[MOL] Over at last [00223] Medicine On Line

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[MOL] Over at last

Dear Friends:
    I just wanted to let you know that Tom died this morning at 5:30 am 
holding my hand at home as he wished..  One of his last conscious gestures 
during the previous day was to reach up his beautiful thin arm, take my head, 
pull it down to his oxygen mask and kiss me through it.  He could not speak 
but I will never forget this expression of love.  He looked so beautiful in 
his coffin at Frank Campbell's  Funeral Home, with his constant dear Buddhist 
like smile back on his bace that I just couldn't believe he wasn't bluffing 
and would jump up.
    Since we began our struggle together we were as close and loving as at 
any time during our marriage.  I feel telling Tom about the death of my 
father on Memorial Day in retrospect may have hastened his decline a little 
but it was inevitable.  I also must say that the few weeks we were on Cabrini 
Hospice here in NY for me were extremely trying and disappointing. In MY 
experience, they were no help at all   I will always be grateful that I 
finally made the decision (regretfully not earlier) that whatever the cost I 
would  hire a superbly experienced full RN last from the finest nursing 
agency in NY. With all my medical knowledge I got no guidance about how to 
interpret what was happening moment to moment with Tom and what drugs to give 
and withhold.  In fact at 5pm last night a Cabrini nurse came by, took his 
blood temperature, examined him cursorily and left with NO INDICATION that a 
crisis was near.  The highly experienced nurse from Foley's in NY arrived at 
8 pm, immediately looked at Tom, took me aside, and told me he would not make 
it through the night.  I could hardly believe her.  He had 103 fever (no one 
had thought to even take his temperature) which she cooled with ice packs, 
alocohol rubs, and tylenol supppositories.  She comforted us both and handled 
everything including the administration of the morphine.  This particular 
agency only allows full RNs to handle such matters whereas the hospice only 
gives you an LPN the last 48 hrs, 
    Tom was an extraordinarily talented and kind person.  He made dozens of 
outstanding TV documentaries and I never met a person who didn't like him.  
He traveled every  inch of the US which he loved dearly.  He had a wonderful 
smile.  I will keep his ashes on our altar until my own death at which time, 
we'll be buried together.  If I can pull myself together, I will try to work 
on an obituary that I hope I can get into the NY Times (very hard to do).  I 
know this would make him very happy.
For the first time since his diagnosis I have a splitting headache so I won't 
write more tonight.  I always remember my grandmother saying "there's such a 
great difference between a person being here and not being here--physically 
that is."  Of course, Tom said he would always be here with me, but it's not 
the same.  
   Anyhow, thanks to all of you for your support during this difficult year.
I will write more when I can.  Love, Bess
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