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Dept. ust Keep Swimming

Tough Isn't Impossible

And that's what I'm thinking today, after a day of traveling, a day of surprises - and a day without that which helps me keep my sanity; y'all her on Teh Intarwebz.

First, my mother.

I saw her yesterday for about half an hour straight from the airport (about an hour's ride). She was relatively cheerful, but couldn't see people for too long.

Today I visited with her for about two and half hours. And it was very hard. She started out clear-headed, but then she drifted away, partly because of the pain. She was very embarrassed about having kept other people in the ward up the previous night with some non-stop chatter and jokes that she said were the result of the painkillers. I can understand why that would embarrass her.

Then the pain got to be too much, and she needed her Dilaudid (they switched her to that from morphine, because my brother thought that might help minimize her mental confusion). She drifted further away, off to pain-filled sleep. I said goodbye and promised to come back tomorrow.

Dear god.

I know that her cognitive abilities were scrambled; by pain, by the multiple painkillers she was on. But for the first time in my life with her, I realized that they were also eroding, period.

Obviously, much of her confusion comes from the first two, and I hope to high heaven both of those improve quickly. Then, perhaps, I can see how much of her confusion is permanent.

Do you remember when your mother was the person with all the answers? The one whose advice always made sense, and whose eyes always met yours with love and wisdom? The one who would know what to do?

I've been blessed to have that mother for far longer than other people. But I think that she's ... not leaving, but transforming into the mother who I will comfort and who I will tell I love, and who will need me to help clear things up when she's confused. The illness, the cancer, they were simply the catalyst.

 I must be patient, of course. This could just be my shock at how ill she is. She may be much better mentally when she is better physically. But it's very, very hard to wait and see how much of the mother I know is there, and how much of the mother I must come to know is there.

And I imagine how it must be for her.

She and I think so very much alike, even though our lives and beliefs differ;  I know how she would react to this. I even know what paths her confusion takes. When she was confused this afternoon, I understood her half sentences, her digressions into trying to remember the words of a song so that she could teach it to the nurses, her need to tell me things to remember to do at home. She knows she is not making sense; she knows that her intellect is hobbled. She hates it.

Yesterday, I was tired, hungry, hurting from one of my attacks (stress and long hours sitting in a cramped plane), and shocked to learn that my phone, which my bosses had promised would work up here, didn't, thus losing me constant hotspot connectivity. And I was shocked to learn that I wasn't staying with my brother, but with my step-dad. It makes sense - closer to the hospital, and I can help keep my step-dad company - but it was a shock, because it had been decided for me without informing me before hand. Needless to say, no wifi at mum's place.

And then, my mother, both yesterday and today ....

But overnight, I decided to stop being thrown by the little things.  I don't need the phone; I did fine without the phone before there were cell phones. I'll do fine with no connectivity where I'm staying. Hell, without the Internet to distract me, I can write to my hard drive and maybe even have the discipline to finish some projects that have been staring at me disapprovingly over their glasses.

And I must admit, I have use of a car, and I found a little cafe in the middle of town that has free wifi. I'll try to spend an hour or two here every day, to catch up with the world I know at home. That will help keep me sane. And while I'm sane, I can focus on the most important thing in the universe right now. My mother. (And secondarily, my exhausted brother. I have to take care  of him, too, somehow.)

So that's my first report from Wolfville. It's warm and rainy, and it's run down - the economy went to shit years ago, I think, but I'm just noticing it now. But the cafe is lovely, and it roasts its own coffee, and the rain is making things grow, and the crocuses and blueflowers are blooming. And my mother is alive, and I can stroke her hair, and tell her I love her, and make sure she knows she's not alone.

This entry was originally posted at http://kaffyr.dreamwidth.org/254845.html?mode=reply, where there are currently comment count unavailable comments. You can comment there or here; I watch both.


