Wed 6 Jun 2007
Every day lately my life changes three or four times.
Ever since my mother was diagnosed with inoperable cancer three weeks ago, one of the very worst, worst parts has been that none of us seems to know what is supposed to happen next. We just can’t get a handle on it.
Here are the firm decisions that have been made and unmade in the last two weeks:
- She and the doctors agree that she is too ill to live alone anymore. I give the required 60-days notice at her apartment complex that she will not be returning.
- Then she decides that she wants to return to her apartment after all. (I do not un-give the notice, because…well, I am learning already that I must wait and see.)
- Then the hospital where she’s recovering calls to say she’s far too sick to live on her own, and in fact, she may be in the end stages already, since she’s refusing to eat. (Good thing I didn’t tell the apartment she is coming back.)
- But then she eats an entire plate of spaghetti, a hamburger, and drinks an entire Coke, and decides that she’d like to come and live in Connecticut, near me, but not in my house. She would like to live in a nursing home here, where she would have professional care but where I could visit her.
- Then–no! She wants to stay in Florida, so she will go and live near my cousin, in a nursing home there, down the street from my cousin.
- The cousin says this is fine, but says she can’t bring her dog with her because my cousin has two dogs and she can’t handle one more dog in her life.
- My mother’s neighbor, outraged by this, says she will take care of my mother, and my mother can stay in her own apartment and this neighbor (who is a retired nurse) will watch over her AND the dog.
- My mother says no, she’s too sick, and anyway, she should be with me, her family, at such a time. So she decides she wants to come to Connecticut, but not to live in a nursing home. She wants to live in our back bedroom.
- Then the social worker calls, says my mother is once again not eating and is refusing her physical therapy, and can’t stay there any longer if she refuses therapy one more day, and so perhaps I should come and get her immediately before she can’t travel anymore.
- Her doctor says, if she is not eating, she is probably within a month of dying and would be eligible for an inpatient hospice facility here. We are all shocked, stunned and horrified by this.
- My mother responds to this news by eating a plate of chicken, potato salad and green beans, goes back to physical therapy, says she DOESN’T want to come to Connecticut because it’s too cold here, and besides that, damn it, she’s a FLORIDIAN, and what the hell does she mean even THINKING of moving when she is sick and tired and has no energy? She loves me but NO NO NO to Connecticut. Exact words: “I will not get on the plane.”
- I call hospice in Florida to see if they will help her if she stays in her own house.
- They are having a meeting and letting me know tomorrow. (They were sure she was coming up here. Perhaps they had thrown her file away.)
- The neighbor, meanwhile, says she knows aides who can come by in the morning to help, and the neighbor herself will be glad to do all the nursing care, and she thinks Medicare will pay, and I can pay some, too, and so can my mother, out of her social security check–because, after all, what else is it going to be needed for now?
So that is my life. It is no wonder I can’t write a blog post. I hardly even remember where to find my computer. I have no idea what I am doing EVER again.
She says something tonight on the phone that almost makes me laugh. “I’m not afraid of the unknown,” she tells me. “I’m just afraid of not being in control of it.”
Yeah. Me, too.