Venetian map & paintings in my dining room
March 8, 2006 was Dennis’ last time out of the house (alive). He had a scheduled appointment with Dr. Fessel at Kaiser and I was planning to leave work around 1:30 pm to go home to drive him to his appointment in his Dad’s ’95 white Chevy Lumina. But before I had a chance to leave, Dennis reached me on my cell phone to say that he wanted to drop off four paintings of Venice (he had bought the last day of our recent trip) to be stretched at “Back to the Picture” framing shop. Immediately I left work to go home in an attempt to prevent his driving. I was terrified he would be in an accident on his way to the hospital. He hadn’t been out of the house or even downstairs since our return from Venice on March 1st.
I got home – but he was gone. I considered running to the framing shop on Valencia; but then saw a taxi and went directly to Kaiser. On the fourth floor there was Dennis in the waiting room. He had dropped off the paintings and somehow managed to get to Kaiser. He didn’t know which level of the garage he had parked the car.
We saw Dr. Fessel – for the last time. Dr. Fessel stated that Dennis was on his final journey – that there was nothing more medically he could do for him. The various trial programs over the years had kept Dennis alive for exactly two decades. But now their effects cancelled each other out and Dennis had sclerosis of the liver. Dennis quipped: “I’m Irish… and I finally got the Irish disease – and it isn’t even from drinking!” That may or may not be exactly true – since Dennis had been indulging in internet-purchased imported absinthe for several months. I’m sure it wasn’t good for him – but at that point – what would have been the harm?
Dennis said he wanted to talk about end of life issues. I was completely caught off guard and was visibly upset, but Dennis seemed calmer knowing he would have an OUT of his own choosing, rather like Camus’ Myth of Sisyphus.
We decided to check out home hospice offered by Kaiser.