Wednesday, November 18, 2009

As Regards Mom

I figured I'd say some things that are more than 140 characters long about what's going on with my mother. As you have already brilliantly deduced based upon my crafty reference to "140 characters" right then, I've been making updates regarding her status via my Twitter accounts (here (approval needed) or here (public access)), which auto-updates my status on Facebook. It's easier for me than having to actually talk about it. I know that seems weird, or maybe crass or something, but it is really helpful for me to not have to repeat what's going on with my mom over and over and over again every time I talk to someone. It is especially hard for me when I get asked what's wrong with her, or what happened.

It's hard to try to explain. Fact is, we're not really sure.

To sum up, my mom is still in the hospital - it's been about six weeks, now. There has been no Dr. Houseish million-mile stare moment, where a diagnosis clicked and we were then informed about what's wrong with her. She just... got sick. First with some not-the-flu virus thing, and then she got pneumonia, and then she just got sicker and sicker, and they don't really know what or why or how, just that she's sick. Diagnoses have come out of that, like ARDS, but those aren't the root cause. She was intubated and on a ventilator for nearly three weeks, she's had collapsed lungs, two tracheotomies, multiple chest tubes, a lot of other tests and tubes and scans, she almost died a lot, and she is all the way across the country from me, in Oregon.

I feel like I'm failing at daughter-hood, somehow. I feel like I'm failing me-hood somehow, because my "job" in this family is pretty much to show up and be the hard-ass caretaker voice of reason, and I'm not doing it. I know that there's nothing to do, here, but... still. My stepdad, Jeff, sends me updates every day, sometimes multiple times a day, via txt. I don't always respond, because there's only so many ways I can say "wow" or "omg" or "but do they think it's getting worse?" or "thanks for letting me know". Also, it's just hard. What do you even say to your parent when he tells you your other parent is pulling out her feeding tube repeatedly? And then when I don't respond: Fail, again.

It's important to point out that these aren't anyone's standards but mine that I'm failing. Nobody is telling me I suck for not doing more, nobody is complaining that I'm not doing what I should. Nobody, except my outta-whack internal monologue.

The fact of the matter, though, is that my two youngest siblings aren't able to do a whole lot to help, and they're local. My next youngest sibling is in Canada. Mostly, Jeff is on his own with this. He's taking care of their household and dogs, he's taking care of some teenage girl with cancer who moved into their house and their lives, he's taking care of my mom's mother in at least some capacity (thankfully, she's in an assisted living community), he's spending pretty much every possible moment at the hospital with my mother, and somehow, some way, he's having to take care of himself, too.

It's all I can do not to explode with worry, or mortar up some good old-fashioned emotional walls, or... something. I don't know. But I'm fighting this nasty internal battle about what I should do that I'm not doing, and then why I can't do those things, and hey, when was the last time the floor got vacuumed, anyway? Because I can't drop everything and run to Oregon, and it wouldn't do any good if I did. I can't make this go faster, I can't make her better, I can't fix any of this, and fixing is what I do.

Sometimes I worry that she's going to get better and be her old self again, and she's going to check Facebook one day and be "apocalyptically cross" that we've been talking about what's going on with her. And then I worry that I won't have to worry about that at all. Fancy tricks these brains play, no?

The good news is, it looks like she's finally turning the corner and on her way to getting better. She's having periods of consciousness, and the doctors have installed some valve-majiggy to her trach tube which allows her to speak. So far she's asked how long she's been in the hospital (she thought two months), and this morning she insisted that my stepdad... call the police. Baby steps? I guess.

So, thanks, you guys. Thanks for taking my 140 character piecemeal bits of information and telling me that you're keeping my mom in your thoughts. Thanks for checking in, thanks for showing me that you care, and thanks for still being there as this goes on and on, and on.