I am not sure my mother will be happy about me sharing what’s under our pots. She’s a relatively private person. But as the saying goes, Write What You Know. And right now, what I know is that my dear mom is in the hospital surrounded by strangers poking, prodding and looking.
My 83-year-old mom suffered a stroke on Friday night and was admitted to the ER.
I should have known that a call from my sister at 9 o’clock on a Friday night couldn’t be good. I kissed my family goodbye and drove the hour or so to the hospital. All the way down I couldn’t help but wonder what shape she would be in. Could Mom speak? Could she move?
I was happily surprised. Other than stumbling on a few minor things — like shaving 20 years off her age (good girl!) and not remembering right away the name of our current President (not that I blame her for that) she seemed pretty good. She could move well, and her speech wasn’t slurred in the least.
I told her it was a heck of a way to ensure she got flowers for Mother’s Day, something my sister and brother probably said when they got there too, and she laughed. But behind the facade of our family always trying to wing a good joke in the face of sadness, she sure scared the hell out of us all.
On the outside, my mom didn’t look like someone who suffered a stroke. We were relieved when the ER doc told us it was a TIA – a transient ischemic attack. A likely precursor to a stroke. But upon further testing, they found more lurking on the inside: My mom had indeed suffered not one, but three or four small strokes and that her brain did suffer some injury.
And yesterday it was discovered that my mom also has a form of pulmonary hypertension where there is no mechanism to block a clot from her heart to her brain. And they discovered a small hole in her beautiful heart. She now needs to add coumadin to her array of meds she already takes.
So it begins.
If I had a lick of advice for anyone with an elderly parent, it would be this: educate yourself BEFORE something happens.
Right now, my siblings and I have to take a crash course in caring for an ill elderly parent.
There are literally so many questions — Will she need food delivered? Will she eat it? Should we just cook and hope for the best that she eats it? Which medical alert device? Will Medicare cover it? Do we need a home health care worker? Will Medicare cover it? How will we get her to rehab appointments? How will she get around? How will we ensure she takes her meds? How will we configure her house so that we can ensure she does not bump into anything for fear that her dose of coumadin will make her bleed? Will she be okay?
Can all four of her children do this without ripping each other’s throats out?
These and so many more questions need to be answered before she gets home.
My head is spinning. I am tired from the driving back and forth and why I feel compelled to be sitting at my computer instead of researching more or dragging my kids into bed with me is beyond me. But here is where I sit, perhaps trying to figure out the next move. Or just trying to get my mind to work again.
The thing about my mom –she is a fierce little thing. All 90+ pounds of her. She’s beaten a lot. Breast cancer at 58. Car accident at 62. Widowed at 62. Heart attack at 79. Now she’ll handle this. I know she will. It’s who she is.
She’ll be back to puttering around her home in no time. But for now, she gets killer milkshakes from her nurse Paula, is forced to relax and is slowly getting to know the kind old lady in the bed next to her. She chats with all the staff and really is in good spirits. Not a bad place if you take the stroke out of the equation.
On the sibling front, it’s been a wakeup call for all of us that is for sure. We need to pay more attention. To everything. I just hope we can wind our way through all this without any additional stress on my mom.
I realize we are not the first family to have to care for an aging parent or one that falls ill. But when it happens to you, it is overwhelming. There are lots of organizations and websites and articles and phone numbers, not to mention emotions, that we need to weed through.
We just want to do what is best for her.
But it sure can’t be easy on her — the caregiver becomes the cared for.
Anyway, hopefully my mom doesn’t disown me for sharing this. But since she knows I am a writer, and I need to write, perhaps she’ll make an exception and keep me in the family. I know she won’t be reading this, cause she isn’t connected, but don’t tell her, just in case.
So I am sure to be sharing some updates. I am sure I’ll need to vent, too. I’ll try to blog about other things if I can.
But right now, this is life.