That Would Be Terminal For You

The good news is the CT scan was normal.  The bad news is Mom is back in the hospital.  I just want to cry.  I tried so hard to avoid her going back in, but some things are just out of my control.  It isn’t her heart or her congestive heart failure.  Blood work showed that she has improved in two weeks.  But her legs just won’t work.  And the doctors all agree that something isn’t quite right;  she is a fall risk.  The ER doctor bluntly said, ‘you can’t go home because you might fall and break your hip, and that would be terminal for you’.   Ouch.  But it was what Mom needed to hear.  It was what I needed to hear because I wasn’t so sure I was going to leave her there.

I am here at home today caring for my three grandsons.  The distraction is good.  My sister-in-law is at the hospital texting me periodically with updates:  ‘waiting for MRI…   gone for MRI…. will take about an hour…  Doctor just in…. He is coming up with nothing’.  Great.  Not what I wanted to hear, but I guess I don’t know what I want to hear.  I’m not sure there are any good scenarios here.

So I wait.   Hard to be here and not there.

I don’t think she’ll be coming back here for awhile.  I think they will try to do rehab somewhere.   That “somewhere” will most likely be the local nursing home.  And that makes me want to cry too.   I know Mom doesn’t want to go there.  I told her I would do everything I could to keep her here.  I just pray to God if she has to go there, it will only be temporary.   I don’t want her last days to be in a nursing home.

I fear she won’t come out.

 

 

 

She Just Listened For Our Cries

I was born in a small town hospital and lived in an old white farmhouse for my first four years.  I hardly remember anything about that house.  There are a couple of snapshots in my head, but that’s about all.  I had two older sisters and one older brother;  he was still a baby himself when I came into this world.  I know my Mom was busy with all those kids.  Another sister was born three years later.  It’s a wonder she got any sleep at all.  They didn’t have baby monitors back then.   She just listened for our cries.

I had four babies of my own.  For the first three, I too just listened during the night.  I didn’t sleep soundly in those days.  The least little whimper from those kiddos, and I was wide awake.  I spent many nights in a comfy recliner, rocking babies and making promises to God if He would only make them sleep.  By the time our fourth and last baby was born, I had a baby monitor system.  I don’t know that we really needed it.  After all, I had never slept through a baby’s cry.  And the monitor only intensified every single burp and gurgle.  I think I got less sleep with that contraption.

Funny how life circles back around.  I’m lying in bed listening to my mom over a recently installed monitor.   I can hear her trying to get settled; a few grunts and several deep sighs.  I just tucked her into bed and turned off the light.    I don’t “tuck her in” every night.  She has been pretty independent, however, she is struggling right now.  Her legs are like noodles; not sure why.   As she was getting ready for bed, she dropped her hearing aid.  After bending or squatting to get it, she couldn’t get back up.  Thankfully, I was keeping watch in the hallway.   “Mom, you okay?  Do you need help?”    My husband and I easily stood her back up.  I know she hates this.  She hates being weak and dependent on anyone.

After she was done in the bathroom, I walked her back into the bedroom, and helped her into bed.  “Mom, please call me if you need to get up during the night.   Your legs are a little wobbly today.  Please let me help you.   I don’t mind getting up”.   I know she hates that too.   She doesn’t want to be a burden.   And she is not — no more than I was when I lived in her home and I needed her.

So as I listen over this monitor, waiting for her to fall asleep, emotion overtakes me and I begin to cry.  I let the tears freely fall and grieve for my Mom.    I’m worried about her.

I won’t sleep soundly tonight.   And that’s okay.

Lord, help me to enrich my Mom’s life.  I don’t want the days to just slip by.  I don’t want to get so caught up in the daily care of her body that I forget to nurture her spirit as well.  Lord, I love my Mom.   Help me to bless her.

Ephesians 4:29  Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.

 

 

Good Luck, PT

So Mom has been very lethargic and weak the last two days.   It may be that Physical Therapy did too much with her on Friday.  That would normally irritate me because they are the experts and they should know what they are doing.  And Mom, who has been rolling her eyes at me about physical therapy said, ‘see? enough of that!’

