Sunday, May 08, 2016

Happy Mother's Day?

Mothers deserve to be honored. I am glad we set this day aside to do that. I bought my wife a small plant (to be planted later, not thrown away) and a card and, maybe soon, a gift. But this is the worst Mother's Day in a long time for me. My mother is in a nursing facility and is not doing well. She is having trouble breathing and chokes a lot when she tries to drink or eat. They've only been giving her minced food to try to cut down on the choking but it only helps a little. Fluid is building up in her body and collecting in her lungs but when they give her medicine to get rid of the water, it puts a further strain on her already weakened kidneys. I'm afraid she is fading and it is tearing me up.

I go to see her every day (and sometimes twice a day) but I feel so helpless. I know people that have taken their mother into their home so they can see her all day and give her help whenever she needs it. They have nurses come in to do the things they don't know how to do or cannot do given the other responsibilities in their lives. But I haven't done that. I have my reasons but I don't know if they count. I am leaving the day-to-day care of my mother to strangers. They are very dedicated and skilled strangers who can do more for her than I can but they are strangers. I wonder if I made the right decision two years ago to sell my mother's house and move her 650 miles to be close to me but far way from her three sisters and the town she grew up in and lived in for most of her life.

She was already in really bad shape when I convinced her to sell the house she had lived in for 60 years and I don't think she could have stayed in the house much longer. But maybe it would have been better if I'd found her an assisted living or nursing home near her town. It would have been cheaper than what is available where we live. But I would have worried. And her sisters could not continue to help her out because they are all near her age and have their own health problems. My cousins, who were helping her before I horned in, were angels. They were doing a lot to help her like buying things she needed and setting up her pills. They were taking her to doctor's appointments and helping around the house. But they also have lives of their own and the one who was helping Mom the most had health issues of her own. As I said, their parents (my mother's sister and brother-in-law) are getting older and need more help, too.

So, here we are about two years since my mother broke her hip and had to have it replaced. But before that, she had already started to decline. Her knees were already wracked by gouty arthritis (although her doctors didn't know that), Her heart was weakening more (she already had a pacemaker keeping her heart from slowing down too much due to the pills she took for her atrial fibrillation), she was getting up five to six times a night to go to the bathroom (which the doctors there were not treating) and she was found to need supplemental oxygen when she went in for the hip replacement surgery (which her doctors there had not known about). I don't see how she could have continued in her town without full-time help and increased trips to the doctor and hospitals. But I still feel like I'm responsible for the bad things she is going through.

When I was young, my mother made everything better. She helped me when I was anxious (which was pretty much all the time). She made the pain go away and always made me feel better. I can't return that to her and I am miserable on this Mother's Day.

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