Shortly after midnight last night, the phone rang. No one ever calls me that late – unless it’s emergency.
My heart literally tumbled into the depths of my stomach when I picked up the phone and the caller ID said “Hospice of Wake”.
I mustered a “hello?” and had to lean against the kitchen counter for support.
It was Chad’s nurse.
“Hey, Skye…I don’t want to scare you, but I am really worried about Chad.”
I listened for a few minutes, asked a few questions and hung up.
The next five minutes were a blur – I changed clothes, through some random things into my purse (which, thank goodness included my cell phone charger) and left — on my way to see what was going on.
Chad was pretty tired yesterday, and I saw that firsthand. But there was nothing, really, that indicated something was happening – or changing. I just thought he was tired. It’s pretty cyclical right now; tired a few days, a little better for a few more. And repeat.
Apparently, Chad took his 9pm meds okay Friday night – not as quickly or as easily as previous attempts, but he did take them.
When the nurse went in at 12 midnight to give him his other medications, things were different. Like, WAY different.
He was pale.
He was experiencing sleep apnea and only taking 3-4 breaths a minute.
He was unresponsive to any of her questions.
He was just staring – a fixed stare. With no other response, verbal or physical.
He was unable to react to simple commands, like rolling on his side in the bed.
I called his parents while I was on my way.
I will admit I was scared to death.
I was so nervous about what I would see when I entered his room, and how I would react to it.
Part of this process is allowing Chad to see that I am okay with what is happening, so that he may let go. I understand that. I just wasn’t sure if I could do it.
I walked in, went straight to his bedside, and grabbed his pale hand.
He was staring blankly at a corner of the ceiling.
He didn’t make any facial expression, movement or verbalization that he knew I was there. He just stared.
I did feel, at one point, that he was trying to communicate with me, but was unsuccessful.
I would ask him a question, and his bottom lip/jaw would move. Almost rhythmically. But there was no sound. No sound at all.
It was almost like a reflex. It was odd.
After I had asked a hundred questions with no response from him, I asked the nurse to turn off the bed alarm and scoot him over in the bed.
And I joined him, cramped in a hospital bed, holding his hand and telling him how proud I was of him.
I finally asked him if he was seeing anything on the ceiling, since he continued to stare.
And he mustered a faint, “yes.”
“What do you see?”
“Do you see people?”
“Who? Who do you see?”
<inaudible — but he was definitely trying to say something.>
He was fixated on that spot – his eyes didn’t move a bit – he just watched that spot for about 30 minutes.
I continued with questions, knowing that there were certain answers I thought were coming.
And they did.
“Are you done here, Chad?”
“Are you going to leave soon?”
I just held his hand, repeated how much I loved him and how proud I was.
And we both dozed off.
His parents arrived.
He was still pretty unresponsive. Tired.
We all fell asleep, or attempted to, around 3:30 this morning.
And I think we all woke up right around 7:30. Four whole hours of sleep…
Chad has slept most of today.
He had a slight fever this morning, 99.3.
He wasn’t able to take his morning seizure medications – due to inability to swallow and his sleep schedule.
He is tolerating the liquid meds just fine, thankfully.
He motioned towards his head a few times more than normal today, and would whisper a quiet “yea” when I asked about head pain.
He only tried to get up when he was wet – and that wasn’t often, either. Maybe 3-4 times today, if that.
He did want to get out of bed at one point, which gave me some hope for today.
The staff got him into his recliner and wheeled in front of the nurses station.
Where he slept.
For five hours.
He has made no attempt to eat today; even though we’ve all tried to push things on him.
He has had a few sips of various drinks, but nothing substantial.
If you add up all the time that he’s had his eyes open today, it might total just over an hour.
Even when he is awake though – he just stares. And has minimal contact, if any.
It’s definitely a change.
One I don’t like.
But one that’s happening, nonetheless.
I’m not sure what to think about it all; as I was certain Chad was going downhill Labor Day weekend. And then he perked up for a few days.
So, I’m not sure at this point.
I’m here with him.
And I’m ready for whatever God lays at my feet today.
Or the day after that.