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I go back in my mind wondering where this "next chapter," began, with my mom? As the doctors have tried to piece together my Mom's medical history, to try to figure out ways in which to help her, I've sat, soaking in so much.
The pain seems excruciating in her back. I've had cancer in my spine, and I know the agony of bone pain. To think she is 79 years old and going through this, is too hard to fully grasp. She fully expresses her pain is a "10," and this is the first time, ever, I've heard her say this.
Her doctors all agree she is in a critical condition with her liver disease, renal failure and yet another, compression fracture.
But we've had some grace-filled moments along the way. Anne Lamott, has said one of her 3 essential prayers is "help."
And I've uttered a lot of "help," prayers lately.
We've had some long days and nights together, just mom and I.
Like last Wednesday, in the ER, when my mom was in need of a hospital room, along with 9 others. We waited hours, while we heard about the waiting room overfilled with people seeking medical help, too.
Then suddenly- later in the night, they had a room - 741.
The 7th floor, is the Oncology floor. I have been there several times. I knew what a blessing this was for my mom, because of the kind of care she would receive.
And she did.
Compassion, warmth, understanding and lots of TLC. Its one of the first times my mom was not begging to be let out of the hospital. So often, she didn't even need her call light, because someone was always poking their head in the door just to see if mom needed anything.
So who would be one of the first friendly faces I would encounter?
Dr. Shelby Terstreip. While she is not my oncologist, she has asked me to be involved in many ways, with the Embrace Survivor program for a long time now. She is behind the stories I have done, the talk at the Health Retreat, and so many other things.
She is the one, who kindly, and graciously, mentioned she could act as a consultant to my mom, as she was the on-call oncologist and would be around all weekend.
Speaking of an embraceable moment- that one fell right into my lap.
Mom had so many wonderful nurses and nurses aids. But it was mom's nurse, Megan who recognized my embrace bracelet from the retreat. Breast cancer has also touched her family, and we found an instant bond in that moment as our eyes locked over the bracelet. Megan sought out answers for me. She went the extra step, every time we needed something. And she laughed, wholeheartedly at my mother's silly jokes.
Slowly mom improved. Shelby ordered an iron infusion, and mom perked up so much after that. Her blood work results continued to rise back into the normal range.
Sunday, mom was set to be discharged. We just needed the doctors to come and sign the orders.
But… the hospital had all kinds of emergency admissions again. And the same doctors were being dispatched all over the floors- never quite getting back to mom.
So she stayed the night one more time.
And now I see why.
We could have been mad, or frustrated, or anxious about her extra night's stay.
Monday I arrived, to a confused and exhausted mother. She could barely move, hardly talk, was hardly there. The woman who had been walking the halls, and gabbing on the phone, had disappeared within herself. Watching her riddled with pain and exhaustion, I was hit with such sadness, I could only sit and surrender how inept I felt.
I was teary-eyed with exhaustion and worry. "Help, God, help."
I paced. My husband came often, sitting with me, bringing me food, offering his help in whatever ways he could.
The nurses checked everything. Her heart was strong, her labs were good, no fever, clear lungs, check, check, check. Underneath, whatever was going on, mom was good.
So I paced some more. And mom slept, all day. I've never seen her do anything like that before.
And then at some point "SHE" walks in the door of my mother's room.
"She," was the social worker.
And she was smiling so big.
The social worker has been in constant contact with Bethany Towers, mom's assisted care facility. They have concerns over whether my mom was physically ready to come back and manage on her own.
So the social worker had been working on a place for mom. She had heard there was no space available at a Transitional Care Unit, which would have been a great in between place for my mom. But then they called her back and suddenly, In the blink of an eye, they had a space for my mom, for Tuesday. She couldn't explain how that had happened, just when it was exactly what we needed.
Mom was going to be going to a brand new care facility for rehab, Bethany on 42nd, until she got her strength back, and it would all be covered by Medicare.
The social worker hugged me, as the tears welled up in my eyes, yet again. Grace- raining down.
She even arranged transportation for us, knowing I had infusion yesterday.
I hustled through infusion and raced up to mom's room.
Mom was sitting up, dressed, ready to go.
We spent the afternoon, acclimating mom to her new place. She has a beautiful room with a big window, and a big attached bathroom, all to herself. Its twice the size of her other room and her eyes lit up when she saw the lift recliner sitting by the bed.
There are only 13 residents, and she gets one to one help with everything for up to 20 days.
I came home last night, after a long week of hard, hard stuff, crawled in bed, and collapsed.
But my prayer had changed.
Anne's other essential prayer, formed on my lips, as I drifted off to sleep.
Thanks, God, thanks.