Time to Remember
The following are the posts and details concerning my Mothers fall and ultimate demise. Mostly I have gathered them together for my own benefit- so I can never forget (not that I ever will.) but also as a document. The times between posts reminded me how hard it was to post- there were many awful events that I never shared that exist between the lines. This is my elegy- my tribute, my reminder of how fleeting it all is. How precious it all is. As time goes by I will add other moments I remember as not to forget. Sometimes it's like lifting a veil and then finding another veil. This will be a work in progress but I feel compelled to do it.
At the behest of me and my sister Pam's urging, my father reluctantly took a trip to visit a friend without my mother. With her rapidly deteriorating state, long distance travel was just too difficult- she was incontinent and childlike in many ways- unaware and unable to understand much of what was going on (though my father clung to the fact that she was still ambulatory -as if that meant anything else besides she could walk around by herself.) It was only a 5 day trip and my sister and I took turns "watching" her. Unfortunately we were not up to the task.
Sorry- that's not fair. It is an overstatement. We couldn't watch her every second of the day (or night) and it was in those brief moments in between when she fell. First on Friday night and after she seemed fine. We assessed her and felt around and could not see anything wrong. As the weekend stretched on she seemed to be in discomfort and I called my sister. She asked how much pain she seemed to be in and did we need to take her to the hospital then. I thought she seemed alright.Pam (always a calming voice of reason) said we would just take her to her physician on Monday-she would call and get an appointment. Then she fell again in the wee hours early Monday morning , three feet away from me as I lay sleeping on the couch (to make sure I could hear her and was near in case something happened to her.) In my panic I did everything wrong - I moved her (she was a crumpled heap on the floor, crying out in pain.) She weighed nothing and at that moment I thought I could carry her to the ends of the earth.Her cries of pain pierced my heart and my mind exploded in a million different panicked thoughts as I gently placed her on the couch.I called my sister and she said she would be right over to take her to the emergency room.
December 16, 2013 at 10:18am · Sandestin, FL ·
On the way to the hospital with Mom. She's had a couple falls in the past 2 days and is in pain. Nothing seems broken , but just to be sure.
The Dr. came in and told us she had a hairline fracture on her femur and would need surgery immediately. The worry was that in her state of mind with the alzheimers, she would not know to take it easy and let it heal. It was heartbreaking to watch her - she didn't understand what was going on . She cried out "Noooo!" when we took her wedding ring off.
It was the last time I saw any vestiges of who my mother was.
December 16, 2013 at 3:03pm · Sandestin, FL · Mom in surgery now. Dad got here just in time before they put her under. Should be a short procedure
December 16, 2013 at 7:20pm ·
Update- everything went well. Mom is resting. She will be at the hospital for 3 nights- got to try to keep her immobile. Then physical therapy of some sort. Crazy day. To anyone who tried to text me my phone died. I am home now - Pam is staying tonight and I will go in and stay with her tomorrow. Thanks for all the prayers and well wishes.
Hi there. To clarify the events of yesterday Mom had a couple falls over the weekend which resulted in 2 fractures In her femur. She had surgery where they placed screws in them to prevent further fracturing and disintegration . Surgery went wel, now she has to stay in the hospital for three nights to help keep her immobile. So one of us needs to be there at all times because , with her alzhiemers she is confused even more than normal under the circumstances.
We have been up since four. She is vocal but it is just guttural muttering gobbledy-gook that i can't understand.
Okay, I'm gonna pass out now.
December 20, 2013 at 3:14pm · Sandestin · Mom update: Was released from hospital yesterday and transferred by ambulance to the Grand Blvd Rehabilitation Center. Still predominately sleeping- after effects of anesthesia . She is tiny, so it may take through the weekend for it to pass through her system. Her lungs are clear so that is a plus. Ready for her to wake up.
Two days after getting out of the hospital-she had finally woken up- she started getting a buildup of phlegm in the back of her throat and started to aspirate. The nurses at the rehab were ill equipped for the situation and used a suctioning device to clear her airway. Unfortunately, they had never used one before and ended up damaging her throat, making it swell and proving to be difficult to swallow anything.
December 23, 2013 at 7:37am · Laguna Beach · Mom update. being readmitted to hospital. High fever , UTI. Details to follow.
2:38pm · Sandestin ·
Mom update: Fever has gone down, but will be monitored for the next couple days at Sacred Heart. Has a UTI and has had issues breathing/swallowing so she has a buildup of phlegm that isn't breaking up easily in the back of her throat. Will get breathing treatments every 6 hrs. So I will be spending Christmas eve in the hospital with her.
