Saturday, March 19, 2011

Uncomfortable Companions

This has been a hard week. Guilt, fear and sorrow are not comfortable companions.

Tales of my mom's tough times at night have been escalating. Her confusion, agitation and inability to sleep, to rest have led to very distressing discussions with my sister, and in my own household. How much longer can we expect those handling my mom's care to hold on? What can we do to slow down the demons?

I still see so much to be thankful for in my time with my mom. I know that much of her day, and almost all of her night is filled with struggle, but when we are together, I can get smiles and laughter. I like to think that what I say, and what I do, can somehow be enough to stop the onslaught. I know it isn't so, but if I didn't believe, then what?

In our house, and with my sister, we have now very reluctantly begun to broach the subject of alternative residences for my mom. It makes me so sad. From the days, a half century ago, when my mom's Aunt Minny was moved into a nursing home, my mom began her mantra. "Don't put me in Weissman's". I knew that she meant it. Even mentioning the possibility now, I feel am I disobeying her first commandment.

Earlier this week, we received a worried call from her caretaker. We all rushed over to my mom's apartment in the middle of the day, and quickly called for an ambulance. It turned out that a medication she had begun the night before to calm her, appeared to have been the culprit. Fortunately, she recovered sufficiently to avoid hospitalization. But I wonder what we are doing and are we doing the best we can? There must be better answers, but I just don't know them. And for all of us, there is that guilt in not knowing, and the uncertainty in doing too little or too much.

I don't want to lose my mom to drugs that may remove some of the agitation and the hallucinations but leave her vacant. I don't want to lose my mom to a facility because we haven't been aggressive enough in trying to remove some of the agitation and the hallucinations. How can we make her tranquil without tranquillizing away her spirit? And in the middle of it all, living through each and every moment, I feel such sorrow for my mom.

My sister, with untold amounts of discomfort, boarded a plane Thursday morning. Much of her time away has been spent on the phone with Joanne, myself, various doctors, my mom's caretaker and of course, my mom. Physical distance notwithstanding, my sister remains firmly planted right here. To do otherwise, would in her mind be an enormous disservice to my mom. There is no escaping our responsibility. There is no escaping our concern. There is no escaping reality.

I will wait until 11AM to call my mom this morning. I will make plans for lunch, and go about the business of life with her. I will pretend that everything is ok, and hope that she is convinced. Then I will call my sister and report. If all has gone well, maybe my sister can rest easier for a moment. There are tough days, and difficult decisions that lay in front of us. Spring and rebirth are just around the corner. But not where it matters the most.


Unknown said...

Dear Robert,
What is there to say? There are never any easy answers. I can only hope that you derive some comfort from being able to put into words at least some of what you and the family are going through.

Robert said...

I was just saying to Richie that the writing does seem to help. Catharsis.

Thanks for your concern. I know how you feel whether, like me, the words are spoken, or not.