Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Ed's Mom is...

My mother is now out of the hospital.
She had been there for almost eight weeks.

The short version is that my seventy six year old mother, in general ill health, with her litany of pre exising conditions, required surgery. She experienced complications, infections, pneumonia, and was left unable to eat or breath on her own. The tubes and wires wrapping and piercing her shriveled body looked like strangling vines. A do not resucitate order was posted, and my father told to decide when to remove life support. Dad, as hard and stoic as the farmer in Grant Wood's "American Gothic" (whom he resembles) had a complete melt down, and my brothers, both senior managers in their respective fields, bobbed about uselessly in bewilderment and denial; leaving me to manage and organize the last hours of my mother's life. I gathered siblings and grand children and spouses, soothed, coaxed and cajoled the necessary conversations and actions from them, ordered and orchestrated, and made sure my father was fed.

Then she didn't die. It seemed perverse to not feel relieved, surrounded as I was by the wonderment and elation of my immediate family. I hesitated in telling my friends; I told my family nothing. Unlike the family I'd marshaled and directed, I hadn't been yanked back from paralyzing fear, delivered from my abject sorrow and self pity. I hadn't had the time. I'd been on the road back and forth between Dad and Hospital and on the phone with nurses and doctors, family, and the customer service specialists at US Airways. I only felt enervated and exhausted and dulled by anxiety over the ramifications of her severely degraded condition. I was glad she wasn't dead, but couldn't muster much more than that.

Mom has been placed in a care facility minutes from my father's house, where she will remain until therapy helps her regain enough strength and mobility to allow him to care for her at home. In spite of her remarkable progress, the woman I sat with in her kitchen has not really returned, yet, and only presents herself in momentary flashes - instants of clarity like sudden sharp clear frames emerging from the scratchy hazy flickers of disintegrating 8mm family movies. I hold a cautious optimism, recognizing that there is little to do now but wait and see.

So for the past two months I've left a bunch of things sparsely tended; friendships, correspondence, and this circleinasquare. I've been steadily writing the whole time: to communicate with my extended family of friends, to gather information and try to make sense of the confusing and conflicting reports extracted from often unwilling, unhelpful heath care providers, and to keep my head from exploding. I didn't post any of it here, and probably won't any time soon. The Email threads were generally titled "Ed's Mom is" followed by a brief synopsis of her current situation, and furthered with a rambling stream of consciousness recording observations and whatever it was I was feeling at the time.

I'm not sure how I feel now. Not at all.
Who Links Here