The Fifth and Final Hospital Stay

The Journey Home

This post has been the hardest to start.  I cannot tell you how many times I have tried to write this.

It doesn’t matter how prepared you think you are, when you are caring for someone that you love deeply, going through the end of life is always a tough thing to do.

It was a Sunday morning when we sent Pop home to get some rest and get some things done around the house.  We expected him back on Tuesday.  During Sunday afternoon, I gave mom a shower and made one of her favorite meals, fajitas.  In fact, she ate more than she had eaten in a while, and she seemed stronger than she had been in a few weeks.

All seemed to be going well.  My husband and I watched a movie.  I had planned to stay in her room at night until Pop returned, and as I turned to go into her room, one look at her told me that something was terribly wrong.  She was struggling too much to breathe.

I sat her up and began praying and helping her calm down.  She was confused and even asked how I knew that she needed me.  My husband walked into the room, and she asked why he was there.  I sent him to another room and asked him to pray for us.

Mom did not want to go to the hospital.

She made me promise not to take her to the emergency room that night, and I agreed to her wishes.  I simply held her through the night.  There were long stretches of severe shortness breath with short glimpses of recovery.  This happened through the entire night.

I did everything that I knew to do.  I checked her equipment, gave her breathing treatments, checked her blood pressure and O2 levels.  This was a new territory that I could not navigate.  With the heart problems that she was having, it was difficult to know what was causing the shortness of breath.  There was no fever, but that has been the case during most of her life.  She would rarely have a fever.

We knew it was close.

She and I both knew that this series of hospital visits had been different.  She had not really been getting better, and one of her fears was that she would have to go to a nursing home.  She kept saying that they would eventually stop admitting her and make her go to one.  I knew that she could be right, but we were willing to fight it to the end.

My prayers were being answered.  It was just not what I wanted.

I had prayed for years that God would take mom quickly when it was her time.  I even asked Him to make it heart related so that it would be faster, and we would know it was time.

While I was holding mom that Sunday night, she whispered to me, “Honey, my heart might explode.  You know daddy’s did when he died.”  I told her that I knew, and I was okay and would be there with her.  At one point, she took a slightly deeper breath and began to fall forward.  I gently caught her and she regained a little strength.  She had a “wow” look on her face.  I just said, “I know.  I’ve got you.”

We made it through the night, but she was not getting any better.  At 6am, she asked me to call Pop and have him come back.  By 9am he was back at our house, and we were trying to get her an appointment to see her lung doctor.  Mom established with Pop that she did not want to go to the hospital, but she would go to her doctor.  Her doctor was not available that day, but we were able to get in to see her heart doctor.

After being in the office only a few minutes, he told us that her heart was okay.  It seemed to be in rhythm at the moment, but he said that what she needed was new lungs.

It is a hard moment when you see the weight of those words in a caring doctor’s face.  We went home and over the next day she seemed to level off.  We were able to get an appointment to see her lung doctor, but the first available was Thursday morning.

One look was all it took for her doctor to tell her that she needed to go back into the hospital.  It was something that we all knew.  There was no way for her to diagnose the cause behind the shortness of breath without running tests.

You know there are a number of factors that can cause shortness of breath.  Some of the causes could be reactions to medications, A-Fib, rapid heart rate, low electrolytes, etc.  There really is a long list.

Her lung doctor is one of the best.  She cares deeply for her patients and has a gift at assessing conditions and moving into action.  I admire her beyond words.  She did so much medically that helped mom live and even more through encouragement that fueled mom’s own inner ability to push through.

Mom was admitted to the hospital that morning.  She knew deep down that it was her final hospital stay.  Several times she told me that she was sorry.  Of course, I told her that there was no reason to be sorry.  Mom was always more worried about other people than herself.  She also told me several things to make sure that would happen when the time came, and I tucked those away in my heart.

Mom and Pop were given information about palliative care and hospice.  They chose palliative care in the hospital, and about a week after they started that care, mom took her journey home.

There are so many things about the final days that I will not share in this post.  If you are looking for more information about what to expect, feel free to private message me on The COPD Life Facebook page.  There may be a time that I would share about this publicly, but for now, I will keep it close.  Fear can make a difficult situation worse, and knowing some things too early can cause fear for something that you may never encounter.

There have been moments of intense grief and love, and there have been moments of unexplainable peace.

My mom’s faith in Jesus Christ gives me a hope to see her again that I would not have otherwise.  You see, Jesus is the bridge to God.  He is the reason that we are able to go to heaven.  Without belief in Him there would be eternal separation from God and those who have made Jesus the Lord of their lives.

There is power in the verse that some of you learned as a child.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.

Heaven is real.  God is real.  Jesus is alive.

Without holding this to be true, what real hope is there?

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9

Accepting Jesus as the one who gave His life for you is the key.  It is that act of faith that changes everything, so I ask you, when it is your time to take your final breath, where will you go?  What will happen to you?

If you are ready to tear down your walls and accept Jesus as your Lord, say this prayer.

Jesus, I have fallen short and missed the mark of perfection, as set by You.  This means that I am a sinner.  I ask that You forgive me and come into my heart.  I give You my life, and I commit to live for You for the rest of my days.  Thank You for dying for me and raising from the dead, proving that you have defeated death and the grave.  Thank You for this hope that we have in You.  Please help me to live my life as pleasing to You.  In Jesus name, Amen.

If you have prayed that prayer, please contact us at admin@thecopdlife.com.  We would love to hear from you!

Remember to enjoy every moment of your journey through this life.

You will never regret it.