Sunday, July 5, 2009


This blog has been an outlet for me, a catharsis of sorts, where I can say whatever I want and pretend that I'm talking to myself (while other people may or may not listen). The only times I've censored myself were last summer when I was so depressed (and even then I was blabbing on my alternate blog) and about family matters.

I've talked about my sis a lot, once in a while about my bro, but when it comes to my mom I only put in that I've spent mom time. I have such conflicted feelings for my mom that I have trouble expressing them to myself, let alone writing about them.

I'm the youngest of three kids, raised by a young single divorced mother in the days when there weren't many divorced parents. I was always mommy's girl and in some ways still am. But by the time I got to college my mom could never decide whether she wanted to be my friend or my parent and that caused conflict and friction. We developed a very stereotypical mother-daughter relationship of too much love and too much disagreement and too much time together.

My mom has always had a mean side, a caustic tongue, an anger at the world that things weren't working out how she planned. While younger she mostly hid that away because she avoided open conflict; she would just cut you off permanently if you crossed her. As she got older though, that internal filter ceased working. She started yelling, then cursing, then just being cantankerous and grouchy and mean.

She was also charming and funny and clever and intellectual and talented. Little bits of that still peek through, but mostly now she's just unhappy and angry. Her health is suffering, her body is betraying her and she refuses to believe she's slowing down and getting old. While she wants sympathy, she also rejects any offer of help unless it's from me (or from my brother). We don't help her nearly as much as she thinks we should. We'd have to move next door to her and become her personal slaves for her to think we help her enough. But since we won't, she continues to be independent and lives alone.

Last week, for the third time in a couple of months, she had chest pains and went to the hospital. The last time that happened they ran some tests, couldn't find anything wrong except for some gastric problems, and sent her home. This time it was a different medical staff and they decided that it could be serious so they wanted to keep her overnight for observation and more tests in the morning. She didn't like that, but went along with it.

You know how they say that hospitals are the worst place to be if you're sick? It came true this time. If you've been following my tweets you'll know that from the night she got there things have gone wrong. What started as overnight observation turned into over-medicating and discontinuity of care, causing her physical and mental harm.

The sedation is wearing off but it has resulted in confusion. My mom is acting exactly like a habitual drunk in the middle of a three day bender. She is under the impression that she is fine but she also has no strength, no coordination and no rational thought processes. She's agitated, loud, confused and angry. She's yelling and cursing at everyone, thinks she's in jail, can't understand a thing. It doesn't help that she keeps taking out her hearing aids and then can't even hear. She has regained just enough physical mobility to be a danger to herself.

We're told that by tomorrow she'll be better, her mental processes should be nearing what they were when she first got to the hospital and within days it will be like it never happened. We've also been told that she's on the way down the slippery slope of dementia and this same behavior could be her future. She will become physically weaker, more confused and unhappier with life. It probably won't be quick and probably will be drawn out and ugly.

It makes me ache to see my strong, beautiful, talented, funny, independent mother come to this. It's horrifying to think of how long she could be aware of her own decline and how much she'll deny its occurrence. She'll have good days, flashes of her old self. But meanwhile I'm left with knowing that even though she's still here, I've lost my mommy. All that remains to her is habit and instinct. It will have to be enough.

1 comment:

  1. Girlfriend, I'm w/ you in spirit. And looking forward to being w/ you in person in a few weeks. Hang in!
    Love, Carol