Sunday, July 24, 2005

happy to be

The lost month

It’s the end of July and I have nothing to show for it…no incredible tan, no “rested” looks, no lighter circles under my eyes, no new epic novels read. I do feel lucky though to still have a mother. It was doubtful that I would. Mom fell and broke her hip on July 2. She’s 83. Her surgery on July 3 went well and she was up and walking on day two. Unfortunately by day three she started developing other problems...stemming from a C-dif (clostridium difficile) infection. Did you know that over 80 % of elderly people who get this retched infection die from it. Me neither- until I started reading. I wish I hadn’t started reading because learning about infections in hospitals isn’t comforting. Stay ignorant if you can.

Our family converged on Birmingham to rotate shifts in the hospital so that Mom wouldn’t be alone. By Saturday she was recovering and was headed to rehab on Monday. I drove back to Florida on Saturday to avoid being caught in the rains predicted from Hurricane Whatever. I spoke with Mom on Sunday and she was worried that she didn’t have make-up and a hair dryer for her move down the hall. She sounded excited- like a young girl getting ready for camp. On Sunday night her sodium levels started dropping and by Monday she was not able to stay awake long enough to finish a sentence or chew a bite of food. Her heartbeat was erratic. My sister Cherie and I drove back to Birmingham on Tuesday night. We spent most of the week wringing our hands and trying to understand the treatments that a team of doctors kept changing. By the end of the week a critical care specialist was consulted. She was a godsend. A temporary feeding tube was inserted and within 24 hours Mom was showing signs of improvement. She has had some up and downs but was able to move to the rehab wing and is scheduled for release on Tuesday. She sounds stronger each day but hasn’t asked about makeup and hair dryers yet. It’s taken its toll.

Now tough decisions have to be made. Mom will need someone with her all the time. She’s going home with my sister, Carol, for two weeks but after that we’ve got to have a plan in place. While I watched Mom sleep endless hours I reminisced and prayed. Things cannot go back to the way they were. No more driving Mom. We all knew that you shouldn’t anyway but we didn’t want to take that away from you. No more staying alone. No more life as you have known it. But the good news is your children and grandchildren will do everything in their power to help you. Wish everyone was so fortunate.

There has been some good to come out of this month of crisis. I was able to spend more time with Katie and Barrett. And my sisters and brother… And my friends from Alabama.