3:30pm · Sandestin ·
Fever spiking again. Good thing I am touchy feelie and felt how hot she was.
December 24, 2013 at 5:36pm · Sandestin · Singing Christmas carols to Mom.( She hadn't woken since surgery except briefly. She hadn't been awake all day.) Don't know if she likes it, but it made me feel a little more in the spirit.
She was in an induced coma. Her breath was shallow and gurgling. I buzzed for the nurses to no avail and decided to look into her mouth myself. A large ball of phlegm was resting at the back of her throat- side effect of whatever anesthesia she was on to induce the coma. I reached into her mouth and gently pulled it out. It was almost a solid ball of phlegm. Immediately I could tell that her breathing had improved. Later that night I sang softly in her ear as she slept.
December 27, 2013 at 1:05pm · Mom update : UTI gone. Now has pneumonia. Sleeping right now . Details to follow.
Stephen LaDow added 2 new photos.December 27, 2013 at 6:30pm ·
I know Christmas is over but can someone feed the flowers so they don't die when they're in the hospital?
December 28, 2013 at 12:23pm · Mom update: Tenative Light at the end of the tunnel. Awake, aware, and irritated! Talkative but still can't understand what she is trying to say. Still can't drink or eat but another swallow test tomorrow. No fever.
I can't remember exactly when she got out of the hospital and returned to rehab- it's fuzzy. I wish I had documented everything. I do remember at one point they set her in a chair without strapping her in and she fell out. I remember they would say that she would be bathed and yet she didn't ever seem any cleaner. I remember them giving excuses as to why they weren't regularly turning her to prevent bedsores. She had no strength to do anything. She was already a shell of who she had been. Dad, Pam, and I would take shifts -Dad was a.m., I would come in the afternoon, and Pam took evenings.
Eventually my visits would become more sporadic- still several days a week but not every day. It was just...hard . Hard on my soul. I don't think she noticed.
January 6, 2014 · Mom update: Sorry for the space in between. Moved back into the rehab center. Infections gone, leg doing well. Has good days and bad.Still very weak and her awareness comes and goes. We were blessed by our wonderful friend Dyan Richardson, who spent the last week with us and her. She took fabulous care of us all.
I remember being frustrated that they only seemed to be focusing on her hip healing and not the fact that mentally she seemed vacant. The surgery seemed to have kick started her alzhiemers and shot it into high gear. Her birthday came and went without much aknowledgement on her part.
She just wasn't there.
We would struggle to get her to eat anything, and it seemed if one of the family wasn't there, the nurses would just leave the tray in front of her and she couldn't remember how to feed herself.
January 21, 2014 at 10:55am · Ok, Mom update- It is hard to do these because for the most part there hasn't been much progress. She has lost weight and is not eating very much for the most part. She does have days where she eats more, but it is not consistent . Due to work, I was not able to see her on the weekend so I don't know if these things are continued improvements, but yesterday she lifted a cup of water and drank! She only hit her mouth once, but still that was something! She seemed more aware yesterday compared to Friday, her eyes a little brighter .I seem to be the only one she has no recognition of, so there's that. The whole journey has been so up and down that it is hard to delineate real progress from random events, but we are just taking it one day at a time.
January 21, 2014 at 2:17pm ·
And then I bring one of our dogs to see Mom . No flicker of recognition, no smile, no excitement, no change of expression at all. She was on her way to rehab- maybe after she will know her.
Question: Can dogs sense sickness and mental state? Our dog had the strangest reaction - she didn't want to have anything to do with mom which is not like her at all- she wants everyones attention. And she used to be inseparable from my mother. Just weird!
Dad thought it would be nice to get her hair done by the beautician that serviced all the ladies at the rehab center. I made an appointment. It was very busy day at the salon- I'm sure for many of the ladies this was the highlight of their week. Mom couldn't hold herself up in a sitting position so she was strapped into the chair with strategically placed bands. I guess there really is a standard old lady 'do that is given across the board. They washed, styled, and teased her hair until it was that typical helmet shape. My father thought it was nice. It just made me sad because it wasn't her- she would have hated it . But of course at this pint she didn't even realize it had been done.
My father, sister and I went to a meeting with the doctor and nurses along with their HR liasion to discuss her future treatment. She had open bedsores from lack of turning and repositioning that exposed the bone. She wasn't eating enough to support the healing her body needed and they suggested a feeding tube and a plastic surgeon for the open wound. As a family we agreed it was time for a second opinion from her primary physician who had not seen her since this all had happened.
