October 29, 2014

The end is near, or is it?

Alice called me today. “Can you pass by?” she asked. “Your mom doesn’t look good.”

“Are you worried?” I asked.

“Yes,” Alice responded.

“OK, I’ll be by after yoga.” I’ll skip the mani-pedi.

Later Alice called. “You can come tomorrow. She is better now.”

“OK,” I said. “I’ll be there.”

I got a mani-pedi.

October 27, 2014


My mother survived my weekend away…and then some. She was fine. It was amazing how she knew that I was sneaking away and that she could do something to sabotage my trip-but she was unsuccessful this time. We went anyway! All weekend, she ruminated about how I was getting married and didn’t want her at my wedding and/or that Elsa was getting married and that she had no dress or gift. But it was fine.

We came back. We have visited and even dined, many times.

A few weeks ago, the head hospice nurse called and expressed his feelings that my mother was straining and needed morphine. He asked me to speak to Alice about it. I did, and Alice did not feel it was time. We both deferred to her professional opinions. Several days later, Alice agreed that it was time, and she revealed to Elsa that part of her hesitation was caused by a previous lethal experience with morphine and her patient. At first, my mother was receiving morphine every other day or so, a half of the doctor’s dose. Now, I believe that she gets it every day, and maybe sometimes more than once a day.

We were all there for a big family dinner on Friday. My mother was up and at the table, alert, awake and looking around. It was amazing. 

But later, she was exhausted and went to bed and was fitful as she tried to sleep. She was moaning and tossing as much as she can, and I was devastated for her, believing that she was suffering. She had a frightened, hollow look in her eyes and seemed to be presenting only an outer shell of the person she has been as long as I have known her.

It was awful, and I was very sad. I left thinking that life, in the end, is cruel to those who live too long.

I visited again two days later. Although my mother was sitting up in a wheel chair, she had that gone, vacant look, garbled speech and unintelligible reactions to my conversation with Alice. How awful for her not to be heard and understood!

When I left, she was laboring to rest, even after morphine.

Today Alice tells me she slept deeply most of the day, but she also ate quite a bit.

I feel we are in a holding pattern: she’s steady, but declining a bit every day. We have no idea when this will end, and part of us hopes it’s soon, to end her suffering, and part of us dreads the day when there will no longer be opportunities to say anything more. And when the end comes, it will be final-no turning back, no, “But, wait!”

I feel actually peaceful. My anger has long dissipated and I understand that for many years, my mother has not been herself, her good/best self, that she once was. We have had a rough many years and I feel as though I have been put through the ringer on many occasions, but that’s ok. As long as I don’t repeat the pattern, I can accept how it’s been for us.

I only hope the morphine is keeping her from feeling too much pain.

October 6, 2014

What's has been happening for us…

What’s been happening?

My fellow blogger, MY DEMENTED MOM, has not posted since the death of her mother. While I completely understand this, I have to admit, I am curious about what is happening for her and for her family at this time.

In our family, we have been in a holding stage, so to speak. My mother is still able to get up each day, she talks, she sits on her balcony and watches the world, she eats, she talks on the phone, she complains and she observes. She cannot walk and she laments this fact all day, every day.

My mother is in Hospice care. She has a head Hospice nurse who visits weekly. She has a Hospice social worker and a Hospice spiritual care counselor who visit often as well. My mother has a sister and two cousins who contact her frequently. And she also has a devoted nurse who lives with her and sub nurses who care for her when her nurse is off duty. In short, although she is in Hospice, she is very lucky. She is home. She has quality care. She has company. She is loved.

My mother is sometimes completely coherent, and, is at other times, the opposite. Alice says that they have been in Amsterdam for the past two days. Amsterdam? On the flight home, my mother tried to disembark the plane and climb out of her bed in her sleep.

A sub nurse, Rhoda, texted me today, worried that my mom was not okay. The Hospice nurse was equally concerned that her breathing was strained during his visit and relayed to me that she did not look good. When Alice returned, she reported that my mother was vomiting-and this is dangerous because of her difficulty breathing. “I’m worried that she could aspirate,” Alice explained.

Of course this would happen now. My mom has been fine for weeks and months, but tomorrow I am flying out of town for four days for the wedding of a dear friend’s daughter. Once again, I feel trapped between the obligation to support my dear friend at a special time for her family, one whom I have not seen for 20 years,  AND my obligation to be ‘here’ for my ailing mother, who has been failing for 30 years.

I thought I would visit tonight, a quick one before my flight. But I had laundry and packing to do, and since she was sleeping anyway after her terrible day, I decided to stay home and prep for my trip.

I hope this wasn’t a bad decision and I hope my mother survives this weekend.