Thursday, March 13, 2014

Living In Between

Almost a week has passed since we received the phone all about my mom.  I have wanted to blog, but simply haven't been able to. Wearier than I have been in years, I have returned to my mother in law's house each night and gone staight to bed.

I hopped the earliest plane I could catch and touched down at LAX around noon on Saturday, then drove straight to the hospital about an hour north, in Camarillo where I was raised.  The news upon arrival was not good...basically, none of the MD's had expectations that my mom would survive.  The cardiologist was the first one to speak with me, and gave a laundry list of medical issues including kidney failure, heart issues, and brain dysfunction.

Though Mom recognized me, was clearly suffering from cognitive deficits, and mercifully, she doesn't recall the event at all.  No one knows for certain how long she was on the floor of her mobile home, perhaps as long as four days, as my email from her Monday was the last anyone heard from her or saw her.

Steadily, day by day, she has improved.  Yesterday she was released to go to a short term rehab facility where she will remain for about a month, hopefully, and regain physical strength and the ability to perform those all essential "Activities of Daily Living", which at the moment she is unable to do.  Her doctor said it could be 2-3 months before her brain function settles into whatever new permanent state it will remain in, which might mean a full recovery, or with some limitations.  As of this writing, she is able to carry on full conversations with some misfires, and memory continues to be a challenge, more short term than long term.  In some ways, it is like Grandma Alice and Kenny share a similar brain at the moment, though I'd probably give the edge to Kenny right now.

As our concern exists for Kenny's future ability to live on his own, so does our concern about mom.  In her current state, it would be impossible, yet there is a lot of encouragement for ongoing gains to be made and hourly her condition seems to be improving, much to the surprise of almost everyone around her who has seen this happen in others.  I have no doubt that the prayers of others made a difference for her.

She is very scared of me leaving, and the facility she was placed in yesterday is one of only two here, and though clean and with nice enough staff, it is filled with very aged patients, many of whom are suffering with dementia and Alzheimer's, further confusion my moms tenuous grasp on reality.  It is frightening, and she continued to forcefully state she is only here for a month.  There are several others there for short term rehabilitation, but has the feel of a long term nursing home, which it also actually is on one side of the building, and her short term memory loss hinders her from being fully certain at all times that this will be temporary.

For those of us who started our families later due to circumstances beyond our control, this Sandwich Generation place is an awful one to be in.  Caring for an aging parent who resides far from you, while still parenting a younger family leaves you squashed, smashed, and slammed between those you love.  Having no other family to carry the load means a burden that is even one to bounce ideas off of, no one to play "Good Cop Bad Cop" when delivering bad news and soften the blows to someone whose independence is being instantly ripped from them, and no one to pick up the slack where it is left, and no one to just sit and cry with who shares your full history...all the memories are carried only by the person who is currently incapacitated.

On the home side of things, there are no words to thank those who have stepped in to help Dominick and the kids.  We may be the family that God made, but our friends are the family that God has provided, and my gratitude is profound and deep.  Everything has been softened by their love, their outreach through as-yet unanswered emails of care and support.  It means everything...

I still have no idea yet when I might return home, though my stay here can not be indefinite.  The emotional tug of war is awful, and the move yesterday to the new facility did nothing to assuage the assault of guilt and concern.  It is more a nursing home than a rehab, with a small wing for short term rehab, but halls lined with glazed eyed elderly for whom awareness of the world has long since left.  For someone standing on the precipice of grabbing firmly on to reality versus sliding gently over the side into living inside their head forevermore, this is not the ideal placement.  However, it was the best option for what will hopefully be a temporary situation, but it leaves me very worried that physical needs might be adequately met, but mental and certainly emotional ones will be completely overlooked.

What do I do?  I just don't know.  Breathe in, hold it, let it out.  For today.

Somehow even that very act seems very hard to do right now.


Anonymous said...

I am certainly sorry this has happened to your mom, and to your family, Cindy. I can relate, as two years ago I was in a similar position, though my parents live only 1hr 45min away from me. That part is much different than your distance. My fairly healthy parents suddenly had health issues that required me to make numerous trips and be away from my own family of four teens still needing oversight and a husband I enjoy being with. My brother (oldest of three) passed away in 2006, and my sister lives in GA. She helped immensely thru phone/text and four trips to the Midwest. Varied hard issues concerning health, dementia brought on by a medication that led to very poor financial decisions, etc. With the help of my sister, we got them moved to assisted living, but that was not without its difficult bumps. One thing I would remind you, if you haven't thought of it, the hospital she was in should have social workers who you could ask questions of. They're trained to help families, and I think that might at least give you someone to bounce your thoughts off. I pray that God lightens your load in some way and reminds you that you are not alone. I pray He gives you wisdom about the best facility for your mom at this time. Remember, this may just be temporary, and you can investigate other options in her area. I'm sorry you are so far from home and alone in the decision making.
Nancy in the Midwest

Anonymous said...

A very wise woman once held my hand through a similar situation, something for which I cannot thank her enough. She also told me that faith can ease the burden, but that these times are hard, regardless. May your faith and your family ease your burden. Much love from the Foothills.

Anonymous said...

Sending love and prayers from Virginia