(NOTE: Photo at left – Reverdy Lewin Orrell IV, Reverdy Lewin Orrell III, Mary (Martinek) Orrell, Reverdy Lewin Orrell Jr – 29 March 1980).
Yesterday was a very difficult day in the Orrell household. My father had a terrible night starting about 2 AM (early Wednesday morning). We thought he was going to pass several times in the early morning; however, he rallied about 7 AM and slept quietly until about 10 AM.
The Hospice lady arrived about 10:30 AM to give him his bath and help make him more comfortable. Shortly after that the Hospice nurse arrived at the same time the Hospice Social Worker arrived. This was the first time we met the Hospice Social Worker. She was very nice.
What a huge difference one week makes. This time last week, my impression of Hospice was less than positive. Now, we have 3 wonderful people who truly care about my father. This helps soften my first impression of Hospice. However, I’ll never forgot the actions, attititude and comments of the initial Hospice nurse. My distain for her is immense, but I still must keep very focused on my one goal – the comfort of my father. I’m sure when this nightmare comes to a close Hospice will ask for some type of feedback. At that time I’ll give it to them, written out on paper with a complete dialog of what the original Hospice nurse said. It will include a link to this blog so they can see what the rest of the world has saw about the events of the first visit. Under no circumstance will the previous blog entries be changed or altered. I can only hope that the over 1 million blog hits from last month continues. People need to be aware of what can happen when dealing with the health care industry. Let me refocus now, as I don’t want to go off on a tangent.
The Hospice nurse said his vitals are still OK and this could go on for my father for an undetermined length of time. I certainly hope not. It is not fair to my father, a man who lived life to the fullest.
I certainly don’t see how he can last much longer, regardless of what the nurse said. Each day brings new challenges and heartbreak as I watch my father slow slip from us. Each day I watch him go closer to heaven. He is sleeping more and is not as alert with each passing day.
The i.v. went smoothly yesterday; there was no blood backing up into the plastic i.v. tubing. His voice is now completely a whisper; and other physical features are changing. This is a horrible event to watch. I have only been more than 30 feet away from him a very few times over the past two weeks.
He is even sleeping more during the day and getting him to take medicine is a real chore. Last night, beginning about 7 PM, he refused medicine for the first time. He started slipping away; however he wasn’t talking out loud as he did very early in the morning. His chest rose heavily; then stopped moving for long periods of time. Sometime he remained motionless for 7 or 8 seconds at a time. At one point I walked into the room and saw he wasn’t moving. I thought it was over. I yelled “Dad” and started to shake him. He then opened his eyes, which were both discolored and hazy. My Mom and I sat on each side of him, holding his hands.
I gave him a full dose of morphine to help his breathing. I also gave him something to sleep. About a half hour later his breathing had returned to normal and he was in a deep sleep. That began about 10 hours ago and he has not woke back up. That is the longest stretch of time I can remember over the last several weeks that he has slept.
He had a few visitors yesterday including his brother in law, Bill Malle, and Bill’s wife Alexia. Johnny from next door, a dear friend of my parents was finally able to come over to visit. Johnny has always been there for my parents; quick to fix or repair anything that broke. This has really affected him and it took him quite awhile to be able to see my father. That is certainly understandable as Johnny loves him very much. My father lite up like a Chistmas tree when Johnny came in the room. It will probably be the last time I’ll see him smile.
After my father went to sleep, I was able to get my Mom off to bed. I stayed up for a few more minutes, connecting to my work computer to try and do a few more things. The company I work for has been very understanding of my situation, telling me to take as much time as I needed to care for my Dad and Mom. I certainly appreciate that, although I am aware this process might take another week or two to come to a close. I can only hope they remain understanding. I’m going to need a few days to myself when this is all over.
On a personal note, I was able to sleep straight through from about 11:15 PM last night until about 4:45 AM this morning. That’s about 5 1/2 hours straight which is the total amount of sleep I had in the last 48 hours. It is certainly the longest length of time I’ve slept in the last 2 weeks.
While my father has certainly enjoyed visitors over the last 2 weeks, we’ve reached a point where he is becoming unresponsive. In the last 24 hours he has only been awake for a very few hours. At this point visitors will probably be limited to his immediate family – his grandson Reb IV, his sister Mary, his brother Richard, and his niece Phyllis, a trained R.N., who helps care for him. He wouldn’t want to be seen or remembered like this. My mom and I will see how this morning goes before making that decision. We’re at a point where I, my mother, Nora, Reb IV, Richard, and Mary, need all the remaining time to sit at his side. Phyllis, my cousin, is wonderful. She drives her father, Richard, over every day to be with my Dad. She has helped me out greatly in teaching me what to look for. She will be there at the end and beyond and is included in the above list.
