Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Healing Comfort of Home

We become more attached to our routine and appreciative of the comfort of our own home as the years pass.  I enjoy travel and having some newness in my life, but there is never anything better than coming home.  The familiarity of everything soothes me - from the view out the windows to my comfortable bed to having my "stuff" around me.  I've been away now for almost a month, and I truly miss our home, our friends, and our routine.

Two weeks ago, Mom had her open heart surgery and valve replacement.  Just yesterday she escaped the hospital, and all its noise, interruptions, and sterility of atmosphere.  She has one more stop before home, staying for about a week in a skilled care facility.  Here we hope Mom will eat better and get the physical therapy and rest she needs to regain her strength.  But I'm convinced the most rapid progress of her healing will take place in her own home.

At our family home, affectionately referred to as "1070" (part of the address), Mom will be able to recapture the comfort and serenity I know she craves.  She can make breakfast in her own little kitchen, do the daily puzzles in the Manchester Union Leader, and enjoy watching Fall wind down outside her bedroom window.  Once again, Mom will enjoy the privacy of her own bathroom and the relief of sleeping in the bed she shared with my father for so many years.  Meals will be served on her schedule, and be comprised of her favorite items.  With all this, and her favorite people and things around her, she will heal and thrive.
So, 1070, get ready to welcome Mom home.  She needs you.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Labor of Love

There's cleaning and then there's deep cleaning.  Deep cleaning is the serious sort of intensive work you do when you are putting a house on the market, preparing for a visit-from your in-laws, or when you have some type of OCD-driven itch that must be scratched.

I'm not the greatest housekeeper, but when it's time to do a deep cleaning I am fortunate to have a good partner in Ron.  We put on our work clothes (which should be disposable if things really get ugly), roll up our sleeves, crank up some country music, and get to it.

It's hard work to scoot along the floor on your butt to wash the baseboards, crawl across the bathroom floor with a toothbrush and bleach water to scrub the grout, unload cabinets to wipe them out, climb up and down ladders reaching with a sponge to clean walls, and push a mop along the floors.  We're doing this now to freshen Mom's house while she is in the hospital.  It's important for an open heart surgery patient to be in as germ-free an environment as possible.  We won't get them all, but we are definitely running some of them out of town.  Dust balls live in fear of us.

Our friends are Mr Clean, wet Swiffers, Murphy's Oil Soap, Windex, Dawn, and packages of sponges and rubber gloves.  Hand lotion and Advil is going fast.  Who needs sleep aids after a day of this?

The reward is the obvious improvement you can see after the work is done.  Everything is brighter and smells fresh.  And Mom will be more comfortable in her home.  It's all worth the effort.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I Want My Mommy!

How does one prepare for possible life-changing surgery?  It's the eve of Mom's open heart surgery and, although she seems pretty calm, I'm feeling very unsettled.  This afternoon, Mom showed me where she keeps important papers, " the event of my demise."  Ack!  But she also assured me, "I'm not throwing in the towel yet."

We bought Mom a cell phone (her first), so she knows she can contact us at any time.  Just a bit ago we sat down for a lesson, and reviewed the cheat sheet I wrote up with basic instructions.

Clearly, my mother is in a place where she is prepared to take things as they come.  She has trust in her medical professionals, and in her own will to carry on.  "No one has more interest in my recovery than I", she reminded me this morning.

It will be a long day at the hospital tomorrow, beginning with our check-in at 5:00am.  The surgery itself is scheduled for 8:45, and will take several hours.  Althea and I will be there waiting for news.  We've already been warned that, at first, there will be multiple tubes and monitors attached, and that Mom will be sedated and restrained to insure she stays hooked up.  I am already dreading seeing her like that.  We expect the first few days to be...difficult, exhausting, and stressful.

When you go through something like this with a parent, it's impossible not to obsess a little about how your own old age might unfold.  What body parts or functions will fail first?  How will we respond?  Do we have the will to carry on through disabilities?  OK, now I'll be staring at the ceiling tonight when I go to bed.

I know; it's the Circle of Life - but I still want my Mommy!  Please say a prayer or two for us tonight and tomorrow.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Staying in the Saddle

It's very difficult for us sometimes to let go of "control" of our lives. We want to be able to plan, to make decisions, and drive our existence in the direction we have predetermined.  With a destination in mind, we can be frustrated by the rerouting made necessary by detours - temporary or permanent.

The fact is that control isn't always ours to exercise.  Other energies, good or bad, can snatch the reins from our hands and take us on a wild ride.  It takes courage to simply hang on and try to enjoy the scenery.

Mom is on her own wild ride now.  Her continued health is in the hands of nurses, doctors, and surgeons.  Her life is in the hands of a greater power.  The plan changes from day to day, and the ins and outs of medical mysteries are confusing and disconcerting.  Some would fight this situation with anger.

I'm heartened by the grace with which Mom is riding out this chaos. Certainly she is frustrated with the on and off schedule for her hospitalization and surgery, but in the bigger scheme of things Mom is willing to let go, put herself in others hands, and allow events to unfold.  She is at peace with whatever may come from this journey, and even encouraged me yesterday not to worry.

Sometimes there is peace in letting go and trusting in powers you can't control.  It's a lesson we all should learn.

Stay in the saddle, Mom.