Tuesday, December 31, 2013

November/December 2013

I posted another "good daughter" whine, and several days later got a 1AM call from my brother.
Mom had collapsed in her house. Severe pneumonia. She also broke her shoulder--but I probably shouldn't say "also", because it's the shoulder break that's been the key to what followed.

They weren't supposed to intubate her, but they did. I drove from Northern VA to NYC in the night. When I got there, less than 5 hours later, she was in the ICU and the doctors didn't expect her to make it.

They didn't know my mom. As her oncologist has said, she obviously hasn't read the book on her illness.

Though it has progressed from MDS to acute leukemia, though she had severe pneumonia, though she was on the respirator for 3 days, she made it.

I spent over a week there. Went from the ICU to the regular floors with her. Helped her progress from a feeding tube to a foul puree diet. Spooned tea into her until they finally promoted her to a soft diet.
Dealt with doctors and nurses and dieticians and therapists. 

Dealt with her. She was in constant pain from a bedsore, from the broken arm, from other things. Every time she was turned or cleaned she would howl with pain. Despite her saying so, the staff were not "brutal". But dealing with a 81 year old woman with a physical injury plus a serious illness was more than most of them were used to.

And she was confused after the ICU and sedation and the hospital room.  She kept trying to get out of bed to go to the bathroom. She complained about the same things, over and over.

I was too weary to write about this, but I planned a post in my head called "I'm My Own Grandma".  Because when she came out of the fog, she kept telling people I was her mother. She was probably just mixing things up. But there was truth in it too. The roles had switched.


Where was my brother in all of this? There with her in the ER. When she was in the ICU under sedation, I TOLD him to go to work. Not much to do, and I was away from home. This was my job. But afterwards, when the main danger was over, and she really needed hands on stuff, he left it to me and to her caregiver.
He's squeamish. But he's also married to a selfish, thoughtless woman who wants him there dancing attendance on their kids whenever he's not working his ass off to make lots of money. This despite the fact that she doesn't work and that the kids are no longer small children.
AND she has a maid...............

I'd been there 9 days, but the Monday before Thanksgiving was my birthday. I left NYC that afternoon, drove home and opened the door.  The Man was there and I went over to him and totally lost it. Floods of tears.

And then my girls were there, and our kitties. And SC had made dinner, and they'd baked me a cake. It was a checkerboard cake and it hadn't come out right, but we all laughed about it--that and the improvised b-day candle the Man made from the stub of a regular candle! They'd bought me a card, and everyone signed it and did little bits of art--family custom.

We drove back to NYC--all of us--on Wednesday and stayed in the apartment. Mom wasn't there with us on Thanksgiving Day, but in the morning I went up and stayed with her and we watched the Macy's Parade on TV, and in the early evening I went back and brought her Thanksgiving dinner. Everything was soft and finely chopped and she ate it all. Her first solid meal in days, and I went home in a cab exhausted and more thankful that I've been in a while on Thanksgiving.

We went home that Saturday, and Mom was transferred to a nursing home. I had a full week of glorious normalcy, and then the call came again. She'd had 2 seizures, was in the ER and was unconscious.

Once more the drive to NYC. Once more, she rallied. Once more, the puree diet, the dealings with the nurses. Endless tests, which proved inconclusive. We still don't know why she had the seizures.

She is now back in the nursing home, which is a very good one. We went home for Christmas week and all spent some time with her. SC was a trooper, JR found it all terribly upsetting and the Man, as always in a crisis, showed himself for the wonderful, wonderful person that he is.

Christmas Eve the girls decorated the little tree I bought my parents a few years ago, and I burst into tears. And then the Man and I stayed up till 2AM assembling stocking and tree gifts. Mostly the girls got gift cards for places where they love to shop, but there were some actual gifts and the gift cards looked cute in various decorated holders. It reminded me a little of Christmas at Nanay and Tatay's house, where they gave us all cash gifts and the cards covered the tree.

The apartment on Riverside Drive is someone else's now, and there's no family gathering place in NYC. So the Man and I invited his 2 brothers who still live in the city, plus his/our niece and we had a family Christmas meal. I made some of the things Mom made, and tried my hand at one or two things Nanay always made, and everyone ate well. 

Mom got her share for dinner. The girls and I brought her a meal--another "mechanical soft" version, and after she ate that with no trouble, the therapists cleared her next day for solid foods again.

We left Saturday after feeding her lunch. We took the long way round through Pennsylvania and stopped at our favorite Penn Dutch smorgasbord restaurant to eat dinner.

We are home now. It's New Year's Eve. I am going to cook lumpia shanghai  and pancit canton for our New Year's Eve dinner. Tomorrow it will be Belgian waffles, with SC's boyfriend and JR's best friend there to share things.

I will have to call Mom soon and wish her a Happy New Year early, and then call again tomorrow. She is best in the morning--by afternoon she is in pain, often querelous, often not quite grounded in reality.

The broken arm (shoulder really) is her right one, and is keeping her from advancing much in rehabilitation. When she broke her leg last year, she still could feed herself, dress herself at least partly, hold a newspaper or a book. Now she lies nearly totally helpless in bed, and it is not helping her mentally either.

It is likely that she will end up going home and needing care 24/7. And she could be like that for a long time or a short time. It's anyone's guess right now.

This is a bare bones record of what has happened. Writing about my emotions beyond this is too much. I just can't do it right now. Maybe I never will be able to do so.

1 comment:

jen said...

i'm so sorry. here's to a better 2014. keeping you in my thoughts.