Archive | February 2013

Moving on

Well, we’re in.  We’ve made the move.  We’ve made repeated shuttles to the house to pick up even more stuff (where did we get all this stuff?????), pick up this, pick up that.  We still have tons to unpack and organize and put away, but  we’re in.  I took the Precious out and visited a neighbourhood friend to keep him entertained and out of the way while the movers came and took all the heavy stuff.    By mid afternoon, our dear friends came by with their kids who took over entertaining my child and walk the dog while we unpacked and set up the bedrooms so we could sleep comfortably. I am so grateful.  They were fantastic!  They even went out and got sushi for the everyone.  Well, not me cause I had to leave and go see my mum.  I  pulled over to park behind the hospital, turned the car off and just broke down.  I just wailed hysterically for about 10 minutes straight.  Then I blew my nose, got out and trudged in.  Weary, but I chanted daimoku and moved forward.  I stepped off the elevator on the 8th floor  and I could hear my mum yelling.  Luckily, they moved her from a ward to a private room but still the entire floor can hear her.  Ah, dementia, the gift that keeps giving.  I go in and try to settle her with little success, but eventually a nurse comes in with a mild sedative.  This is the most challenging part for me, to see mum like this. I try to redirect her, distract her, get water for her, sing to her, stroke her face. I used to be able to calm her down, but now there’s very little I can do to quiet her.  And then when she’s finally quiet, they came in to change her because she was wet again.  Cue the agitation and yelling.  I call it a night and go home.

The issue now is trying to get mum’s electrolytes back in balance and also find out why she’s putting out some much urine. I spoke to the endocrinologists who suspect diabetes insipidus.  This can be fixed by medication.

I remember what it was like back in the days when she first had a stroke and was in the hospital for months.  At first both DH and I were there 3 times a day, then 2 times a day, then daily.  For  2 1/2 months.   She would get off of the floor and wander so they had to assign her a personal care aide to guard her door.  DH would go to her room and find her naked and weeping by the window. She would be silent and depressed or stutter trying to find her way back to language.  I remember attending a therapy session and she couldn’t figure out what a brush was for.  I sat down in front of her and she started to brush my hair.   I swear, I thought the universe was a cruel, nasty place to have both hubby and I  laid off from important jobs at the same time, deal with mum and oh, yeah, try and get pregnant.  Insomnia, nose bleeds, and BFN after BFN.  Good times.   In retrospect, it was like steel being forged in the fire.  DH and I had a good talk about why we pull together in a crisis like a well oiled machine but go back to  snapping at each other when the worst is behind us.  We go back to being extremely independent people who like to do things their own way.  I do know that when things are on high alert, I find him to be listening intently to what I say and he just does whatever I ask him to do with no question.  My dream partner, hahaha.

Oh, yeah and I was supposed to organize a play reading.  Yeah, had to bail on that one.  If it’s one thing I’ve realized over the years, is that the game will go on if you pass the ball to the next player.  I have to leave my old Buddhist district, and join the one on the North Shore, I have to figure out where the heck things are in this new neighbourhood, find a new preschool, find out where to walk the dog…..and where’s my shaver?  It’s around here  somewhere.


I should be organizing a play reading, or packing or making phone calls, but I’m going to write a post instead.  My in-laws came on Thursday to give us a hand with the kid because we have a lot of packing to do.   Lucky for us.  I almost lost my mother on Saturday.

I get a phone call Saturday night letting me know that my mother’s physically deteriorating and reminded that she’s on a Code 2 which means that if she’s sick, she should be kept comfortable at the home.  I tell the *@!  nurse to call the doctor cause I have no idea what hell she’s saying when she’s just reading me vital stats.  The doctor calls me back and tells me basically that it appears she had a cardiac incident and may have had mini strokes, she’s non responsive and may not last the night if I don’t do anything.  I call the nurse back and tell her to call an ambulance.  I haven’t even sat down yet since  we just returned from the new house for dinner and I pick up my purse and coat and we are out the door.    DH and I go the hospital and wait…  and wait for my mother to arrive. I chant under my breath.  He goes to check with the triage nurse.  I text my sisters and my Buddhist friends who respond that they are chanting for my mum.   She is in a home 3 minutes from the hospital and we are 15-20 minutes away but we have arrived before them.  Then I call the home again and discover the nurse is doing paperwork before she calls the ambulance.  I tell her as firmly as possible to call the ambulance first and then do the damn paperwork.  She arrives … eventually.  When I see her through the glass, I rush to the window and stare at her, willing her to acknowledge my presence, my love for her. Her eyes are closed and she’s moving her head back and forth slowly but rhythmically.   I almost lose it.  A triage nurse gently asks me to wait in the waiting room until I am called to see her.