My father hasn’t really eaten a meal in about 6 weeks. He told Nora yesterday that the fungal phenmonia and leukemia wasn’t taking him fast enough. He told her he was now intentionally starving himself, as that would be quicker. We will make no further attempts to make him eat.
At this point, it might be difficult to even get him to take medicine. We’ll learn quite a bit more as each day progresses.
The last few days he has become increasing uncomfortable in the bed. However, we hasn’t said anything the last 24 hours. Being asleep is a good thing in that respect. He has no pain.
His breathing is very swallow. Eventually it will stop and my father will be gone to a better place.
I’ve noticed that while I’ve been strong over the last two weeks, that the pressure and strain is slowly starting to get to me. Certainly the lack of sleep hasn’t helped.
I’ve never, for one moment, expected him to pull through this. I’m well aware of what the doctors said regarding his timeline. However, I’m been very focused on being his caregiver – trying to get some bites of food and liquid in him, checking on the humidifier level, checking the oxygen situation, constantly checking on when the next medication was to be given, giving him the breathing treatment, running the i.v., etc – that I have not had time to step back and grasp the total situation.
While others began their mourning process a few weeks ago, I am just entering mine.
It hit me hard early this morning and I stood outside and cried for 5 minutes straight. I’ll never hear his clear voice again; now it will only be whispers, if that. I’ll never be able to ask him directions on how to get somewhere. We’ll never be able to enjoy a good raw beef sandwich together with a huge mound a lean ground beef, smoothered in raw onion and sprinkled with lots of salt and pepper. We’ll never get in the car together and take a nice drive; something we’ve done thousands of times before. I’ll never hear him laugh again. I’ll never show him what he did wrong on the computer again and how he messed up his email account. I’ll never see him walk into a room again and see his shining face. I’ll never be able to talk to him about anything together or sit with him and listen to talk radio. I’ll never be able to receive a good hug from him and hear him tell me that he loves me.
My father and I will never sit in lodge together, at least not on earth anymore. Someday we’ll sit in the all glorious and celestrial lodge above. Dad was a dedicated and faithful member of the Masonic fraternity since 1953. He was always there for me during my Masonic career. Ironically, he only missed my 1st degree in Palestine Lodge #189, as he had pnemonia and couldn’t attend. He was there every year for installation as I moved through the chairs. He was there when I was installed Worshipful Master of Palestine Lodge and presented me a beautiful Masonic watch. My father in law at the time, Fred Gross, present me a handmade gavel. I quickly rapped up the lodge and instructed Past Master Dan Stone to escort my father to the East. At that point I handed my father the gavel and turned the lodge over to him. There before about 150 Masons my father wrapped the gavel once, seating the lodge. Dan Stone, now a minister, will conduct my father’s final service when the time comes.
Looking back, my father and I, sat together in lodge for the last time, about 2 years ago, when he was presented his 50 year membership pin and certificate.
Back in 1983, I joined the York Rite and received my first degrees in Baltimore Royal Arch Chapter #40. At that time, the secretary of the lodge was Norman G. Williams, a man both my father and I became very close with. Baltimore Chapter held a dinner before each meeting. My father and I always attended together. We often talked about that. My Dad was there when my son was installed Master Councilor of Palestine Order of DeMolay and was there when my son was installed State Marshall. He and I were charter members of Pride of Baltimore Royal Ark Marniner Lodge #7 and Southern Cross Council #264 of the Allied Masonic Degrees. He was there when I was installed Sovereign Master of Southern Cross. We took our Scottish Rite degrees together. He was always there for me. I know that Norman G. Williams and Fred Gross are waiting for him now, eagerly awaiting the moment when they can sit in lodge together forever.
He’ll never meet his great grandson who willl carry his first name as his middle name. Jackson Reverdy Orrell will never have the pleasure of sitting on his lap and being teased, as all the children in the family have. Dad was so happy and proud to learn that Sara and Reb were expecting.
Everyone of us are about to loose something very precious – the love and company of my father. Baby Jackson will only know his great grandfather through photos, stories, and the ‘Reverdy’ tree which will be planted in his front yard.
Perhaps baby Jackson will suffer the greatest loss of all.