This last visit looked like the final one. The rabbi lead the family in prayer for a miracle or for gentle passing (honestly, I don't remember because I was so distraught). Because mom was obviously struggling and in discomfort, I, as the health care advocate who knew her Do Not Resuscitate wishes, agonizingly ordered the removal of the breathing tube.
To our surprise (and the doctors consternation!) Mom started breathing on her own.
She is now home. She'll have nurse aide visits and physical therapy for as long as Medicare will cover the costs.
She uses a walker but is anxious to get rid of it. She continues to do her exercises as she brushes her teeth twice a day. She is feisty and sharp as ever.
And I am lucky to have her around for however much precious time she has left.
Please, please, please plan ahead. Have your loved one select a health care advocate. Provide your physician and hospital with a copy of your health care directive. Keep a copy of current medications in the medicine cabinet and/or above the refrigerator. Check out how hospice or palliative care can help. And do a lot of praying. I did.