It’s a part of life, I’ve always been told. People get old. We all will die. As one of my college professors often said, “It’s not a question of if, but only when.” Back in college, it didn’t really sink in. Yesterday, that all changed in an instant.
My mom’s health has been declining for several years now. About two years ago, she started experiencing almost unbearable abdominal pain. We soon found out the cause. Intestinal inflammation caused by a bowel leakage or abscess and gangrene had set in.
A surgical procedure, including the removal of a portion of her small intestine, saved her. But with it, brought on a whole new set of problems. Since then, she has never been able to stray too far from a bathroom.
Next, her vision really started to fail, leaving her in a constant state of darkness, regardless of how many light sources we provided for her.
During her intestinal battles, there were moments that I thought we were losing her. Fortunately, we didn’t. However, I began to try and put things into perspective and also prepare myself for when the dreaded day would come. Over the past year or so, I thought I was doing a good job of that.
Over the past couple of months, she has been hospitalized a number of times, her kidneys have slowly stopped functioning correctly, she has been placed on dialysis, and had to spend a little time in a nursing facility to regain her strength. She never really regained her strength. I noticed a sudden shift in my emotions when one day, I learned of some neglect she experienced at the hands of the nursing staff. Needless to say, in my old age, I will probably never be offered a room in that particular facility. Yes, I raised the roof.
About a week ago, she was sent home. It soon became clear that she was not in any real shape to be at home. Even together, my father and I could not provide her with everything she needed. During a dialysis session, another trip to the hospital was ordered.
Now, back to the part where I had been trying to put things in perspective and thought I was doing a pretty good job? I sure thought so, even after the latest hospital admittance.
Yesterday, on my way to work, I received a call letting me know that my mom will no longer be doing dialysis. It simply isn’t working for her. In other words, the options window is closing rapidly. I’m afraid our time is coming to a close as well. This was further confirmed by a referral and an appointment with hospice.
As much as I thought I had prepared for hearing that type of news, nothing in the world had prepared me for the feelings that rushed over me both during and after the call.
I should be prepared, shouldn’t I? I am supposed to be prepared, right? I am not.
Mom goes home tomorrow, under the watchful eye of hospice. Tonight, I can only think of time, precious time.
There will never be enough time.