However, when I look at the choices of what could be wrong — PT messing up is the best option.  Because as I watch Mom, and do some reading about her symptoms, I think she has a lot of Parkinson’s Disease symptoms.  A lot.  I actually mentioned this to her new doctor last week, but he didn’t think so (after 10 minutes in the room with us!).   I also told him that she fell a couple of years ago — fell over backwards off a friend’s porch and hit her head.   I don’t think she ever went to the doctor for that accident.  Anyways, I must have said enough because he did order a CT scan.  She will have that done tomorrow.   So if I have the choice between PT over-doing it or Parkinson’s.  I choose PT screwing up.

But I will be shocked is it isn’t Parkinson’s.

By the way, PT is scheduled again for tomorrow morning.  Yeh, good luck with that.  I think you may see some eye rolling and attitude yourself from my Mom.   … just sayin

Lord, we need some help here.  Please give the doctors wisdom.  Help them discover what is going on.   We need some answers.  Mom is not getting better.  She should be getting better.  I want her to get better…

No Spunk Today

The house is quiet.  Everyone, that is Mom and my husband,  has gone to bed.  I know I should go to bed too.  It’s late, and I will hate myself in the morning for not getting enough sleep.  But I revel in this quiet.  This time that is all mine.  And it’s not like Mom is even much trouble; really she is not.  But it’s just I need some moments when I am not responsible for anyone.  Here. Now.

Earlier this week, when my husband got home from work, he stayed with Mom and I went to CVS .  I told him I was going to pick up a prescription, and I was going to take my time.  The drugstore, for pete’s sake, but we live in a small town where everything closes down with the sunset.

Yesterday, my sister-in-law invited my mother to her house for the day.  After I dropped Mom off, I was like a kid in a candy store.  What should I do? What should I do?  Truth be told, there were not enough hours remaining in the day to get done all I wanted to get done.

This sounds like I am complaining, and I don’t mean to be.  Seriously.  It’s just being responsible for another human being is a little daunting…. again.   It’s like bringing home that first baby.  No one can prepare you.  No matter how many times you hear “just wait ” you still don’t understand the constantness of parenthood until that baby is living with you 24/7.  It’s like that.

In some ways this is good discipline for me.  I can’t just drop everything and run to a store.  I have to prioritize and plan errands.  And that is a good thing.  Thank goodness, I  am a homebody by nature.  Even so…

Today wasn’t a good day for Mom.  And I am feeling very melancholy.  She was so weak and frail, and I guess, sad.  And that is hard to see.  She is spunky by nature.  No spunk today.  I wonder if I’ll ever see the spunk again.

Lord, I love my Mom.  Give her rest tonight.  Help her sleep peacefully.  Help her to have a better day tomorrow.  Give her back some of that spunk that I use to grumble about…   and Lord, forgive me for that.prayer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Don’t Know What To Do

Well, two days ago, I would have said Mom is improving.   After crashing on Monday when out-of-town family left, she rallied and has had a good week.  However, yesterday, she was just so confused all day.  She spent the day with my sister-in-law, and on the way to her home, she  asked me three times in the car, ‘where are we going?’.  Her home health nurse and physical therapist went there to see her.  But she didn’t seem to recognize them or understand why they were there.  Last night when my brother brought her home, she looked totally exhausted.

When she came out this morning, she was dressed — complete with shoes and earrings.    I thought that was a great start to the day.     But as we talked over a cup of coffee, and she fidgeted with her hearing aids (replacing the batteries again!),  she just didn’t seem herself.   I was hoping to get the name of her hearing-aid company so we could once again order batteries from them.  Recently, I’ve been picking them up at the local drugstore, and they just don’t last as long.  But Mom couldn’t remember the company or the fact that she had always gotten the batteries from them.  She was just confused by the conversation; so I dropped it.

