much like the remainder of the last monday, there is very little that i remember from tuesday. most of it is from the evening. from right before everyone left and my mother and i were going to bed.
after everything, all the doctors and all the nurses, my mother knew there was only one way to get home. she had to stabilize and, most importantly, she had to reduce her oxygen dependence. still she was insistent. she was feverish with her desire to get home. she kicked my aunt and i out to talk to my uncle.
when he got out of her room, he said little, but he said that she wanted to know why she wasn’t getting physical therapy. she needed physical therapy to get out. she wanted it. she asked him for help.
after he left and i was left for the night, she asked the nurse about the physical therapy as well. she said little other than that she would look into it.
when the respiratory therapist arrived, she asked to be stepped down off her intense oxygen. she wanted to go home. she was desperate to go home. she convinced the therapist to reduce her concentration, by 2%, but it was the start. the start of her path to go home.
it was after that, that i was i was sitting by my mother, holding her hand. she was propped up on her side, awake and alert as ever. just wanting to chat. we were speaking of general things, when she said to me, “tell me about yourself.”
i was shocked. we have never really been close. a function of many things, but a reality.
regardless, here was my mother wanting to know about me. all the things i did not tell her because it was just too hard, for a variety of reasons, she wanted to know. i always wondered what i would say, if i just told my mother about me. where would i start? in most cases it is impossible to start in the middle of the story. it leaves so much context out. but maybe it would still be effective?
so i thought.
i could not come up with much. i met brian. we were married. we were happy. life was going to move forward. all the rest seemed like details, but i could tell she wanted more.
so i thought.
and realized that even though i didn’t know what i was going to say, that it was going to be a lot or take awhile to say all those things [because of all those years of only providing part of the story]. so i asked her for a minute to change into my pjs so i could be more comfortable [it was 11pm after all] and went into the bathroom.
i changed. i also took a shot of vodka. how/why did i have such a thing in my overnight bag you ask? well, reality at this point had been pretty intense and i thought i just might need it. to take the edge off. to sleep. any reason that might arise. but at this point, i needed it as a little lubrication to allow the words to flow, the ones i had never shared with my mother. whatever they were going to be.
and i came out to tell her everything she ever wanted to know. or didn’t.
only, the nurse had come while i was in the bathroom to administer pain medicine. so while i sat down, primed to tell my mother whatever she wanted to hear, she was starting to fade. i desperately asked her what she meant by her question, what she wanted to know. she just said she wanted to know more about me. she also said that she wasn’t ready to go yet. she wasn’t done. she said she wished she could come live with me for a couple months. i told her that i wanted that too.
god, how i wanted that [and never thought that would be the case]. in november she was supposed to visit for thanksgiving. she was supposed to stay at my new house. my first house. a purchase that scared her, but i am sure also made her proud. a place like she wanted [as written in the journal i found while visiting her earlier in the year]. but her health had been failing her and in the beginning of november she was diagnosed with lung cancer that metastasized to her bones and lymph nodes. in fact, just before thanksgiving things were so dire, that it was uncertain she would live, so i flew to mi to be with her. she got better, but she did not make it to my house. from there we were waiting for her to be done with treatment and for things to settle a little so she could come.
they finally had, but only in the past few weeks. now instead of planning trips, here we sat in a hospital room with my mother passing before my eyes.
we spoke of a few other things, but she was fading in and out. the pain medicines working the way through her system. i tried to re-engage the conversation, tell me about yourself, but as i spoke she fell in and out of sleep. so i said, “let’s try again in the morning. why don’t you get your sleep.” she laughed because she realized she was in-and-out. as i laid out the pull-out chair and was headed to sleep, i opened my eyes for a minute to find her propped up on her arm looking at me. i asked her if everything was okay, and she said it was. strangely, she was smiling. i was tired so i laid back and so did she and we went to sleep.
she woke a few hours later in intense pain. i called the nurse and she brought more pain medicine. i stayed up with her until it took hold [not long] and we went back to sleep.
not that long later [a couple hours, which was much shorter than all previous doses], she woke again in pain and scared. as i did all other times, i asked her, “are you in pain? do you want some pain medicine?” she replied, “i’m in pain.” nothing else, but then… ”the dilauded is going to kill me.” she was panicked. i could tell she was clearly in pain [it was like all other times]. i knew that she was not thinking clearly. i called for the nurse. i asked for dilauded [pain meds].
i also asked for ativan [an anti-anxiety drug].
i know this seems a simple request, but it wasn’t. this was a big deal. my mother had insisted on no anxiety drugs. insisted. so much that the nurse asked if i was sure, stating again my mother’s request.
all i could do though, was see her. see her pain. see hear fear. i just wanted her to relax. so i insisted. i thought, one dose will not hurt. she will feel better. she will calm down. she is intense circumstances, this will take the edge off.
so both doses were administered. dilauded and ativan. my mother relaxed. she fell asleep.
and much later so did i.