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.