After breakfast, she headed to her chair, and has slept the morning away.  I have banged pots and pans and dishes as I emptied the dishwasher.  I even used my cellphone to call the house phone so the ringing would wake her up.   I put on an old movie  — she loves old movies.  I turned the volume up really really loud , and made a mental note to pick up some ear plugs for myself.  “Mom, here’s a movie coming on.  Cary Grant and Grace Kelly”.   She roused and said, “oh, that’ll be good”.   I think she may have seen bits and pieces, but she still slept through most of it.

I woke her again; fixed her lunch.   She is cold.  I helped her into her fleece sweater; checked her temperature.  She says she feels fine, but she is just tired today.   So sad.  This is not my mom.

Usually I insist that she walks more; lets get that blood pumping.   I often have her “walk the circle” in my house a couple of times when she gets up to use the bathroom.   She is usually reading the paper or doing a crossword puzzle.  She loves to watch the news.  But not today…

I put a Julia Roberts movie on because Julia is one of her favorite actresses.  But she is sleeping again.   She hasn’t done this before — slept the day away.  I’m not sure what to do.  Will this disrupt her sleep tonight?  Is she sick?  She ate a good lunch.   She just can’t keep her eyes open today.

I don’t know what to do.

Lord, I need wisdom and clarity today.  These are the days that I get overwhelmed with this task.  I don’t know what I am doing.  Please help me to give her the best care.  Help me to know what to do and when to do it.   Please give Mom strength today.  Her body is so tired and frail.  I don’t know what to do…

Why Can’t I Just Go Home?

It’s been a little over two weeks since Mom came to live with us.  She was so incredibly weak when she arrived.   What did they do to her in that hospital?  She was better before she went in!  How can “taking water off” her body leave her so emancipated?  She looks like she has aged 10 years.

We have tried to settle into a routine, but life has been a little crazy.  Home Health Care is coming for awhile to help with rehabilitation.  There was one nurse who came for two and half hours just to ask questions.  There was a physical therapist who came for about an hour and half and evaluated Mom’s legs — walking, balance, etc.  The next day, an occupational therapist came to check on her arm strength and cognitive skills.  Then the next week, actual therapy began.

Mom isn’t a happy camper about therapy.  She rolls her eyes at me (kinda funny — is this payback time, Mom?).   She thinks once she is back on the golf course, she will get strong.  “Golfing will make me strong”.    I think I may have to take her into the backyard myself and let her attempt to swing that club.  I think she is a kinetic learner.  Once she actually sees that she cannot golf, physical therapy may not seem so silly to her.

So in the last two weeks, I think we have had a total of seven different professionals here.  Those who evaluate, those who actually train, and those who fill in for those who train when they go on vacation.  What a zoo!    And on top of all that, we had a big milestone birthday bash for my husband here — planned months ago.  I felt sorry for Mom.  So many people here and such a long evening for her.  She did great, but she was exhausted.

The next weekend, she went to my sister’s.  My husband and I had a short getaway planned to Chicago to complete his birthday celebrations.  Again, Mom, I’m sorry.   I know routine is your friend.  Life has been anything but routine.  She is confused about why she has to go there.  ‘Why can’t I just go home?’

I’m getting that question a lot.  I don’t blame her.   I try to make things as easy for her as I can.  I try to give her plenty of “space” to do what she wants.  I haven’t made any extra demands on her about eating or exercising.  She is eating well and walking.   I’m trying to give her as much freedom as possible.  But I know she just wants to be in her home.  I get that.  And it makes me really sad.  I wish I could give her that; and it breaks my heart that I can’t.

 

Lord, Show me how to make Mom as comfortable as possible.  Help her adjust to our home.  Make it her home.  Give her peace and contentment.  Please don’t her friends forget she is here.  Help me to be creative in getting them together.

 

 

The Days Need To Be Sweet

The whole saga about the memory patch seems like ancient history so much has happened this week.  I still don’t know if Mom took the patch off or not…. one phone call, yes; the next phone call, no.  It doesn’t even matter anymore.

