Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Transition

This is a photo of Mom last Christmas.  So much has changed since then.

We are in a transition with Mom's health.  The congestive heart failure now seems to be causing her health to decline rapidly.  She is weak, does not feel well, has a bad cough, and back pain.

When I arrived at the nursing home on Thursday night Mom had completely lost her voice.  She had a deep cough and was having trouble breathing.  She would not eat her dinner.  She said she did not feel good and just wanted to go to bed.  I had brought her a chocolate milkshake, so she agreed to take a few sips of that, but could not even drink half of it.  Her back was hurting so I got the nurse to give her a Tylenol.

Later in the evening, I had this nagging feeling that I should return to check on her.  She woke up when I arrived and seemed to be coughing and breathing in a labored manner.  The nurse showed up and asked her if she wanted oxygen.  As expected, Mom refused.  She looked at me and said she would be better by morning.  She told me she loved me.  I told her the same...and left feeling overwhelmed and sad.  It is so hard to see someone you love slowing moving in the direction of dying.

I talked with the Hospice folks by phone on Thursday and they agreed to evaluate Mom on Friday during their visit to see someone else.  The hospice nurse and the facility agreed that she would need to go back on hospice care once her doctor writes the order.  She will get visits from a nurse, some volunteers will visit her, she will get an extra bath.  Small comforts....

I visited Friday after work.  Mom was asleep in her room.  I took her to the dining room, but she refused to even consider eating.  I took her back to her room and left her sitting by her bed.  I did not have the energy to get her ready for bed, so I left before she started taking off of clothes.  I told her I would be back sometime Saturday.

I showed up for breakfast on Saturday morning.  Mom was dressed and ready to eat.  She did much better this morning and ate most of her meal.  She wanted to go back to her room afterwards, so I took her there and changed her shirt and sweater.  I hate to see her sitting around in food stained clothes.

I will be there for breakfast tomorrow morning.  I feel I need to keep in close touch.  It feels like her situation is very precarious....and that she could go at any time.  My therapist asked how I feel about all of this.  I feel sad.  Mom is my last close link to Dad.  She and I have been through a lot in the last 58 years.  Not all of it has been great...but she has done her best.  I appreciate that she is a strong character.  I hope she is able to go quietly and peacefully.  She has lost her ability to fight the situation.  Her body is failing but she keeps saying one thing over and over to me:

"I love you so...I love you so...I love you so."   Sometimes she included my Dad and my brother in her litany.  It is heartbreaking.

I always hold her hand and kiss her on her lips or her forehead and tell her that I love her too.

I love you too Mom..with all your contradictions.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A small life

It occurred to me yesterday that Mom has had a small life...a small territory bordered by her anxiety, her paranoia ...her fears.  It breaks my heart to see her now so diminished.  Her world is so small...the nursing home....her room there shared with two others..the dining room.  Sitting in her wheelchair watching the activity around her but barely able to participate. 

Her hearing is now almost gone.  Her appetite is still fairly good even though she complains bitterly that the food is terrible.  Her favorite meal seems to be breakfast.  Lunches and dinners are not that good.  She has gained some weight back, but is upset about it.

I wash some of her sweaters and bras on a regular basis.  I bring her candy or cookies...of pictures of my family.  She cries every time I leave...saying over and over "I love you so".  She wants to come live with us, but we are not set up for someone in a wheelchair.  Everytime I leave, I feel myself gasping for my own inner balance.  Each visit takes a little more out of me.

I promised Dad that I would take care of Mom ....and that is what I am doing.  It has been over 5 years now since his death.  I visit Mom every Tuesday and Thursday evening ....and Sunday morning.  The weeks since she was first admitted go by one after the other.  She has been taken off hospice care...she has improved.  My guess is that she is actually doing better with people around her 24 hours a day looking after her.

This is a long and slow descent.  I am going to need to pace myself because she is not going down easy...despite her wish to die sooner rather than later.

It is a small has always been a small life...I am her witness.