When it rains… it pours… and people, we were drenched this week. I'm not sure where to begin, or indeed, how it will end. What I know for sure is we are truly in the thick of it right now.
Mom had called me last Monday, saying her doctor had cancellations due to the extreme cold weather. Could I take her in? She had such pain in her back and truly she sounded miserable.
So we took her in. They managed an X-ray on the spot and her gracious doctor, Dr. Sheldon, squeezed us back in to get the X-ray read right away.
She broke the news to us. Mom had a compression fracture. It's essentially where one vertebrae in your back has been compressed and is practically resting on top of the other one.
She admonished they were painful, difficult to treat, and would be especially tricky with moms underlying liver disease.
As usual, mom was a trooper and wanted no pain meds. She thought she could rally and face it. But Dr. Sheldon warned me, the road was typically riddled with chronic pain, the possibility of surgery and lots of rehab.
Tuesday I had chemo. Tuesday night, while mom sounded tired on the phone, she still didn't complain of anything. We had all kinds of follow up appointments made and in a few days would find out more about mom's condition.
And I was clearly focusing on my impending surgery- the details were still elusive.
Early, Wednesday morning while still in bed, I received a call from mom's phone. But it wasn't my mom. It was her building manager. It seems, mom had tried getting out of her chair, and fallen late Tuesday night, and laid there all night long. Somehow she managed to crawl to the phone early Wednesday, and get help.
So 911 was called and an ambulance was on the way.
By the time Rick and I got to the ER, mom had been given dilaudid, a powerful pain med, and she was feeling better. She fortunately did not hit her head, shoulder, hip, etc.
She went for an MRI and Rick and I sat and waited for her in the lobby.
But mom made it back to her room before we did. And by the time we were let back in, discharge orders had been written. Even though they had not just found 1 compression fracture, but 2- she was going home!
We were so surprised. But mom, was adamant she was going home and the doctor felt she just needed some pain meds and would be great. Mom agreed!
Wednesday might officially have been the longest day of my life.
We brought her home and she was not well. She couldn't walk, talk, or function on her own at all. She slept for awhile, but even after a long afternoon of rest, she needed us by her side.
Rick and I knew we needed help.
Through a zillion phone calls, it was finally her doctor who agreed mom had probably talked a good game in order to be sent home, and that truly she was hurting more than she admitted.
Dr. Sheldon, realizing my own stage iv status, helped us arrange an admit to the observation floor.
I have to say mom was treated so well, during her stay. She quickly figured out, she'd better be honest about her pain and started admitting she was at least a 9 or 10 on the pain scale.
While seeing my mom in so much pain was so hard, the saddest point came when we found out she was going to be discharged after just 3 days in the hospital. The only stipulation? Was that she had to have 24/7 care by someone- and that someone would be me.
My poor mother, looked at her nurse and said, "You mean my pain is a 10, and I can't do a single thing by myself, and you are sending me home? With my sick daughter to care for me?"
Her sweet nurse could barely look her in the eye when she nodded yes.
I have to say, it was a low point for all of us. We were sent home with lots of good advice, and agencies we could call for nursing services, but all of that would be at our own cost. At anywhere from 410 to 600 dollars a day, we knew we didn't have any other choice at the moment.
It seems, nobody agrees as to whether or not the fractures are new? Or old? Since they are in question- she doesn't qualify for transitional care, or anything close to 24 hour care at home that would be covered by Medicare.
Rick dropped my mother and I off at her home late Friday night. Superman has been Super-sized this week.
When I chose the word become? Who could have known the first thing I'd "become" was a 24 hour caretaker! I have such empathy for all those who do it, including my Superman who does so much for me.
Plus, I was completely shocked at all my discoveries as I started putting things away.
Food rotting in the fridge. Garbage piled up in bags everywhere. Clothes strewn about everywhere. Clearly, my mom has been talking a good game, in order not to worry anyone, -especially me.
Its been a rocky few days. I haven't earned my care-taking wings just yet.
Saturday morning as I tried to help mom up to her walker, she grabbed hold as instructed- and fell over- sideways, crashing onto the side table and smashing the lamp. And I was right there!!
I've been digging so deep to find the light. I know its there… I believe deeply, I'm just waiting.
I sat, tears streaming the other day, as I journaled my gifts.
- the warm up in the temperature.
-the sun shining and lasting a few more minutes each day.
-wonderful care given to my mom.
I could only see the gifts through a veil of tears- but they were there- flying from my finger tips- even though I was spent.
Then yesterday a short reprieve. A flicker, of light.
My father-in-law, Jim, came and rescued me along with Marny, my mom's sister. They sat with mom so I could go to hockey and see Nolan play. Ahh- this gift feels like grace.
And boy did Nolan play! He scored 2 goals- with some mighty big help from Hunter, his line mate- and his team beat Bemidji, 3-0. He was awarded the "mvp" coat to wear! My picture is blurry and I couldn't even tell, I was so tired! But so, so proud! Even more grace...
And while I don't have a photo to share, would you believe that Colton played in the next game- and won the "worked like a dog" bone award for the second time!
Both my kids, rewarded for their hard work, and I couldn't be more proud.
Suddenly it seems to be raining grace. I just know the right things will happen, in His perfect timing.
Its Sunday now, and I'm home for another short reprieve. I get to shower and find some clean clothes- and I can blog for a few minutes.
We have a big week coming up.
Through more research we did find out mom qualifies through Medicare for some OT, PT and home health aid visits at her apartment next week. Thank goodness!
Plus, my brother has offered to come and help.
As I sat journaling at the hospital that last day, I saw this image out the window and somehow felt a moment of grace- through fire this time… no rain, and a lot of sunshine to boot.
Life is the fire that burns and the sun that gives light. Life is the wind and the rain and the thunder in the sky. Life is matter and is earth, what is and what is not, and what beyond is in Eternity.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Dr. P found an OB for me here in town and I have an appointment with her on the 21st.
I do not have internet access at my moms other than short bursts on my phone. I will do my best to come back and update soon!
I'm going to close by thanking you in advance for your prayers.
And how can I pray for you? I have quiet moments, when mom is resting, and with no internet I have found plenty of time to be in prayer. Please feel free to leave a request in the comments or email me.