Adjusting Hope When The Options Are Bleak

hopeWhen the doctor confirmed mom’s hip was broken, she gave me two options. No surgery, or surgery, but we would have to remove the Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order in place. Mom has been using a walker while assisted and in a wheelchair for months. She wasn’t interested in working to walk again so the surgery would be for pain management. My guideposts for mom’s care have been how does she feel and how does she look. She should feel as comfortable as possible and maintain as much of her personal style as her health allows.

Of course surgery seemed like the right course, but would they return mom with broken ribs as well after surgery because her heart stopped? As I sit in the E.R. waiting room, I review the hundreds of times my mom said “If I’m like my mother … don’t have my wits about me … am in a wheelchair … put a pillow over my head and take me out.” Yeah, she said this to me in varied forms for more than 20 years. I am glad my mom made sure I knew what she wanted. I’ve been trying to balance her wishes with the real choices we face. We put in the DNR as recommended by her community after she moved into assisted living with dad and was well into a moderate stage of her dementia.

Two years ago we faced many of these decisions for dad who had cancer and was in a moderate stage of Alzheimer’s. Thank you to Kathy S. for reminding me what a gift of love my dad offered by going first. I am so much better prepared to help my mom, but it doesn’t make the choices any easier.

We followed the recommendation for surgery, but learn after a day of tests that mom has both a lung and heart issue that would have to be treated most likely without success before we could again consider surgery. The medical, ortho, and geriatric doctor all recommend against surgery now. The significance of that to mom’s comfort is devastating.

We have moved my mom back to her community and she is in hospice care once again. Through this she has been frightened and tense. My mom never closed her eyes for more than a short blink through 4 courses of morphine the first day. She was so tense, movement was more painful than it should have been.

Now back in her community, we realize she may have had another stroke during the process. One side of her face is drooping and she is unable to really communicate with us now. I am blessed with a personal care assistant who has been with her for nearly a year that knows her well.

For now, I have to adjust my hope to keeping mom pain-free, and that she will join dad after a short visit with her children who all want the best for our mom. Hoped.

The “critical incident” decisions are always difficult

I’m back in the emergency room with mom. She had a fall and they expect to find a broken hip. As I await the X-ray results, I’m worried about the coming choice I will face.

I’ve been here before with dad. He was in good health but a little forgetful before he fell on the racquetball court. He returned physically but his cognitive issues were undeniable after surgery.

Mom at least recognizes me most days. The waiting has me imagining the worst. Last year pain medication landed mom in hospice. How will she fare with the morphine? What if she needs surgery? It’s these moments and choices we all fear. Dreaded.

When will I stop believing what my demented Mom tells me?

carlyhostMy sister came to visit to help chase down my Mom’s medical issues giving me a break and allowing me to focus on my daughter’s foot surgery. The true sandwich generation dilemma — both Mom and daughter need medical attention and care right now.

My daughter is only 11, but had chronic foot pain due to an extra (accessory) bone that outlasted all the non-surgical options we pursued. She stopped dancing and gutted out soccer as the goalie to help her team who lost two players due to broken bones. Surgery was a few days ago. Thankfully, it went well and I just finished spending the last two days as foot-maid (pun fully intended).

My sister just returned home yesterday and my Mom just called telling me her “cupboard is bare.” Not only does logic tell me she still has plenty of crackers and chips, she is in a community that serves every meal and that also has a “store” where she can pick up bread and peanut butter and jelly if she really is out of supplies.

However, I immediately feel guilty and assume my Mom is reporting facts. I can’t stop the urge to believe my Mom. I’m not sure if I ever want to lose that ability because it will mean I know my Mom is lost to me for good. Reflected.