So I started out writing about Christmas Lights...

4 years ago

I started this post around 5:30p was going to be about how the unusually warm December weather apparently gave everyone the same idea..."let's put up Christmas lights!"  That was at 5:30p.   But when you're married to a funeral director whose "on call" on Sunday night, well, plans can change pretty quick.

It was a quarter to six and I was still stuck on the first line of my post..."Who puts up Christmas lights in 60 degree weather?"  The phone rang and it was a death call.   Sometime earlier in the afternoon, a lady around my age had collapsed at her home.  The paramedics had worked on her for a full hour, but she couldn't be saved.  Now normally in Milwaukee, if your under a certain age and you collapse, you earn an automatic trip downtown to see the medical examiner, but in this woman's case, she had been under hospice care at one point...although she wasn't at the time of her death.  I'm pretty familiar with that mom and I have had several discussions about her going on hospice, and several weeks ago, they did come out to visit my mom.  She has COPD, Pulmonary fibrosis, and her kidneys are failing.  She has been in the hospital several times this year.  She's been in enough times that I can tell you what day they serve the rotissarie chicken...and that you're going to need to salt it...

But my mom turned down hospice for now.  And I can understand why.  My mom gets pneumonia like some people get colds, but when my mom gets it, it's a trip to the ER, and usually a three day hospital stay.  My mom can't take oral antibiotics, or at least the strong ones she needs now, they make her throw-up.  So she needs her antibiotics through an IV...but for hospice, antibiotics through an IV is considered "agressive."    And they wouldn't allow that if she was in hospice.  And to my mom, the thought of choking from pneumonia, is scarier then the thought of having no help as she struggles at home.  Now don't get me wrong, she does have my dad, my 17 year old niece, and the neighbors, but she has me everytime she calls and says she doesn't "feel good." 

 The last time she didn't "feel good" I immediately got in the car and drove 6 and a half hours to Iowa...I took Highway 18 through the Mississippi River Valley because there's an incredible pizza joint just over the bridge from Monona, it's called TJ's and it's worth all the speed traps that line the highway between Madison and the Mississippi...and because GPS said that it's quicker then taking I-90 through Minnesota.  It's not.  There's no stoplights or signs on I-90...and you can drive 80...opps...70...OK, I only drive 9 over, but that's only if I'm following the trucks...the reason I only do 9 of my radio listeners use to be a sheriff in Wisconsin....he had a saying, "9 your fine, 10 you're mine."  I haven't driven 10 over since.  Back to my mom, she seemed fine albeit a little tired.  Six hours later I rushed her to emergency where they put her in ICU for a couple of days.  When she got out they sent over nurses who came in a couple of times a week for three weeks.  The nurses made sure my mom was taking the pills she was suppose to and doing her breathing treatments and such.  Then when my mom is considered "stable," medicare stops covering them, and my mom's health slowly starts to slide downhill again.  And the hospice talk starts all over again.

At a quarter to six, my husband thought he might need my help for this "death call."  This woman was at home, on the floor, and my husband wanted to make sure he had enough help to get her out of there.   We went over to the funeral home to get the van, and when we drove over to her house...her Christmas lights were on.

Cindy Huber

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