( 37 comments — Leave a comment )
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(Deleted comment)
Apr. 21st, 2013 01:51 am (UTC)
Thank you, my dear.
Apr. 20th, 2013 10:05 pm (UTC)
There's not a lot I can say, just send hugs and wishes for good things and progress your way.
Apr. 21st, 2013 01:55 am (UTC)
Just good wishes mean more to me than you can imagine. Thank you.
Apr. 20th, 2013 11:09 pm (UTC)

I don't know what else to say, but that I hope that things improve and you can have some more good times together.

I do want to say that "Wolfville" is the best town name ever.
Apr. 21st, 2013 06:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you; I hope that too.

And Wolfville was named after Judge Elisha DeWolfe, after his daughters told him they did not want to be introduced, down in the U.S., in cosmopolitan Boston for The Season, as The Misses DeWolfe from Mud Creek. And since the judge was a personage in town, Mud Creek received a jump-up in quality. At least nominatively.
Apr. 21st, 2013 12:33 am (UTC)
Oh Kathy. This is tough stuff, but you're there and that means a lot for all parties involved.

There was one night, I think it was the first time my Grandma Olson was in the hospital when I was living in Mitchell, when she was so out of it and it scared me (and at times I found it almost too painful to even be in the room) and I had thoughts much like yours (though a bit different with a Grandma than a mother). And the nurses and other caregivers didn't know for certain if this was a permanent change post-surgery or just the painkillers or what and couldn't give me much helpful info. Fortunately it turned out to be temporary, for whatever reason, and she was much improved later. You never know.

Later on, near the end, there were times when it seemed she was confused (more and more of the time), but then there'd be moments when she was still as sharp as ever. You take whatever you can get and do whatever you can do and help wherever you can. Medications and fatigue and post-surgery wonkiness and age and all manner of things are factors and mileage will surely vary depending on them and the time of day and who knows what else. You're in my thoughts and prayers (as is your mother).

It's good your brother asked for the medication change to see if that would help, it's good to try what you can if it seems like things are less good than they could be. Every little bit can make a difference that means a lot.

As for change and surprises-- I can imagine that's all even harder to take in a way just now, but it's also less important in the big scheme of things. Ultimately you may find it a Good Thing that you get those ventures to the cafe for WiFi as you may very much need a break from family and time to yourself (or with friendly strangers and us nuts on the internet). Sometimes things do work out for the best, you often can't tell at first.

Hang in there.

Apr. 21st, 2013 07:04 pm (UTC)
laurel, I read this over twice, and then again, because it made me feel so much better. Thank you. It's good to know that others have gone through this fear and worry. I mean, I know it intellectually - we all do go through this with the parents or elders that we love, and someday the young ones we care for or care about will have to do the same for us - but knowing it in the pit of your stomach is different. And to hear that others have felt this made me feel that tiny bit better.

I was in and saw her today, and she was a little forgetful, but not as out of it as yesterday. I'll be going back a little later today to see if she's gotten any chance to get out of the bed. She heals slowly in the best of situations, always has, but I know that being a little active will help, both physically and mentally.

Oh, and I wanted to tell you that hearing about your Norwegian Forest Cat posse made me realize that my mom's cat, Liam, has at least a little Norwegian Forest Cat in his lineage. He has those very distinctive eyes and the same facial shape, although the body and fur is different. I suspect a mom or a dad got loose and had romance with an alley cat. Heh.
(no subject) - laurel - Apr. 21st, 2013 08:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 21st, 2013 02:22 am (UTC)
Apr. 21st, 2013 07:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks so very much; hugs work so well to make me feel a little more hopeful.
Apr. 21st, 2013 03:14 am (UTC)
My heart is with you, dear.

