Tag Archive | Blessings

Two Steps Forward, One Step Backwards

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My 5 year old daughter and my Mom.

As I sit here at 5am, in a cold hospital room on an uncomfortable plastic-coated chair that pulls out into something that resembles a sleeping surface, I am watching my mom sleep and get a temporary respite from her bilateral pneumonia. About an hour ago, we were both asleep, until she had a coughing fit that she couldn’t get to stop. It seemed that she laid her mechanical squeaky monster of a bed down too flat and her lungs didn’t approve. The coughing caused chest pain, which caused shallow breaths, which caused quick deep breaths, which led to more coughing. “The coughing is a good thing as a result of the breathing treatments” the nurses say, but I’m sure Mom disagrees right now. Or she would if she was awake.

Anyway, the coughing was efficiently timed, so to speak, as laboratory came in the door to draw blood for yet another test. The plhebotamist was pleased that she didn’t have to wake up a patient at 4am to do what needed to be done. Before she was done, an LVN came in to take vitals: blood pressure-good, oxygen levels-acceptable, body temperature-normal. Someone from respiratory came in to give Mom her nightly breathing treatment. Moms night nurse also came in to bring her some tylenol for the chest pain and body aches. The last person to show up was the X-ray tech to get a chest X-ray. It was convenient, albeit tasking on Moms body.

This is day two of her adventures in the hospital. An adventure, I might add, that she never wanted to take. But she had a cold, then an upper respiratory infection, and seemingly overnight, pneumonia in both lungs. It’s a difficult spot to be in when you can’t breathe, and also for those of us wishing we could take the pain away. All we can do is watch, and help with menial tasks to make things easier while the nurses do the serious stuff. It’s particularly difficult when day one of your hospital stay was made with great strides in improving your health. The attending physician said that she could possibly go home on the 3rd day, but with this setback, I’m going to wager that it will be at least another day. Her oxygen levels have bounced around, because when they try to take her off of it she isn’t staying saturated enough on her own… meaning her lungs haven’t healed enough yet.

By the way, if you’re a nurse or LVN, you deserve so much recognition. You are a precious comoddity in this world. You have to be caring, and dedicated, knowledgable and efficient, as well as stern and disconnected. You have to know how to be compassionate and personable, while still maintaining professional capabilities and not letting emotions get in the way. You are appreciated, even if your patients don’t show it.

After everyone completed their tasks and left the room, Mom decided she needed to use the restroom. I helped her up, held her tubing and walked her the four feet to the bathroom and back to her bed when she was done. This simple task winded her, and took every last ounce of energy that she had. As she sat on the edge of the bed, gathering up reserved energy to lay down and get situated, her eyes closed. I moved forward and put her head on my chest, wrapped my arms around her, and rubbed her back. I wanted so badly to share with her my strength and my health so she could heal but the only thing I could offer was love. At that very moment I felt so weak. Love can heal many things, but pneumonia is mostly immune.

I waited for Mom to pull away from me, but she didn’t. My heart wanted to crawl into bed with her and hold her while she slept like she did to me when I was ill as a child. My brain told me to lay her down so she can sleep. I decided to go with my brain, because I knew Moms body was weak and needed to rest. When I pulled her head away from me, she had tears in her eyes. My heart cried with her… she was trying so hard to be so strong, to get better, and she felt like she was failing. All I could do was get her comfortable and covered up in blankets, and then gently rub her face and hair while she fell back asleep.

I looked down at this sleeping woman, this wonderful creation that created me, and I couldn’t help but realize how fleeting and short life can be. I thought of loved ones that are already passed – my Grandmother especially – and received a deeper knowledge of how my Mom felt when she looked at her Mom. I’ve always appreciated my family, and I try not to ever take them for granted.

But there’s something unnerving about watching someone sleep with tubes in their nose and an IV in their arm. It’s a cold slap of reality in an almost too warm embrace from Death himself. You realize so many things in that instant, and it either makes or breaks a person. This is why many people who go into a hospital for longer than an overnight usually have a different outlook on things when they come out. They realize that there was a chance they weren’t going to make it. Again, kudos to the nursing staff, because this is your everyday.

All in all, Mom slept for an hour from about 4:45am to 5:45am, then had to use the potty again. I unhooked her leg compression cuffs, got her IV and oxygen tubing together, unplugged the charging cable for her IV, and helped her to the bathroom. Then did it all in reverse when she was done. It wasn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last. By the time I finished writing this at 6am, she was already fast asleep and snoring gently. (Don’t tell her she’s snoring, she will deny it.) She can snore all she wants to. It’s been a helluva night, and she needs all the rest she can get. Maybe the breakfast dude will be delayed and not come bouncing in here at 7am.

Edit: The respiratory tech came in at 6:15am to do another breathing treatment. Thankfully, this was non-invasive, and Mom woke up just enough to put the band around her head. Maybe I can ger another hour of sleep before my kids get here. We’ll see.

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Please Love Your Family….

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So yesterday was Samurai’s birthday, and not too long ago was HotRod’s birthday. They are 16 days apart, give or take a few years. 🙂  Anyway, both of them wanted to go to the lake today to celebrate. Sure, why not? Samurai’s mom went with us, as well as Hopefully Ariel. The lake we like to go to is around 45 minutes from town, but it’s smaller, a bit nicer and not crowded. At most there’s maybe 4 families enjoying the lake at any given time. Plus, it’s got a low grade angle in the water, so you can go out quite a ways before you get in too deep. This allows for more “playing room” for the kids to splash around.

