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The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall

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Sunday, September 7, 2014

In Memory Of My Mother

You may have noticed that I have not blogged at all in the recent months.  I got lost in time while taking care of my Mom when she came home from the assisted living facility that she was staying at. She was so happy and vibrant when she came home.  She had several surgeries on her obstructed trachea.  I lost count of all the doctor appointments I took her too.  We had some good times, some hysterical times and yes some bad times.

She was stubborn and would do too much, like walking down stairs when there was a chair glider that would safely bring her down or upstairs.  She would refuse to use her walker and I can't tell you how many times I would find her walker in a room with her in a different room.  Sadly this led to more than a few injuries and several calls to 911.

The most horrible sound I have ever heard was a thud one morning.  I ran into the living room to find my mother unresponsive, not breathing and head down - body lying up the stairs.  Do I move her and get her breathing again?  What if she broke her neck or back?  I did take some first aid classes and they always told us to check for ABCs first.  Airway, Breathing and Circulation.  Her head was blocking her tracheotomy (no airway), she wasn't breathing, circulation was working as evidence by the growing pool of blood under her head.

I chose to move her and make sure she was breathing.  Then I called 911.  This was the beginning of the end I think.  At the time I didn't know it though.  The paramedics took good care of her and even though she didn't want to I INSISTED that she go to the hospital saying that when you stop breathing after falling down 10 steps it was probably a good idea to go to the hospital.  When I was let into the emergency room they were stitching up her head.  Luckily there were no brain bleeds this time.  She did however break four ribs.  They kept her in the hospital for a few days and then home with me again.

She fell down the stairs one other time, she has diabetes and her blood sugars started getting out of whack.  I got a kidney infection, then I caught mono (and not from the fun way either). So much was happening all at once and finally one day I snapped.

I woke up early and Dad said he couldn't wake up Mom.  I couldn't either.  I tested her blood sugar and it was 20.  It should be around 9 - 100.  She was almost dead basically.  What if Dad hadn't tried to wake her up, he usually doesn't?  What if I wasn't there?  I called 911 for maybe the 11th time and they were there quickly.  They brought her blood sugar back up and again she refused to go to the hospital.  I couldn't make her.  Everyone left and I needed some fresh air.  Before I could step out my dad told me that he was in insulin reaction.  She I got him food, two with low blood sugar almost at the same time.

While this is going on the toilet upstairs overflowed and in-between my parents a crack formed in the ceiling and it was raining in the living room.  I had to turn off the water upstairs and figure out how to soak up at least an inch of water covering the entire bathroom.  I started with towels, moved to sheets and finally resorted to newspapers.  It was a mess but the water finally was soaked up.

I went out, picked up a friend, came back and tried to relax and refocus.  I needed to get food for dinner, Dad wanted ham and we didn't have any.  So I was getting ready to go and my mother who has not been eating a lot all day checks her blood sugar level and it is over 400.  WHAT?  So she takes insulin, just a little I think 4 units and I go to the store.  I am there for a half hour and come back to my mother in insulin reaction again.

We had been watching my brother's dog for a week and she was biting us and knocking us over.  It was just so much all at once.  Mom had surgery coming up that week, Dad was to start chemo for bladder cancer on Monday.  I wash't allowed to take either of them to the appointments because I was sick.  My brother was coming home that night and I needed to get away.  I had been taking care of my parents for 9 months with not many breaks.  I took one weekend off.  So I packed up a bag and said I needed a week to myself.  I filled my brother in on what needed to be done that week with the appointments.  My aunt was coming in to stay with them so I knew he would have backup.  I made sure to hug and kiss both mom and dad before I left telling them both that I loved them.

I drove to Pennsylvania that night to stay with a friend.  All was good until Wednesday when I got a call that mom fell again.  This time her heart stopped.  My aunt gave her CPR and one final call to 911 was made.  This time I wasn't there.  I don't know if the usual paramedics that I have become aquatinted with responded.  Sadly, I recognize many of them from repeated visits to the house.  I was told to stay in PA, there was nothing I could do.

I called my aunt to thank her and she and I talked about how it was too much for me now.  And maybe we should think about assisted living for them.  My friend offered to let me move in with her and got me job interviews by the end of the week.  On the following Monday after my second job interview I went home.  I had to go to the hospital to sign the DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order and watch them disconnect my mother from life support.  My daughter joined me to say goodbye to Grandma.

My brother and I sat with her as she continued to breath on her own.  Her brain was not functioning.  Still Mom is stubborn.  She may have not wanted to be connected to machines but still she wanted to hang on.  My brothers wife and middle son joined him.  They support each other through the night.  My aunt and uncle were there for part of the time.  Finally around 7 am we all left, we needed sleep.  Mom was doing fine.

She finally passed away on August 20.  We had visited her just 2 hours before and were horrified to see the hospital was giving her oxygen, which she DID NOT want.  We made sure it was disconnected and went home.  The phone rang not long after as soon as I saw it was the hospital I knew.  I called my brother and told him and I had to wake my father up to break the news to him.  They had been married for 50 years.  How do you tell someone their spouse of 50 years has died?

My brother and I took care of all the arrangements, mostly my brother thankfully.  She wanted to be cremated so it was arranged.  I picked out a pendant to carry some of her ashes in for myself and my daughter.  No viewing, but two memorial services were planned.  I read her eulogy and completed it with a reading of her favorite book "There's a Monster at the End of This Book".  A fitting tribute to her.

Mom I miss you, I keep thinking of things I want to talk to you about, find things I want to show you and just want to hug you one more time.

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