Mom’s in the hospital — again.  Third time in as many months.  The nurses know her by name as her bed is wheeled into place.  She gained 20 pounds this week; all water.  I have called her every day, but I didn’t make it over there.  How can things change so quickly?  She gave no indication that she was retaining water.  The Cardiologist had just given her a stable report.  But here we go again….   Her heart won’t go out of AFIB….    And she is so confused; hard to hold a coherent conversation with her.  She is still trying to cover, and if I didn’t know the truth, she would be somewhat believable.  And that’s the hitch.  She isn’t doing well physically, and she is very confused — but tries to cover.  I don’t think she’ll be going back home alone.  I should have been better prepared.  We knew it would come to this, but it’s come much faster than we anticipated.

If she is sick, she’ll be willing to come here, but once she is a little better, she will be wanting to go home.   I don’t blame her.   It stinks.  Everyone wants to live in their own home.  So sad.

I need to get some books — I need to get educated on this.   I need to get prayed up!

God, please give us all the grace we need in the days ahead.   Help my siblings and I make these days loving and nurturing and sweet.  May my Mom feel loved and cherished.   We’re going to need your help.  And even as I write this, I feel a peace about it.  I know you will give all the grace we need to walk this road.  You have been faithful in the past … I can trust the days ahead to you.  And that is comforting.

A Phone Call at 2 a.m.

It’s been a crazy week.  A solemn week.  A phone call at 2 a.m.   I’m half asleep, but I think I hear the last few chimes on my cell phone.  My first thought is:  Mom!  But no, it’s not Mom, and it takes me a few seconds to change gears.  But I hear my daughter’s fiance’ saying things like, ’emergency room, sedated, intubated’.  And I physically feel his words in every pore of my body.  As I try to make sense of what he is saying, I scribble as fast I can on the pad by the phone.  He hands the phone to the ER nurse and she relates, more calmly, exactly what I’ve already been told with the addition that they are transferring her to the “bigger, better” hospital.  The weight of that sinks in.

I wake her dad, as I start throwing things into an overnight bag.  Why does she have to live 5 hours away?!  Dear God…. Dear God…. Dear God….   I pray the whole way there.

The better hospital has her stable when I arrive.  No mother ever wants to see her child like this — tubes and wires everywhere.   So much equipment in the room.  A machine is breathing for her.  Her eyelids, face and neck are very swollen.   I run my fingers through her hair (she always loved that) stroking her and telling her, ‘you’re okay;  it’s going to be okay; I love you’.  At one point, later in the day, as I am holding her hand and whispering to her, she squeezes back. Thank you Lord Jesus.  Thank you.

Anaphylaxis.  I was barely familiar with the word.  A few more minutes and we would have lost her.  Severe, life threatening, allergic reaction.  To what?  We’re still not completely sure.   And that’s the scary part.  Dear God…

While at the hospital, over the last few days, I have touched base with Mom every day on the phone.  She is doing fine.  She sounds good.  I know my sister has been there to visit.  I’m not worried about her.

When I arrive home, the adrenaline has left my body (I’m great in a crisis), and I crash on the couch for a complete day.  I’m worried and sad and scared and…

On Monday, after checking in with Mom, I go shopping.  Enough said.  I just can’t be in this house doing normal things.  I have been thanking God constantly, but now I just need a distraction.

On Tuesday, I’m scheduled to pick my 8 year old granddaughter up from school.  I am “in charge” of her while her Mom and baby brother go to Riley Children’s Hospital for a somewhat minor consultation.  While waiting for the school children to be released, I call Mom.  It takes her quite awhile to answer the phone.  She says, ‘bathroom emergency’.  Evidently this has been going on for a few days.  “I’m not taking my meds anymore.  They are making me sick.  I can’t live this way.”   Sigh.   As I convince her that she must take her pills; she has no choice, I also allow her to remove the “memory” patch.  Throw it away.  Don’t put on another one.  Let’s wait a few days, and see if that helps.  She accepts this and says she’ll take her pills.  We talk for a few more minutes, and I am confident she understands.  Pills must be taken. 

I call the doctor’s office just to let them know what’s going on.  Since our last appointment, we have gone for blood work and had the scheduled mammogram.  I cancelled the stress test — the Cardiologist, after all, gave her a “stable” status and isn’t seeing her again for six months.  Let’s not fix what’s not broken right now.   We are awaiting more blood work, bone density, and physical therapy.  I think that’s all.

