Saturday, April 09, 2005

4/9/05 Unburdening

Saturday, April 9, 2005

Sadie E. Bates
4/30/1919 - 4/7/2005

Feeling a need to unburden, and this is the place.

About 8½ years ago, I treated a 78 year old patient in an assisted living facility, who was afraid, alone, and confined to a wheelchair. She was partially blind, and suffered from serious depression. My heart went out to her. Sadie had been married twice, divorced once and widowed once. She had buried her only child in 1986, and had no family here to help her. Her only living sibling was in Oregon and she suffered from dementia and could not help, and she had nieces and nephews stretched up and down the California/Oregon coast who did not know their Aunt Sadie. When I met her I was still in a very painful spot in my loss, and her situation just screamed out at me ... that there but for the grace of God, it could very well be me there in the future, having no children to look after me when I get old.

After her therapy was complete, I would run by the place and visit with her a few times a week, offer to run errands, take her to get her hair done, bring her in a few treats, etc. We became close friends. A few years after that, Sadie suffered a central stroke which took most of the rest of her vision, and she could no longer see to read or write. So I began writing out her checks and getting them out for her. Then a few years later she suffered a mental breakdown of sorts. A strange woman, who Sadie did not know, and who claimed she was acting on Sadie's behalf, began proceedings to have her declared incompetent. I, along with a few others who knew Sadie (including the physicain that Sadie used to work for as his office manager), convinced the judge that it was not true, that she was fully competent to make decisions, and the case was dropped. Sadie and I discussed my becoming her power of attorney/health care surrogate at that time, but kept putting off getting the paperwork done. Then later in one of Sadie's "terror" states, she fell and fractured her hip, and we decided it was time to make it official. A lawyer drew up the paperwork, and I became her responsible person, to speak for her when she couldn't.

Sadie's health deteriorated through the years, and in Nov '03 a fire took place at the assisted living facility where she was living and it was destroyed along with all her stuff. She was not in a position to care for herself enough to go to another ALF, so following a lengthy hospitalization Nov/Dec 2003, she went to live in a local nursing home close to my home, and I would visit and take care of her and her needs. Needless to say, her money only lasted only about 11 months at the nursing home rate of $5500-6500+/month expenses. Last Nov, we applied and got state Medicaid, which became effective in Dec.

Sadie hated the nursing home, but I could not bring her to my home as she needed the medical attention that I could not provide, and she no longer qualified for ALF care. She would tell me how she wished she would die, and not be a burden to me, but she was so afraid of dying.

3 weeks ago the congestive heart failure took it's toll. Her right lung filled with fluid requiring drainage with a needle twice in 72 hours, her heart rate was 140-160 beats per minute for days on end, and she suffered a slight stroke affecting her right side. She was alert and aware the first 5 days in the hospital, then she decided it was enough, and began the dying process. Following her wishes in her living will, and acting on her behalf, I refused the catheter in the lung to keep the fluids drained off, and I refused the feeding tube, and then I requested they send her back to the nursing home with comfort care, and let nature take it's course. This dying took almost 2 weeks. I, along with hospice and the nursing home staff made sure that she was comfortable and out of fear. Hospice provided volunteers to sit with her so she wouldn't be alone when the time came close, and I was with her every day when I would get done with my patients.

Finally, this past Thursday at 4:40pm, Sadie left this world to know no more pain or fear of being alone. I am both relieved and saddened all at the same time. I question the decisions that I made, but I know deep down I did what she wanted. My old friend is finally at peace. Today her death notice is in the paper, and although there are very few that will notice she is gone, I will know and I will miss her.

May God bless and keep her safe.
Until we meet again Sadie, I love you, Lynda

lab2401 at 3:00:00 PM EDT Link to this entry
This entry has 3 comments: (Add your own)
    I don't know if you get comment alerts from your journal. I was looking at some graphics from last year's anniversary celebration and ran across the wonderful ones you made for us. So I wanted to come by here and say thanks and check up on you. I've also been wondering if you'll be affected by hurricaine Eric. This entry/dedication to Sadie is so beautiful. What a wonderful friend you are!!

    Comment from viviansullinwank - 7/10/05 3:30 PM

    I've been around nursing homes since I was a child. My mom has worked in them in some form or another most of my life. There are more Sadies out there than some might realize. Bless your heart for sharing your life with Sadie. May she rest in peace and may you find comfort in your loss. :-) ---Robbie
    Comment from krobbie67 - 5/2/05 8:52 AM

    Lynda, that`s a wonderful tribute to both of you.
    Comment from deabvt - 4/11/05 3:41 PM