Thursday, January 20, 2005

Morphine

I wrote this at Mom's bedside Saturday night. Writing it helped me face the reality of the situation, helped prepare me to say goodbye two nights later.
We're giving her morphine, a drug that has a sort of legendary status in my mind, a drug that got many good men addicted to it before we knew that it did that. Morphine is a drug of last resort. It's bad for the patient in the long term, so it's only used for patients that don't have a long term. It's so potent that it's dangerous, but once a patient is about to die anyway, that danger is irrelevant. Morphine doesn't kill you; it just tells you you're about to die. This drug of legend is what's keeping my mom asleep as I type. It keeps her comfortable. It keeps reminding me that she's about to go, that hope is gone, and all that's left is morphine.

When we got here, they'd already taken her off her feeding tube. This is another clear message. Through the tube she got water and food and water and medicine and water. Part of what makes it hard for her to breath is fluid in her lungs that she can't get rid of. By taking away her water, she may be able to breath longer. Of course, this means she will dehydrate and starve. She's a patient with nothing left, where the choice is food or air. We've chosen air. Air and morphine.
I'm not sure why saying goodbye helped as much as it did, but I think it had to do with letting go of hope. Perhaps it's better to let it go than to have it yanked away.
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