Tuesday, November 05, 2019
My sister was asleep when I entered her room. She woke briefly, said “Hello, Cutie,” and again closed her eyes. I said, “Do you want water?” Her eyes opened and she reached for a half-full glass on her bed tray but wasn’t strong enough to lift and move it to her mouth. I quickly helped and she managed two sips. The caretaker who let me into her room (I forgot my key) picked up my sister’s untouched breakfast tray. It was close to noon and the attendant said she’d return soon with a lunch tray.
“Are you hungry?” I asked.
My sister nodded, “I think so,” as her eyes closed.
I sat for nearly two hours while she slept. There never appeared a returning attendant nor lunch tray. Finally, I tiptoed out, went to the office and found the manager. I explained the no-food situation and inquired about their process of caring for my sister. The manager assured me that someone looks in on her every two hours and turns her in bed to avoid sores. She apologized, saying she’d make sure a lunch arrives shortly.
An attendant brought a food tray, set it on my sister’s bed tray and left us alone. I tried to encourage my sister to eat but her eyes wouldn’t open. I held near her mouth a spoon with soft food that she refused to accept. It felt wrong to try forcing her to eat. I found myself remembering an article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, about an elderly woman in her right mind who independently elected to commit suicide by self-starving. According to the writer’s informants, self-starvation isn’t an awful way to go. As it dawned on me that maybe my sister is committing suicide, I set down the spoon and considered this.
Nearly 20 years ago, our mother who had lost her memory lived in a nursing home, and as she weakened I authorized a feeding tube for her. I couldn’t let her go and the tube kept her alive longer–but maybe too much, for she seemed very ready to go before it actually happened. Yesterday, while considering a feeding tube for my sister and remembering our mom’s lingering life with one, I x-ed the idea. Besides there’s a key factor of my sister herself. She’d never want any sort of surgical intervention. Period, that’s who she is.
I left her still sleeping and on my way out stopped to chat with the nurse on duty. She said they do attempt to help feed my sister, but if she refuses won’t try to force her to eat. I understood, having just faced that situation.
Now, my sister sleeps most of the time and is starving. For all us others, it’s a waiting game.
Here’s a link to that WSJ article. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/at-94-she-was-ready-to-die-by-fasting-her-daughter-filmed-it/2019/11/03/41688230-fcd9-11e9-8190-6be4deb56e01_story.html
Dear Friends: Rosie-The-Brat, kept me running to re-capture her all afternoon. Diana