We are marking a significant anniversary this month; at least, I am. I realize I may be jinxing it by announcing it a bit early - by announcing it at all - but the end of this month will be a year since Michael was released from hospital the last time. Now this may not seem that important to the casual observer, and I'm fairly certain Michael has absolutely no awareness of its significance, but to me it is huge. An entire year without a single visit to the hospital is a record for Michael over the past several years. And I intend to keep him out.
As you are no doubt aware from your patient reading of my accounts, the past six or seven years have been defined by our hospital visits. And there have been many: a heart attack, suspected heart attacks, a mini-stroke, a kidney stone (affectionately dubbed Pierre), bowel obstruction, weird breathing issues, psychotic melt-downs. That's not counting the many trips to Montreal hospitals for those dastardly consultations for Deep Brain Stimulation. In short, rarely did a couple of months go by without a visit to our friendly healthcare professionals whose gentle natures and kind smiles turned brittle and wary over repeated visits as they came to recognize my dear husband, knowing that his arrival guaranteed a turbulent shift.
It is thanks to the support of a wonderful team of nurses and a doctor assigned to Michael's home-care that we have been able to keep him safely out of hospital. It is also a recognition on the part of all those concerned that my husband's wellbeing is seriously endangered the moment he crosses the threshold of these institutions and that, no matter what befalls him from now on, he is far better being treated at home than abroad. Of course, if he were to break a limb, heaven forbid, I will have no choice but to take him back, but for almost everything else - and I mean everything else - we have all agreed to keep him comfortable and happy at home, no matter what the consequences might be. With someone whose mental state is now so very fragile, I have come to realize there are worse things than dying comfortably - and perhaps prematurely - at home. I have become a firm believer that Quality is now preferable to Quantity.
This past year, as you know, has not been without its challenges even without the hospital visits. Many times I have had to phone the on-call nurse to consult on urinary tract and breathing issues, but each time, if required, a prescription has been dispensed with a nurse sent out to check Michael, then report to the doctor. Have I said yet how grateful I am to these kind souls who brave nasty weather and late hours to come to our door, always with a smile and a soft manner? Never has Michael lashed out at one of these valiant home-visit nurses and yet the same cannot be said of their hospital counterparts who may still bear the wounds from physical and verbal attacks thrown by my normally gentle husband.
I pray that Michael will one night just slip away in his sleep with only calmness and serenity in his soul. I have seen too many of his nightmarish delusional attacks accompanied by devilish hallucinations to wish that kind of fear on anyone at their end. And I know that is exactly how he would leave this world if he were to spend his last hours in a hospital. I pray, too, that I can hang on long enough to grant him that kind of peaceful departure whenever it might come.