Wednesday, March 29, 2006

One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward

This is how the past week has gone for me.

I call the hospital in the morning and ask how my mom is. If the response is negative, when I get there I'll find her doing better than what I was led to expect. If I get a positive report, when I get there I find her slipping backward.

Today I didn't call ahead. I was somewhat relieved to have her in on a regular ward, and figured that as long as the phone didn't ring things were going fine. I get to the hospital this afternoon, and Mom is so sound asleep that I am unable to wake her at all. Her lunch try is lying uneaten. I go downstairs and wait for awhile, then go back up again. She's still snoring. I try talking her and touching her awake; she doesn't wake up.

I find one of the doctors. He tells me that this morning she was fairly animated, and engaged in conversation, and even ate breakfast, but then she fell asleep. He says the staff can't figure this out; he wonders if she had some sort of mild stroke during the operation, but notes that when she's awake she's lucid and has no trouble speaking, and that she's able to move her extremities. It may be the drug cocktail she's on, he suggests, or she may be this exhausted. But if she hasn't snapped out of it by tomorrow they're going to do a CAT scan and find out if something neurological is going on.

Oh, God, I think. Not something else. A succession of worst-case scenarios tumble through my mind.

"If you can stay and help her eat dinner, that would be great," says the doctor.

If you can't wake her up and I can't wake her up, then how the hell am I going to do that? I think. And I can't stay. I mentally kick myself for attempting to put in a few hours at work this morning. (My employer has been more than generous with giving me time off, and I wanted to reciprocate by tying up my deadline loose ends for the week.)

But I smile wanly and say that, no, I won't be able to stay, but I'll be able to be around for awhile tomorrow. That's because tomorrow, March 30th, is my mom's birthday. I'd put in for a vacation day some time ago so she could have a festive outing somewhere. Not a hospital.

Surgery day aside, I've been pretty publicly stoic about this whole thing, but when I got in the car to drive back home, I just lost it. I honestly don't know how I navigated my way home from downtown Saginaw without killing someone, or myself. I don't even remember driving home. But somewhere in the midst of this it occurred to me that, maybe if she were a bit awake tomorrow I could cajole her into eating a piece of her favorite cake, so when I got back to Outer Podunk I stopped in at the supermarket -- me in dark glasses, sniffling -- for gingerbread ingredients. And I bought myself some mint chocolate chip ice cream because, damn it, I wanted some.

I came home and hugged my dog -- my poor dog, who is so befuddled every day by my ever-changing, interminably long schedule away from home, who piddled on the floor but did it on newspaper like a good boy, because on some level he seems to get that he needs to be on good behavior so things don't slide completely off the trolley here -- and I ate ice cream. And now I'm sitting here on the floor with my laptop next to the sofa, with the dog whimpering into my ear, getting ready to make gingerbread cupcakes for a birthday that was supposed to be a good day.

I am just so tired right now.


Ladybug6472 said...

1Pe 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

God bless and keep you in His peace and encourage your spirit.

Grace, Peace, and Love

samtzmom said...

Oh, ((((((((((LC))))))))))... I am so very sorry that the roller coaster took a turn downward. Her body very well may be exhausted, and all this is now catching up with her. I'll bet tomorrow will be a better day, especially when she gets a whiff of those special gingerbread cupcakes. You all remain in my prayers...

Cathy said...

I feel your pain... oh I feel it so. I have been in a similar place as you with my mother, I felt so alone and so helpless.

Prayers being said for you and your mother that you may feel God's work and presence now.

RainbowKate said...

Hugs & prayers, LC. Good for you for getting the ice cream :).

A prayer from the Book of Common Prayer, it's labeled as "Prayers for use by a Sick Person" but its one of my favorites for any time I'm feeling exhausted with life and in need of the "what do I do next" answer.

"This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it may bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am able to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirt of Jesus. Amen"

May peace be with you and your mother as she recovers and you help her heal.


BetteTheRed said...

My thoughts and prayers still with you and your mom, {{{LC}}}


RuthRE said...

Ditto to the sentiment wishing I could be there and at least ya know...let the dog outside.

Your post made me think to this hymn:

What have I to dread, what have I to fear, leaning on the everlasting arms? I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning,
safe and secure from all alarms;
leaning, leaning,
leaning on the everlasting arms.

LutheranChik said...

I think all I have the energy for right now is to do nothing, gallantly.;-) (Or otherwise.)

Ruth: My dog is a little Maltese. He'd die outside; or a critter in our neighborhood would eat him; I'm serious (we have large dogs and coyotes in the hood). But I've been really happy to see him paper-training himself -- maybe he's calling upon some dim memory from life with a previous owner. I've only had to get out the carpet steamer once all this week, and that was the first day I was gone all day.

Thanks everyone. I know I'm taxing people's patience by whining...but today is a whining day. It's got to come out sometime...and better in the privacy of my home, at my keyboard, than at the hospital.

Verdugo said...

Make this a place where you can whine, complain, cry, scream, wail... or just sit. We'll rub your back and keep your ice cream bowl filled (now you know why they have that whoel fried food section in the hospital cafeteria.... sometimes you just need comfort food).

You are loved.


Songbird said...

You're not taxing anyone. It's good that you have an outlet. Everybody needs one. Bless that little dog's heart, and yours, too.

Mata H said...

No tax here, kiddo. Rant on.

Hospitals (bless them all) make me nuts. Your Mom may still be shucking off the anesthetic. I am trying to recall where I read that it takes one month per hour of surgery for the body to rid itself of the anesthetic used during an operation. Plus they have her on a drug regimen there. I know that when I have had surgery there came a point a couple of days after where I just hit the wall sleep-wise - boom - meet Sleeping Surgi-beauty. Next time ask that her chart be checked to see when she was last medicated.

It is hartd to go thru this alone. And I sure am glad you have the pooch. They can be so consoling.

Please let us all know how she and you are doing tomorrow. Consider this an invitation to go on at great length.


Sally said...

Been there last year..with my son not my mom...but praying for you all the same...((((O))))

Kathryn said...

Biggest possible hugs and prayers. Will email later. Hang on in there, and draw breath when you can...
Much love xx

Sheryl said...

I've been there as well, except my Mom was half a country away and I had to travel 11 hours by Greyhound every weekend to see her. Either way, it isn't fun.

I'll keep praying for you and her, and I'm reminding you again to take care of yourself. It is so easy to get run down when you are worrying about someone else.