Tuesday, July 03, 2007


“Are you done with your card?”

I heard her speak, but since I didn’t have a card for that grocery store, fuzzily decided she wasn’t speaking to me and ignored her. I watched the groceries move across the belt, feeling grateful that Mom finally requested some food, and jumped when the girl touched my shoulder.

“Ma’am? Are you done with your card?”

“I don’t…” I turned, frowning and confused, to shake my head at her. She motioned the cart I’d used to gather my groceries and asked for the third time if I was finished.

“Oh.” I said, nodding as my brain struggled to process that I misunderstood the word, that she was going to move my cart for me, but only if I wanted her to do so. “Yes. I am. Thank you.”

She gave me a bit of a look, but smiled politely and pushed my cart to sit with its friends in the foyer of the local shop. My clerk finished and stopped to consider me for a moment.

“I’m a bit out of it.” I confessed as I carefully counted out four dollar bills to go with the $20 Dad gave me. “My mom is sick and I was up with her last night and I don’t do well being sleep deprived.”

“Oh,” she offered sympathetically, “well, a lot of people in here are out of it.”

“OK.” I said, thanked her, gathered my bags and plodded out of the store. I drove, feeling grateful I was familiar with the roads I took to go to high school, as I wove my way down a hill, blinking sleepily between yawns. I noticed as I waited for traffic to cease so I could turn right that it was about 12 hours since my last errand. 5:00 – AM or PM = time for Katie to go get stuff.

I took walkie talkie duty last night, taking the tiny device down the hall with me after I kissed Mom on the head at 10:30. She roused me at midnight, pressing the tiny page button that beep-bloops loudly and summons help. I wandered down, helping her with bathroom issues, then sitting with her, rubbing her back and trying to soothe. We got more pain pills in her, I offered her food that she refused, and waited until 2 to shuffle back down the hall.

It is a curse to take time to fall asleep and I felt that I’d just closed my eyes when I heard the noise again. It was just after 4 and Mom was terribly sick. We tried more pain pills since it was time to do so, and she almost immediately threw up. I was still cleaning up when she wretched again and began to cry. Dad got up with his usual litany of advice and began to list things she’d done wrong. Mom snapped at him. He snapped back. She was sick again and I called her surgeon’s office, telling the answering service we needed someone to call.

He did and we spent the day dealing with bowel issues (sorry – it’s worse for me than to handle than it is for you to hear) and continued nausea. A trip to Walgreens at dawn this morning was for medicine and more ice packs. I coped until the lovely nurse called for the fourth time to check in around 2. I was sitting on the edge of the tub while Mom continued to feel sick in the bathroom.

“I know you want this to just resolve, but it isn’t. We need help. Prescribe something – anything – please. Give me something to settle the sickness for her. We need help.”

The nurse said she’d talk to the doctor again, then called to tell me that she’d called in a prescription. I sent Dad after it and told Mom – as gently as possible – that if the new medicine didn’t work and she couldn’t start to eat, we’d have to go back to the hospital and discover what was going wrong. She nodded, and remained in silent thought while I sat down. Moments later, she requested a scrambled egg. She made it through half of it and drank some milk before Dad got back.

The Compazine worked, Praise God, and she was able to have some meat, potatoes and green beans for dinner. She looks better and continues to fall asleep in the newfound peace of not being so ill. We’re finally back on schedule with pain medication – she couldn’t keep anything down most of the day – and I’m relieved.

And exhausted. One night of little sleep and I’m almost useless. I’ve done dishes four times today – for someone who couldn’t eat, she really did keep trying and dirtied small dishes that we continuously offered her. I squashed squabbles, played and read to Little One while Brother was over, cleaned up bodily fluids (and tried successfully to keep my own squeamishness at bay), replaced ice packs, helped Mom move around and basically stumbled around, trying to be useful.

I haven’t even glanced at work, though reading blogs in spare moments is a nice connection to normalcy for me. I’m not sure when I’ll get home – perhaps next weekend. This might not be great news for dear Friend who was forced to chase an escaped Chienne around the neighborhood when my pup decided she’d rather have a white dog for a companion than her favorite Friend. (I apparently keep the collar “so freaking loose.” True. So sorry, Friend. Please continue to care for my dog and cat.)

Today sucked, basically. But it’s ending far better than it began and I hope we’re going to start getting stronger and more stable as time goes on and sickness stays away. The pastor from my parents’ church sent a card that was with the stack that came today. It read, “May God bless you with new strength and steady footing as you recover.” As I spent many parts of today praying with various degrees of intensity – reciting the Lord’s Prayer with Mom at some of her most ill moments – I found that lovely.

And I continue to appreciate your thoughts and prayers. Really – thank you.


flossie said...

Hope your mom continues to feel better, Katie.

Anonymous said...

take care, katie. i'm sorry this is so hard...

The Contessa said...

I know this is tougher on you than you are saying. It's hard to watch a parent, especially one who has the quiet strength of a mother, to become so ill and weak.

Compazine is a good choice, I was just startng to think about that when you wrote it. A good friend of mine had to be on it twice in her life to help deal with nausea and it was really helpful.

I have you all in my prayers and I am sending hugs, light and love your way.

post-doc said...

Thanks. We seem to have started an upward swing.

It is hard, but I can do it. I keep being mildly surprised at how tired I get, but we're hanging in there.

It's hard, yes, and I'm tremendously grateful that the Compazine helped. It was surprisingly difficult to convince them to give me some, but the begging finally worked. :) She's resting comfortably and when I woke her for more pain meds, she was just mildly sick rather than actually throwing up.

Thanks again for the wishes - it really does help to read all of you and think about someone outside this house sometimes.

StyleyGeek said...

I'm sorry things have been so bad. I'm glad the medication is starting to help, though.

I also wanted to say that even though I haven't commented lately, you've been in my thoughts and prayers. Your posts have been a bit close to home lately--I wish I could be there for my mum like you are for yours--and I haven't commented because of that, but it doesn't mean I don't feel for you.

EA said...

Sending supportive thoughts...

life_of_a_fool said...

this sounds awful. I hope your mom continues to feel better.

post-doc said...

Thank you. I've been thinking about your mom too. It's hard to be away from my normal life, hard to be here, hard to imagine not being here to help. I don't like the feeling at all and I'm sorry you share parts of it.

I need them - thank you. You've been wonderful and supportive and I'm grateful.

Life of a fool-
Yes, it's not fun. But we're hanging in and I share your hope that she continues to improve. Thanks.

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