In the wee hours of Saturday morning, the 15th of March, I awoke with a sore throat. Fearing a cold coming on, I tried to ward it off with zinc and cold medicine.
Despite the medication containing a sleep aid, for the next two nights, I had difficulty sleeping. In the wee hours of Monday morning, I gave up, got up, and did some things around the house. The sore throat hung on.
My daughter often stays up late at night and sleeps past noon. Sleep irregularity is an aspect of myotonic dystrophy. On this day, she slept through my early morning rousing.
By late morning, fatigue from lack of sleep set in. I turned the ringers off the phone, inserted ear plugs, lowered the blind in my bedroom, and went back to bed. My cat joined me.
Kiko’s favorite hiding place is in my bed and when she hears a strange sound or the doorbell rings, she makes a beeline, burrowing down as far as she can go. How does she even breathe?
When I retire for the evening, she usually stays on top at the foot of the bed. But this day, she snuggled in with me … tunneling deep under the covers.
My daughter got up at half past noon. The house was eerily quiet. She thought I had gone out for the day. Then she spotted my purse. She opened my bedroom door and peered in. She saw two lumps in the bed … mine and Kiko’s. Neither of us moved.
You can imagine what question crossed her mind.
She did a few things and returned to my bedroom door. Kiko stretched but my big lump under the comforter didn’t move an inch.
She did a few more things and once again returned to my bedroom door. No movement. She was beginning to panic.
I coughed. She breathed a sigh of relief. I wasn’t dead.
Later, when she relayed this story to me, I asked her, “What would you do if I had died?”
“Call 911.” Tears began to flow.
“No, you wouldn’t need to call 911 if I’m dead. Call Wright State. They’ll come collect my body.”
Wake up call, Mom.
Time to make a list of directions in the event of my demise.
Nicole and I have had “the talk.” She knows my wishes should I be unable to advocate for myself. The last will and testament, trust, executor, trustees, living will, and advanced directives are all in place.
But we had not talked about what would happen if I died in bed at home.
Despite my efforts to ward off the cold, by Thursday the 21st, my nose dripped like a leaky faucet. I loaded up with medication in preparation for our Sage Sister meeting. I slurped up Elderberry syrup, trying to get every last tasty drop out of the little cup. Then I added a couple of drops of dishwashing liquid, got distracted, turned back to wash the cup and thought it still contained syrup.
You can imagine what I did next.
In Who Dies?, Stephen and Ondrea Levine advocate for using illness as an opportunity to investigate our relationship to life and explore our fear of death. As I attempted to oust the nasty taste in my mouth, I couldn’t help but notice signs of aging … signs of moving closer to death.
- I turn around and forget what I’m in the middle of … walk into the next room and wonder why???
- This past year my activities have been curtailed more often by illness … nothing really serious … yet.
- Whereas I used to look forward to evening activities, these days I can hardly summon the energy … my theater buddy and I are considering matinees for next season.
- My sleep is more often disrupted. And then I drag through my daytime goings-on.
- Naps call to me far more frequently.
You get the picture.
I awoke at 4:30 the morning I wrote this and gave up trying to fall back asleep at 6. So there I was writing. After I big yawn, I wondered if I could get back to sleep … I had an outing planned with friends that afternoon. Didn’t want to miss it.
And I need to get to making that list for my daughter!