June 27th I was sitting in the hospital with my dad who had been admitted days before, while my sister was taking my mom to the emergency room as she was not feeling right. What we assumed would be a quick trip turned into a wild & scary ride! Hold onto your seats.
I will never forget entering her room in the critical care unit for the first time and seeing her hooked up to all these wires and monitors with a tube down her throat. I don’t do hospital’s well to begin with so seeing my mom like this was rough. I observed from a few feet away at first, I had been told she could likely hear us and know we were there and I wanted to get myself together so I didn’t reveal to her how I was feeling inside at that moment. It took me a bit to compose myself, I approached the bed, rubbed her hand and said, “Hi Mama”. That was all I could do before my throat started to constrict and tears came. In another 10 minutes, I tried again, “Hey Mama, it’s me Denise, I’m here” and I was done again. A few more deep breaths and I made another approach, “Hey Mama, it’s Denise, you’re in the hospital and they’re taking really good care of you, all of your family has been here, Dad’s feeling better and we all sure love you.” That was all I could do before my voice starting to give me away again. I worked my way up to scooting a chair by her bedside, holding her hand and singing some of her favorites to her. Cherished time with my mom.
The roller coaster ride continued day-to-day, hopes were dashed as the Doctor talked with my sis-n-love and I about the seriousness of mom’s condition and prognosis. We cried, we prayed, others prayed and we continued to take turns sitting by mom’s side telling her how loved she was. Mom would start to get a little restless as sedation would wear off and I was so concerned that she would become uncomfortable or frightened. So, I was getting the nurse when mom opened her pretty blues and made direct eye contact with me. I gave myself a split second pep talk so I’d appear calm, looked her in the eyes and said “I love you mama” and she mouthed back “I love you”. It was the best I love you ever!
Getting my mom off the ventilator was not a smooth process, paddles were used on her chest 3x the day her tube was taken out to get her heart beating in rhythm. How thrilling it was to walk into her hospital room after she was taken off the vent and see her alert and able to talk with us, even if her voice did have a new gravelly sound to it thanks to the whole ordeal. Sadly, our celebration quickly turned to concern as she was not sustaining acceptable oxygen levels on her own. Emotional rollercoaster.
The ride takes another twist later that day when the doctor talks with mom about the seriousness of her condition and that if she is not able to sustain proper oxygen levels on her own very soon, they may have to put her back on the ventilator. If she goes back on the ventilator, there is less than 10% chance she’ll ever come off of it. Tough news to process.
Doc came back on evening rounds and all 3 of us kiddos were there with mom so we could ask questions and have a beyond difficult conversation. The doctor was wonderful, informative, compassionate but it was hard, it stunk and none of us liked what we were being forced to deal with. After the doc left the 3 of us stood around mom’s hospital bed and we asked mom about her life, if she was content and happy, if she had any questions for us, we reminded her how much we loved her and want her to stay with us and we made some tough decisions together, we tried to be strong and supportive but a few tears escaped anyway. After all the talk, mom asks the 3 of us, “are you guys ok?” There was a brief pause and then my brother took the lead with the honest answer and said, “No we’re not ok, this stinks, but we are ok with having you as our mom.” Sweetness in the midst of pain.
The crazy ride continued, she was eventually released from critical care to another floor and just when we thought she was about to move into a nursing facility to gain some more strength, she was back in critical care with pneumonia. Mom has been home now for almost three weeks and I’d say we’re still in the midst of a new adventure. Thankful though for the opportunity.
My brother said in the hospital when things started looking up, “I think we got some bonus time with mom”. I know many people wish they could have some bonus time with their loved one, so this blessing of more time together is something we want to cherish deeply, even when it’s hard and the ride feels a bit bumpy.
I reflect on the wild ride we’ve been on the past several weeks because today is my beautiful mom’s 65th birthday! Only a month ago, as I was driving home from the hospital, I was literally crying out to God and begging Him to make a way that she could stay here with us longer. Thankful that God answered that prayer and the prayers of family near and far, the prayers of church family and friends from all over. So today, we’ve taken the day off work to celebrate a wonderful woman, whom we are blessed to call “mom” and soak up some of our “bonus time” with her.
Mom, on your birthday and every day, I want you to know and be confident in this, you are deeply LOVED and love NEVER fails!!!