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Diagnosis for Mom

It’s an ulcer. Actually, two ulcers. Big ones.

She hasn’t had anything to eat Sunday morning, unless you could the units of blood as “eating.”  There have been at least four units of that so far. She’s feeling frustrated and discouraged. She can’t take most of her meds because of her stomach. As long as she is in the hospital she can have pain med in her IV, which she needs for the pain from the last surgery.

Still, of the things it might have been, ulcers are better. They are treatable.


Mom back in ICU

Yesterday Mom went to get herself some ice. She dropped it and passed out. I took her to the ER and she was admitted to the ICU with anemia and low blood pressure. Over the course of the night she was given three units of blood. She is still anemic, and her blood pressure is now around 90 over 40, which is not very low.

We are waiting for a surgeon to come wander by and schedule a scope so they can start to try to figure out where she is loosing blood. Who knows how long that will take.

She is in the smaller hospital, closer to her home. They do not have free wireless service, but they are half a mile from my usual free hot spot, so I will be able to get here and update periodically.

United Airlines has rescheduled my departure for August 11, and they didn’t charge me a thing for it (even though I had the cheapest possible ticket to begin with). So that is good. I am also grateful that if she was going to have a set-back she did it while I was still here.

I did tell her that if she wanted me to stay longer she only had to ask. All this fuss is really over-kill.

She said she wanted to make a convincing case.


I am in the last week of my stay with my mom. Though she is getting better every day, she is worried about my leaving. There isn’t anything that she needs to do that she can’t do, but she still has little to no stamina. By the time she prepares a meal, she is too tired to eat. So I told her to think of all the things she wants caught up on before I go.

Today I stripped her bed, remade it, and washed the sheets. Mom helped me get the top sheet and blanket straight, but otherwise she just watched … and told me to stop making it looks so easy. Afterwards I went to the basement to wash them, and she said, trying to sound like she was joking, that she needed to rest for a little while. She did.

The real excitement of the morning came when I was hanging sheets out on the line (with Mom’s supervision, of course). Somehow I locked the screen door on the way out, which the hidden key does not open. Mom’s windows all have safety thingys that keep them from being opened more than a few inches. This is of course to prevent break-ins. we appeared to be well and truly locked out. Mom pretended to be calm. I’m pretty sure she was trying to figure how expensive it would be to replace the screen in the door. Fortunately one of the kitchen windows didn’t have the safety thingy on. So I got the ladder and climbed in.

Mom was later impressed because I had put the ladder away before she even thought to check up on it.

I really can imagine living with her indefinitely, but one of us would have to move across the country. I can’t move here unless I retire, which I’m not going to do. If she moves to me she would be leaving her sisters, best friend, and community. Besides, she would have to live where I do and she really doesn’t like that idea.

Ah well, I can trust her to make the decisions she needs to.

Last night I sat on the back porch for a while and for a while the bunnies and the fire flies were out. Earlier I saw a chickadee and goldfinch. We have none of these things at home. We do have marmots. I have a soft spot for them, but even I will admit that bunnies are far cuter.


Yep. It has finally hit. I miss my family. Part of me is still enjoying the peace and quiet of Mom’s house, still glad to be away from the noise and the testosterone, but I am beginning to miss them too. I’m blue. I went to pick up a prescription for mother and sat in the car outside the office and cried for a bit. I was once again crying in relief that they caught the cancer in time, that we aren’t losing her. If you have experience of lung cancer you know how unusual it is to catch it before there are symptoms. I never thought I would be grateful for the stroke. (In a previous post I said the scanning was a result of the Parkinson’s. That was poetic license.)

In any case, she is going to recover from this. It breaks my heart that her right hand only stops moving, preventing her from doing so many of the things she loves. I feel happy when I see her reading the Kindle, grateful that I could give her something that is making her life better.

But I think the reason that I am dwelling on these thoughts is that I am beginning to feel homesick. I miss the beasts.

Mom and I get along better than I think most adult mother’s and daughters do. It is sometimes confusing because my mother and sister have so much difficulty. Sis is hurt that Mom wanted me here and didn’t want her. Mom tells people that it is because I cook and had a husband at home to take care of my kids. Sis would have had to leave her teens alone. She tells me that Sis would have driven her crazy. She would have felt like she would have had to keep her entertained. Sis is exhausting to be around. Mom doesn’t know “if she is coming or going always in the middle of everything. I guess she knows where she is going though. She gets there eventually.”

Mom has mentioned that the living room carpet really needs to be vacuumed. I agreed, told her I will do it soon. She knows I will. I don’t like vacuuming, but I will do it. Sis is compulsive about house keeping. She would probably clean the house every day and expect just a little appreciation. And there is nothing wrong with that. I told Sis that Mom prefers me here at times like this because I spend most of my time reading and she won’t have to entertain me. Sis protests. She wouldn’t expect to be entertained.

But there is too much history between them. Sis has always been been “more” than I was. She was laughed louder, cried more often, and got into more trouble. She is has been and still is a wonderful person, but as a result of all the family dynamics and our own personalities, I ended up being almost another parent for Sis. Sis always knew that Mom would take care of her, but I was the one she came to for comfort or advice.

Sis is still “bigger”. She is hurt that she was never as close to Mom as I was, and more hurt that she has wanted to make it better and Mom still rejects her. And Mom is exhausted and can’t deal with the emotional drama.

