Seeing My Mom

2개월 전

Last night, I visited my mother, who has been in a rehabilitation center since the beginning of the year. She's 80. Twice she has gone to the hospital for several days at a time to ward off the same infection, but otherwise, she's been sharing a room with two other patients for much of the last 10 months.


It was the first time I've been down to see her there. My wife and I saw her halfway through her second stint in the hospital.

I guess I don't really have to go into the reasons as to why I hadn't made it there sooner, but mostly, it has something to do with the thought that she wouldn't be there very long, and she would be back home again.

Obviously, someone is delusional, in denial, or both, and apparently, it's me.

Part of it stems from not having a whole lot of information. My father is pretty much the source of that information, and according to him, neither he or my mother know what's going on at any given time.

This is not an uncommon occurrence for family members and others I know when it comes to healthcare, so it's not an isolated incident, this lack of knowing what's going on or what to expect. So, that hasn't helped.

I think another part has to do with my mother thinking she should be home rather than continue there, but my father isn't capable of caring for her in her current state, and so she's there, I guess, into the foreseeable future, unless she manages to make some rather surprising progress.

She originally went in due to a problem with her back that causes her quite a bit of pain and discomfort when she tries to stand or move. However, she's been in bed so much now, she needs assistance just sitting up or moving from the bed to the chair or elsewhere.

This isn't something new as far as her back is concerned. She's had some kind of degenerative disease gnawing away at some of the tissue there now for a few years. My understanding was, the pain was being managed, but it flared up toward the end of last year, and never got better.

She was supposed to be walking (with the aid of a walker) on a regular basis when she was at home, but didn't do it very much. So, then she ended up in the rehabilitation facility and her mobility has gone from not so good to worse.

She hasn't wanted to do the therapy, or to sit up, or do other things, because it hurt. She would blame it on the staff at the center for not listening to her when she said she was in pain. They have left her sitting up longer than she's supposed to, not really out of neglect but more out of being understaffed in trying to meet the needs of the rest of the people there.

While it's supposed to be a convalescent place for her, there are a wide range of patients at the center in varying degrees of need. Some will never leave. Others come and go. I'm getting concerned that my mother might fall into the former category rather than the latter.

It's not just her body that's betraying her, though. Her mind is kind of slipping, too. Some of it could be blamed on medication she was on, but she's no longer on all of it, I was told, so I'm not sure what's going on now. For the most part, she's good—lucid, alert, attentive, listening, participating in the conversation, etc. But then she has these moments where we're not sure what's going on.

My dad said on one of his visits, they were talking just fine, and then she looked out into the hallway and said there were relatives out there looking for him. Well, there wasn't anyone there, though someone might have passed by, but they weren't relatives. She's told him she suddenly remembered she needed to go pick up the kids, which I guess means my sisters and I, who aren't often considered kids anymore since we range in age from 47-53.

Last night, we were talking about computer problems, and she asked my dad what day it was (presumably this week), that she and he had ran into computer problems on their computers at home. She doesn't have one in her room at the center, and she hasn't been home since January. She then continued to talk about my youngest sister and problems she was having, but it transitioned into something to do with a phone number not working and she couldn't really finish the story. Instead, she blanked and started yawning, though she was aware she was trying to get the story out.

My father and I just kind of let her go, and then I said something about how it often happens that I will try something, it won't work, and then go back to what I did to begin with and it will work that time. Mainly, I was trying to bring back the conversation to something that was making sense. That seemed to help.

My dad says it's not just with her slipping through time or bringing up things that are in the past but talking as if it's the here and now. She's also talking about things that have not happened. Some of it might be things she wishes she was doing, or might have dreamed about and thought was real. Who knows when it comes to the mind and where it can take you.

It's not easy watching this happen, and it doesn't give me as much confidence or hope as I would like that she's going to get better. Battling the body is one thing, but add to it the mind and it's like a whole other level of fighting. And then of course, it's happening in an environment where another pill will be added to the regimen to offset some problem, or where a diagnosis will be made that may or may not be what's really going on.

I don't know. I don't like seeing her this way. She's always been very much the matriarch, but to see her struggle to finish a sentence is so not like her. Her memory and her mind has always been among her strong suits.

For a while, earlier in the year, I was calling the phone near her bed on a fairly frequent basis. A time or two, it worked out well, but other times, she sounded lost, alone, and even upset. There were times where I would be the only one talking, and she would either drift off to sleep or somewhere else. I stopped calling when she basically answered the phone and then held it while she ate. I could here her eating. I'm not sure why she answered the phone, or wouldn't respond to my questions.

I decided then that phoning wasn't a good idea, so I stopped. The problem was, I didn't get down to see her.

I'm glad I did, though, and if my work schedule holds as is, I will have time at least every other Wednesday to come visit. I think I should. I've been kind of torn in different directions with work, my younger son and his family, my oldest son and his family living close by, and any of a number of other responsibilities and obligations I feel I have. That's before I even get to a list of things I'd like to do.

