Sunday, June 25, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/24/17: Up and At It, Mom's Distressed Day, Christy Prepares a Perfect Dinner

1. I slept in this morning until 7 a.m. Once I did some writing, I started in on housework around Mom's place: laundry, sweep and mop the kitchen floor, water the houseplants, and start to load up cans of old paint and other painting products for disposal soon.  I was about to vacuum when Christy texted me that Mom was up in her wheelchair. Christy had to get to work and asked me to come over sit with Mom while she was up.

2.  Just as I arrived, a nurse checked Mom's vitals and they were strong. I've spent countless days with Mom over the last few years when her blood pressure was abysmal, but today it was nearly perfect, about 123/80. Mom's oxygen levels were good. At this very basic level of health, Mom's numbers are good.

But, she is but a shadow of the Mary Idell West Woolum I've known all these years. She's losing weight. Her speech is more and more labored. She has lost all interest in going outside to look at flowers and enjoy some fresh air. In fact, she adamantly communicates her disapproval of this idea when I ask her either by nearly crying or by assertively shaking her head. It's the same with leaving her room to go eat in the dining room. I was with Mom for about six and a half hours today and we never had one sustained conversation.

Mom utters single sentences like, "You know, if I went back on the bed, I'd fall asleep right away" or "When are we going?" "Are you ready to go yet?". She slept a lot today both sitting in her wheelchair and lying on her bed, but, to me, she wasn't experiencing that restorative sleep that "knits up the ravell'd sleeve of care". Her head often swung back and forth. She groaned at times. For the first time, she called out Dad's name, "Pert! Pert!" and then she'd call him by his real name, "Ray! Ray!" She called for Christy, too.

Dad is the only other person I've spent extended time with who slept like this. Like Dad during the month of May in 1996, Mom, to me, is distressed and, at times, agitated.

At one point, while she was sitting up, her physical therapist came in and had Mom lift her legs and kick against her hands and push back with her feet and knees against the PT's hands. The PT sang songs like "The Ants Go Marching" to give Mom a rhythm to move her feet to. The PT said Mom's legs and feet were the strongest they'd been all week. She also recommended that we take Mom's walker on four wheels back home, that it presented a potential danger to Mom because of her problems with balance.

Maybe the most difficult thing that happened was when Christy returned to see Mom after her shift at the library and some shopping at WalMart.  I had gone over to Mom's to take a short nap and to do more housework.

This gets confusing to recount, but I'll do my best.

Christy encouraged Mom to sit up, to get back in her wheelchair. Mom did.  Mom thought it was time for a shower. Christy found out that Mom couldn't have a shower on Saturday afternoon because the staff who do showers were not at work. Mom continued to insist that she be wheeled to the shower room. Then, she began to talk as if she had taken a shower.  It went something like this:

Mom: When are we going?

Bill: We are staying here.

Mom: I'm going to take a shower.

Bill: No one is here to give you a shower. You get to stay here and visit with your children.

Mom: I don't want to be naked in front of my children and visit.

I suddenly realized that Mom had gone from wanting a shower to thinking she'd had one and that she was naked in her chair -- and wet.

I assured her that she was dressed and dry and before long she accepted this.

In a few minutes, exhausted her short obsession centered on showering, she lay on her bed again and I sat with Mom until it was time to go to dinner at Christy's around 6:30.

Her distress took another form at some point. Mom was groaning and muttering things I couldn't always understand and then saying Dad's name.

I took her hand.

She pulled it back, quickly and with great force. Her eyes opened wide and fiery:

"We don't do that!"

Earlier, Mom also growled like an angry bear at me in a moment isolated from what came before or after.

Then her mouth turned up into a half-smile. She chuckled as if to say, "Gotcha, didn't I?"

"Yes, Mom," I said to myself, "you got me."

3.  Everett's daughter, Linda, gave Everett a generous slab of salmon for Father's Day and Christy prepared it with a very tasty Mediterranean rub and grilled the salmon on cedar planks and served it with a Mediterranean cucumber salad and watermelon wedges.  Christy, Everett, Paul, Zoe, and I ate together in Christy and Everett's backyard. It was a perfect dinner. It gave us a chance to debrief about our different experiences with Mom recently and some time to relax with delicious food and wine. I had thought about heading uptown after dinner, but I was bushed and stayed home and went to bed early.

No comments: