Do you ever wonder if your spirit guides or guardian angels are there for you when life gets hard?  I used to wonder about that but ever since my son died two and a half years ago, I have known that it is true.  I know they’re there, that he is there, supporting me and guiding me through life’s challenges.  If you have read my previous blogs, you have experienced my stories about how my son stays close to me, supporting me, teasing me, and guiding me through life’s difficult times.

In early January my father went to the hospital with kidney problems and dehydration.  He had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for about 14 years, yet over the recent year or two, there had been some clear and steady decline, sleeping more, eating less, and then in the last few months, no longer telling us his stories over and over again.

I checked in on my parents regularly several times a week and had hired a dear family friend to look after him five days a week so my mother wouldn’t feel as overwhelmed.  She and my mother kept me up to date with new developments.

My father came home from the hospital improved, but within a week he was declining again, falling more frequently, sleeping a lot, and awake very little with a very narrow interest in eating (lots of sweets!).

On Thursday, January 18, I found a penny by my car.  On Friday, January 19, I found a penny in a parking lot between my car and the yogurt shop.  On Saturday, January 20, I found a penny in the hospital parking lot (more on that later) and on Sunday, January 21, I found a penny outside my parent’s house.  Then on Monday, January 22, I found a penny near my office.  That’s a lot of pennies in a row!  I knew they were Pennies from Heaven, notes from my guides, my son, letting me know they’re there with me, nearby, watching over me.  When it started, I didn’t know why.

Very early Saturday morning (20th) I was awakened by my cell phone ringing at 1:00 am.  I didn’t get up, but then my house phone was ringing and that was earie, I just knew it was about my parents.  I checked the caller ID but it was unfamiliar.  I could not sleep.  I felt certain it was about my parents yet I didn’t recognize the phone number.

At 2:00 am, the hospital called.  I answered that call.  They reported that my father had fallen and my mother had called the ambulance.  They believed it was the EMTs who had called the previous time.  They had taken him to the hospital.  I asked why they had taken him to the hospital and if they were planning to keep him.  I knew he didn’t want to be there.  We had recently met with a social worker and completed a POLST form, a document where he was able to state in advance: “I don’t want to be taken to the hospital.  I don’t want to be resuscitated.  I don’t want any care except for comfort.”  At 2:00 a.m. I wasn’t thinking about that specific form, but I knew he didn’t want to be in the hospital.  They said they would only keep him if he had a broken bone.

The next morning, I called the hospital.  They confirmed that he didn’t have any broken bones but they were keeping him due to his intense pain.  I told them they had discharged him just three weeks ago in pain and I didn’t think it was necessary to keep him.  They left a message for the doctor.  Fortunately, by the time I spoke to the doctor, I remembered the POLST form, and although it had not been completely processed, I was able to tell the doctor what it said and he was respectful.  He would discharge him by 2:00 p.m.

At 2:00 p.m., however, the nurse didn’t want to discharge him due to his pain.  I had to advocate for his desires, which he could no longer verbalize.  He wasn’t making any sense at all.  He was confused about who I was, which had never happened before.  It took an hour to convince the nurse, get him pain meds, and try to move him to a wheel chair.  It was impossible.  On 10mg of morphine in addition to Ativan, he was still in too much pain to move.  I continued to advocate, “there must be a way to get him moved”.  Finally, she acknowledged that an ambulance could come and take him home.

Another hour passed, and two strapping young men lifted his sheet and slid him, almost effortlessly, onto a stretcher.  He moaned and then was quiet.  They rolled him out to the ambulance with me holding his hand.  He slept.  He no longer seemed to be in pain at all!  It was remarkable.  As soon as he was out of the hospital, he felt much better.

We got him home and into bed with a few minor moans.  After that, he had to be turned to avoid bed sores, and could have Morphine as frequently as every hour, yet he didn’t need it that much.  He just wasn’t in that much pain.  I got a crash course on caring for the bedridden from the hospice nurse.  Upon discharge he was referred to hospice.  He was in renal failure and the nurse assured me it wouldn’t be long, a few weeks maybe, and he wouldn’t suffer much.  “If I could choose how to die,” she said, “I’d die this way.”

I stayed all day, and went home to sleep, returning the next day.  My mother was in early stage dementia and I knew she wouldn’t remember what to do.  The caregiver wasn’t available on the weekend and I wanted to be there.  I wanted to be with him as much as I could since I knew it wouldn’t be long.  Sunday, I stayed the whole day again and the caregiver agreed to come for the night.  I left at 7:30 p.m. dead tired and went straight to sleep.  My father still hadn’t awakened and wasn’t eating or drinking.  At 9:30p.m., she called, he had died, so quickly!

It wasn’t until much later that I realized that there had been pennies each of three days before he died, around his hospitalization, the all-day care, the day he died, and the day after.  My guides and my son had been letting me know they were there, supporting me, guiding me, letting me know I was on the right track advocating for him to come home, all of it.

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