Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Family Crisis, Part II

Family crises should be short and sweet and then over.  

 Luckily, my Mom, who was supposed to die, is now home, puttering around instead of resting, worrying about the dirt in her kitchen grout that nobody can clean as well as she does. She and my father are muttering at each other in the passive aggressive way they have worked out over 56 years of marriage. And my father has reverted to his way of ignoring her, but still obeying her commands, slowly, in his own good time. In other words-all systems normal here...  

 I leave Thursday, rejoicing in my mom's near miss, sad because they grow ever older and feebler, and struggle more and more to overcome even the smaller crises in their lives, while becoming more and more stubborn about changes, about listening to advice from their children, doctors, or friends. (Boy, is that a run on sentence, or what?)  

Luke, Catherine and I became more of ourselves, too, under the pressure of Mom's crisis. Catherine arrived here for a vacation the day my mom finally called 911. She moved in to her librarian informational mode, spending hours at the hospital talking to doctors and nurses, finding nooks and crannies to nap in, roaming from mom's room to my room, trading info back and forth. Some vacation. She also got the list of stuff for mom would need for the rehab center(to which she never went), put mom's name on every piece of clothing, packed 4 suitcases,struggling to do it all perfectly because she has to get an A++ in all she does, especially when it comes to pleasing Dad. And he was angry at her because she packed more than he thought Mom should need. I am sure she was glad to return to MI.  

 Luke, and his wife Mary, stuck by mom's bedside, too, holding her hand and telling her to hang in, stay with us, calling me in CT with updates-come next week, no, come sooner, no, come now, the cardiologist says she won't make it out of the hospital...while I freaked out(quietly) at home, madly changing plane reservations, figuring out when the soonest I could arrive here was. 

 Luke got himself in trouble with them later, just before Mom was due to come home. He decided he should talk the doctors into sending her to the rehab  center after all, because he hoped he could get a better idea ofMom's myriad of medical problems-despite the fact they obviously do not want us to know much. Luke had a shouting match blowout with Dad at the hospital-they are very much alike, stubborn and sure they are always right-and has not been back since. It is okay-Mary has been around and helpful, and Luke leaves for Alaska for a job next week. All will be fine when he returns, I'm sure, and the incident will never be discussed.  

I got here Thursday(mom's emergency surgery was Mon night) in time to see that she was much better, then keeled over myself-helpful thing to do in the middle of someone else's crisis. When I got out of the hospital and returned to my parents' house, I was pretty weak and wobbly, tethered to an oxygen making machine, feeling vulnerable and not much help. I fell into my familial role as go between. I tried to explain to Dad why Luke wanted Mom in rehab-he wouldn't listen to me. I also defended Catherine's packing and got glowered at. He has had a bad week.  

Mom came home, and I tried to help with her meds and doctors' appointments-he cut me off, pointing out acerbically that he had managed last years cancer crisis just fine(a different matter of opinion among his kids, but I was smarter than to bring that up!) He could cook and clean and take care of her...I retreated to the basement family room, and let them settle in to their normal routine.  

Since then I have been helpful to Mom in a lot of quiet ways, and even Dad has backed off enough to let me help a bit with dishes and meals and such. But I will be glad to go home tomorrow, even though I have to pay $200 to have oxygen on the flights! I will miss being here with them, however, because it feels as if I can somehow magically stave off the next inevitable crisis just by being here. Magic thinking, indeed!  

They are hoping to come East to PA by July, so I may get to see them again, somewhere where there is oxygen in the air-unlike Denver, where there is no air in the air! At least not enough for me.   Thank you for your care and concern for both of us-I am sure it helped.  

Blessings, Margo

Thursday, April 21, 2005

And Life Goes Colorado Again

Mood: Bemused  

Well! After a flurry of panicked calls back and forth, I arrived in Colorado last Thursday for my mother's deathbed scene to find that she not only survived her middle of the night emergency surgery for necretized bowel, but was looking quite likely to recover! Needless to say, it was quite a relief. And recover she did-coming home today, 9 days after surgery, to the amazement of the doctors. She is a tough old bird, and I love her dearly.  

