Two weeks ago, Tuesday, February 16, 2016. My mom was here at home, with her usual limited mobility, but here. She was able to pull herself up out of a chair, albeit slowly. She was able to swing her legs off the bed and bring herself to a seated position. She wasn't in the best health but able to manage.
By Friday, February 19, she was requiring assistance for everything. She could not pull herself into a stand. She could not remain in a seated position. My dad was having to help her get off the bed. He would follow her into the bathroom, fearful that she could fall into the glass shower walls.
Monday, February 22, 9:35 PM. I got home from a cappella practice to find mom and dad in the bathroom. He was loudly saying, "Sit up! Sit up!" because she was seated on the toilet and doubled over. He gently pushed her up into a seated position and she began sliding forward. I heard the commotion and suggested to my brother that we go help. It took all three of us to get her out of the floor and into a stand. It was like wrangling Jell-O, a five-feet, 170-pound lump of Jell-O. She pitched forward toward me, doubled over at the waist. My dad tried to get her to stand up straight so she could walk out but she couldn't support her own weight. The knees buckled and we gently lowered her into the floor into a horizontal position.
She was shaking, twitching. Her mouth was moving, like she was trying to say something, or even chew food, but no words came. All she could say to anyone was, "I'm sick." Well, Mom, that's everything from a cold to death's door; can you be more specific?
I looked at Dad, and said, "That's it. You may not like it, but I'm calling an ambulance." And off I went to call EMS. They brought a gurney and took her to the ER. At 4:00 am, Dad came home to pick up some clothing and other things and informed us that she was being sent to a larger regional hospital.
I didn't go until Wednesday because Tuesday was complete chaos -- find doggy daycare, go to work, keep up with the hospital news..... But when I got there, I was shocked. There was no progress. She was just lying there. She had already had an MRI that day because they suspected she might have had a mini-stroke during the night. Thankfully, this was not the case. She did have a pretty strong infection, however, that was causing issues.
There were still no changes the rest of the week. Saturday was an awful day. Her vitals were slipping, and her kidneys were failing. Even her doctor appeared to be giving up. He decided to move her to CCU for some individualized care, but otherwise, we needed to decide -- and SOON.
We came home and began the hard business of making those difficult plans. How do you do that? How do you possibly put a timeframe on someone's life, to put a value on how long you give them? How did we get here so quickly?
We looked back at the previous ten days. What had we missed? How did we not see it? When should we call people? What did we want? What would mom want?
We visited Sunday..... Eyes were opening a bit more but I wasn't holding out a lot of hope. I thanked Mom for everything..... Basically, saying my goodbyes without using that specific word because (1) I wanted my father and brother to have their opportunity to do the same and did NOT want her to fade out on me!!!!! and (2) I did not want her to believe that we were giving up on her. I wanted her to believe that we still had hope for her, even if it was dim. I felt like I was lying through my teeth, even though I wasn't. I still have hope that she will come around, that she will want to get better, that at last she will choose to participate in her own recovery.
We visited yesterday.... Eyes opening even more but still only able to keep them open for a second or two. Trying to talk to us but I'm still telling her, "shhh, you don't have to say a word, OK?" I said something about our dog and she smiled. My aunt told her about their great-grandchild, and Mom smiled. Her vitals are improving slowly -- mostly her BP and her kidneys but the rest isn't improving as well.
It is frightening to think what can happen in two short weeks. We still don't know where things will go. Today, Dad and I will go to the mortuary to make plans just in case. We need to have something in place, because you don't know. Mom could continue to improve or she could take a sudden nosedive ......
We are in a strange place: the in-between. We are in suspended motion. We wait. Every time the phone rings, I hold my breath. Is it the hospital? Is it Dr. Jay, telling us to get there post-haste? I go to sleep each night praying "thy will be done," knowing those are the four hardest words that can ever be prayed. I wake not knowing what lies ahead. I've been given the okay to take whatever time I need at work, or to login from home if I need the distraction. I am putting guitar lessons on temporary hold until I have a better idea of what lies ahead. The in-between is a difficult place, indeed.
If you see this, please say a prayer for us, for our peace. For God's will. For sanity. That's what we need most.