped some. At least she is able to sit up long enough to send me a funny or sweet email.

Despite the fact that she is on a constant and high intake of oxygen, her blood saturation level stays in the upper eighties and she feels weak most of the time. So weak that hospice offered her a walker to help her get around in the house. She doesn't want a walker. Hell, that's like admitting that she is approaching another stage of the dying process. She also refused to have a hospital bed at home, but Dot vetoed that decision. Kat is now using the motorized bed and recliner that were delivered two weeks ago. I think she likes playing with buttons and making the bed go up and down. In her condition, that's about as exciting as being on a roller coaster.

Nanny and Kat live about 20 minutes from one another. Kat still tries to make the trip once per week to see Nanny and let her know that she's still alive. They talk on the phone several times daily, and never go to bed at night until they tell one another "goodnight and I love you." So sweet. I love my family.

The twin sisters have it hard right now. Both are living with and caring for a relative who is fighting to stay alive. Dot recently retired from her day job so she could tend to her younger sister while my mom tends to Nanny. I live 250 miles away and don't get to Atlanta as often as I need and want to.

I'm supposed to leave for vacation next Friday. I'll be out of the country for a week. Kat and Nanny, please don't die while I'm gone. I'm coming down for a visit when I get back from Dominica Republic. Just hold on.

For more information, you might enjoy reading the complete book More Than Meets the Eye True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife available on

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