Monday, June 04, 2007

Worried, Sick

Where do I start? My mom had emergency abdominal surgery last week. She'd had belly pains that came up rather suddenly and, after spending some time on the couch with all sorts of heartburn and indigestion medications (as I discovered when I went to clean up the house while she was in the hospital), finally asked my dad to take her to the emergency room. There she had a range of inconclusive tests and was admitted to the oncology wing, where no one seemed to know anything. Of course, I was getting this information from about 93 miles away; my siblings were actually there and I'm sure the frustration was about a hundred times worse than it was for me (and it was making me sick with worry and dread, so multiply that by 100).

Eventually a doctor decided my mom probably had appendicitis, and plans were made for surgery. After a couple of hours, the doctor emerged and informed my family that Mom's appendix was, in fact, fine, but her fallopian tube had somehow become wrapped around her small intestine and started to kill it. In case you're wondering, yes, this can be fatal if not corrected in time.

Insert the requisite hospital visits and caretaking and worrying about one's mom looking so vulnerable and frail and...pained. This is not a merry phase of life we're entering now, this time of learning to care for one's slowly aging parents, this peeling away of yet another layer of the onion before we kids are the outermost layer. Vote no on mortality.

Anyway, after several days in the hospital, Mom was released and sent home to recover further, and I spent some time over the most recent weekend taking care of both of my parents. Dad was exhausted after being at the hospital every day to reassure Mom, and stressed out by the thought of his upcoming surgery to have a pacemaker installed on June 11. The two of them were alternately loving and argumentative, and I had to leave the house at least once because their bickering flare-ups reminded me too much of the bad parts of my childhood. Mostly, though, I hung around and tried to be useful. When Mom was up several times during the night, I got up and helped her into chairs or searched for medications that had been misplaced during the bathroom renovation that had begun prior to Mom's surgery. Between my hypervigilance and my Mom's constant igniting of the gas fireplace (she was cold and I was sweating) and the too-narrow couch, I slept only a couple of hours on Friday night. As a result, I fell asleep in my car in the parking lot of Wal-Mart the next morning, and returned to my folks' house to find broken glass all over the kitchen. Another mishap to fix and manage. My son has told me he wants me to "never get old," and I want to promise that more than ever.


At the moment, I have no voice. Granted, my voice was already a little compromised at the beginning of the day, due to a very slight cold, but now I can only whisper and croak. I told my son that I hope my voice is all better tomorrow and that I don't sound terrible, like I do today. His reply: "I like your voice no matter how it sounds, Mom." Now, where can I find an adult male with that kind of acceptance? ;^)

Today I helped chaperone a trip to SeaWorld for my son's kindergarten class, hence the current lack of voice. I often forget that other kids don't work the same way that my son does. Of course, the kiddo has been with me since day one, so he knows all my rules and most of my limitations and manages to pretty much stay within those parameters. It's more of a challenge for me to handle a small group of very excited boys in an aquatic amusement park, however.

I should have known the day would be tougher than usual when I was watching the kids as they sat on the classroom rug before our departure, listening to the teacher read them a story to keep them from asking when the bus would arrive. Another mom stood nearby, and I joked that I was on "potty patrol," as I herded last-minute pottiers toward the facilities and kept them from walking in on other kids in the middle of doing their business. (I'd gladly taken on the task after my son shyly emerged from the bathroom, having been startled by a knock on the door and, it turned out, not having actually peed.) One particularly rambunctious boy was unable to sit still on the rug, and the other mom, knowing I volunteered every week, asked me if he'd "gotten better" throughout the school year. "Well," I said, "he's always been..."

"Busy?" she finished. I laughed. "Yeah, that's a good word for it," I said. Turns out the busy boy was in daycare with the other mom's son a few years ago. "He's in my group today," I told her. She wished me luck.

My group consisted of Busy Boy, the kiddo and one very sweet, mellow boy whose speech is very mushy, partly due to missing teeth, language issues, and shyness. As we made our way to the bus, the kiddo's teacher remarked, "Don't hate me for giving you Busy Boy." I told her I was equipped.

The trip started out with "Good job!" and "Is everyone making good choices?" and wound up with "Busy Boy, I'm counting to three!" and "No, I do not have a penny to throw in the pool. I don't have a quarter, either. It is not polite to open a lady's purse. No, we are not buying popcorn. Busy Boy, come back here!" So much for good intentions! Nevertheless, I managed to return to the bus on time with all three kids alive and intact, and really, they had a good time despite my cranky croaking. ;^)


Today my sister said Mom tried to drive her car yesterday and was steering erratically and unable to otherwise maneuver. (My brother followed her.) Finally she gave up, parked the car in the driveway with the keys in the ignition, and my brother hid the keys. She also turned on a burner without noticing there was a plastic cup on it, and a small fire started. She was only able to watch it and my dad put it out. Sis says we need to check on all of Mom's medications, as there's some possibility that she's not on the right doses, or having trouble keeping track of everything. Dad is supposed to have a pacemaker installed on Monday, and may postpone that until Mom is better.

I'd hoped Mom would be doing much better each day, but the latest incidents seem like a setback. I'm feeling very worried, and I want my parents healthy. I'm also frustrated at living too far from them at this time. More to come.