Long story short, she has sepsis. I am warned that she may not last the night.  I am freaking out not only because I think I am about to lose her but also that I have made no preparations for her passing (as I have been repeatedly warned and pretty much ignored for 8 years).  Inside I know that it is not the worst thing that it should happen considering her state but I will be devastated.  I make the phone call to my sister.  She is in a state of shock and can barely process what I am saying.  I need for her to understand the import of what I am being told.  She tells me to call my older sister and I tell her no, she has to do it as I am not prepared to repeat myself again.  Not causing I’m a bitch, or  it’s inconvenient, but I  was in the midst of dealing with her acute medical care and trying to remain strong for whatever happened.  If my eldest sister was interested in my mother’s care, she would have actually visited more than twice in 8 years or called to ask about her in the past 2 years. My younger sister is so overwhelmed she can’t even stay on the phone, and my husband talks to hers.  You know, man talk.  (Here’s the deal. Reply: Okay, got it.)

Once it’s explained to me that I have to give them an okay for a “DO NOT RESUSCITATE” order before anything bad actually happens (they would have had to put a IV in her neck), I call my sister again.  I already know that I would do but I needed to give her an opportunity to have her say.  Luckily she agreed with me about not making any heroic attempts to save her life because life as in a non responsive state would not be the most compassionate action.  So I go back and tell the doctor my decision and then I know I have to stay.  So we wait and wait and wait.  I speak to nurses, I watch the monitors.  My husband says, “See, we’re back in action.  When something goes wrong, we pull together like a team.”  This is true because oddly enough, we are utterly united in that moment.  Tears flood his eyes as he tells my mother she’s tough and she’ll pull through.  I put my head down on the bed rail and finally let the tears flow.  Just for me.  Cause she’s my mother and I love her and I don’t want to say goodbye.  I know there’s never a right time, but not now, not now, not like this. The Buddhist half of me says, no fear, no fear, it’ll just be like taking off a pair of tight shoes for her.

Time goes by and the antibiotics and fluids seem to be helping.  Her vitals are improving and though I am warned she is not out of the woods, I am encouraged.  By 3:30 we are exhausted so we find a quiet room to lay down in.  It’s called a comfort room.  Being a Catholic hospital, it has a crucifix inside above the door.  I stare at it, remembering I am in Catholic hospital chanting a Buddhist mantra.  I hear the usual cacaphony of noise that is to be expected in an emergency room of an urban hospital. Raised angry voices, something goes crashing to the floor.  I see people on stretchers in the hallway, nervous girlfriends wearing high heels, cops and security everywhere.  And an old black woman  snoring, tucked into a private glass cubicle, her exhausted guardians nearby. At 5 am,  I decide we are going home to rest.  Somehow I know it is okay to leave then.

We come back 6 hrs later and mum seems better.  She is responding to the antibiotics and fluids and she manages a smile or two.  I say, “Look, mum, I got my hair done – do I look pretty?”  She replies haltingly, “Do I look pretty?” DH:  “You look beautiful, mama.”

And she does.

Every. Single. Morning.

Mama? I want milk.  Milk. I want milk!

Ssssh, mama’s sleeping.  

Mama?  Milk.  Go get me milk. Now. Mama. Mama. Mama. Mama. Mamaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa/

She’s not here.

Milk.  I want milk. You go get me milk.

You don’t know how to ask, do you?

PLEASE, can I have milk?




(5 seconds of blessed silence.)

I don’t see you getting it.