I don't do well driving at night. I have glasses, but they don't help me see in the dark and rain. Headlights don't seem to illuminate as much as I need them to, except the brights, which ends up blinding oncoming traffic. It would easier if I lived in a largely urban area with plenty of lighting, but it's a 45 minute drive from my house to where she's at, and it's mostly rural freeway or highway in between.

I'd go earlier, but since I think it's best my dad be there, after her dinner is when I will probably end up going again.

I have a reason for wanting my dad to be there. He isn't doing all that great, either, it seems. He was there at the home when I arrived, so he was sitting down. It wasn't until on our way out of the building that I noticed he's hunching over when he stands or walks. I've never seen him to that before. He looked fine sitting in the chair next to my mother's bed. It made him look small. He's always been taller than me, so it was a little disconcerting.

I got to thinking about him being home all alone and any of a number of things that could happen, and no one would know. Even if he could get to the phone to call for help, he might not be able to locate it very quickly, like happened last week when I tried to call.

This has been a reaffirmation for me that life is short, and that it can be over without warning. Moments are precious, and need to be used with purpose and maybe a touch of urgency. There really isn't a whole lot to waste, though there seems to be plenty of moments to still share.

I really do hope that she will make it back home, but in the meantime, I'm not going to let another ten months go by before I see her again. Maybe I can be a part of her recuperation, so she doesn't become a more permanent resident there.

Image source—Pixabay

Authors get paid when people like you upvote their post.
If you enjoyed what you read here, create your account today and start earning FREE STEEM!
Sort Order:  trending

It's hard dealing with seeing your parents' health go downhill and not be able to make it all better for them. And realizing that it may not get better and coming to terms with that. I feel for you and your parents. Like you said, it makes you realize you need to appreciate every moment in your life. Any of it can be taken away at any second.
@tipU curate 2.0


Hey, @blueeyes8960.

Very true. It's sort of a surreal experience. It's not like I don't know it can happen—I've been very much aware that it can—but when it is finally happening, I guess I'm still not prepared for it. I keep going back to the idea that she went in to get her back better, not to wind up their for however long she has. Her second hospital stay was essentially a brush with death, and that has thrown me off more than anything. How did it get that far is essentially what I've been trying to come to grips with. It's one thing for her to be at home and deteriorating slowly, it's another to be under the care of physicians, nurses, cnas, etc., and have it happen. It just seems to make it worse.

It is tough the growing old, and then the medications given out, this for that and that one for that, and they rarely look at if one medication should be taken on top of another one, the interaction side effects.. See if they will give you a list, If gabapentin is one of them read and learn about it. Other than that all you can really do is just be there for her and your dad.


Hey, @bashadow.

My dad said she was on some antidepressants for a while, but now he thinks she may be off them because the bill he got didn't have as long a list of things, I guess. That's another thing that's been kind of disconcerting. My dad hasn't been exactly lost in the process, but it's more like uncertain, or not knowing what to do or how to do it. That's not like him, either. He's not one to express emotion a lot, or tell you what he's thinking or feeling, though, so it's hard to know. I'm similar, but I also know I'm experiencing all kinds of things, so I'm assuming he must be, too. I really don't know how to go about helping other than to be there, and I've not been doing a great job with that, other than staying in contact with my dad via phone once or so a week. Trying to do that with my mom basically was fruitless.

...been a reaffirmation for me that life is short, and that it can be over without warning.

So true. Just do what you can, be the best version of yourself as often as you can and remember that living with regret is a poor way to live.

All the best mate.


Hey, @galenkp.

I know you've got experience with this because of your father, so thank you. I don't really have regrets with anything, just hoping to do better. When my mom went into the hospital the second time and my dad said the doctors weren't sure if she was going to make it, I felt bad I hadn't seen her. When she was recovering and my wife and I went to see her, I wish I would have waited. My timing has not been good in this particular situation so far. :)


Timing is everything I guess. Good to hear you're not plagued with regret. I am, and therefore I know the importance of actively pursuing a path that limits or mitigates the chances of it happening again.


Hey, @galenkp.

I wish you the best with finding ways to mitigate regret. I'm sorry you feel as you do. I just know that in my case, there's more than just me involved. I'm not the only one making decisions. In fact, in many cases, I do things believing they are in according to the wishes of others. That doesn't mean I necessarily want things that way, though, and I do wish the circumstances were different. I wish I thought I could have done more to help her keep from having the problems she does—but she doesn't take the counsel of others a whole lot, and when she gets her mind wrapped around something, good, bad, or indifferent, it's hard to get her off of it.

Of course we want things to be good all the time. I'm not sure if all things can be good all the time, so there's bound to be a let down somewhere, like it or not.


My regrets centre mainly around decisions I made in my 20's, based on what I thought was the right way to go, but really were not. I should have counted to ten or thought things through a little better in hindsight. Still, I move forward and design and create my idea life now, because one can't turn the clock backwards.


