Thursday, July 28, 2011

one red shoe, one blue shoe

Mom had a birthday this week. She is now 88 years old. It is 10 days post injury.

On Monday I received a call from the hospital that they were looking to transfer early as the next day! As life would have it, this is the one week that my husband has needed to me to work full time in his office. So here I was, trying to work at the office and at the same time figure out how to research facilities, visit them, get referrals...and still visit Mom, help her eat, etc. [of course, my son was also "home alone", but we won't go there] Stress has morphed into its own life form; taken on a whole new dimension! I've had to learn to trust God and rely on people more than ever. God has been nothing but faithful and trustworthy, and I'm ashamed that trusting him is even still an issue. I think it is so much a part of our nature (at least mine!) to try to control things, feel the pressure to work everything out and "fix it" (whatever "it" is). But I've been determined to not give in to that and instead strive to trust God. In fact, my new mantra is:

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him and I will be helped." Psalm 28.7 [the next verse says "my heart leaps for joy"...haven't quite gotten there yet, but I'm confidant that I will!)

So what is the result of this, you ask? My church (actually, it's God's church, but I consider it mine!) is amazing. Each day someone has gone to the hospital to be with Mom! Since Mom isn't recognizing me these days, I'm quite replaceable, in a good way. And each day a friend who does catering has brought the most delicious meals to the office for us so that Doug can take dinner home for him and TJ and I can eat something delicious and nutritious before I run off to see Mom! My sister and brother have manned their phones to get the information for insurance, medicare and facilities. No way could I have handled this by myself! I never made it to rehab/nursing centers to personally check them out, as any diligent, concerned person would have. I've only talked to people on the phone...and prayed. But it dawned on me that as unconventional a method as mine was, I did not actually have to see this place merely had to be great! So yesterday Mom was transferred from the hospital to a rehab/skilled nursing facility - a facility I never actually stepped foot in until I visited Mom last night(how scary is that??). And it turns out the facility is great - really.

The facility is great; mom is not. She's confused, tired, afraid, and not eating much. We've done everything humanly possible to avoid her being in this type of situation, but here we are anyway. There are times I've asked myself did we doo too much? Did we not do enough? I am prepared for her to get better (of course!), and I feel I am prepared for her to pass. I'm not prepared to watch her slowly disintegrate ... which is what this feels like. My heart hurts. And life is just stressful right now. This morning I woke up with a headache...a new experience for me. I bumbled around getting myself together and was ready to head out the door, or so I thought. Good thing I happened to look down at my feet. I have two pairs of shoes of the same style, just different colors. They are really cute, with little buckles on them, which is why I bought a red pair and a blue pair. Today I almost walked out of the house wearing one blue shoe and one red one, definitely diminishing the cuteness factor! While I could easily fix the shoes, I really can't fix much else right now. But the one red shoe, one blue just seems apropros now.

Friday, July 22, 2011

give us today our daily bread

It is very hard to watch Mom and see her in this condition. Here is a woman who has lived a long, wonderful life (she has us for family - need I say more??); who wrestled with God and was baptized at the age of 85; who for the past almost 3 years has felt so much joy knowing she is loved deeply by God, her family, and her brothers and sisters in Christ. She may not have been able to remember your name, but she would sing along to most every song in church!

I am tired. I am tired from not getting enough sleep. I am tired from making decisions - far too many decisions, in too short of a time, of a far too serious nature. I'm having to decide which tests to authorize for Mom - having to ask what is specifically involved, what treatment would the test lead to, and try to figure out what is best for her. I've had to decide what treatment to authorize - and which to decline, feeling the weight of each decision and its possible consequences. And while I am not alone in this, at times I've started to feel overwhelmed - and very tired. My sweet husband made the mistake last night of asking me where I'd like to have dinner - normally a very welcomed question because it implies that dinner would be cooked and eaten somewhere other than in my own kitchen. But not this time, as it became just one more decision I felt I had to make, but couldn't. Sweet husband quickly realized this (tears have a way of communicating things mere words don't) and picked a great restaurant. The fact that it was one of the only restaurants still open near the hospital was irrelevant - really!

So in my ongoing efforts to keep learning from this, I found myself reading Matthew 6 this morning, and thinking about Jesus' prayer...the part where he tells us to pray "Give us today our daily bread..." I've seen (and felt) God's help on a day by day (sometimes moment by moment). When I can stay focused on the immediate need - not letting my mind think too far ahead over possibilities that may not even come to pass - I'm good...or at least better. I see more clearly that God's commands really aren't burdensome, but are actually freeing to me. There is enough going on now; I don't need add more myself. If you see my doing this, please stop me! So I'm fighting hard to not let my mind, and my imagination, run amok. At least that is how it can feel.

