This forum was here for me years and years ago when my mom was dying. Several years after that I became my dad's caregiver and the forum was here for me then too. My dad died 6 years ago.
I've had a good friend for 22 years. He's now 77 years old. We used to go to lunch on a regular basis and met up with other friends for dinner. I talk to him about twice a month. Over the years he's slowed down a bit. No more lunches or dinners. I've offered to do his grocery shopping but he's respectfully declined. A few years ago I asked him if he'd keep my name and number in a prominent place so if he should get sick someone would call me. I sent him 2 laminated cards with my contact info on them. I wasn't convinced he'd ever use them. He's an introvert, he likes his solitude and I didn't want to encroach upon that.
Earlier this week I received a call I'd been half-expecting for years. My friend was in the hospital, he didn't know which one. He left me a voice mail asking me to find him. I found him immediately and called him. He sounded clear, alert, but sleepy. He said he's come to the end of the road and that there's nothing left for him to do. He wasn't maudlin or depressed as my friend is the eternal optimist. He said he's ready for whatever comes next.
Later that evening I called the hospital to find out how he was. I knew they probably wouldn't tell me anything and they didn't so I just asked the nurse if he was comfortable and she said yes, he is, he's in bed. I was relieved.
I visited him the next day. Knowing that he's a very private person I kind of tapped dance around getting my contact information into his file. I asked him if that would be alright. I told him I'd like to be able to call to see how he is and that it might be a good idea if he had someone advocating on his behalf. I didn't think he'd go for it but he did. He was all in. Kept telling everyone who entered the room that I was to have full disclosure to his information. I think he enjoyed it. He has no family. He hasn't had family since I met him 22 years ago. No long-lost nephew, no ex-wife, no 3rd cousin twice removed. He is all alone in the world and he's dying and he needs someone to be there for him and I want to be that person.
He was moved to a hospice facility yesterday. I tried to call him there but couldn't reach him. I couldn't reach anyone. But he called me later. He said he was confused, that he didn't know where he was, and that he was scared. My dad died of liver disease and I would get the exact same calls from my dad towards the end. I told my friend that I would call the nurses station and see to it that he got something to help him sleep. I didn't make that call. It was his first night there and I didn't want to start off by maybe making a nuisance of myself with the staff. And he told me that a nurse had been in and said she would be back with something to help him sleep. But my friend was disoriented and didn't know if the nurse was coming back at all. It was 9pm and I didn't want to call there and start hollering about my friend not getting his medication especially since he was confused and might have gotten it and forgot.
What am I doing?! I'm a full-time student. I can barely keep up with my schoolwork as it is. I was in class a couple of days ago and became so overwhelmed and anxious I walked out of class and didn't go back. I drove home and took a nap!
The way I look at this is that I have made a commitment. I am responsible for ensuring my friend gets what he needs from hospice. I know once hospice becomes involved it's a game-changer and my friend may be a little confused at first. He's in a new facility with new staff and it may take him some time to become acclimated.
Can I take this on?? I guess I already have.