Thursday, March 20, 2008


Not Much Has Changed

It's been a long, exhausting week with all that is going on with my mother. She's been in the hospital just over a week now, and I'm trying to spend as much time there as I can. It's tough when I live about an hour away and have to work for a living. I've been making the drive there and back nearly every night or during the days when I'm off. I'm seeing some family members I haven't seen in quite some time. It's nice to know that a lot of people visit and sit with my mother, whether she realizes it or not.

On Monday morning when her doctor returned from his vacation, he came in to see my mother. He asked her how she was doing, and she mustered up the strength to say "not too good", and she really hasn't said much since then. She still sleeps most of the time, and when she is awake she seems confused and non-communicative. On Monday afternoon when I was there I asked her if the doctor came in to see her and she slowly shook her head. Two of my nieces were there and they told me that the doctor was there and has arranged for an MRI to be done. After they left, I was alone with my mother, and short of offering her drinks of water, wiping her mouth and trying to think of things to talk about, I simply didn't know what else to do. My mother had been placed in her wheelchair earlier that day and she just looked around and seemed terribly bored. I flipped through a magazine with her and she looked at the pictures of a bunch of famous people I've never heard of. She held the magazine and studied the cover for about 15 or 20 minutes until my brother and sister-in-law arrived.

It's so hard to see her like this and not know what's going on in her mind. Is she aware of what's happened? Is she processing thoughts? Does she know who we all are? When I ask her "have you had a lot of visitors today?", she'll look at me, seem confused, and shake her head. I would then be told by someone else that she's had at least ten people visit her already that day. Does she not understand the question? Does she not know or remember that people were there? Does the movement of her head not correspond to the signal her brain is sending?

I was there again Wednesday night, and when I arrived I found my father, sister and niece waiting in the hallway while the nurses were in her room moving her from the wheelchair to her bed. My sister told me that the MRI is scheduled for the 27th. Apparently that's pretty fast, but in my mind, it should have been done the day the doctor finally arrived. When we were let back in the room, again she was drifting in and out of sleep. My sister pointed out that my mother had been catheterized. I guess that will keep her from having to make her own way to the bathroom in the night like she'd done a few times according to the other two women in her room. Why she didn't just press the button for a nurse is a good question. Does she remember the button is there? Does she know what it's for? Does she just not want to bother a nurse? I have no idea.

After my sister and niece left, my father and I sat in her dimly lit room and talked. He told me she didn't eat anything at dinner time. I tried to keep very positive. I mentioned that when she gets out we'll have to get home healthcare. He said he just hopes that she'll pull through this. I think he's preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best. My heart was just breaking for him. He said if she makes it and comes home, they'll have to get rid of the house because of all the stairs, which is something I've been pushing for for quite some time. I know that the move would be a whole new set of stresses for a time as well, but I'm thinking of the long-term benefits for both of them. I told my father about the insights I was given by two friends of mine whose mother had a stroke several years ago. They told me how she managed to get back about 90% of her speech, but it took time. Their mother also was not communicative because quite often what came out of her mouth is not what she wanted to say. She simply refused to speak. I'm not sure if this is what's going on with my mother or not. My father is very frustrated and heart-broken that she doesn't say anything to him. The doctors and nurses keep telling him to keep talking to her, but it's a tough thing to do when you get nothing back.

In retrospect, my father said that he thinks she hasn't been herself since the summer. She took a fall at the cottage and one day there my aunt was cooking something for dinner and asked my mother if she wanted to make the salad. My mother said, "no, you can do it". That is SO not my mother. I guess when you're with someone every day you tend not to notice little changes in their behaviour over time, but when someone sees you only every so often, the changes are much more noticeable.

My mother was asleep, so my father and I gave her a kiss, told her we love her, and we both made our way home. So we all continue to visit, pray, hope and wait. March 24th will be my parents' 57th anniversary. How do we celebrate that at a time like this?

I came upon your blog via crazyauntpurl's blog. I'm sorry to read about your mother's condition. I will include her in my prayers to help her become strong and healthy again.
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