May the medical roller coaster ride your mom is on smooth out and run more easily soon.
Apr. 21st, 2013 07:06 pm (UTC)
Thanks. The one time I really liked roller coasters was while I was pregnant. And that was a long time ago. The last time I dealt with roller coasters was with BB and that sucked, bigtime. I don't want it to be repeated.
Apr. 21st, 2013 04:09 am (UTC)
Warm thoughts from south of the border.
Apr. 21st, 2013 07:06 pm (UTC)
Received gratefully from north of the border (where it's lovely and sunny right now.)
Apr. 21st, 2013 04:56 am (UTC)
more hugs coming your way...if only I could send you internets
Oh how familiar much of this sounds to me. It can be difficult to parse out what is caused by illness and medications, but I was always pleasantly surprised that when my grandfather's health improved he went back to making sense. His cognitive decline was much slower in general. While he made good recovery's from his various medical horrors it was a slower road to recovery. I hope for a speedy recovery for your mother, that the hospital food is decent and that she will soon have enough appetite to complain about the food. At least in our family that was a good measuring stick.
Apr. 21st, 2013 07:20 pm (UTC)
Re: more hugs coming your way...if only I could send you internets
His cognitive decline was much slower in general. While he made good recovery's from his various medical horrors it was a slower road to recovery.

This. Very much this. I think that's what I'm dealing with. I may - may - be dealing with this sort of situation. She hasn't been able to have food yet, but I'm hoping that will change in the next few days.
Apr. 21st, 2013 05:19 am (UTC)
Love from me to you.

Apr. 21st, 2013 07:21 pm (UTC)
I heard that in three-part Beatles harmony, and it made me smile. Thank you, my dear.
Apr. 21st, 2013 07:32 am (UTC)
Much love, and many hugs.
Apr. 21st, 2013 07:22 pm (UTC)
And much love to you, too. Pat the kitties for me!
(no subject) - mack_the_spoon - Apr. 22nd, 2013 04:41 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 21st, 2013 07:39 am (UTC)
I'm sorry for the many shocks and the pain you're enduring. Much love.
Apr. 21st, 2013 07:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much, my dear.
Apr. 21st, 2013 08:33 am (UTC)
Just getting caught up on everything. I'm so sorry. It is a difficult thing to go through, a parent's confusion. And their pain. I went through it with my dad and even having been through it, I still don't really know what to say other than you're in my thoughts. Hang in there. Some days you'll find reserves of strength you never knew you had. Other days you'll crumble. And then you'll get up and do it again. Because you are a daughter and that is what we do. (((HUGS)))
Apr. 21st, 2013 07:28 pm (UTC)
Some days you'll find reserves of strength you never knew you had. Other days you'll crumble. And then you'll get up and do it again. Because you are a daughter and that is what we do.

You are a very wise woman and you say it beautifully. Thank you. Especially about the days when you crumble. You learn not to blame yourself when everything falls apart, because you can try to get it right the next day.

And I love your icon.
Apr. 21st, 2013 08:49 am (UTC)
*sending many virtual hugs* It is such a terribly tough situation. :-/
Apr. 21st, 2013 07:29 pm (UTC)
♥ It's day by day, and today there is sunshine, and my mother's mind is a little clearer. Thank you! ♥

(See? I remembered!)
(no subject) - lost_spook - Apr. 22nd, 2013 05:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 21st, 2013 12:34 pm (UTC)
Hugs and more hugs.

Above and beyond the medication-caused confusion, one thing I found with my mother-in-law was that if she was up and around, walking around and doing things, she was far less confused than if she was just lying in bed. Working your body helps your brain work. I hope your mother's recovery from surgery allows her to do this.

Continue to take care of yourself and hang in there.
Apr. 21st, 2013 07:36 pm (UTC)
That you so much; I'm waiting for some of the immediate healing to happen, because until that happens, she won't be able to stand up. She wants to move a lot, but yesterday she tried to stand up and she just went white with the pain. She kept at it, but started to collapse; not surprising, perhaps, for an 86-year-old woman who had just had major surgery 48 hours earlier. But she does want to get better, and she is stubborn as all get out, so if she puts that stubbornness to use, I have hope.
Apr. 21st, 2013 03:23 pm (UTC)
My prayers and best wishes are with you, Kathy. I know this is hard, but you're stronger than you think you can be, and you'll handle it. It's nice you wanted to see me--I'd like to see you, too--but I'm not going anywhere, and there'll be another time. ((((warm hug, my cheek against yours))))
Apr. 21st, 2013 07:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much. *enjoys cheek to cheek hug*

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