Monday, March 20, 2017

So, it's Been Awhile.....

Well, I don't know where to even begin.  I know it's like I just disappeared off the blogging, crafting scene and well, I guess I did. 

Right after my last post, my mother went into the hospital for a 5 or 6 day stay. I am not going to go into a lot of details, but she and I decided that it would be best that she stay in long term care.  The goal was to get her to assisted living eventually if she could build up her strength.  Here she and I are a few days after she was moved from the hospital to the nursing facility.

Mom and i

I am an only child.  I do have step siblings, but they were older than I was, so it was basically just Mom, Jack (my stepdad) and I.  I don't talk about family much, because well, I just don't.  Jack passed away almost 20 years ago, so Mom had been living by herself for awhile.  I had offered to help, but she was stubborn, proud and wanted to do things her own way and in her own time.  Well, now became the time for me to help.

These past few months have been a journey, one that I didn't plan, anticipate, or imagined that I would have to take.  But, I am so GRATEFUL for these past few months.  Mom and I have never been the "close" mother/daughter duo that I see a lot of people have.  We were both just too much alike I think.  She said push and I would say pull!  That's just the way we were.  But, she and I had to come to terms with what was happening, talk about things, make plans and go forward together.  

Caregiving is hard, I am not going to lie.  I felt like I needed to be at the nursing home every day, to check on her, make sure she was ok, etc.  It takes it's toll and becomes the focus of everything.  I cannot imagine if I had to have done this without Carleen at my side, taking care of the dogs, things at the house, helping me keep my head on straight, etc.  I just couldn't have done it.  And forget creating, because my creative side was non existent.  After talking with Carleen, I did sign up for the Adult Sewing Club at the sewing studio that I took lessons from, which I started in January.  She encouraged me to take those 2 hours and just go and forget about things.  Well, I didn't forget, but it did change my focus, at least for a little while.

Caregiving is a rollercoaster of emotions, things that need to be done, etc.  Mom lost her glasses at the nursing home and they were never found. So, we had to get her new glasses.  Here she is drinking her first frappucino while we were waiting on the transport van to come pick us up from the mall after picking out her glasses.

Mom's first frap

Mom and I talked and decided that we needed to sell her house.So, that became another focus. Luckily, I work where I work and they helped me find someone to help clean it out, so that I could sell it.  I found an investor, but then didn't feel comfortable about selling. I reconnected with a friend from school, who was a realtor, and she helped me find the perfect buyer and we sold/signed within a week.

Mom was doing great and we had finally gotten her settled into a room and got her into a routine.  If you don't know, changes are hard for the elderly and she had been moved EIGHT different times in the facility to different rooms.  Some of it was necessary and some of it wasn't.  This is where I had to put my foot down.  Carleen and I went and bought a bunch of stuff to decorate her room and she had so much fun watching us put stuff up, etc.  I prepaid for a few months of physical therapy to help her get stronger and be able to hopefully walk again.  Here she is in her new glasses and a couple of days before my birthday.  And she was sporting a new hairdo from her beauty shop appt. that I had set up for her to have done every week. 

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I went and saw her on Wednesday, March 1, and sat with her while she ate lunch.  I was there about two hours and reminded her that I was going out of town to Branson the next day for a "crafting" retreat with some of my crop buddies that we had planned back in the late summer.  I told her Carleen would come and check on her and she told me to have fun and not worry about her, she would be fine.

I got a call at 5:30 that night and she had tried to walk to the bathroom (or that is what was thought) and she had fallen and broken her hip.  Carleen and I headed over to the nursing home to see if the ambulance had picked her up yet.  It's hadn't and Carleen gave her trouble for trying to walk without someone there.  Mom threw her pillow at her!  I told her that I wasn't going to Branson and she said she was sorry.

Trip to the ER to confirm and determine that she would have to have surgery. Total hip replacement. I left her about 10:30 that night and told her I would be back in the morning before surgery.

When I arrived at the hospital, she had went into respiratory distress and surgery was a no go for that day.  Mom had smoked for 40 years (didn't quit until she went into the nursing home) and she had COPD, a fib and plus a mass in her chest/lung area that they found back in November when she was first in the hospital.  That was one of the the things we talked about, she didn't want to do chemo or radiation, so there wasn't really a need to determine what it was and put her thru that.  The mass had grown significantly in the four months since they had done the first chest X-ray.

After talking with doctors, we all agreed to wait to see how she did over the weekend before surgery. She was high risk for the surgery in the first place, and the anesthesiologist was very worried that she would not be able to come off the ventilator once she came out of surgery.  So, we were waiting to see if she would get stronger.

By Sunday, I knew that I needed to make the decision that I had hoped I would never have to make. They were talking about putting in a tube to give her medicine that she really needed to talk orally, not by IV.  I talked to the attending doctor when he came in and told him that I didn't think surgery was a good idea and that I couldn't put her thru what was going on and that we should call in hospice.   Mom was a DNR and I had to take into consideration what SHE would want.  The doctors and care staff were amazing and supported my decision and said they would do the same thing if it was their family member.  I believe in my heart, they knew it was hard, but that I was trying to honor Mom by doing what she would want.  And honestly, if she had the surgery and never came off the ventilator then that decision would have been much harder to make.

The hospice nurse came and talked to me to make sure I understood everything and what steps would happen next.  I called Carleen and she came to the hospital to be there also.  They took out all the iv's and took the bi pap mask off.  I bent down and told Mom that I loved her and she said "I love you" and then mumbled something I didn't understand.  She then reached up and kissed my cheek.  The hospice nurse said Mom told me "I love you very much" and then Mom told Carleen she loved her.  Then she went to sleep.  We were moved to another floor for hospice and she passed away peacefully on Tuesday, March 6th, with me sitting right beside her.

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Gosh, I miss her something crazy.  And honestly, I am not anywhere near even having the ugly cry, ro anything similar.  There are so many things that I wish we could have done, but I am so thankful for the last few months we had.  

I have more to write about including the celebration at the end of her funeral, but I am saving that for another day and when I am ready to share.

So...that's where I have been, right where I needed to be.  For mom AND me.  I am slowing getting back into creating and I cannot thank my amazing teams for allowing me to take the time and let me do what I needed to and letting me slowly get back to my design team work.  I have missed it, I just didn't have the energy to do it all.