Post originally written on 3/3/2008.
She was bright-eyed and alert and sitting in her wheelchair in the doorway of her room facing the hallway. Across her lap was a strange cushion shaped to fit under the arms of the wheelchair. This kept her from getting up out of the chair while she recovers from the stress fracture in her back.
Her teeth were out. Again. Apparently, she won’t leave them in. Makes sense.
She answered every question, and sometimes she’d even start out with right answers before trailing off into an indiscernible direction. Sometimes she would end her sentences with a series of rhyming words or phrases – Dr. Seuss-like words and phrases. How appropriate on the day schools celebrate his birthday. Right after she uttered those words, I realized how much I would want to remember them and that I probably wouldn’t. And I don’t.
I asked the big question: “Do you know who I am?” She shook her head (no). I said, “Have you heard from Rick?” She started by saying yes and then went into some mumbling. Then I asked about Rod and John, and she answered similarly. I asked her if she’d spoken to Becky. She started talking like she was going to say yes, but then she started excusing and said that you couldn’t expect to hear from someone every day.
I looked at her and smiled and said, “You know who I am. I know you do.” She smiled, and let me know that – in her own way – she does, and that’s enough.
Afterwards, I spoke with her caregivers and made sure she was eating well. Her “mini-mental” assessment yielded a result of “0” out of a possible 30 points (30 would be perfect). She had no recall whatsoever. Her other assessment was about a number of things some people can do for themselves: toileting, hygiene, getting dressed, aggression/agitation, and self-feeding. On this one, you want to make 5 out of 30 – the larger the number, the less you can do for yourself. Mom rated a 26 on this one. Yikes. She really has gone downhill in a short time. The nurses there were very kind; they answered my questions and were really empathetic.
I teared up when I told the nurse that we’d just lost my Daddy. She said she thinks that Mom is aware of that on some level and is slowly letting go.
As I walked out of the building sniffling and wiping away the tears, I thought again how bad this has all been. Daddy said, “It’s just a bad situation. There’s nothing we can do about it but pray.” He’d say that, and we would weep on the phone. I’d tell him how much I love him and that I missed him, and he’d tell me, too.
Then I got in the car and put on some music and drove to pick up the children. I shifted right into that part of the day. We came home and snacked and rode bikes and did homework. Like everything is just fine. It’s just a bad situation, and its part of the mix right now. Some days, I feel like I’m going to go completely insane from the pressure and sadness of it all. Then I snuggle with my babies and we giggle and have fun, and I realize that I can do this – at least one more day.