I guess I am thinking about this more because they could certainly use each other in the coming years. Sis’s marriage is unlikely to make it, and Mom can’t live alone indefinitely. Sis moving in with Mom in a few years could solve both their problems.

And there I go, trying to fix everyone’s lives for them.

Still, it distracts me from being homesick.

Mom, the Rain and Me

Mom: Tell me if it starts raining.


Me: It’s raining (yelled from kitchen while baking previously requested brownies)

Mom: What?


Oh…something, something, windows


something, windows… shut

I walk to living room: What did you say?

Mom: The windows should be shut, but leave them open just an inch or two.

Okay (I start to go upstairs)

Mom: don’t something, something

after going back to the living room: What did you say?

Mom: Don’t shut the windows in the guest bed room, the rain never goes in there.


I get half way up the stairs. She says something but this time I just walk back to ask her to repeat it.

Mom: And leave my fan in my window unless it rains real hard

I go upstairs, the rain gets harder so I yell: MOM, Look out the door. Is that “real hard?”

Mom: What?


Mom: Wait a minute.

Mom, at bottom of the stairs: What did you say dear?

Me: is this rain “real hard”? Should I take down the fan?

Mom: Oh, I don’t think so.

I come down stairs to continue to work on brownies. Mom comes in a minute later looking apologetic

Mom: I guess you should take the fan out of my window.

I run up stairs, remove fan from her window and shut same. Return to kitchen.

I’m sorry to put you to so much trouble.

It’s okay. It would help if either of us could hear well though.

Aren’t you feeling well?

True Story.

Mother Gets Better Slowly

Mother gets better slowly

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I brought Mom home Sunday afternoon. She needs me less often than she did in the hospital. Of course in the hospital she had one-inch tubes stuck in her chest and attached to plastic tanks. She still asks for little things: open this jar; close the windows; open the windows; put the fan in her bedroom window. She sleeps more than she did in the hospital, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, she is eating less. She doesn’t always hold things down. We visit the doctor on Thursday and if it isn’t better I will ask him about it.

I am still her child though, and now that I am the mother of young adults it just doesn’t bother me like it did 20 years ago. She asks if I remembered to empty the de-humidifying in the basement. I say I have and she responds, “I don’t need to worry about those things, do I?”

I say, “No, but ask if you need to.”

I baked something for her and after she said, with some humor in her voice, “Well, now I have to make sure you remembered to turn off the oven.” Instead of feeling aggravated because my mother doesn’t treat me like an adult, I feel … loved. I understand the compulsion to check to make sure everything has been done. I know that if I were a friend she would probably still check, but she try to be sneaky about it.   And I know from dealing with my sons that it really is difficult to stop watching out for, taking care of your child. For so long it was her job to make sure I remembered to do things. It was part of parenting me.

And now I am 47 and she is 73, and she is still my mommy.

To paraphrase Lewis Black, “How cool is that?”

I Love the Rain

Monday, July 12, 2010 3:30pm

When I was about five my parents bought property outside of town. It was a staggeringly beautiful place to grow up, and our water came from a well. There was generally lots of water there, but not always. When we had had no rain for a while, we had no water. I remember my father walking through the house with buckets of water to flush the toilet, and Mom giving us “spit baths” with a  single basin of water. Being a nurse, she was good at that. All the water we had at any given time was what was in two large, newly-purchased 30-gallon trash cans. When they ran out, my father would drive away to get water “from town.” (It is only at this moment that I wonder if he got it from work, or from a friend, or if there was a public water source for all the people who had no water.)

It only got that bad one summer, but every summer we were careful, even after Mom had a new well dug and a 1000-gallon water tank installed. Mom always knew how much water was in that tank. She was always insistent that we be careful with water. Even in the wettest seasons we knew better than to let a faucet run while we brushed out teeth. But when that tank started to go down, instead of re-filling as we used it, we went into heavy conservation mode. Allowing water to run over your tooth brush only to go down the drain was suddenly unthinkable. One filled a cup with water, dropped a splash on the brush, used half the remaining water to rinse, and swished the tooth brush in the rest to clean it. We didn’t have to do that often, but we did do it.

A few years ago a heard someone talking about saving water by re-using “grey water.” That was old news for me. Mom washed dishes in basins in the sink so the water could be poured on plants if there was not too much soap in it. I don’t know when I learned that other people poured remaining coffee down the sink instead watering the house plants with it.

Water in my house was precious. I want to say it was liquid gold, but gold could hardly be worth as much in August. Water was a precious as … water.   And so I grew up loving rain. Rain in comforting, safe, and when it falls steadily and gently, it is peaceful.  Sadly, I now live in a place that is classified as “semi-arid.” Not a desert, but still dry. Though I don’t miss humidity and its child, mildew, I do miss the rain and the fog. Now I when I watch the rain in the spring I wonder if this will be the last rain until fall, or will there be another. There is a public water system for irrigation only (not safe for drinking) that is turned on when the officials decide we have had our last rain until fall.

The other day my uncle said the  thing, “It’s getting so hot, it’s gotta rain soon!” He wasn’t so much hoping for rain as expecting it, as though the heat somehow makes the rain come. Other people have said similar things. “Boy, I sure hope it rains soon and cools us off!”

The rain did come, and the temperature did go down. It was a long, steady, peaceful rain. I sat on the porch, read my Kindle, and listened to the rain.

And not one person joined me to celebrate the wonder of rain in July.