I am writing this post from Atlanta...far from the ICU waiting room of yesterday's post. I flew up here because I needed to retrieve my car that I so graciously left in the driveway of friends (doesn't everyone want to take a 2003 Camry for a joyride?!) so that I can then pick up "the juvies" (see previous post) from camp tomorrow. I sit here amazed at all that's transpired in one week's time. When I walked off the plane into the Atlanta airport this morning, I actually had one of those "where I am?" moments. Maybe the fact that I had to get up at 4 am to make this flight had something to do with it. Maybe this being the fifth airport I've been in within the past month is a factor. Maybe its the culmination of the week's events. Who knows. But this day in Atlanta has been a welcome reprieve. Time spent with dear friends has refreshed my soul. My brother had kindly offered to drive to Atlanta, get my car and drive the juvies to Miami for me. It was a great plan, until we learned the airline ticket for him to fly back to Tallahassee would be over $600! (Extortion I tell you!) I've seen ticket prices for flights to Paris for that amount!. So we saved the money, and this day in Atlanta has been a refreshing respite for me. And the next time I find an extra $600 dollars for travel purposes, I have some ideas about what to do with it...if I can just make one more decision. "Let's see...I could fly to Tallahassee, Florida...or I could fly to Paris, France....Tallahassee....or Paris...Tallahassee...or Paris...." Hmmmm.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

cue music: "When the night has come and the land is dark...

...No I won't be afraid, Just as long as you Stand By Me"

I haven't posted in quite awhile and was even thinking "The Accidental Caregiver" had run its course. Mom has been doing well in her new home (at least as well as can be expected); life has developed a sense of normalcy for me (assuming you consider life with a teenage son as normal). But I am now reminded of why I gave my blog this title: my role as caretaker has been unplanned and unexpected. And so it continues...

Mom fell during the night earlier this week and fractured her neck. How do you anticipate something like this? Fractured hip - yes. Stroke or heart attack - all in the realm of my considered possibilities. Fractured neck? I must admit I've been caught off guard. In fact, I was caught in Atlanta. I had just driven my son and his friend (who may affectionately be referred to in this post as "the juvies")to camp, and suddenly found myself on a plan heading back to Miami.

In the course of 3 days, I've agonized along with my brother and sister as we try to determine what medical treatment (if any) to authorize for Mom; watched her endure being in traction; make it through surgery (which went great); and begin the "recovery" process. Now there have been complications. Serious ones. And I find myself writing this in the Medical ICU waiting room.

But while all of this may be "accidental" to me, it is not to God, and I am amazed at how God continues to show the wonders of his love (Psalm 17), if we will only have eyes and hearts that are willing to see. What have I seen:

God is with me. I have felt God's presence, comfort and strength through all of this. God is amazing.

God's people are with me. Friends have prayed, called, sent messages and visited. Friends from all over the world; from all stages of my life. How could you not feel encouraged and loved when you know people stand by you...whether they are here in Miami, throughout the US, or in South Africa?? Yesterday afternoon Mom took a turn while I was by her bedside holding her hand. The Rapid Response Team quickly filled the room and I found myself out in the hallway. My daughter texted me (from South Africa) and asked if anyone was with me. I looked around and thought, technically no, my family and friends were not there at that moment, but no, I'm not alone. I have never once felt alone. Amazing.

My family is amazing. My sweet husband with his medical background interprets all the information and asks pertinent questions. He makes me look smart (so long as I don't actually say anything, the drs think I know what's going on). My brother and sister have been supportive and helpful throughout Mom's illness, and especially now. My brother even offered to pick up "the juvies" from camp and bring them home - or keep them. (Maybe I'll have him keep them...for the rest of the summer).

Life is good. The doctors, nurses and support staff here have not only been extremely competent, but have shown us nothing but kindness and compassion. Mom's doctor even put us on the "most favored patient list". Why? Who knows! But it means I get to go to the special room for the special people - where there is a free computer, free coffee, and free snacks! And did I mention the snacks? They had fruit, granola bars, and guava pastries. So far I've tried the guava pastries. Yum. Tomorrow I will ask about a gym...I will need it if they keep serving guava pastries