Tuesday, September 28, 2010

She Ate A Little

Mother actually ate some yesterday.  She didn't know she was eating.  She never opened her eyes, but if I put food in her mouth, she made the motions of chewing and swallowing.  She even drank through a straw a little! She wasn't aware that I was there.  She doesn't know me anymore, anyway, I don't think.  If she ever calls me anything, it's "Mother".  I have been told that that is normal.  This really doesn't bother me at all.
I appreciate all of your heartfelt comments. Thank you so much. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Reality Hitting Me In the Face!

About a week or so ago, the head administrator of the nursing home called me into his office.  He asked me if I have given thought as to what we will want to do at the end.  The end?  I looked at him in a questioning manner, I guess, because he clarified by saying, "Do you think you'll want to take your mother home with you and have hospice care, or would you want to keep her here and have hospice come here?"  What?  Was he telling me that Mother is going to die soon?  I mean, of course I know that she is getting much worse, but I really haven't given any REAL thought about what we would do at the END. I told him as much, and he said that I should probably be thinking about this.  Okay........?  So, I waited a day or two to absorb this before I said anything to anyone.
A couple of days ago, I asked one of the nurses, who is also a friend I've known all my life, what V had meant by his question.  I asked if they knew that Mother only has a very short time left.  She said that, since Mother has essentially quit eating, may mean, possibly, maybe, probably that her body is starting to shut down.  Okay, I guess I really knew this, I just hadn't verbalized it, or had it verbalized to me.  I wasn't letting myself think in these terms, not really anyway.  So, I asked if she could go on like this for a year or two.  I know that was a dumb question, but I asked it anyway.  Of course, she said that no, Mother wouldn't live that long.  I then said that I would be going away for a few days in October and asked if I should change my plans.  She answered that no one knows for sure how long things will go on as they are, but that she didn't think it would happen that fast.  I had to leave to think and cry for a little while.  All of this happened about the same time as the stuff in my other blog was going on.  I was a wreck for a few days.
I have called my daughters, brother, sister, one of my cousins and told them what this dear nurse told me.  None of them were surprised.  They were all very supportive and compassionate.  They are what is keeping me strong right now.  I know in my mind that Mother is in the worst state she could ever be in, and I hate, hate, hate seeing her this way.  I intellectually know that it will be a blessing when the time comes.  I know that she is miserable, and I want it to be over for her.  But,  there is a part of me that is crying, "NO! not yet. I'm not through.  I  need to tell her some things.  I need her to know that I love her and that I'm sorry for some of the hurtful things I have said to her over the years.  I need to have her know me again, instead of thinking that I am her mother."
Okay, okay, get  hold of yourself, Julia.  You are a grown woman.  You have seen your husband go through his mother's death in April.  You know that he and his siblings are thankful for the blessings they had in their mother and that she didn't get to the point where she didn't know them, etc..... You know that this will be the best thing when it happens.
I just pray that I can suck it up and be strong.
I am tired, a little bit sick with a yucky throat, stressed over normal life things, and so, not at my best right now.  I feel so much better after having talked to my girls, though.
My girls are all such strong, caring, wonderful mothers to our grandchildren.  I am so grateful that I see my mother in them.  My mother used to be a very strong, independent, compassionate lady.  My sister and I were just talking about how grateful we are that she taught us that ALL people are God's people and that He loves us ALL the same.  He doesn't care about color, culture, etc..... and our mother taught us that is how we should be.  Our mother taught us that caring for others should be utmost in our lives.  She unquestioningly moved into our cousins' house when their mother died to take care of the two youngest who were still at home.  She taught school.  She worked as a Social Worker with abused and neglected children.  She raised us without the help of our father.  She divorced our father even though, I think she still deep down loved him, and even though it was against all she had been taught, because she loved us and didn't want to risk him getting custody of us if anything happened to her.  She never was able to live some of her dreams because of life circumstances.  She now, is scared, sad, and pitiful.  I want this to end for her in whatever way it is going to take.  I love her too much to see her like this.
Wow!  did I really just write all of this?  Even if no one ever reads this, it is helping me to write it down.  I hope that if anyone does read it, it will help you to deal with your own life struggles with your parents, in-laws, or whatever other life issues you may have.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Easter and Christmas?

Tonight when I went to visit this is what I encountered.....

