December 10, 2011

Congestive heart failure
Senior diabetes
Vascular insufficiency
Pelvic fracture
Kidney failure
The list goes on and on….

Today is my second full day here at Monroe Village. The nurses have been here to change mom’s robe, clean her and redress the sores on her legs. She screams at the top of her lungs when they have to move her, shift her position. I stand near her and talk to her trying to distract her. I talk about the old days, older relatives, her mother and her aunts, and her cousins that she grew up with. I recite their names, repeating stories that I remember hearing. She listens, hopefully she is remembering. Finally the nurses are done. I continue talking with mom till she once again is calm.

But sometimes, she starts to get very worked up and anxious without seeming to have any reason for it. She starts crying out, shouting. She moans out “Maaaaaa” over and over again. I ask her if she is calling for her own mother. Sometimes she almost nods yes. Sometimes she keeps repeating “I have to get out of this car” I ask her “what car are you in or where is the car going”. She looks at me a bit and can’t give me an answer. Sometimes she simply repeats what I am saying like some sort of mantra. Her distress is palpable, her fear, her anxiety – to be someplace else, to get away is so strong yet she can’t do anything about it. She is trapped in a shell of a body no longer under her control. I listen to her as I stand next to her bed, holding her hand and I see a lost soul trapped on a sinking ship, desperately looking for a way to escape off the ship. Trapped and afraid, she screams for help as the ship gradually lists over on its side and slowly, slowly, slowly slides under the surface.

5 Responses to “Listing”

  • joanie Says:

    So touching. I am almost to tears. I can vividly see you sitting next to your mom. I had no idea she had gotten so ill and that you were in the US. Sometimes, we forget to keep in touch with our closest friends. But I’m in touch now. Please keep writing. I am sure it helps. I’ll be listening.

  • Alison Sheehan Says:

    Hilarie, I don’t comment much but I have been reading your blog all along. My thoughts are with you at this very difficult time for you. When my mother died in 1989 (complications from a car accident) I never had the chance to be with her at the end because it was sudden and unexpected. Her doctors expected her to make a complete recovery. I am at least comforted that my sister was with her every day at the hospital.

  • Maria Says:

    Kära Hilarie,
    Du gör rätt och du är stark.
    Med värme,

  • Joel Says:

    Dear Hilarie,
    Keep up your strength, and keep telling those stories to your mom. As I read through your two recent blogs, each line reminds me of going through this experience a number of times myself with parents and a dieing younger brother. Life is often not so kind to us, but we have the free will and capability to soften the blows and give special comform in the most painful circumstances. I am firmly convinced that your mom can hear you and is really pleased that you are there despite her own outward physical distress and mental anxiety.
    And what a wonderful “way to go” instead of just hearing about the technicalities of medical treatment from the professional staff around her. I would definitely want to have a child, dear relative, or close friend by my side and be able to listen to lovely stories and great experiences from my life, as well as my relatives’ and friends’ lives. Each of our lives is a fantastic story of biblical magnitude. We start with almost nothing; we struggle through maybe a great depression, world wars, and major career choices; we experience a great love, having children, and taking farewell of our own parents. In between we build houses, summer cottages, and other building blocks of our lives. Unfortunately life has an unnamed final experation date. As some of us come nearer to that time, the body starts to “shut down” (a term used by my older brother the doctor), and there is some physical pain and anxiety to be sure. However, the analogy of being trapped in a sinking ship is really only what you visualize directly in a sick-room. I would hope that your mom feels more like she is resting on a blanket in a beautiful meadow on a Sunday outing in the New Jersey countryside. As the sun starts to set it is getting darker, and the day will soon end, but slowly. In the meantime, she has her daughter Hilarie who has travelled half way around the globe just to sit beside her on the blanket and retell all the wonderful events of a long famiy story. When she finally does slip away, it will surely be with a good, warm feeling that the family story continues with you and Håkan and Bevan.
    My thoughts are with you.

  • Nancy Henningsen Says:

    Hilarie..myheart goes out to you and your mom. I can feel her pain and of course yours. What a gift you are giving her to be near her. Can they give her anything for her pain? Is hospice involved? The sinking ship…tossing on the waves of life, how painful they are at the end. She know you are with her Hilarie. I so wish I could pop up and hold your hand. And your moms. I will try to call you Wed nt or you can call me at home.

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