I need to check my notes.  Having a daughter get sick has muddled my brain.   My whole life was held in balance there for a few days.  I haven’t even processed what “take the memory patch off” entails….  I can’t think about it right now.

One day at a time.  One crisis at a time.

Mom, daughter, granddaughter…  I hug the 8 year old a little tighter; a little longer.

Lord, thank you.  I am so grateful….so very grateful.

What Are Those Pills For?

I think I am seeing some improvement in Mom remembering details and the sequence of events.  Just little things here and there.   I don’t know if the new “memory” medicine is helping or if she is just recovering from being so sick in December, and things have settled back into a routine.

We had two doctor appointments today.  The first one was with her Cardiologist.  He was pleased with her progress.  Blood pressure, oxygen levels, pulse, and heart rate all passed with flying colors.  He declared her ‘stable’.  Yay!  In fact, he doesn’t need to see her for six months.  Good news.  Really good news, and we are feeling great when we leave and head to lunch.

Mom doesn’t want to eat.  She doesn’t even want to see a menu.  She just orders the soup of the day, not even caring what the “soup of the day” is.   She forces it down — no crackers, no bread.  This has been going on for a month now.  No appetite at all.  And bouts of diarrhea.  She has been elated with her weight loss, however, I am not.  Even though, yes, she could stand to lose a few pounds, I know her loss of appetite is not a good thing.

It is also while we are eating that Mom shows signs of the disease again.  I answer several questions 2 or 3 times each.  She has already forgotten that we have another doctor appointment today.  ‘Where are we going?’  And she tells me a story that I have already heard a dozen times.

Mixed emotions.  Oh, Mom….

I keep my grandchildren 2 days a week while my daughter works.  I love knowing them intimately and taking care of their needs.   I want to remember that these two care-giving relationships are not the same. I want to help nurture and train these sweet babies.  But with Mom, while I want to help and care for her, I don’t want to patronize her and “talk down” to her.  I want to respect her.  I want to keep learning from her … everything I can.  And I want to be patient and kind.  Please don’t let me be short with her.  Help me to listen intently to every story every time.

We get settled into the little cubicle at the Internist, and we wait …. and wait and wait and wait.  Argh.  When he finally arrives, he takes his time, and is sincerely interested — and it is hard to stay irritated.

And I am right; the loss of appetite and upset GI tract mean that she cannot stay on the new medicine.  We cannot trade one problem for a set of others.  He wants to try a patch instead.  It needs to be changed daily.  I cringed at that — I wish it was a monthly or even a weekly patch.   I am pondering that as he goes on…  ‘I think she should have a bone density test, a mammogram, blood work, physical therapy, a stress test and…’.  What? Huh? Oh, yes, of course.  It takes us way too long to “check out”, and as we leave, I have a stack of papers in my hand:  prescription, blood work forms, doctor appointment reminders.  And I am a bit overwhelmed, and I am no longer feeling “great”.

One day at a time.

I settle Mom back into her apartment.  I tell her I’m going to fix her pill box and take out all those little memory pills.  I also take the prescription bottle out of the medicine cabinet.  I tuck it into my purse as fleeting thoughts of taking them myself float across my brain…  helps with memory and weight loss…  hmm….

Mom brings me back to reality and says,  ‘what are those pills for?’  And I can’t help but smile.

Lord, I feel so inadequate to take care of her.   At times, it feels overwhelming — not that she is hard to take care of or difficult in any way — but the responsibility of it scares me sometimes.  What if she falls?  What if she has a heart attack while she is here?  What if?  Lord, protect her.  Give me wisdom and insight and discernment.

You Look Familiar

Ok, so among all this turmoil, there has to be some humor.   I don’t want to make fun of or dishonor my Mom in any way, but this is kinda cute….   just part of the journey.

Two weeks ago, we were at the pharmacy yet again, waiting for prescriptions to be filled.   This was our second trip that week.  The place was busy… people standing and sitting everywhere, waiting for their meds.

