Archive for May 20, 2012

Time is Running Out for Stepdad

Mom called this morning. I had previously arranged to be off work Tuesday so that I could sit with stepdad while Mom went to her doctor’s appointment.

“Good morning! And how are you this bright, wonderful day?” I said cheerily into the phone to Mom for it is, indeed, a beautiful day outside. I had planned on raking and mowing, doing some limb burning, and generally just cleaning up outside before it gets too hot.

“Well, not too good”, my mother said tearily. Uh oh.

“What’s wrong?”

“Bob is in a semi coma. He can no longer swallow.”

“DAMNIT! Is it the flu? Is he in the hospital?” I asked anxiously, for his relatives had visited him when one of them was recovering from the flu, and Bob did not look well at all last weekend.

“No, he refused to go to the hospital. He’s running a slight temperature, and he’s on a strong antibiotic, but it isn’t working. I think it’s his lung disease.” Bob is 82, I believe, and has had end-stage COPD for years. Four weeks ago, when mom was in town for her doctor’s appointment and I was sitting with Bob, he slept most of the time and had a hard time getting enough air to speak. Mom went by and saw his doctor to see what else she could do, and he told her at that time that Bob had very little time left, weeks to maybe four or five months at the most. If it hadn’t been for mom’s devoted nursing over the last several years, he would have been dead years ago. He recommended hospice care. Mom spoke to Bob about that, and he refused.

I was still trying to talk her into putting Bob in the hospital anyway, for maybe strong antibiotics and/or antivirals might help. “But why?” asked Mom. “He doesn’t want to go. His lung function is still decreasing. They will intubate him and put him on an IV. He will be in pain and miserable, and it may bring him another week or even month of life, but that’s all. He wants to die at home.”

Dang, I hate that. I want to fix things, to make things right, and I can’t do a thing for them. They haven’t seen the grandkids for about a year because we’ve been too fearful of introducing viral respiratory illnesses to his environment. When mom gets back from grocery shopping or a doctor’s visit, she showers and puts on clean clothes before attending Bob.

Mom told me that she called to let me know that she wouldn’t be able to make her doctor’s appointment Tuesday. I told her I’d finish cooking and be right up. “No, you don’t have to do that!” she told me. She said that I’d try to talk them into the hospital which would just upset Bob, and Bob already said he wanted no visitors because he felt too bad. She said that she needed to get back to Bob, and said goodbye.

I thought about it for awhile, then called back. “Have you notified his sisters?” I asked.

“Well, they visited two weeks ago because I’d called to tell them that Bob’s health was declining fast. Now he doesn’t want to see anybody.”

“Do y’all need groceries or anything at all?”

“No, no. Bob can’t swallow, and I’m too anxious to eat.”

“Have you notified Chuck and Steve?”


“Well, at least I could do that.”

“I really need to get back to Bob!” Mom informed me, and hung up. She’ll be beside him, holding his hand, adjusting his pillow, and doing everything else that needs doing for an invalid, not leaving his side until the end.

This is going to be a busy next week, so blogging will be even lighter than usual.

I do wish that we would’ve thrown caution to the winds and brought his great grandkids up to visit, though. The kids haven’t visited, either, for the past year for the same reason….they were scared that they’d accidentally introduce a virus that would kill Bob.

UPDATE: Robert Copeland passed away at 9:20 p.m. Sunday evening. Mom was sitting with him holding his hand.


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