I bid 2011 a not so fond farewell. In every sense, this was a difficult year for my family.
January: my husband retired from his job as Postmaster of Bethune, SC. I know he loved his job and part of his motivation was to help me with my Mother. So the year began with him having the time to do things he wanted and to travel, but not able to get away and travel because my Mother’s condition really tied us down. The best part of January was we had a big snow storm and had our 5 year old granddaughter with us and had the best time playing with her in the snow. If he was still working, he would have had to deal with mail delivery in the snow and getting parking lots shoveled, all kinds of not so fun stuff.
February, March, April was a blur of trips to and from my Mothers daily to give her pills, feed her, check on her, etc. Poor Tom never understood before he retired how I could put sooooo many miles on a car weekly when my Mom only lived 4 miles from us. Now he does.
May: Momma more confused, we are spending more time with her daily. I don’t think she even would understand to go to kitchen to find food if she were hungry. Thought we had it bad but things were going to get worse. May 31st- we came in and found her on the floor where she had spent night (with Life Alert button hanging around her neck). She had made the best of it by pulling couch cushions off to use as a pillow. Called ambulance and got her to hospital but they couldn’t really find an answer for why she fell. I felt bad because I left her finishing her meal on May 30th and didn’t get her ready for bed. I had that nagging feeling to check on her but didn’t, I feel so guilty. We left her for a bit to go home to get things for night and she fell again while trying to close window shades(a vital part of her evening ritual). Tom’s comment to her when we realized she was ok was “what part of staying in the chair didn’t you understand?’. She was a bit bull-headed.
June: We now will be with Momma all day. Realized that she should have had someone with her for months now. On June 1 she was also accepted under Harmony Care Hospice. June 3rd, hospice delivered a hospital bed which really made things easier. This was one of the hardest months I had (and probably Tom too), trying to adjust to my new life staying with my Mom. I was not a cheerful caregiver. June 24th: sent to hospital by her doctor, from the results of her blood test. He said something about it maybe not be her time yet that she just needed a tune up. This was difficult. She pretty much lost her mind, was tied down in bed, so confused and just wanted to go home and see her Dingo. Tom promised her she wouldn’t die in the hospital. On June 27th she got to go home. The doctors had said there was nothing left to do and it was just a matter of time.
July: Started off not so good but finished strong. The month began with my Mom in really bad condition and not expected to make it much longer. But by the second week, she got back up and with the help of her “scooter” (walker) she was up and off. Funny I had just told her hairdresser of many years that she would probably not be able to go back and then on Saturday called and asked did she give her appointment away because she wanted her hair done. My Momma was of the generation that got their hair done weekly. The month ended with my husband and I in Charlotte, NC to celebrate our 37th anniversary. We swapped places with our daughter, she let us use their condo in downtown Charlotte and we let her take care of her Granny. We definitely got the best part of that deal.
August, September, October: frustration, boredom, her medical condition was staying pretty much the same. We could leave her to go for a walk in the morning and evening. The uncertainty of what the next day or next month would bring was hard to deal with. On the positive side, we could leave her for an hour or so to go for a walk. We got up to 4 miles at a time and it made all the difference in our mental health. Just nice to get out for a bit and finishing the walk on the river was always peaceful.
November highpoint came when our daughter, Jenna married her Matt on 11/11/11 in Charleston, SC. On the Momma front, her confusion is getting worse. The added people on Thanksgiving was too much for Momma. She had bad days thinking people were trying to hurt her and that the house was going to be destroyed. Hurt to see your Mother so afraid and not be able to reassure her. Made plans for a low key Christmas. Medically she was not responding to her medication like she had in the past.
December was difficult because her condition was going downhill. Her weight up, blood pressure down, more difficulty in getting up, appetite down (that was one thing she had going for her, a very good appetite). A blessing for us in that she did not lose her ability to move on her own until the middle of December. Only totally confined to bed for the last 3 days of her life. December 23, 2011 – she left us to spend Christmas with her family in Heaven.
The good parts of 2011 was realizing what a great family I have. Everyone was willing to help when they could. My husband was right there besides me – luckily we both did not have a bad day the same day (one of us would go a bit crazy and the other would be ok).
The one big thing that helped was Harmony Care Hospice. Our dream team of Jenny, her nurse and Janet, her CNA were the biggest help. Jenny kept her as healthy and comfortable as long as she could and Janet gave us a few blessed hours of freedom and help daily.