I was in line; my Mom was sitting across the aisle from me, chatting with another elderly lady.  This lady was a stranger, so they were just talking about the weather and the busyness of the store.  Mom decided she needed a few other items so she got up and went to retrieve them.  A few minutes later she was back and sat down again.  She looked at this elderly woman, and said, ‘you look familiar; you were here the other night when I was waiting too’.   Seriously, I almost laughed out loud.   Oh Mom…. I didn’t say it, but no, Mom, she looks familiar because you were just talking to her 5 minutes ago.

But the icing on the cake was when the other elderly woman said, “I was?  hmm, I don’t remember being here the other night’.    Oh, God love ’em.

Lord, If I don’t find some humor on this path, I just might get swallowed up by my grief.  But I ask that you  help us to find joy and laughter together.    I don’t want laughter at her expense.  Bring joy into Mom’s life.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.  Proverbs 17:22

How About A New “doo”?

One of the challenging things with Mom right now is determining what ailment is causing what symptoms.  Her eyes are watering, her head feels “full”.  Is this the congestive heart failure?  Is it a side-effect of some med?  Or is it allergies?  She has always suffered from allergies, but the last couple of years have been a bit more severe.  She moved into an apartment just about that time.  We are wondering if she is allergic to something in her home.  Oh my, what a mess that will be…. another move?  Can her memory deal with all her belongings being in yet a another new closet, new cupboard?  Oh Dear God….

She wanted to take me out to lunch on Monday.  We ate at a local eatery, then made our weekly visit to the pharmacy.  Afterwards, I hated to take her home so soon.  The weather here has been bitter this winter, forcing her to stay inside most days.   We live in a small community — not much to do on a very cold winter day, but I suggested we stop by a hair salon.  “How about a new doo, Mom?”  It had been months — years maybe — since a stylist cut her hair.  Mom is kind of a “do it yourself” woman.   The plumbing below her 20140210_151529kitchen sink can attest to that!  Anyways, after a couple of stops, we found a salon that could take her immediately.   The young, heavily tatooed, fuchia-hair-colored beautician was the perfect fit for mom.  She was kind and gentle and very patient.  I took a few pictures, but I only feel comfortable, at this point, posting one.  Some day I may add the rest.  Look at that head — hardly a gray hair!  She has never colored it.  I think I have more gray hair than she does.  It was a fun, normal thing to do.  I love my Mom.

I have not noticed any major memory lapses this week.    However, I do think the pharmacy has decided it is their mission to test her.  I have asked them to text and call me now.  Let me deal with all that confusion.   Seriously, there is just a lot of communication with so many drugs involved.   I made that decision when they ran short of a couple of her meds and wanted to only fill half the bottles.  Good grief.

We’ve had a communication problem with the new cardiologist.  Some very important drug dosage info was left off the paperwork — and oh my — their paperwork is their gospel.  I can’t seem to get the nurse “hotline” to understand what actually transpired.  These are the kinds of things that drive me crazy.  But lessons are being learned.  I will never walk out of a doctor’s office again without the paperwork being accurate.

During one of our conversations this week, Mom mentioned my brother’s upcoming trip.

She remembered.

Not only did she remember he was leaving, but she remembered when he was going.  I said, ‘do you remember where he is going?’  Yes, she did….

That, my dear friend, is progress.  I am hopeful.

Lord, hope keeps us going.  Thank you for the little things that bring hope.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal,” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

 

The Pill Box

I need to head to Mom’s today.  Her pill box needs attention.  We had a little bump in the road last week.  The doctors have changed her meds several times over the last month.  I’ve taken away all pills that she no longer needs.  I don’t want her to take any by accident.

Her pill regiment had been the same for years, but last month, after she got really sick, the doctor stopped two of those meds.  He put her on a different regiment.   It was confusing — even to me.  As we sat there, figuring out the dosages and dropping them into her new pill box, I knew she wouldn’t “get it”.  So I took one of each of the two pills that were stopped and actually taped them onto her hospital discharge papers.  ‘See, Mom, these two pills — you are no longer taking them.  I am going to write that here underneath them’.  DOCTOR STOPPED THESE TWO MEDS — I TOOK THEM WITH ME and I signed my name.

