Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Continue On

I have no photograph to post today but I've decided to try to continue on this journey of blogging everyday of my 60th year. It's going to be very tough for a while and some days it may be very short or nothing at all again but I'm going to try. As some of you may know, my mother passed away on June 12 of this year and I've not had the time or the motivation to post blogs. But I've decided that I really need to do this. I think it will help with my grief. I need to talk about what happened and how I feel and all those things. I have good days and bad days and some in-between. But I really think I'm just normal, thank goodness. Some days I just have no energy at all and some days I feel pretty energetic and have a good day. Just about all my nights, I suffer with aching all over my body and I sleep on a heating pad just about all night. I think that's part of all this grieving process. Anyway, I think if I write about it, it will help. I want to document what I can remember happened. So here goes. . .

My mother really died on June 11, not June 12. She died around 10:30 pm or maybe a little later. Since we were using Hospice, we were instructed to call Hospice instead of 911, and the on-call Hospice nurse lived in another town and we had to wait for her to get there. Then all I can remember is a lot of talking (and laughing) going on in the kitchen where the Hospice nurse and the health care worker were doing all this paperwork and then I remember seeing them flushing drugs down the toilet, etc. but I was in the bedroom with my mother, just sitting there, numb. So by the time all this "stuff" was done, it was past midnight and they pronounced her dead on June 12.

It's "funny" that when this happened, the one thing I could remember and think of was how Mama told me (more than once) that one of my sisters was born that way. The time changed and Mama got to choose which day to be her birthday. It's strange the things you remember in times like these.

My mother had rheumatoid arthritis but it was diagnosed in her 70s, kind of late in life, I think, for that condition. But she was the kind of person who didn't complain of anything until it got to be about as bad as it could be so who knows how long she really had this condition and just didn't complain about it to anyone. She also was diagnosed with COPD kind of late in life but I think the same thing applies here.

We moved her close to us about five years ago so we could be closer to take care of her a little because she was beginning to have problems with being hospitalized with pneumonia a couple of times, etc. I really don't think she wanted to move but I think she understood what we were doing and cooperated anyway. She adjusted as she always did and didn't complain.

We started noticing about six months before she passed away that things were getting worse as far as her breathing was concerned. My brother and I started taking turns being with her on Sundays to watch "church TV" and then on the night of April 28th, I think, I called her house to just chat and my brother answered the phone. I remember it was 7:50 and thought it was strange that he answered the phone that late on a week night. She usually went to bed between 7 and 8. He told me he was really worried about her breathing and didn't think she needed to be left alone that night. I offered to come spend the night because my brother would need to go to work the next day and he said, "no, I think we both need to be here." This really scared me so I packed up and rode to her house. When I got there, he was sitting on the couch in her living room and said she was in the bed and had just gotten settled down around 9:30, which was very late for her. We sat on the couch talking about "things" and every time she would cough or make a noise, we'd both run down the hall to check on her. Finally, about 11:00, I think, we heard her shut the door to her bathroom and we went down the hall to just watch. When she came out, she could hardly walk the very, very short distance back to her bed because her breathing was so labored. Craig sat down on the side of the bed with her and I sat on the foot of the bed, just listening. He was very calm but asking her didn't she think she should go to the hospital. I remember both her arms just shaking like crazy from her shoulder all the way down. She told him yes. My brother and I had already talked about if this happened, to call an ambulance to come get her instead of us driving her because she would be treated quicker and we wouldn't have to wait in a waiting room, etc. So I talked to her about that (calmly) and she agreed. I called 911, medics were there in about 5 minutes and I remember her reaching out for me and telling me she loved me and that she might not make it. I clawed my way through all those medics to touch her and kept rubbing her arms and asking her to just calm down and she could breathe easier and that I loved her, too, and she had five big men taking good care of her and she would be at the hospital in about five minutes and we would be right behind her.

As it turned out, we beat them to the hospital somehow so we were watching them take her in. We had to wait for them to get her settled in and then we stayed up all night that night waiting with her to get her vitals to the point that she could get to intensive care. They put her on what they called a Bi-Papp machine which helped her breathe and I remember her not sleeping at all and sitting up the entire time so she could breathe. It was horrible. The doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapist and all workers were wonderful. It was just the experience that was horrible. It took about 8 1/2 hours to get her stabilized enough to go to ICU. We felt so much better when she got there. All the workers there were wonderful.

I will stop here. I may not have my details exact in this journal of our journey with our mother's illness and death and since I didn't document anything while it was happening, I am depending on my memory which will at times be fuzzy and confusing or may not be there at all but I have to do this. Also, as I said earlier, I may not post everyday OR I may venture away from this subject some days and post something "cheerier". My days are just different from day to day but from everything I am reading about the grieving process, I think I am normal.

I am still grieving but I have realized that I never grieved for my daddy when he died and I am grieving now for both of them, which is really tough but needs to be done. I was not as close to my daddy as I was my mother. I have to take breaks from sifting through all the paperwork and pictures from her house because it brings back memories and sometimes I just have to have a break from it. I am separating photos from paper first and then plan to sort and organize both of those so all of my siblings can have copies of what they want. We are scanning old pics and making CDs for everyone and will just sort the paperwork and let everyone make their own choices as to what to copy and keep. Then we need to decide how and where we are going to keep the originals of all this history of our family. This is going to be a very big job and take a long time but I think it needs to be done and is important.

This will be all for today. Hopefully, I can continue tomorrow.

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