copyright 2017 Chris Smith All rights reserved.
"Listen to the silence of my heart."
The Hospital was much warmer, in feeling and décor than I expected. I could feel my heart pumping faster as we walked up the stairs to the upper floors. Dad guided us through the maze of hallways. There were nurses running around everywhere. I didn't know what clammy was, but my hands were feeling it.
We walked down the final stretch, a hallway that ended against a wall of rooms. My nerves shot up even more. I was sick to my stomach. We finally walked into the small room with a single bed. Dad walked in first and greeted Mom.
"Sweetheart," Mom said with a smile on her face.
Dad leaned down and kissed her cheek. Then my Brother went to hug her. I was last. I walked up to the hospital bed. Though she had tubes going into her arm, she looked a lot better than three weeks ago.
"Hi Mom," I said.
I leaned down and hugged her.
She grabbed my face with both hands and motioned with her eyes behind her, where my Dad and Brother were.
"Who's this?" Mom said.
My heart dropped. I dunno. Maybe twenty floors. I can say without a doubt it was at least a good fifteen.
I had seen the effect of Alzheimer's on her father, my Grandfather. He had recognized his wife, and his children, but not much else. I remember having a conversation with him, where I had to explain who I was. It was a little unsettling, explaining to your Grandfather, who has known you all your life, who you are.
So I found myself standing there, in the middle of the little Hospital room looking down at the woman who had carried me for nine months, given birth to me, raised me and had been not only my Mom, but one of my closest friends and business partner. I was speechless.
Was I going to have to explain who I was to my own Mom?
My Brother seemed unphased. But I wasn't. I had the wind knocked out of me. Hard.
"I don't know Mom. Who is that?" my Brother said.
"Yeah, very funny people, very funny," I thought.
But it wasn't funny to me. I stood there unable to decide what to do next and how to handle the situation. She clearly recognized my Brother. Maybe she had come to hate me so much she had blocked me out of her mind.
"I don't know. Who is it?" Mom asked.
"That's your daughter." Dad said.
"Oh, are you my daughter?" Mom asked
"Yeah," I said in a defeated voice.
I was heartbroken. We'd spent years together, almost every day, how could she not recognize me. How could she not see all the pieces of her I carried inside me. The pieces that she had sewn into me with her love.
"Hi Kid," Mom said and smiled.
Then she hugged me back like she knew exactly who I was the whole time. I didn't think it was funny. Not in the slightest. It was another example of Mom's humor. She acted like I'd seen her yesterday.
I couldn't remember the last time I'd been in a Hospital room. I stayed away from them like they served up the plague. I'd visited friends in the Hospital. But I didn't like 'em.
Mom was pumped full of drugs, of which I had no doubt. Well, there was nothing we could do about that now. Though Dad told me, he was very involved in her care, and the choices the Doctor's offered. And that made me feel better. One of us had to be there for Mom, and speak for her best wishes and health. We couldn't have the medical community running amuck with our heart.
It was a small room, shaped like a rectangle. Her bed took up most of it, with a window on the far wall, and a small table and chair that was opposite to the bed. My Dad and Brother sat down in the small space. But I stayed standing.
I wanted to crawl in bed with her and go back to the place where she would hug me and I would believe everything was going to be okay. I needed to believe that right now.
"What's up?" Dad said.
"I want to climb in bed with her. Do these things [bed rails] come down?" I asked.
"I'm sure they do." Dad said.
Mom split her attention between us and the T.V.
I put my knee on the bed and climbed up, with my shoes still on. I laid my head on her chest and she put her arms around me and hugged me. Despite everything we'd been through, all the nasty things she'd said to me during the months I'd care for her. Love was there.
I started taking photos of us. Selfies with me lying next to her with my new phone. I could feel Dad's eyes and his jaw dropping open watching us. He couldn't believe it. I wanted to stuff something into that open mouth, but I refrained.
I don't know. I was calm being with her. I still had the memories of all we'd been through together. But somehow being up on that hill alone all these weeks, had given me a different perspective. It's good to step away, when you can. Let things calm down. The price of me stepping back had been my Dad having to be the one to step forward.
He seemed to appreciate me a lot more and the months I'd spent caring for her at home. I hated being stuck on that fucking mountain with her though. Mom had been pretty foul for a lot of it. I'm not sure if I could ever erase the things my ears heard and my heart felt
There were a lot of days that I broke so easily when she came at me with her mean. I hated myself for it. But I don't know which one of us I hated more. Her for saying mean things. Or me for allowing some part of me to believe what she said was true.
"Sitting in the hospital bed with mi Madre."
CARING BRIDGE UPDATE
Days in Hospital: 14
(Writing this from Mom's hospital room)
BIOPSY RESULTS: None yet (may take up to a few weeks)
Mom's surgery went well. They successfully removed one lymph node in her stomach for biopsy. She has another very large lymph node in her stomach, causing her abdomen to be distended, but they didn't remove it (too complicated). They're hoping the treatment, soon to be decided upon and started, dissolve that sucker.
The Surgeon came by, checked her, and said she's healing well from the surgery.
She's been on morphine for the pain (from the surgery). The Surgeon said she can go to pills for the pain.
They had her on clear liquids (sometimes stomach surgery can be very tricky). But the Surgeon said she was looking good and could start eating again.
I read Mom the most recent guest book entries. Not sure how "present" she was for them (she's pretty out of it from the morphine), but I read them to her.
And my Brother drove up last night. My Dad, Brother, and I have some serious decisions to make this week, concerning the future care and healing of my Mom. In a few days, or so, the hospital will release Mom. Generally speaking, cancer treatment is done outpatient. But her dementia provides an additional area of concern and issue.
All the Nurses and Doctors are very nice. And it is a nice hospital.
Mom's been biting Dad. I think she gets so frustrated she doesn't know what else to do. The Nurses ask him every day, "How are those bites looking? Make sure you tell us if she breaks skin."
Her Internal Medicine Doctor recommended a local Primary Doctor in our area, for when Mom leaves the hospital.
Thank you for your prayers, thoughts, guest book messages, positive vibes, healing energy, etc! We appreciate it!
Blessings to you and yours,
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