Mother:  There was and Easter Egg hunt today, and there were so many eggs that they were all stuck together.
Me:  Really, wow!
Mother:  Yes, and there are eggs under me.
Me: Under you? You mean under your bed?
Mother:  Turn me over so you can get the eggs out from under me.  Turn me over, NOW!
Me:  Okay?.........?............?
Mother:  I mean it, turn me over from side to side and get those eggs out from under me, NOW!
Me:  Alright.  (I turned her from side to side, not an easy task mind you, since she can't help turn on her side at all)
Mother: Did you get all of the eggs?
Me: Yep!
Mother:  Did you get the ones that are between my legs?  My legs are stuck together and I can't pull them apart.
Me:  Okay. (I pull each leg to the side a little. I'm afraid that I will hurt her.)
Mother:  My legs are stuck together.  Pull them apart.
Me:  (I pull them a little further apart.)

Mother:  Tomorrow is Christmas, and I haven't been shopping.  I don't have anything for my "little one".
Me:  Mother, it's only September.  You have plenty of time for shopping. (We've been through all of this before.  I keep meaning to buy her a big calendar so she can see the month, etc...  I'm not sure that would help.).  See, I just hung a Halloween decoration on your door because we've not even had Halloween yet.
Mother:  Take me to the hall.
Me:  ( I wheeled her out into the hall, but there wasn't anyone out there.)
Mother:  Take me to the dining room.
Me:  Okay, but there won't be many people in there, dinner is over.
Mother:  Take me to the dining room.
Me:  Okay.
Mother:  Ask those people if tomorrow is Christmas.
Me:  ( I ask three CNAs who are in the dining room. They all tell Mother that it is only September and that Christmas is still several months away. That makes her mad!  I take her back down to her room.)

Mother:  Take off my shirt.
Me: Mother, you have to wait until the girls are through helping other people eat their dinner, and then they will come down to help you get ready for bed. (This exchange goes on forever and ever, so I finally go get a gown myself and come back to get her ready for bed.)
Mother: (After I have her gown on her and her clothes off.)  Tell the nurses to come to get me ready for be.
Me:  Mother, I got you ready for bed.  See, you have on a gown.  I've already brushed your teeth, so you can just relax now and go to sleep.  (It's only 6:00)  I need to go home now, I'll see you tomorrow.
Mother:  Crying, (all of this has been while she was crying) Please don't go.  Please wait until the nurses come to get me ready for bed.
Me:  Okay, I'll stay, but you have to stop crying.
Mother:  Okay, I will.  (That lasts about 2 minutes and then she starts crying again. This goes on for about 30 to 40 minutes.)  Cries again.
 Me: Mother, what's wrong now?
Mother:  I don't know.  Don't touch my face.  You are hurting my arm when you hold my hand.  I don't know.  Please don't go, etc...................................

I finally left and came home and I haven't been able to get this off my mind since.......................

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Painting and Mother

I just finished painting Fall pictures on the nursing home windows.  This is the front entrance.  To see the rest, just go to my other blog that is linked on my sidebar.
On Sunday, my cousin and his wife went to visit Mother.  She was crying when they got there.  She asked them to get her out of the "mud?".  Then she just begged them to take her out of there.  When they asked her where she wanted to go, she said she didn't care, that anywhere but there would be ok.  She reached out to my cousin and asked him to take her home.  When he told her he couldn't, she told him she would never forgive him if he wouldn't take her away from there.  He was crushed.  He didn't quite know what to say or do.  I wouldn't have known what to say either. 
Other than this incident, though, she's been relatively calm for going on a week.  She is very drugged, though.  What's best for her?  Who knows, but I think she is better off being drugged than being scared and agitated.  When she gets anxious, she cries and screams.  So, I really think she's better off on this medicine.  I never thought I would say that!
While I was painting lots of the residents sat inside where they could watch me.  There's one lady, Faye, who never talks and rarely changes her expression.  She just wheels herself all over the nursing home, running into things, etc.....  She wheeled up to the window shown here next to the front door and reached out her hand toward me.  I put my hand on the window and she put hers over mine.  I was so surprised that she and I made this connection.  She doesn't ever seem to be aware of what is going on around her.
Another lady stood at the door.  She wanted out, desperately.  She doesn't really talk, but she would make gestures to tell me that she wanted me to open the door.  I just told her it was locked and that I couldn't open it.  At one point, when someone else went through the door, she followed him outside.  A couple of nurses came running to get her. 
There's a gentleman who will ask everyone he sees to please get him a telephone so he can call his son to come and get him.  Or, he will ask people to call his son for him.  He stood at the door while I was painting the flag and begged me to open the door so he could go home.  It was awful!!!!  That door stays locked.  To open it from outside there is a button to push.  It won't open, though, if a "wanderer" is standing or sitting close by.  Some residents wear a thing around their ankle that sends a signal to the door not to open.  An alarm will sound if one of them does get outside, though. 
Today, there was a gospel group all the way from GA that came to sing with the residents.  A lot of the folks were sitting out on the front porch while they played their guitars and keyboard and sang.  The residents sang along with them a lot of the time.  It was so much fun to watch this.  I was painting the dining room windows while they sang. 
Mother wasn't out there.  I really think she could have enjoyed this today.  The CNAs have gotten so used to her not being able to even go to the dining room or anywhere out of her room, that I guess they didn't think about taking her.  She used to want to be included in EVERYTHING going on.  She did get to eat lunch in the dining room today!  Thank God for small blessings.

