We remember their love when they can no longer remember.
The rollercoaster again…the new normal for Janet has changed once again. Last Friday morning my mom was “out-of-it.” This wouldn’t be the first time that I arrived at Conifer House to find my mom sound asleep in her wheelchair. This particular morning was different – scary even. I rolled her up to the breakfast table and tried to get her to eat or drink something, but she was not opening her eyes for anything. I put a call in to see if our hospice nurse, Mare, would be seeing my mom today and set a time to meet her later in the morning.
Mare was surprised when she saw my mom – who was totally unresponsive to Mare’s greeting and gentle touch. Mare wondered if my mom had a stroke or was suffering from a UTI. She was rigid, would open her eyes, but continued to be non-responsive. Her blood pressure was very low and her oxygen levels were also low. We decided to put her back in bed and let her sleep while Mare consulted with the hospice physician.
Watching Mare and Terri move my mom from her wheelchair to her bed was gut wrenching. My sweet mama was curled up in a fetal position and stayed that way as she was changed and made as comfortable as possible. So, is this it? The time we all dreaded, but knew was coming at some point? And how do I reconcile wishing her not to leave me and at the same time not wanting her to stay and suffer? What do I do? I left my mom – with Smokey keeping vigil at her bedside.
Mare called me later with a plan: Immediately stop my mom’s time-release blood pressure medication (which she often chewed instead of swallowing) and decrease her haldol to two times a day. The doctor’s recommendation was to hold off on introducing antibiotics for the possible UTI, due to my mom’s poor renal function. I told Mare I was fine with the plan, went home and crawled into bed for a nap. I got a text from one of my mom’s caregivers a couple of hours later – letting me know she was up and eating with assistance!
I went back to Conifer House later that afternoon and my mom was sitting at a table with several other residents and one of my favorite caregivers. She was definitely “better” than earlier in the day, but still not quite my mom. That’s okay though, right – the disease has to progress before there is an ending?
Fast-forward to today, Monday. I didn’t see my mom over the weekend due to my head cold, but fortunately Judi was up from Myrtle Creek and she took over mom and Smokey duty. My mom this morning was unlike anything we had seen from her in weeks! Smiling, talking, answering questions and telling us both that she loved us. What an amazing gift! She was still jumbling up words, didn’t always make sense, but it didn’t matter – she was with us – for today, for this time.