A Walk with Mom: Day 6

Sunday July 3, 2016

The day was me getting up every to make Dad breakfast and try to make sure Mom was OK.  She had only woken up twice the day before, only for maybe 20-30 minutes each.  had a bad feeling but tried to push it aside.

That afternoon, she could not longer sit up, stand or walk by herself.  She was hardly able to move she was so weak.  And she started having uncontrollable diarrhea.  It was terrible, as Mom was very dignified, but there was nothing that she could do.  It happened several times and it was clear to me that this was not just a passing thing.  This was very serious and I was terrified that what I had long been saying was coming true: That her body no longer had the ability to process protein.

I told her that she needed to go to the hospital and she agreed.  Then I told Dad and he said no.  He said that he did not think that it was that serious.  Then I did something that I had never done, I yelled at my father.  I yelled that his wife was very sick, she was less than 75lbs, that she could no longer walk, sit or stand by herself and that she could no longer eat…how much worse did he want her to get before she was taken that to hospital?

Then I yelled at Mom to get ready.  She just looked at me and said OK, but that Dad would have to help her into the shower so she could get cleaned up first.  She put her foot down and made it clear that she, being ever the dignified lady, was not going anywhere until then.

Almost two hours later we were in the van, waiting for Dad to find his keys and go to the hospital which was 30 minutes away.  I remember being so frustrated…how could they not understand?  These were two brilliant people.  Dad was a rocket scientist who and designed ballistic missile systems, Mom worked in the Pentagon creating and deciphering secret codes.  They had traveled all over the united States, they had great education, Mom had raised two daughters and 65 foster children – they understood nutrition.

While we were waiting for Dad to find his keys and get into the van, Mom asked if I was OK and why was I so frustrated.  I told her that it took them 2 hours to get ready, and that if there was ever a real emergency, like a heart attack or such, that they were doomed.  And then I felt a tear running down my cheek and I said softly, “Mom, I think you are dying.”

I will never forget her response.  She simply very calmly looked out the van window and said “I probably am.”

We made it to the hospital, which was the size of a small clinic and really could not do much more for people than give flu shots or maybe set a broken arm.  Mom’s doctor came and spoke with her for a little while, and made it clear to me that most doctors don’t care enough about their patients to meet them at the hospital. I bit my tongue since my mother made me promise that I would make peace with her doctor. He also told me that her nutritional and albumin levels were normal until then.  He said they had been at around 3, which was normal.  It was now at 1.2, which was not normal at all.  There are so many things that I wanted to yell at that doctor, but it was not the time nor place.  But one day, I will have my say.

Tests reveled that she had two types of Pneumonia, sepsis and some other issue that they could not isolate. They so they called for an emergency transport for her to the hospital in the next state over in Alabama.  It was only an hour away and was her best hope for survival as it was much bigger than the hospital where they were.

I followed the ambulance there, they knew I would be behind them. They must have radioed it in, because we were going 85 or more down country roads in small town and I encountered police. I never knew and ambulance could go that fast, but they were driving to save Mom’s life.

Dad had to drive home before dark, then I waited and followed Mom to the hospital in Dothan.  That was the longest hour and drive in my life, even though I was following the ambulance doing at least 80.  We arrived at 3am.

Once again, I was Mom’s watcher, making sure that she was OK, that she was comfortable and had everything that she needed.  I would talk to the doctor or hospitalist that night, I would answer the questions that she was too weak to answer.  She was completely bed ridden at this point and was so weak that she could hardly speak.  She could life her head up without help and she slept much of the time while the doctor was asking or explaining things. There would be a team of five doctors all total who would try to save her.  This was the first night.

I did not sleep. I took care of her, talked to those who needed to be talked to, and prayed.