I, however, have had my own little problem. Last Friday, after looking at rehab centers  all day with my father(which my mom did not need after all) I came back to the house, exhausted and winded. My sister Catherine, in from from Michigan, and father were ready to take off to the hospital for a visit, when I began to feel more than winded-more like breathless, then unable to breath well at all, with chest pain, and I had to admit I was dealing with more than a change in altitude. So, because I practice what I preach, I called 911. 

 Fire engines, paramedics, rescue trucks, for the second time that week(Mom had called on Monday), neighbors agog on the sidewalk, my father fuming because the ambulance was blocking the driveway, and he wanted to leave-he has a bit of a one track mind-and the inevitable ambulance ride to the same hospital in which my mom was residing! The paramedic only had to stick me 3 times to get a line started, but the last time he dug around for 3.5 minutes before he got a vein. I have terrible veins, and I timed him. 

 Much ado about my complex medical history, a temp of 102, a battery of preliminary testing, and I was admitted, to the same floor as my  mother! I sent her an apology for not visiting, via Catherine. Two days of testing came back fine, and antibiotics cleared up the infection- very mild cellulitis on my right leg-and I staggered home to my parents Tuesday, terribly bruised from all the blooddraws, now tethered to an oxygen machine, which I must use while I'm here.But alive and well and still plugging onward.  Lots of help I have turned out to be!  

 It is actually much better than last year, when she was so very ill, and I was unable to travel at all because of my arm surgery and the problems which followed. I will be some help now she's home-I am great at  calming people down during and after crises-and can do a bit around the house. Not much, however, because I still get winded when I exert too much. I'll write more soon, I hope.  

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.  

Many Blessings, Margo

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Emerging into Spring

As a few of you may have noticed, I have been slowly emerging from my winter hibernation, reading and occasionally commenting in the few journals I can keep up with. I think I got overwhelmed last winter, reading and commenting on dozens of journals-all of which I enjoyed a lot. Unfortunately, that led to too many hours a day at the computer, physical pain and burn out. I will try to take care of myself better in the future, though I am sorry I can no longer keep up with all the journals I enjoyed before.

 I am actually doing a bit better than the last time I wrote here, and I truly appreciate all the comments left by J-land friends. It was wonderful to feel connected and supported by so many even though I was not writing in my journal. It made me feel blessed through some bleak times, and I am grateful.  

I spent the winter doing physical therapy, going to the gym, seeing not one but two therapists (one for me, one for couples therapy), fixing up my bedroom-new bed, new paint, new quilt made by Peggy, new bookcase-all thanks to Peg and Pam and Kevin. I have finally learned I cannot do a massive clean up by myself, and have asked for help. It is a new and hard won learning.

I am still waiting for the surgery on to take the pin out of my arm and fix my carpal tunnel, which will help with my pain (I hope). Workers Comp is fighting me every step of the way, and I continue to fight back, with the help of my lawyer. I have also decided that in order to to live, I have to have a gastric bypass, so have started the paperwork and preliminary appointments. As most know, it is a long and trying experience just getting to the doctor for the first time, and surgery will be months away.  

Sad news: my mother is not doing well. She had emergency surgery last night; they took out 5 feet of blocked intestine, a bit of it cancerous. They are also worried about her heart. My brother lives in Denver, and my sister luckily happens to be visiting there this week. I'll fly out on Sunday, for another two week visit.  They were supposed to come east to their summer home in PA next month, but that's up in the air now. I am so thankful I took the time to visit her in the fall. And that I am not working so I can go now.( Actually I'd rather be able to work and take the time from work!)  

Spring is slow in New England, but the daffys will soon be blooming and neighbors are emerging from hibernation, as well. The baby who disappeared into the house next door in the fall has emerged a toddler!  We have a new baby-Jack-down the street, who will be out soon in his baby carriage with his proud Dad and Mom. Other neighborhood kids have lost teeth and grown taller and are out and about again. Soon the Friday Night Cocktail Hour On the Wall (around the corner from us, in front of someone's house) will begin, and we will catch up on all the neighborhood doings. 

 I'll try to write a bit more often now.  

 Many blessings, Margo