The misadventure of getting her to the hospital was absurd. It was scheduled on a friday and we had everything coordinated (or so we thought)with getting her to the Doctor next door at Sacred Heart. But no one had arranged for an ambulance to take her (that was the rehab dropping the ball.). So it was rescheduled for the following week- when we were hit by the first major ice-storms in ages that shut down the city for two days. Finally , we got to see her primary physician at the end of the week.
January 31, 2014 at 11:44pm · Today was kind of unbearable. It is so hard seeing my Mom in this state. I don't know how much more I can take. It's not living. It's a protracted state of dying It is unbearable. Yet we beat on
February 3, 2014 at 11:33pm · Today was a very hard day. We finally visited Moms primary physician and he told us that she didn't have much longer. Not unexpected news- actually grateful for his honesty. But devastated nonetheless. Going to try to get through tomorrow. One day at a time. Much thanks to Chelsea Tully and Jessica Hargis for their hugs and strength. XOXO!
February 5, 2014 at 10:39pm · Blue Mountain Beach · Tonight my Mom told my sister "Get me out of here!" It's time to bring her home.
February 10, 2014 at 2:31pmHospice has taken over my Mothers care as of Friday and we are bringing her home today. There is some relief in that she will be with us now until the end, but it is also nervewracking. I know we made the right decision. She will be surrounded by love.
I don't remember the hospice nurse' name, but I thought she was an angel. She was very earthy and reminded me of a hippy. But most importantly, she was honest. She told us exactly what to expect and how it would go down. It took my brain a couple days to accept the part when she told me not to worry about feeding her, that her organs were shutting down and it could do more harm or cause pain. That was hard to grasp. After day two, I stopped incessantly asking her if she wanted ice cream, spoon at ready in my hand. Oh, I still would have it by my side, but I didn't badger her. They came every other day and took beautiful care of her, washing her and changing her though there would be so little in her diapers. I would constantly give her those lemon flavored sponges for her to suck on. I felt at least it was something.
February 11, 2014 at 11:36am ·
Last night I had a beautiful moment with my Mother. As I was talking to her and holding her hand she looked at me and SAW me- recognition for the first time in 7 weeks. She reached up and stroked my beard and pursed her lips for a kiss.I bent over and kissed her , telling her how much I love her, and in the faintest of whispers she replied "I love you" . I am so grateful she is home. Hopefully she can find some peace
February 12, 2014 at 10:09am · This is proving harder than I ever imagined. I thought I was prepared but I guess you never are. I have watched my Mom slowly disappear for over 2 years now, her memories erased one at a time. She knew it was happening, and it saddened her so. when she broke her hip 8 weeks ago, I knew that was the beginning of the end. So I have had a lot of time to mentally prepare. I also know that there is no place I would rather her be than home with us right now. But the psychological fallout is tremendous. The hospice nurses are incredible and have a way of putting things in perspective and I can rationally understand what they are saying, but just sitting here and watch her disappear....I am so screwed up right now. I thank everyone for the messages and support and kind, thoughtful, loving words- they do help. Sometimes I find I just have no words of response. But I am listening. And I love you all.
February 16, 2014 at 9:15pm · Close. Very close
February 17, 2014 at 4:58pm · And like that she is gone
This is my last post. Written to her.
It had been a rough night with little sleep. I knew time was drawing to a close- your eyes had rolled up into your head two nights before and your breathing was ragged and shallow. I hung over the side of the hospital bed , caressing your face and whispered in your ear. "I love you so much...Just let go. It's okay. " repeated on an endless loop. All I wanted to do was gather you up in my arms and hold you, if for just one last time. You looked so tiny - just a shell of yourself. I didn't even know if you were still in there, but I was afraid to leave your side. Of course I was glad we were able to bring you home, but the normalcy of the setting seemed to make it more upsetting. Your chest rose and fell sporadically, wheezy and phlegmy. The day stretched on and finally I took a break to take a nap in my bedroom next door. Sheer exhaustion overcame me and I passed out shortly after.
Not an hour had passed when a loud booming pounding on my wall awoke me with a start. I rushed into your room to find Dad. He choked out the words, "I think your mother is dead." I looked over at your still form and wailed. The past few months had been so agonizing and draining, you would have thought there would have been some sort of relief on my part, some sense of peace because you were not suffering any more. But there was none of that. All that was left was a hole in my heart that I cannot seem to close. We lost you on February 17th 2014 at 4:32 pm.
Now I can look back and be greatful at how peacefully you slipped away, but the hole is still there, the loss is still fresh.
I love you so much.
Your Loving Son,
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