Tuesday, June 14, 2011

All fall down

I got a panicked call from Mom yesterday afternoon while I was at work. She had fallen and could not get up. I packed up my stuff and made it to her apartment in record time. I had called her apartment manager before I took off to let him know about the situation. I wasn't sure if she was alright, had broken something else, damaged the hip she just had surgery on....or what was going on. It occurred to me that I might have to have her hospitalized again.

Her manager met me at the front door and we both went up to her apartment. When I opened the door she was sitting with her back propped up against her red chair. She told us that she had scooted across the floor after she fell. It seems that she toppled over on her upholstered bench when she was trying to put on her socks. She had hit her head against the wall, knocked over a brass lamp and the digital tuner on the television. We lifted her up to her chair and began asking her questions about how she was feeling now. Her apartment manager left and I began assessing the situation more closely.

I made Mom some food because her eating habits have begun to deteriorate. Once I got some food and coffee in her I put in a load of laundry. I took out the recycling and the trash. I made sure she had something to eat for dinner.

I left after that and told her that I would call her later. The phone rang at my house around 8:30pm. It was Mom. She said she had fallen again. I went over and found her laying in bed with the sheets and blanket pulled up to her chin. She told me that she had fallen against a wall as she left the bathroom. She told me that her upper left shoulder blade area hurt from falling into the wall. I wrapped an ice bag in a kitchen towel and put it underneath her.

Again, I asked if she had eaten and the answer was "No". I made her a plate of cantaloupe, ham slices and macaroni salad. I actually ended up feeding her. She was so wiped out she couldn't manage it herself. She mostly ate the cantaloupe and ate a little bit of the other items. I got her to drink a little water and take a body and back aspirin.

I tucked her in bed, kissed her goodnight and left about 10:30pm after cleaning up the kitchen and folding her clothes and towels. I put together her breakfast before I left for home. It was a long day.

Tonight I went over and made her dinner and helped her with her checkbook and some bills. I told Mom that I am going to need to take over her finances. She is not capable of understanding any of that anymore. She made a mean and paranoid comment about "I guess I will have to trust you:" I told her that I would use all the money for her. She lamented the fact that there won't be any left for my brother and I. I acknowledged that was the case. I told her she could give us some of the money if she wanted to do that. I told her to think about it and that we would talk more later.

So...visiting Mom is now almost a daily occurance. She seems weaker, more confused, and generally unable to take care of herself. She is still adamant...she wants to remain in her apartment. I don't have the strength to fight her.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Breathe in, Breathe out

I found Mom fast asleep in her chair this morning when I arrived to make her breakfast, clean her apartment and do her grocery shopping. She had been up since 5:30am getting dressed and having something to eat. She sleeps a lot during the day now because she is up at least five times a night going to the bathroom. She is technically incontinent, but it still able to manage it with night time pants....or adult diapers.

It took me a while to rouse her, but she finally came to and we started our morning conversation. I fixed her a half of a grapefruit, bacon, made some fresh coffee and another piece of toast with jam. I made myself the other half of the grapefruit, a half of a slice of toast with jam, cream of wheat, a slice of bacon and a cup of coffee. We just sat eating in silence. Mom seemed to revive a bit after eating this second breakfast. Her blood sugar must have been on the low side.

We discussed what she would need at the store and decided on a few things, as I had done a big shopping trip last week. Before I left, I bleached her plastic toilet seat that allows her to sit down on the toilet without having to sit down too far. This is particularly necessary now with her hip repair. I did the vacuuming and the dishes and headed out for the grocery store.

When I got back from the store, Mom was sound asleep again. I put the groceries away and made her a light lunch: a fried chicken drumstick, a serving of macaroni salad
a glass of water and a chocolate stripped shortbread cookie. She says her mouth is dry all the time. I try to get her to drink water whenever I can because I am sure Mom is dehydrated.

She talked again about how hard it was for her to breathe in the morning. She believes it is because of some kind of central heating system in the building. In truth every apartment has a discreet electric heating unit. I tried to explain to Mom how congestive heart failure affects the heart and lungs. She nods and then forgets what I have said. We repeat this conversation a lot these days.

As I watch Mom failing more and more each day, I feel a certain protectiveness and love for her that I have never really been able to sustain in my life. She no longer has the energy to fight with me, or criticize my life or choices. There is a softness about her now that I have never seen before. I wonder how much longer she will have to suffer like this...and wish that she can have a few more good days, or months before she dies.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Another new plateau

Mom is still struggling along these days. Some days are definitely better than others. She seems to sleep more and more all the time. I know this is a side effect of congestive heart failure...but knowing that doesn't make watching her slow decline any easier.

She is in a pretty depressed mood a lot of the time, or is incredibly anxious about something that keeps her awake all night. It is usually a bill she has received in the mail for her care while in the rehab facility. More and more she needs me to explain her bills, and her bank statement. She cannot seem to remember the things we did at the bank. No matter how many times I go over it with her, she cannot absorb the information.

She told me that she had gone "bananas" being in the rehab facility. I laughed and told her that in fact she had been a little "bananas" before she was a patient there. She laughed too.

Mom and I had a good talk the other night...but part of it was really hard. She told me that she knew I would be relieved when she died. Yes, part of me will be relieved of all the responsibility of looking after her, but the other part of me will really miss her. For all her foibles and idiosyncrasies, she is my Mom and I love her. Yes, she always does everything the hard way which invariably requires more time and energy on my part. Yes, there are many stories I could tell that would show her flaws and failings as a parent. But there are many other stories that show her concern for me, or her unflagging ability to love me.

I don't know where we are on the final leg of this journey, but I do know that I will be by her side until there is nothing else I can do for my Mom.