No. And even though some of the decisions I've made, particularly in my youth, could be reversed somehow, most of the time I'm glad they can't, because I wouldn't be the person who I am today, with the knowledge that I have, and so forth. Good can and does generally come from even some of the worst decisions. If nothing else, in my case, I learned I wasn't as smart as I thought I was. :) However, by in large, things have worked out, anyway, sometimes thanks to my decision making prowess, and sometimes in spite of them.


I agree. I'm a better person for having traveled through life, made mistakes, had success and failure. It's something younger people will never understand until they have been through it themselves - And even then some won't.

It is always painful to see your loved ones in sickness and in pain. But alas, there is only so much we can do. The rest is up to Life.


Hey, @quotes-haven.

Well, I know it's largely out of my hands. I guess I'm kind of surprised by the way this is all headed. I was expecting she would be home by now like she was the time before, so my mind has been set on recuperation, not decline. I'm heading in the wrong direction, or she is. :)


Let's hope that she is heading in the right direction from here on.
Have a great weekend. 😊

I'm sorry you are dealing with this. I worried about the same for my dad if my step mom passed before him, enough to the point I told my then wife we would take him in despite his many severe health issues. If it had come to that (he passed away and I divorced) I wouldn't have been surprised if it had led to divorce.

I have given much thought to myself in this circumstance, and have no wish to be in an impersonal place such as rehab/nursing facilities, even if it costs me time here. I feel for your mom, and wonder if being in such an impersonal place with less freedoms is exacerbating her mental decline. It seems to me that when the heart is no longer in ones doings and surroundings it is such a sad place to be. I wonder if it has been accelerating her disconnect as she relives the times and places that held love for her, so much lines are being blurred as she seeks some sort of comfort.

This same scenario has weighed more heavily on myself as I possibly face being in her place in the coming decades. I hope you can get to see her more often as you plan. I miss my dad terribly and it hurts I have no more time with him, even in the state he was in the last several years. He was many years ago before his health issues the patriarch of the family, his strength, intelligence and loving heart never to be appreciated anew again.


Hey, @practicalthought.

I appreciate the kind words and for sharing your own experiences.

We have kind of a strange situation as far as this particular family dynamic goes. As far as I know, and as far as I'm concerned, there is no animosity or problems between us, we're just a little too independent for each other, or something. So, time can go by without any contact. Over the last several years, I've been trying to make a phone call at least twice a month. My parents will call me less often than that.

They have yet to see their great grandchildren, something I can't even think of doing if I get the opportunity. Right now seeing the next generation come up is one of my greatest joys and activities. But my parents just haven't jumped at the chance, and now they're both in situations of where I don't know when they will meet them.

I've not been inside their house since shortly before I was married, it was the August before, so that would have been over 31 years ago. They've been up to our place a dozen or so times over the last fourteen years, but in the last five, I think it's been maybe once. We've met at restaurants and things for family dinners or get togethers.

So, I guess I'm saying that they've been kind of aloof, I initiate the contact, and if I get busy with life, months can go by without any contact.

re: rehab

I'm also certain it doesn't help much. Sharing the room with two others, with their own personal situations, doesn't help. For some reason, when they start to treat her for one thing, they end up tacking on several others, either because of the side effects of the drugs they give her, or because something else pops up. I'm sure her state of mind as far as being there is negative, because she's told my dad, or rather insisted, that she come home. He doesn't want her there either (it's cost them quite a bit to have her there paying for it on their own, and even more, now that Medicare is paying for it), but he's not in any condition to cart her around.

I'm not sure if they've looked at in home care. But again, that would mean someone coming over to the house, and I don't think they would go for that, even if it would be better for her. Not without some drastic change.

This is a story that many of us will go through if we are lucky enough to have parents that are still around. We do the best we can with a very tough situation. Life is not easy to begin with, throw on top of that the realization that our parents may not be doing so well and to some degree it is our responsibility to do what we can, is daunting.
Glad to see that you may have the time to visit her in the future.
Not only does this comfort her to see you, even if it seems otherwise, visiting her will make you feel better.
Good luck with juggling this enormous responsibility.
My prayers are with you during this very difficult time @glenalbrethsen


Hey, @thebigsweed.

I appreciate that. Thank you.

The main ongoing issue I have is how to help. I suppose just being there every other week for an hour or so is good, but any time I've asked if they needed anything or how I could help, I've been told there's not much I can do. However, I know there's plenty that needs to be done, and I'm not sure if my Dad is of a state of mind to do it, or not.

I think he's holding out hope that she will be coming home, but doesn't really know how to make that happen, since it mainly means motivating my mother to do what she's supposed to do, and I'm afraid the window for that opportunity is basically past. It would have been a lot easier in the beginning had she attempted it then.

I'm not sure when I thought would be a better time for it to be happening, but time and resources I'm short of, like it or not. And no, I don't like it.