Aunt Olive

Aunt Olive got the influenza a couple of weeks ago. The flu started a spiral which culminated last Wednesday with it appearing that her heart and perhaps other organs were giving out. I flew home from AZ. She was calling for her Mama and struggling for breath. Mom, Dad, Lance and Joe spent a lot of time by her bedside. 

(I want to make one thing clear, however: the efforts of family and friends pale in comparison to the love, concern and kindness exhibited by the staff of the Fertile Hilton, aka Fair Meadow Nursing Home. When Olive was low, staff members of all levels and functions circulated through her room, whispering their love in her ear, making sure she was not feeling alone. These are extraordinary people, and the entire community is in their debt.)

For at least three days, Olla kept nothing down. She was, at times, in excruciating pain in areas typically associated with heart failure. Morphine helped. However, Olive being Olive, the wiser heads knew she could pull through. 

She's not out of the woods, but yesterday she was sitting up wanting her coffee warmer and saying oh, how she is so hungry. She wants to get a grip on her hallucinations and delusions. She asked me if I thought she could do it. Of course I said yes. The number one delusion is that Mama is out getting in fights with Mrs. Olson, awful fights. This delusion can be laid to rest by reminding Olive that Mama died in 1969. Then, sister Millie is out getting into fights. Millie has been gone almost twenty years. 

"What a relief!" Olla says, when she finds out that all these people she has been worrying about are safely in the grave. 

So, in this case, I think the compassionate thing to do is bring things back to reality. Olive does not have Alzheimer's, in which the compassionate thing to do would be to jump in the world of delusion and work with it. 

However, when Lance went in, he rubbed her back for a long time--and Olive thought it was Emil, the long-time maintainance man (and chaplain of enthusiasm, charm and positivity). Both Lance and Emil are of Phillipino descent, so that is understandable. Knowing how much Olive loves Emil, Lance let it go.