Ah, may you live in interesting times. I was in church Sunday morning, rehearsing with the choir, when Richie appeared (and trust me, it takes an act of God to get Richie to set foot inside a church). My mother was freaking out. Off I went, to sit with her while she calmed down. Went home for a bit, came back and sat, started to fall asleep. Went home for a nap, only to wake up with Ma in hysterics again. Went back (I’m approximately two minutes away) and took her to the hospital. She was so weak I had to lift her off the toilet and into the wheel chair, lift her into the car and then out again. And she was 150 pounds.
So they took her right in at the ER and once more couldn’t find anything wrong, but this time they admitted her. And at this point we’re all in agreement (me and the hospital) that she can’t come home until she’s in better condition. So they’re looking into getting her into one of the two extended care places of choice (the assisted living one town over or the nursing home just down the hill from me) for a couple of weeks of rehab with the hopes (their hopes) of getting her back into her apartment.
I’m ambivalent. Because there aren’t a lot of good outcomes ahead. If she goes back to the apartment we’ll either be going through this again or I’ll walk in to find her dead one morning, which won’t be fun. I think she needs the help and the socialization that a different living situation can provide, and I figure there will be three possibilities.
1. She’ll hate it so much she’ll get better and get out
2. She’ll hate it so much she’ll decline and fade away. At 98 it’s hard to come back from things.
3. She’ll be happy there.
If number one is the answer I see a lot more work for me, and I don’t know if I can do it. I was already just about at my limit.
But we shall see. It will work out as it’s meant to work out.
So yesterday I was on the phone with the assisted living place, the health center, the social worker, the Agency on the Aging, my niece, my cousin, the hospital, and it seems others as well.
Then I went off to get my eyes checked because I can’t read, and for the first time the eye doctor (whom I’ve seen for 20 years) had to lift up my sagging eyelids to do one of the checks. Sigh.
Then I drove across a twisty mountain road to the hospital to see my mother, who wasn’t in good shape.
So who knows what will happen. I’m stressed beyond measure — when I was talking to my niece on the phone I noticed how tight my voice sounded. I’m not so much upset about my mother (though I could be in denial about that) but overwhelmed by the stress.
My mother and I have had a long and difficult relationship. She’s had mental health issues most of her adult life, resulting in uncontrollable rages at everyone around her. I think these panic attacks may be the geriatric version of those rages (just as her legendary temper tantrums as a child were the juvenile equivalent). But who knows? All her tests come back normal, except for her blood pressure.
So, to quote the Chinese curse, “may you live in interesting times.”
However, one must snatch small victories where one can. I got to the hospital at three, having had two breakfast bars and a bowl of cherries for breakfast. When I left McDonald’s was there, gleaming in the sun, and I gave myself permission for a hamburger (I’ve been dying for a hamburger). But I still didn’t go. Not even to get a DC as a pick-me-up. I waited until I got home and had a piece of Anadama Bread to tide me over till dinner (curried chicken on brown rice — bless Richie).
So today I see what answers we can come up with for my mother’s immediate future. And see if I can find some sort of life for myself mixed in with all that.
Maidens of St. Trinians, gird your armor on …