Thursday, August 12, 2010

One of Those Times of Life

I haven't written in ten days because my head has been elsewhere. I haven't been able to write about frivolous things, because I've been tangled in a family problem, and I wasn't ready to talk about it. Today I think I am.

Mother fell two weeks ago at the adult community where she lives. Apparently she took a tumble in the middle of the night - on the way to the "little girls' room" - and she lay there about 12 hours until Security entered her apartment to check on her. First, a shout out to both Security and to the members of the Little Old Lady Mafia (LOLM) who insisted that they do it. Apparently, like me, Ma doesn't miss lunch!

(I should stop right her and say that she did not break anything - thank goodness!)

They did everything right: the nurse was called and Mother was delivered to the health care center to spend the night and be checked out. She had some minor issues and blood chemicals out of whack, but seemed ok - until the following day when she developed ventricular fibrillation. That wins you a trip to the hospital when you are 85. Naturally, Mitchell and I were out of town when it happened and my brother is 500 miles away, but they assured me that she would be fine and that I did not need to rush home.

On that Monday, tho, I presented myself at the hospital in time to meet the cardiologist and the internist who agreed that for reasons unknown her heart enzymes and rhythm had both gotten messed up, and that she would be fine as frog hair in a few days. Oh, and as soon as we get rid of the pneumonia. Now, there's a word to strike fear in the hearts of children of 80-year olds!

So, medically they are telling me she will be fine, but did I mention that she had had moved to LaLaLand mentally? She did know me, but complained about sleeping in a closet (fortunately, from my perspective, a closet with a private bath) and having a clock that rang every minute. (We finally figured out that she meant the heart rate monitor, which they silenced so she could sleep.)

As children we spend a goodly part of our lives knowing - on some level - that our parents will not outlive us. But, suddenly that time line looks mighty short! Bro and I are burning up the cell towers trying to stay informed, give each other moral support, and make decisions for her care.

To make a long story short, this was just a warning. Mother is back at the nursing center recovering her strength so that she can return to her apartment - maybe in a couple of weeks. Once the drugs were out of her system - and her hearing aids back in her ears - her mental state picked up remarkably. She has returned from LaLaLand and the LOLM is visiting regularly to help build up her spirits and to give her the mental stimulation of conversation.

But now that we have had this warning, we need to start looking at alternatives and making some serious plans for the future. In a few more days she will be able to help with the decision-making and we will have a serious talk about Power of Attorney. [Anyone have a good suggestion for how I say, "Mother, we need you to sign this now!"?]

Gee, I feel better just sharing this with you all. Ain't like I'm the only daughter in the world that will even go thru this process - right?


  1. Unfortunately, you are NOT the only daughter in the world to go through this. Two summers ago, my own mom buried her mom and her last living parent. Granny went down pretty fast so Mom didn't have a ton of time to make plans, but she did see some of the writing on the wall and had to start communicating with her sister about future care. Although my mom is far from elderly, she is close to retirement age and I can't help but think about these things myself. None of us want to think about life without their mom or helping their mom descend into death as much as she brought us up in life. But that is the circle and there is very little we can do to escape it. And it's only right. Life is just too unfair when parents have to care for dying children.

    If your mom drinks, maybe a quick shot of bourbon before serving up POA papers? Or..maybe..take her hearing aids out...

  2. How terrifying for all of you.

    My parents died when I was in my 20's, so I don't have this to worry about/fear.

    We just had a visit from my bosses' mother today who is 103. She seems to want to keep living. Strokes, falling in the bathroom, lack of hearing, she carries on to watch West Virginia throw a football another season.

    My boss lives in fear of losing her.

    I hope yours recovers and you can love her for many more years.

    xo jane

  3. Oh dear, tough times indeed. My mother died almost a year ago, and I (only child and relative) was on the other side of the world. I know most of us have to deal with this, but it's YOUR Mom. My thoughts are with you. You will get through this.

  4. Thank you ALL! Things are better this weekend, altho I can see that if I'm gonna be the one to supervise her care this two-hour drive just doesn't get it. Today they called to say she is out of clothes to wear - seems the laundry didn't do her clothes this week. Fortunately, I was able to round up a cousin's wife who was willing to go dig out something for her until I can get there on Wednesday, but I thought all that was taken care of - silly me!

    Appreciate your support - more than you know.

  5. So sorry to hear about this, really takes the carpet from under your feet doesn't it? My mum had a heart attack a few years ago, with little warning, and I had never let myself imagine losing a parent before, and it shook me to the core. She is living a full and pretty healthy life now, but I sympathise so much. My adult self seemed to crumple and I felt so young and in need of my mum again when she was wired up i hospital.

    I'm so glad your mum is on the mend and I hope the tricky conversations go well. It certainly makes you treasure every moment.

  6. My husband and sister-in-law went through this a couple of years ago with their mom. It was a very trying time. She was no longer able to care for herself in her own home and had to be placed in a nursing home. She fought the decision every step of the way pleading with my husband’s sister to quit her job and care for her, but with two kids in college and one in high school that was impossible. They got her the best care they could and visited almost daily, but it was still hard. The nursing home put her on so much medication she lost her vivacious personality. My husband and his sister were consoled knowing she was safe and comfortable. Sometimes that is all you can do.

    My thoughts are with you and your mum.