Anyway, we had been there a couple of hours, and hunger starts to set in, so Samurai’s and his mom get out to make sandwiches. This is typically something I do, but I was busy trying to get Diva to acclimate to her Body Glove full body floaty suit… she has decided that she is NOT comfortable when she can’t reach the bottom, NOR does she like water in her face, NOR does she want to wear the suit, BUT she WILL be in the water up to at least her armpits. I figured the least hated option was to fuss with her wearing the suit. She had a death grip on me for a while, and cried and whined, but over time she learned to trust herself and things got better. HotRod can swim, and Bird has just learned the basics, but both of them know to stay in the shallows. Diva thinks she can go wherever-she-pleases, Thank-You-Very-Much…. Thus the need to wear the suit.

Well, I’m standing in water up to MY armpits, so I can hold Diva floating at eye level. (This keeps my arms from tiring, lol.) About 6 feet closer to shore from me was HotRod in an orange floating chair, and about 5 feet from him was Bird with his goggles on the top of his head. (WHY he was wearing goggles in a muddy lake, I’ll never know.) Hopefully Ariel was about 10 feet away in deeper water. Bird slips on a muddy spot and goes under. This surprises him, and he reaches out to grab something, but water is notoriously fluid…and he goes under a second time. By this time, HotRod had thrown off his orange floaty, Ariel swims over, and they both get to Bird, help him up, he’s coughing and sputtering. When we all realize that he will be fine, HotRod goes to look for his floating chair and saw the wind is pushing it out to the middle of the lake. Ariel and Samurai take off swimming after it, but a gust of wind was toying with them and kept it just out of their reach. They decide to let it go and start swimming back. Ariel gets winded and flips to her back to float for a minute to catch her breath. Samural is swimming back, and his leg cramps up. He starts screaming, thrashing about to stay afloat, and the only thing I can do is to holler at him to come closer… I was in armpit-deep water holding Diva-in-her-suit… HotRod grabs another float and trudges out for me to toss it to him, but the mud/clay/rock bottom makes your feet sink and stick. Ariel is floating, kicking her feet, and making it back in slowly, but surely. Samurai starts to panic just a bit, because when you can’t feel your leg, and you’re trying to swim, it’s not a good thing. Just in time, HotRod gets to me, and I pass the float to Samurai, who is finally able to calm down. I pull him in close to me, and Diva lays her hand on his cheek and starts rubbing his beard. I check on Ariel, and she has made it to shore and was walking back, but she looked very winded and tired. Samurai had aspirated some water though, and wasn’t doing so well. We get him to shore, get him to cough, and get him to sit in a chair. Ariel is there sitting in a chair as well. Please don’t call me a “hero”, I simply was the closest person and did what any other non-swimmer could have done.

Samurai’s mom decides to finish lunch for everyone, and after the kids eat and swim for 10 more minutes, we decide to pack up to leave. Samurai and Ariel were not doing so well. To be honest, Samurai’s mom and I were not doing so well either. The stress and fears were so very scary and so hard to process, even now, after it’s all over with. To just stand there, not being able to do anything…. watching Ariel float, knowing she is tired, and knowing that if she decided she couldn’t kick anymore, she could drown… and watching Samurai yelling for help…thrashing in the water because his muscle cramped up and he couldn’t swim properly…. and before that even, with Bird just out of reach, dunking under the water…. Damn, I felt so helpless. In a matter of minutes, I was presented with the very real reality of loosing three people that I simply just refuse to let go. And yet, before it got worse, all was saved. Ariel floated long enough to get her strength and breath to get out, and Samurai got a float to lean on while I pulled him to more shallow waters. Samurai’s Mom had already pulled HotRod and Bird out of the lake.

Those that know me know I’m not a Bible-thumping Christian. I believe the Bible has lots of good advice in there, and I believe that there is a God who loves us. I’m more of a spiritual person, and I believe that your own walk with God is exactly that…your own. My own chosen path is Taoism. But in the face of a potential crisis like what we went through makes me more thankful for what’s in my life. Not that I didn’t appreciate it before, and definitely not that the people in my life didn’t know I appreciated it either. We are a thankful and loving bunch who strive to not take each other for granted, and we teach manners and respect at the center of it all. I’m going to be so bold as to say that we try very hard to live our lives so we do not NEED a “wake-up call” like this. Nevertheless, as it is with any fallible human, we will experience them from time to time.

It doesn’t matter what your chosen faith is, where you go to church, what kind of car you drive, if you live in the Hamptons or the suburbs, or below the national poverty level. IT DOESN’T MATTER. It simply doesn’t matter what you have in your life to make it better or worse. What matters is WHO is in your life. Your family. Your kids. Your parents. Your siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, best friends, geez the list goes on and on. THEY are your life’s blessings. THEY are what make life worth living. THEY are the reason you do what you do day in and day out. If you don’t have someone like this, keep looking… Don’t give up! If you do have someone, cherish them. Don’t let a day go by that they wonder if you care. If you have someone that treats you badly, hurts you or others, or just isn’t right for you, GET RID OF THEM. Fill your life with love and as much happiness as you can. I know you’ll probably argue “well I can’t because…” and it’s your life. I’m not the one living it. All I know is that after almost loosing my son, my husband, and a sister, I’m thankful that my blessings are still here for me to love.

Please…. If you forget to do everything else this weekend, hug, kiss, call, write, text, email, or whatever to all of your blessings and let them know you’re thinking of them. It doesn’t have to be mushy, just a simple statement that lets them know you care.

Please, just love your family, whoever you call family. It doesn’t matter. Just love them.

Love You Big As Sky…..