My mom is in the hospital. Again.
This is her third visit this year. Her fourth in the last eight months. How many since this whole ordeal began almost seven years ago? I can’t even begin to figure that one out.
This time she has abscesses on her hip. How does this happen? Not even in an area where a pressure sore may form. Who knows? But in her compromised health, anything is possible.
She called me on Monday morning at 5:30am, concerned about how she would get back to her room. You see, she insists that the nursing home moves her, every day, to another room that looks exactly like her own room. Except it’s not, she says. You cannot talk her into believing that she is safe and sound in her own room. She will not believe you and she will get angry if you do not believe her. You play the game.
Of course, phone calls such as those mean only one thing…an infection is brewing and a hospitalization is likely soon to follow. So, it was no surprise when the nurse called to tell me about the abscesses and that they would be starting her on antibiotics.
A few days later, my sister receives the call telling her that they would be sending our mom over to the hospital so that they can give her iv antibiotics. We have learned, by repeating the same mistake over and over, that it is useless to go to the hospital right away. Mom has not idea that we’re there and we will sit, sometimes for as long as eight hours, waiting for them to admit and move her to a room. So, Jim and I moved one of the trucks home from a job site and then I headed to the hospital. I waited an hour and a half for them to bring her up to her room. I guess I could have taken more time before I went in.
So, my mom was fairly lucid that afternoon. We could hold a conversation, although a somewhat confused one. She knew me and knew what was going on. The following day, Jon had offered to go with her to see me (is my boy becoming a man?) and she barely spoke to him, didn’t seem to understand that he was there. The next day she slept. She would not rouse for any visitors and we figured that she must have needed to sleep. Yesterday I went in, hoping that the rest did her some good, only to find her in much worse condition.
I have never seen her like that before. Believe me, I have seen her very ill, but this was different. She was sleeping, but very restless and agitated. Occasionally she calls out, sometimes she says, “Mama!” Her mother’s been gone for 10 years…
She would say a word and then talk gibberish, then sleep and call out. Over and over.
Hard to watch, to say the least. I decided to wait and hope that the doctor made his rounds soon. My brother came and shortly after that, the doctor arrived.
He tried to talk to her. We voiced our concerns, but he assured us that it’s a combination of the infection and all of the drugs. He said that she would come back as she was feeling better. Although, he did say that we never know if the dementia will be worse. That is an recurring fear of ours.
She settled down after awhile into a sleep, although still restless and agitated, but no longer calling out. We decided to leave when the aide came in to change her.
On the way out and in the parking lot, my brother and I talked about it. One memory came back to both of us. When our dad had his stroke, he responded to us for the first couple days and then he stopped. We felt him slipping away and were trying to accept it. One of the nurses, however, gave us some false hopes that he would recover, somewhat. The next day, we had to again accept the fact that his body was slowly failing and that there would be no recovery. A very difficult fact to accept about someone you love so much…
So, we wondered…was this doctor also giving us false hope?
I could think of little else last night…
I went to visit her today, not knowing what to expect. She was sleeping. I had to wake her up. I had to see.
She was more alert. She said something about her glasses (the staff had taken them off and she rarely is without them, even when she sleeps). I found them and put them on her. She was happier then. She starts sentences but doesn’t finish them or finishes them with words that make no sense. I decided to go speak with the nurse. There was nothing new to know and she had been semi-alert, but out of it all day. Her lunch came. I asked her if she was hungry and she said that she was. I knew that there was no way she could manage to feed herself. She kept trying to put her fingers in the food.
And so I fed her. Something I never thought I’d have to do. I worked in a nursing home for three years. I fed other people’s mothers. Never my own…She enjoyed it. I talked to her about how no one makes goulash better than hers. As she enjoyed her butterscotch pudding, she tried to tell me about a butterscotch pie she once had.
Then she asked me about Dad.
“How is Dad?” she asked, “physically, I mean.”
My Dad passed away in 1992. It was a hard question to answer.
I said, “He’s okay, Mom.” What else could I say??
I believe that she thinks they were in a car accident together.
I hope that she is better tomorrow.
Today was a hard day…