Tuesday, March 27, 2012

That Didn't Last Long!

Well, my life of solitude and leisure lasted a week .My mother was home only a few days when her chronic bronchitis flared up.  She spent several days in bed as her cough grew progressively worse.  On Thursday I had only spoken to her an hour before when her neighbor called me to say that he had called twice and been to the door twice but could not raise her.  Though I'd just spoken to her, I had no idea whether or not she was okay.  All I could do was call her repeatedly, as fast as I could, until she finally answered.  She had taken her hearing aids out and gone to sleep!  She sounded no better and certainly didn't need to be there on her own, so off I went, arriving there around 5:30.  By 8:30 she was talking to someone in her room.......not to me or to her cats, and that really alerted me to her condition.  By 9PM we were in the Emergency Room for an assortment of tests and procedures, until 4:30AM. 

It is only then that the fun began.  With breathing treatments, antibiotics, prednisone, etc. she was totally hopped up - seeing bugs, military maneuvers happening in our yard, people breaking into our cars, women in white dresses singing, etc.  She goes non-stop until 10PM Friday night.......no sleep. no rest and hardly stopping to eat.  At one point, she was so absorbed in the hallucinations that she couldn't seem to understand what I was saying.......it was very strange and frightening for one person to manage.  Needless to say, they didn't provide me with the same juice she had!  By 10PM I was wrecked, but slept on her sofa in order to keep an eye on her. 

One very good thing happened on Friday.  Before leaving here I made an appointment with her local doctor to be sure that pneumonia had not set in.  The people in the ER suggested we keep the appointment and clue him in to what was happening with her.  They also gave us a packet of info detailing what they had done.  To this packet I attached a note asking him to talk with her about the hazards and problems of living alone at her age.....and he was WONDERFUL!!  He is very soft spoken and of Nigerian descent, with a slight accent, so she has difficult hearing/understanding him.  But, he took his time and made sure she understood what he said (as best he could as she was still disoriented).  I was very impressed and grateful to him.....and plan to send him a thank you as soon as I can.

On Saturday she was calmer but still not fully back to reality.  I asked if she remember what Dr. Obiaja had discussed with her and initially she said she didn't remember.  After recalling the discussion, she seemed to be willing to comply.  Once she mentioned to a neighbor that she would be coming back with me, I began to feel we might get through it without a fight.  I began pulling things together for her to bring down here, not really knowing what she might like, where things were......or whether it would all be for naught!!  After I got what I thought were the basics and necessities, I moved on to other things (cleaning out the fridge, taking out trash, etc), while her focus was on bringing as many clothes as she could.

She was a little more lucid on Sunday when we made the trip down here.  It was very tiring for her, but she has slowly recovered over the last few days.  She is still coughing up a huge amount of mucus and tonight took her last antibiotic.  We see the pulmonologist tomorrow and I'm hoping he can see the full extent of the problem and do something to alleviate it.  At 90, she can't go on like this much longer.

As for me, there were the usual moments of panic when I looked too far ahead.
  • "How will I deal with this if she remains out of touch with reality?" 
  • " How will I even be able to go grocery shopping."
  • "How am I going to convince her that she can't be on her own any more?"
  • "What resources are available to me in Bluffton?"
  • And on and on and on.
I finally remembered to take it one step at a time, whatever is manageable.  I was also touched by the kindness of relatives and neighbors.  Dennis stopped by for a few minutes and, among other things, assured Mama that coming back with me was the best thing she could do (which I appreciated).  Her neighbor (who called me about her on Thursday) came by every day to check on her......and he looks after her house and car while she's away (which we can't impose on him to do indefinitely).  And her other neighbor Paul, who lives in DC and whom we hadn't seen in months, stopped in. By this time, as people showed up, I was exhausted, teary eyed and blubbery, but very appreciative of their thoughtfulness and caring.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Home Alone (Except for my Kitties)

Well, I'm home after taking my mother back to NC, against my better judgement.....but, to be perfectly honest, I need a break!  And, that's where she wants to be.  Advice on this issue is divided.....some people tell me to be "the parent" and make decisions for her.  Others tell me that she is in command of her faculties and, therefore, still in charge of her destiny.  The best result is probably someplace in between.  My wish is that she would decide to make the rest of her life easier and let me help her with that......probably not a realistic expectation!!  In any case, I hope we will both use this time to relax and refresh and that, whatever the future holds, we will handle it with more grace and care than this last episode.

I returned to my kitties, who were pretty shell shocked by the time I left for NC.  Even they seemed pretty depressed......they would sleep ALL the time, sometimes in the closet or under the bed!  The house looks like a bomb hit it, but it will have to wait until tomorrow to begin the shoveling out process.  The only thing I have had energy enough to do, thus far, has been laundry, so I did 5 loads as fast as I could....bed linens, rugs, furniture covers, clothes, etc........clean laundry was piled everywhere. It was finally put away yesterday, so things look a little better.