The next morning, she called, ‘did you take some of my pills?  I can’t find them.  They are not here’.

Last week, after she was feeling short of breath for several days, we realized that she had set one prescription bottle up high in the  medicine cabinet, thinking she wasn’t suppose to be taking those pills.   I hadn’t filled the box that last time.  Things had settled down a bit.  She had been on the same pills for a couple weeks.    She told me she could do it — by doing it before the boxes got completely empty.  She would just follow suit.  Well, that didn’t work.  Lesson learned.

It’s hard to tell right now how much of this is forgetfulness or just not listening or the “confusion” .  I just know that I have to do the pill box.  It is important.  She is taking meds for three different “ailments”, two of them are life-threatening.

And I pray to God every day that the pills themselves cause no harm.

God, help me help her.  Amen

Remember, Mom

My mother is sick.  She is very sick, and it has consumed me.  She has always been a strong woman — emotionally and physically.   But this illness is taking its toll.   She will turn 84 years old this summer, and she is worried her health will affect her golf game!  Yes, that kind of strong.  She may fully recover and be able to play golf this summer — that is our goal, however, seeing her frail and weak makes me sad.   This is new territory for both of us.  I don’t want to be morbid, but it has been hard to watch her try_to_rememberface her mortality.   I see something in her eyes that has not been there before.  And it grieves me.

The physical illness is acute right now, and is wrecking havoc on her body.  My sibs and I are concerned about her heart and her lungs.  But something else is going on, something friends and even doctors haven’t noticed yet.  She can’t remember.

Mom has always loved to talk.  She commands a room.  And she frequently forgets what she has said to whom, and so repeats herself.  She may tell me something 5 times — or forget to tell me at all.   That is Mom; who she has always been.  But this is different.  She covers well, but I am with her often enough now, I know the truth.  I know the details of her life, the sequence of events.  She is confused.  She can’t remember.  And its scaring me.

I was raised in a family with 4 girls (and a boy), and I have four daughters of my own.  I know first-hand that mother-daughter relationships can be tricky.  My mom and I have always been on good terms.  No major upsets.  We have done fine.  But we have lacked some common ground and some depth to our relationship.  I have yearned for something more, and I have always kind of blamed her for the lack.  But something has happened lately.  Through doctor appointments, trips to the pharmacy, “pill box” dates, and frequent luncheons, Mom and I are together — a lot.  We’ve finally ventured beyond the weather and Fox News.  We’ve had some important talks.  We’ve talked about life:  her childhood, my Dad and us kids.  We’ve even talked about death.  I didn’t want to put extra worry on her (she has lost so much lately), but one conversation gently circled around her memory or lack thereof.  I prodded softly, wanting her to open up and share what she thought was happening.

My Gramma forgot too.  Not the alzheimer-kind of forget, but the “D” kind.  We aren’t really saying it yet.  Like if we don’t say the “D” word, it won’t happen.  We are just talking about remembering and forgetting for now.  There have been advances since Gramma walked this road.  And Mom is already 10 years older than her mother was when her memory failed.  I asked Mom permission to talk to the doctor about it at her next visit.  I said, ‘He can’t help if he doesn’t know’.

We’ve since had the appointment.  Yes.  There it is.  Now we know.  I already feel the loss.

We are just beginning our journey with this new diagnosis.   The meds haven’t kicked in yet.  She is still confused, but I feel hope that Mom can be helped … that we can ward off this disease for as long as possible.

Our roles are kind of reversed now.  I am watching over her.  I’m checking in and calling.  I am the caregiver.  I feel an urgency to know her.  To learn all I can.  I want to stop the clock.  This is how I have always felt about my children, but now…

There is a new depth to our relationship.   Has it been me all along?

Lord, I don’t know what the days ahead hold for my Mom.  But I know you have it under control.  Psalm 139: 16 says, “You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”   May we trust you fully each and every day.