On another subject.......one of my best friends, who I've known since we were babies in the church nursery together over 50 years ago, lost her husband to cancer yesterday.  He found out in January that he had this horrible disease.  It was already spread so much that there was never any real hope that he would get well.  My friend, herself, has dealt with breast cancer and diabetes.  I spent the night at her house so many times.  We called her mom, Hot Roding Mama, because she was our youth leader when we were teens.  She drove like a mad woman, or at least we teased her and said she did.  She still sings in the church choir and sits right in front of me.   Love her.  Prayers for the whole family.  My friend and her husband have two grandsons, one is only a couple of months old.

Friday, September 10, 2010

When are we going Christmas shopping?

This is the question that Mother has had the last two days.  I first tried to convince her that it is only September and that we have plenty of time for Christmas shopping.  She didn't believe me, though.  Yesterday she insisted that it is November.  Today she is convinced it is December.  She is upset because she thinks that someone bought a baby doll for some child that she wanted to buy one for.  She made me promise not to let that person give the doll to this child because she wants to give it to her.  Of course, I agreed to anything.
I made the mistake, yesterday, of telling Mother that we would go shopping today.  She usually doesn't stay on the same "kick" two days in a row.  But, of course, she was upset with me when I told her we couldn't go today.  She looked up at me with the saddest eyes and said, "I know we won't ever get to go, will we?"  Of course, I told her we will go, or that if she wants me to do her shopping for her that I'll be glad to do it.  She didn't say no to that idea, so maybe she will be satisfied that I am doing her shopping.  Last year she had me buy finger paint, water colors, crayons and coloring books for all the little  ones in the family. along with a few things for a few other people.  This year, I thought she wouldn't even know when Christmas comes around.  Who knows?
On Wednesday, my cousin and I were both there at lunch time.  She was calm and seemed to know pretty much what was going on.  After only a few minutes, though, she told us it was time for us to leave.  I asked her if she knew who my cousin was, and she did.  When I asked her if she knew me, she said, "Yes, Mother."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Holding My Breath.............

till I'm blue in the face, or I pass out, or whatever happens first!  Mother has had 3 days of calm.  I'm almost afraid to type these words, because I think I jinx her. 

Friday, September 3, 2010

What's going on in her mind?

Things she has said the past few days.  I wish I could understand what she means and wants.  When I do think I understand her, I can't get her to understand me.  She repeats these statements over and over and over, until she finally wears herself out and goes to sleep.  Apparently she's dreaming and then when she wakes up there is some other something for her to obsess about.  Most of these statements are yelled, not spoken.

"Just give me some butterflies."(This was when she was eating dinner and I asked if she wanted anything else to eat.)
"I want my blue shoes.  They feel so good."(She was trying to get out of bed as she was saying this over and over.)
"Get my dress.  Get a different size."
"Makes me sick, makes me sick, makes me sick,......................"(While my cousin and I were trying to get her to eat.  We finally tried to get her to drink some Ensure.  I think she had congestion in her head that was draining down her throat and this milky drink made her nauseous.)
"Water, water, water, water,......................"(She never drinks water, but she did this time.)
"I'm trying to measure this piano bench."  "Cissy is going to teach a lesson."  "I need to measure this piano bench." (I told her I would measure it for her.)  "Then go do it, do it now, go do it."  "Do you know how to measure."  "I've got to go, now, let's go.  I need to measure the piano bench." (Her sisters were gifted pianists.  I guess she was trying to help them get ready for teaching lessons.)
All is not gloom and doom.  Last evening she was really very calm.  She looked up at me when I went into her room and actually looked at me with both eyes open and smiled and said, "Hi." If only we had more days like this!

My brother is coming down to see her this evening.  This is the first time he has tried to come since the end of June when he started having trouble with the staph infection in his hip.  He is finally off the IV, but will be taking an antibiotic by mouth for a YEAR!