I got back home on Thursday and had a relaxing morning on Friday.  My first task was to take a nice, long walk.  I then showered, had lunch and went to the library to see "Inside Job".  It's been on my Netflix list forever, but I figured this my best bet to see it.  I also wanted to see whether or not many people (whom I would assume to be mostly liberals) showed up.....and, actually, the room was full.  It was very informative and downright scary, especially since not much has been done to prevent the financial disaster from happening again.......very discouraging.  Then, Saturday morning I went to the Beaufort County Democratic Convention, even putting my name forward as a delegate or alternate to the state convention.  Being a relative unknown within the party, it's doubtful that I'll make it as a delegate, but I'm hopeful to be an alternate. Deval Patrick will be the keynote speaker, and he should be motivational. Keep your fingers crossed.  So, that's why only laundry has gotten done to date......but now I have no excuses.

There were also some pleasant surprises in my waiting email.  There was a short notice invitation to meet Cheryl for lunch on Thursday when she was on her way to Camden to visit her sister and family.  Unfortunately, we missed connection because I didn't get home until 3PM, but we hope to meet up on her way home or sometime soon.  I also had an email from my new friend Pamela......the friend I met at the Rally to Restore Sanity and who shortly thereafter moved back to California.  Her mother is not doing well so she's coming back for about 6 months......and figures she will need some break time.  It will be good to look forward to socializing with a kindred spirit.  So, the future does hold some positive possibilities.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Gators, Daffodils and Mushroom Clouds.....

It's been a while since I've posted and I was enjoying a period of peace and tranquility! We did meet with Jennifer at Indigo Pines and she was very good with my mother.  She gave her the opportunity to express her concerns about relocating (mostly leaving the place she's lived all of your life, the time it will take to organize things, etc.) and Jennifer presented ways of approaching each issue.  It also gave me an opportunity to say some things (my concern for her being there on her own, her cycle of declining health when she goes home, better health care here, the fear of something happening and putting her straight into a nursing home, etc.) that needed to be expressed.  I appreciated being able to discuss everything in a calm, non-explosive setting, which was provided by the presence of Jennifer.  All seemed to be going well........

She has now done a total reversal and wants to "GO HOME AND STAY UNTIL I DIE!"  To say the situation has turned tense would be a vast understatement.  There is nothing I can say or do that isn't interpreted in the worse possible way.......and I'm just a little stink bomb in defense of her nuclear attack.  I try very hard not to be suckered into an argument, but it's soooo very hard.  On Sunday I went for a 7 mile walk to clear my head and "let it go".  Today after an explosion when I asked what was causing her cough (meaning a tickle or phlegm, because we had just seen the doctor last week and he said he'd call in an antibiotic if things didn't clear), which she took to mean 'you're irritating me, get thee out of the room'!  She unloaded on me and left the room.  Once she had time to settle down, I went in and reminded her that the whole episode was caused over that one question......I restated the question AND what I meant by the question.  I then asked her what I did to get that response.  To that there was total silence (passive aggressive).  For me, it's a lose-lose situation.....so it really doesn't much matter what I do or say, but I think I'm going to keep calling her on it until she either talks or stops doing it.......or one of us dies (of old age!)!

So, it looks like I'll be taking her home. I've contacted folks there and she should be able to get someone to help her around the house one day a week beginning mid-April.  Once I know when she can get meals-on-wheels, I'll take her up.  I don't think it's the best thing to do in many respects, but in other ways it's the only place she wants to be and the only place she'll be happy.  What we have now isn't healthy for either of us.  Even if it only lasts a short while, it will give us a break.......and perhaps a different view of things (ever the optimist!).  The longer she's away from NC, the more she idealizes it, remembering everything and everyone there as good and perfect, with none of that happening here.

A neighbor said this would be the hardest thing I would every do and, so far, she's been 100% right.

Other than that, everything's just great!!!  Today is Super Tuesday and I'm joining my Living Liberally friends this evening at the Boathouse.  Another friend, Chris, and I had a great lunch at a new wine boutique.  It's a new concept here.....you load a card with your budget for the night and you can use it at any of the many wine dispensers, getting either a taste or a glass.  It really is a clever idea and I hope it flies for the owners.  The food was good and the owners very friendly.  She asked our wine preferences and then brought us a great glass of wine to accompany our lunch.  It was a little different and fun.....and Chris and I have a lot in common and the chat was good.

Due to the circumstances, I had to cancel dinner with another friend but hope to see her tonight.  She also belongs to my vegetarian group, but I haven't made it to that in months and she's missed LL.  So, hope we can touch bases soon.  I have been trying to get out and about....to maintain some kind of life, but it isn't easy!

As you can gather from my Sunday walk, they have become almost therapeutic.  Last month I walked 80 miles and, with my 7 miler on Sunday, I could pass that mark this month.  Spring is definitely in the air and red buds, azaleas, daffodils, Chinese fringe, etc. are all in bloom. It's nice to be able to get out and enjoy it all......without humidity!

By the time you read this, Super Tuesday will be over but I wanted to pass along this "voter's guide".  Who comes up with these things??  I'd love to be this clever and this funny.  Enjoy!!

Rich Text