Friday, April 15, 2011

Bittersweet times, indeed

Once again we are sitting in a clinic waiting room.

There have been many, many such waits in the last 17 years... Many, many times we have sat here with other families, chatting away the idle minutes while we listen for the children's names to be called.

We are at Outreach today. The annual Hospital City "roadshow" where the doctors, nurses and technicians from Hospital City set up camp in a local teaching hospital. Today, we will drive no further than The Greater Metro for Twinks annual springtime appointment.

This is, as much of the last 90 days have been, another bittersweet moment. Someday soon I will summon the strength to document everything here, but for now, this brief missive from the field will have to suffice.

In January - in fact, the day after my last post - my Mom had a large stroke, this one so serious that at one point we believed she had less than two weeks left. We spent a long, terrible night in the ER, only to make our way home through one of the worst blizzards in recent history, with Mom in an ambulance behind us. The EMT's helped us shovel out the front walk so we could get Mom back in the house. I was never so cold and tired at once in my life.

We tried - as hard as we could - to care for Mom at home, but it soon became apparent that we needed more help and equipment than could be brought in to our home. So, Hospice helped us transfer her from home to a local nursing facility, where she was until a week ago. During this time, she slowly regained the ability to first sit, then stand, and finally walk again. But she wasn't as before. She was clearly still suffering side effects from the stroke, the inability to feed herself being one of them.

She also became increasingly anxious and agitated. Nothing worked; no combination of drugs, no amount of time that I would spend with her could quell the rising tide of her anxiety.

Things escalated when a resident punched her, and then later the same day, another resident tried to throw a glass of ice water at an Aide that she was mad at... and most of it landed on Mom.

It was all just too much in one day. She became so upset that there was no calming her. She was moving non-stop, seemingly searching for who-knows-what. Always pedaling around the NH, ceaselessly going up and down the halls, day and night.

And so, last week I made a phone call that I had prayed never to make... I called the local Geri-psych unit to inquire about admitting Mom for treatment.

Today is also Mom's birthday. She is largely unaware now; whether she is at home, the nursing facility, or the Geri-psych unit, she seems to not notice. Her beautiful blue eyes are devoid of emotion. She does not know us, or realize that we have a connection to her.

But for right now, this moment is bittersweet because it likely the last such outreach Twinks will ever attend. There will probably be one more final trip to Hospital City, to say "goodbye" and "graduate" from the Shriners Hospital System.

And then this part of our lives will be done.

I have to go... The nurse has called Twinks name. It's time to begin this last visit, this final chapter.

Bittersweet times, indeed.


Chuck said...

Thimbelle - Very sorry to hear about all your recent struggles with your Mom. My mother's slow decline continues as well, although nothing like you've been through. Lots of *hugs* and hang in there, I know it's small comfort, but I think you're doing as good of a job managing the situation as anyone possibly could.

Ericka said...

ah boy. honey, i'm so sorry that you're going thru this. this just sucks. it's always darkest right before it goes completely black, right?

know that even when we both disappear from the internets for ages and ages on end, i still think about you. if you ever find your way to chicago (guess what? i moved! again!), first round's on me.

Ericka said...

i'm sweet? holy smokes, girlfriend, what have you been smoking? bwahahahahaha!