Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Fear of the Known...
On Friday, I took mom to the doctor because she hasn't been feeling well. She has a cold, the one everyone else has been getting. The doctor asked some questions about how her body in general was feeling. I was proud of her because she admitted her carotid has been hurting her every once in a while. I also told the doc that I noticed her walk is off; she’s doing more shuffling and dragging of her feet than stepping. So he put in a referral to get an MRI of her brain and an ultra sound of her carotid artery. (In July of 1999, Mom had a very minor stroke in her carotid artery. She had no lasting side effects.)
Now it’s Wednesday and we haven’t heard a thing about scheduling these tests. Yesterday Mom asked me if we had them scheduled yet. I told her no and she said “Okay, then forget them. I don’t want to have them anymore.”
Then this morning she told me to “forget about them” again. I asked her why she doesn’t want them done. She tearfully told me, “cuz’ I don’t want to know what’s wrong anymore.”
She’s 68 years old and she doesn’t want to know. I can understand her fear and her desire to not have the answers. But I want to know. Is it mini-strokes? Or is her brain atrophied to the point she now has Alzheimer’s? That’s a whole new ballgame. I need to know so I can take care of her to the best of my ability. I want to help her.
Later on in the day mom mentioned the tests again. I told her I hadn’t heard anything yet (I did call the doctor’s office and ask for an update, but no call back as of tonight). With tears running down her cheeks she said, “I don’t want to know what’s wrong. I just have to make it through Dad’s birthday and Christmas. Then I want to go home and I can be done.”
I didn't know what to say. There was a huge lump in my throat, just like there is now as I type. Today is Dad’s birthday. She made it through today.
I long for my fighter mom. The one who fought for the rights of the handicapped students she worked with, the one who held me and helped me heal after being abused by a boyfriend, the one who told me I’m stronger than I think when I was getting divorced, the one who wouldn't let go of Tony when he was in a coma in 2003 when the doctors all said he’d never pull through. She was stronger then. She was a fighter. Now…. Now she’s scared. She doesn't know why she can’t finish a sentence. She can’t figure out what she was looking for or why. She can’t follow a simple television show. She can’t remember how to knit anymore. She wants to be done with it all. And no matter what I do or say, I can’t take the fear from her. She knows what is going to happen to her, she saw it with her own eyes when she nursed her mom through the final years of Alzheimer's. Her fear is real and known. I know what’s coming because we talked about her journey with her grandma. Also, I remember my grandmother lying in the hospital bed in the living room of her home; she was so frail and tiny. I remember her not speaking, not making any sound. That’s mom’s future. I know mom knows what’s coming next and there’s nothing I can do to make it not be that way.
I’m having a difficult time with the conversations about “being done” and “going home.” I don’t know how to answer her, or comfort her without crying myself. I try not to cry in front of her because it confuses her when I do. It’s like she can’t handle the emotions of anyone but herself, they overwhelm her. It breaks my heart to hear her say she wants to be done with it and that she’s tired of being “this” way. She still can’t say dementia most of the time. I do my very best to support her and have talked with her about her final wishes. I know what she does and doesn't want at her memorial and how and where she wants to be buried. I don’t want to be the one planning another funeral. I did it for Tony in June 2007, he died in August 2007 and that was more than I ever wanted or needed to know about making funeral arrangements. I don’t want to do it again. Yet the logical side of me knows that I can’t have what I want. I will be the one taking care of her funeral and my dad’s. That’s a lot of weight on one gal’s shoulders.
I know I will handle all of it with grace and strength when the time does come because my parents raised me well. But I also know on the inside I will be a lost little girl just wanting my momma and daddy to take the pain away. I will find comfort in knowing that Tony will escort her home to Heaven when she does leave this earth. I just don’t want it to happen yet….