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Saturday, June 4th Itchy, Bitchy, Twitchy

The hospice nurse told Ann this morning that my father was at the beginning of the end.  I thought that was a week ago, but apparently not.  One of the other nurses put the stages towards death as Itchy, Bitchy and Twitchy.  In the very beginning, your skin gets very itchy.  They have been rubbing my father with some kind of lotion and giving him Benedryl to keep him from itching because it’s been bothering him so badly.  For the past two days, I would say Bitchy about covers how he has been.  He’s been agitated.  He wants help, then he doesn’t want help, then he wants to know why you’re not helping him.  He keeps repeating that he’s stuck there – we don’t know if that means in the bed, in the hospice, or here on this plane.  It’s a difficult thing communicating with him.  We had his TV on tuned to a Clint Eastwood movie – one of my dad’s favorites.  Ann said to him “You like Clint Eastwood, don’t you?” and my dad said, very belligerently, “NO!”  

He’s also not eating very well.  He ate about half of his lunch, with Ann coaxing him.  At dinner, though, she barely got a few mouthfuls into him. 

It’s been very difficult for Ann to think about letting him go.  Whenever they want to medicate him (which they did yesterday rather heavily), she says she doesn’t like it when they give him so much medicine that he can’t interact.  If she didn’t push the food, I know he wouldn’t eat as much as he is eating.  I made the comment to my Aunt Joan tonight that she has been taking care of him for so long, she doesn’t know how to stop, and I’m thinking unless she does stop, he’s going to remain stuck.

Ann is going to spend tonight at the hospice.  They told her she could even take the bed next to my dad, since no one is using it.  She doesn’t want to leave his side at all, and you know they always say that people won’t move on if there is something holding them too tightly here.  That’s why people die the minute you leave the room rather than when you are hanging all over them.  I think that would be my dad, except I really don’t see Ann leaving him.

I can say now with some authority that dying really is something to be done suddenly, without warning, in your sleep if possible.  It seems difficult for those left behind at the time, but this that my father is doing is much worse for everyone.  I pray I go quickly and don’t do this to my girls.  I would hate to think that I caused them this kind of pain.