This entry was posted in General

Timeline of Bonnie's death

One of the things I mean to do at some point during this year of blogging every day is write a series of posts about what it was like when a close friend suddenly became ill and died, and I ended up with her health care proxy, power of attorney, and being the executrix of her will. I felt unprepared for all these roles, and maybe writing about how I did them will help someone else who has to do it.

I've mentioned this in a couple of posts, but not started organizing it in any way. So I thought the first step might be to write about the timeline in which things happened.

October, 2007
Bonnie mentions that she's sleeping about 14 hours a day. I didn't think anything about this until much later, but if anyone else ever tells me something like that, I'll remember that it was the first sign that something was really wrong with Bonnie.
November 11, 2007
Bonnie tells me that she's having trouble breathing, as in getting out of breath when she walks across a room. I urge her to go to the doctor and have it checked out.
December 2, 2007
Bonnie arrives at rehearsal at my place, and sits on the top of the front steps for a while to recover before going up the flight of stairs to my apartment. If she had been a child, I would have called an ambulance for her right then, but she not only rehearsed, but went on to another meeting after the rehearsal.
December 3, 2007
Bonnie has appointment with doctor, who suspects pulmonary hypertension and schedules tests for a couple of weeks later.
December 4, 2007
Bonnie fails to make a rehearsal (very unusual), and at about midnight calls to say that she fainted in the bathroom, has called the ambulance, and can I take care of her cats the next day. She ends the conversation by saying, "If you don't hear from me, assume the worst."
December 5, 2007
What I actually did this day is probably a full post, but Bonnie called me very early in the morning saying that she was at the Salem Hospital, had been diagnosed with blood clots in the lungs, and could I get the cats taken care of and bring her some stuff from her house.
December 28, 2007
Bonnie released from hospital, with a prescription for a blood thinner and appointments with oncologists.
January 5, 2008
I had total hip replacement surgery on January 4, and Bonnie visited me in the hospital on January 5. This is the last time I saw her when she wasn't in a hospital. I was getting a blood transfusion, so I was probably actually in worse shape than she was, although that's debatable. She had stopped at my place and dealt with the stairs, and then dealt with however many hospital corriders there were to get to my room, so she looked pretty tired.
January 7, 2008
This date is approximate; I was in the hospital and not on email, so I don't have a good record. But it was certainly within a day or two. Bonnie was bleeding from the GI tract, so she took the cats to the vet to be boarded and checked herself into the Lahey Clinic hospital in Burlington.
Some time between the above and January 23
Bonnie was in the hospital without email, and I hadn't yet set up the list for regular updates to her friends, so that's why this date is so vague. They decided to treat the blood clots by installing a filter in a major blood vessel so that clots that formed in the lower half of her body wouldn't reach the heart, lungs, and brain. Almost immediately, the filter clogged up, so the lower half of her body swelled up and it was impossible to move her. Essentially she never left her bed after this.
February 9, 2008
Several really upset phone calls from Bonnie. The medical thing that happened apparently was that the cancer had eaten a hole in her intestine and stuff was leaking out into the abdominal cavity and causing infection. So they weren't letting her eat or drink, and she was pretty scared about the dying thing. It is about this time that she rewrites her will and her health care proxy and power of attorney, naming me, with Phyllis as an alternate.
February 15, 2008
They tell Bonnie that she's about to die, if she doesn't have risky surgery to fix her leaky intestine. She asks for the surgery. This is the last time I talk to her on the phone. She goes in for the surgery at about 3 PM, and at 10:30 the doctor calls me to tell me that she came through the surgery, and that they've removed some intestine and fixed the leaks, but that there's still a lot of cancer in there.
February 19, 2008
The lawyer and I agree that I should take power of attorney. Bonnie is under heavy sedation and expected to continue to be unconscious for at least a couple of weeks.
March 5, 2008
Bonnie seems conscious and may be trying to talk, but is unsuccessful.
March 12, 2008
Phyllis and her husband and I meet with Bonnie's doctor, who tells us that she has a small number of months to live, and will never be able to live independantly again. She is clearly able ot understand what people say to her, but not to talk, or to move her left side. The oncologists do not consider her a candidate for further chemotherapy, but if the motion problems are due to cancer in the brain, they might be able to do radiation.
April 1, 2008
Bonnie bleeding from GI tract, needs transfusions. The doctors want to know whether they should do an endoscopy or just stop the blood thinning medication and hope that works.
April 4, 2008
Discussion of hospice care with palliative care doctor and social worker. Several friends visit and play recorder ensembles; Bonnie clearly enjoys this. The cats are delivered to their new permanent home.
April 11, 2008
The Cantabile band meets at Bonnie's room in the Lahey Clinic and plays for over an hour. Bonnie is clearly enjoying it, and asks (by gesture) for more several times. This may be the last time she is really able to react to a group.
April 15, 2008
Bonnie moves to hospice. We have a conversation with the hospice social worker about what she expects. She is quite alert, and writing very clearly.
April 19, 2008
Bonnie is no longer strong enough to write legibly.
May 3, 2008
Group of shape note singers come sing for Bonnie. You can imagine that she's enjoying it, but she isn't really responding much.
May 9, 2008
The hospice nurse and I agree to discontinue the tube feeding.
May 18, 2008
Bonnie dies.
May 24, 2008
Funeral

I'll write another timeline about the executrix and POA stuff. And of course lots of the above could be expanded. But usually these posts take me less than an hour, and that was over two hours.

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One Comment

  1. Catherine
    Posted May 4, 2009 at 2:15 PM | Permalink

    Hi, Laura,

    I think that your writing will be helpful, especially to someone who finds her/himself in the position that you were in. For me, it was very moving to read.

    Catherine

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