Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A really (REALLY) long one

It's been a rough month.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, when I'm down (low, troubled, stuff not going well) I tend to want to embrace my inner introvert and find the nearest blanket fort to hide in.  Hence, the few and far between posts.


So, long-time readers will probably know this, and so will close friends and long-established family: my mom died when I was 15.  Thereafter, lots of not-so-awesome stuff happened and eventually, in an effort to lift me out of the mire and save me from a direction that would have (maybe) proven ultimately fatal (maybe), I was adopted (legally) by my aunt and uncle.  My father's sister and her husband.  Therefore, when I speak of my mom in the present tense, I'm referring to my adoptive mother; my biological aunt.

It's confusing, I know.

That's a very basic introduction into my complicated family.  And it's important to know and to understand when I start explaining myself and why I've been so stressed out, distant, and down in the dumps.


Flashback to December 18, 2015: Mom was with a friend and they stopped at the post office so he could get his mail.  She (from what I understand) was standing outside waiting on him - probably having a cigarette - and while waiting, lost her balance and fell over, hitting her head solidly on the concrete.  A subsequent hospital visit and CT scan of her head told us there was no concussion and further - when she told them she could hardly walk because her foot hurt - an X-ray told us nothing was wrong with her foot.  She was sent home.

Fast-forward to January 15, 2016: I get a call from another friend of Mom's who tells me, "There's something wrong with your mom, you may want to come over."  To which I reply, "I'll be right there," and am there within 30 minutes.  (I'm a 20 minute drive away.)  I arrive to find friends fussing and scared and my mom passed out - in a twisted heap - on her bed.  I couldn't wake her up.  I couldn't tell for sure if she was even breathing.  I truly thought she was dead, and it was the second worst moment of my entire life.  I called 911, and they immediately dispatched EMTs.  911 personnel told me to wake her up - try hard to wake her up; shake her if you have to - but see if you can get her to open her eyes.  Which I did.  She opened her eyes, but she didn't know who she was or where she was or who I was or what year it was or who was president or what year she was born.  She kept asking me questions, but the words she used were jumbled and confused and slurred and made no sense.  She was clearly not in her right mind.  By now, first responders arrived and went through the same questions the 911 folks had me ask her, with the same lack of responses.  They were concerned she'd had a stroke and so we bypassed Local Hospital for one in Nearby Big City as they were better equipped to diagnose and treat stroke patients.

Thus began a very long night of emergency room treatments, personnel, questions, more questions, still more questions - most of which I could answer, but a lot of which I could not, since I wasn't there when all this occurred.  (I'm leaving out a lot of details here, because there just isn't room.)

About 3AM they confirmed a room for her on the 5th floor and admitted her.  She was slightly more lucid than when we brought her in, but only just.  Enough to remember who she was, who I was, ("Oh, you're my Jenny!"), what year it was and what year she was born.  Still iffy on the President question.  I got her situated in her hospital room, talked to the nursing staff for a few minutes, then gave Mom a hug and went home to rest.

She was somewhat better on Saturday - enough to have a perfectly normal conversation with her - but she was still off in that she seemed vacant; not really there.  Sunday morning, when I visited, was more of the same.  Conversational, but not proactive.  She would respond if I asked her a question directly, but she wasn't actively engaging in conversation.  It was hard to watch.

By Sunday evening, though, (according to the nurse in charge) Mom had taken a turn for the worse and was actively hallucinating.  I wasn't aware of the change until I got to the hospital early on Monday afternoon.  Monday was a holiday, so the kids weren't in school and I was not at work.  Boy-Child and I had taken a bunch of stuff over to the donation center and afterward decided we should go see Gammy.  (That's what my kids call her.)  So we drove to Nearby Big City to visit and found her in a full-blown hallucination.  She was convinced she was at the edge of a cliff, and was going to fall off.  She had hold of my hands and was staring at me - absolutely terrified - telling me to, "Push me back, Jenny!  PUSH me back!"  Her feet were flailing and she was stiff with fear.  It was horrible to witness.  And as bad as that was, it was worse for Boy-Child, who expected to see his Gammy doing better, not actively worse.  I absolutely could not convince her she was in a hospital or even laying down, safe, on a bed.  The cliff-edge was her reality.  She stayed inside this hallucination for over 40 minutes, until the Physical Therapy girls came in to do her PT and, upon seeing them, the spell was broken.  She was immediately limp and relaxed, but still not mentally in the now.  PT couldn't be done because she was unable to follow directions and fought them when they tried to assist.  Finally, she looked straight at me and said, "I wish you'd just leave!" we did.  There wasn't anything I could do and Boy-Child was terrified, too.

Anyway - she spent from Sunday, January 17th in the late afternoon through Thursday, January 21st in the morning in a solid state of various hallucinations.  She talked to people who were not there, she ate food that was not there, she yelled and screamed, she swore like a sailor, she would not calm down and called me all manner of names and said all manner of horrible things.  I know it was not her - not really - but it still was hard to handle.

Wednesday, January 20th came an early evening call from the physician at the hospital overseeing Mom's case.  She and I talked at length about what was happening and at that time I was told that subsequent CT scans and MRIs done since she came in through the ER (where they had also done a CT scan and an MRI) showed that Mom has something called Chronic Microvascular Ischemic Disease, also known as Vascular Dementia.  I was told that we should consider not allowing her to live alone anymore and was told it would be good for me to move her in with us, if we could.  We discussed how that was not possible due to lack of space (truly, I live in just over 1000 sq. ft. with four people and one potty) and was then told that I needed to consider assisted living.  Which is also not an option because we simply can't afford it.  Believe me, I've done the research.  I was then told that we would need to see about getting her permanently into a nursing home; that she absolutely, without fail, could not live on her own.

Oh, and they also discovered that she did, indeed, have three broken metatarsals in her left foot!  So much for an accurate diagnosis at Local Hospital back in December, eh?

She spent 9 days in the hospital.

Well now we're going to fast-forward to today.  Mom's been at the nursing home since Monday, January 25th.  They say that if they didn't know what was wrong, what she'd been through, that they would never have known she'd had a problem with her mental capabilities.  They say she's doing great and, if they could rehabilitate her physically, she could go home.  The reason the Physical rehab is taking so long is that because of the broken bones in her foot the hospital discharged her with orders to wear a giant walking boot every time she even thinks about getting up.  The problem there is, Mom's 98lbs soaking wet and the boot is too heavy.  She's off-balance anyway, she normally uses a walker for stability, and therefore the boot makes walking nearly impossible.  Therefore, rehabilitation is stymied until they can remove the boot.  She had an X-ray of her foot on Monday night and they determined she's not completely healed, but it's up to the doctors at the nursing home to write a new order for a lighter-weight boot that wouldn't hinder rehab.  They're wanting to get her up and moving so she can go home.

During all this time, I've been taking care of Mom's cat (not that I mind, she's a sweet - though scared - little thing).  Among many, many other things.  My brain is sore, my body is tired, but it's not about me.  I think that's my new mantra: It's Not About Me.

Believe it or not, that's the short version.  I could add all the details of her various hallucinations.  I could add all the awful things she said to me while she was not in her right mind.  I could tell you about what happened before she passed out on the night of January 15th, or, at least as much as we can piece together; no one really knows for sure.  I could add stuff we did while she was hospitalized.  I could elaborate on lots of things, but I won't.  Your time is precious.  And you'd probably get bored.

Anyway - that's what has been going on.  It's been the primary thing on my mind since mid-January and is the reason I have not posted anything substantial in weeks and weeks.

Happy 2016, right?


No comments: