I was surprised to look back and find that

I wrote this nearly 2 months ago.  So much has happened in that time.  As I struggle to deal with things, I also struggle with preserving her privacy…  her dignity.  More posts will come, when the boat is more steady.

I ride the waves, up and down.  Up, up, and down, down down……  Breathe through your mouth, they say — in through the nose, out through the mouth.  It sends some ancient signal to your brain that you are OK, not to worry, you are not in danger.  It will help, they say.

I face the waves daily, but they run in the background every second, awake or asleep.  There is no moment of true calm, and nothing I can do about it but wait.

The first time I heard “kidney problems” was when the folks were still in Arizona, last year.  “We’ll see a doctor when we get home to Michigan,” she said.  It took a long time for her to recover from that car trip – yes, at 96 she still goes by car, across country, twice a year. They are the worse two weeks of my life as I wait out each trip to hear that they are all right.  They arrived safely.  I can relax.

I thought they were following through on seeing a kidney specialist, but they don’t live near us even in Michigan and all I can do is trust that some of the many doctor appointments address her need.  I ask, but the answers are vague.  They are anything but forthcoming about their situation.

Shortly after arriving out west this fall, she landed in the hospital.  Severe dehydration, and now it’s changed from kidney problems to kidney failure.  They’re talking dialysis, and she’s refusing it.  And here was are today.

One day she’ll sound like she feels good, she’ll follow a conversation, draw on memories while we talk, make her usual clever comments.  Other days, she mumbles, long pauses come between exchanges and I wonder if she’s fallen asleep or lost the phone connection.  She might start out saying she’d been to the doctor, but not remember why.  She couldn’t get her new prescription because the pharmacy closes early on Sunday.  But today, I realize, is Friday.

Some days she can’t remember what she’s had for dinner — we’re both foodies, and often talk about meals and recipes.  It’s also a good register of how she’s doing that day.  Concern, of course, with her non-descript answers like “leftovers”.  It sounds like she’s answering the question, but it really gives no information; she can’t remember.

I wonder sometimes if I’ve just called too late in her day.  She’s tired, doesn’t feel well, or she’s used up for the day.  I also wonder if she’s slipping into dehydration again – or worse.  One day will be the final pitch and swell of those waters, and I’ll beat myself up for all the things I wish I could have done for her.

But I’m home in Michigan, on my own little boat and I can’t step off.  I ride the waves up and down as they come.  I don’t want my mom to die.  But even more, I don’t want her to suffer or be afraid…… or alone.

This is not my only storm.  While one may be calm, another won’t be, and my little boat is tossed about from every direction.  It’s a time of big waters and a small boat just trying to avoid the rocks.  God help me, I am seasick.


(c) 2019, J. Cools



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