The latest report from mom is that grandma is still in the hospital getting IV antibiotics for presumed pneumonia so the plan will be for me to stay at grandma’s apartment to either be the family member hanging out at the hospital or to take care of her at home and give mom a break. I have to remember NOT to be the annoying psycho family member while I am at the hospital. When you are an RN, and a family member or friend is in the hospital you tend to be overly protective. The report from mom is that the nursing care has been alright, she has somehow missed the doctor and the social worker and the physiotherapist have been rather patronizing. This may not be an accurate perception but one laced with the stress and anxiety. In my job as a night supervisor, I often consult with social workers on the phone. Frankly, I do their job for them when social issues arise at night including when a patient passes. I do not have a favorable view of the behavior medicine staff at my institution. They tend to either be patronizing toward me, dismissive, or they more or less tell me they can’t do anything which in their defense is often true. My only crisis/intervention training has been my gut instinct.
This won’t be a “fun” visit, my poor grandmother will be fatigued and she is oh so fail though relatively mentally intact. It might be the last time I spend with her when she is not in a nursing home or gone to the big calico couch in the sky and I find myself already engaging in anticipatory grieving. There are possible unpleasant encounters with an aunt and uncle and some disappointed friends I may not see. I am hoping to squeeze in a visit to a local butterfly conservatory that I adore and take a few pictures with my less than fantastic “back up” camera since the other one went to mother Nikon to be repaired. I am aware I may return stressed out and sad. My dogs and cats who provide me with love and distraction won’t be there to make me smile. My poor mother is trying to remain on an even keel even as she fights sadness.
I am running around trying to do laundry and figured out what to take. I will probably be up late but I can sleep on the plane. I hope I am not in a middle seat stuck between tall people. Yesterday I had a dream after reading a book about Julia Child, that she was a customs agent who wouldn’t let me back into the US because I forgot my passport. My luggage always gets randomly searched and customs on both sides of the border are generally surly.
I can’t help but ask what will happen when my mother declines. I live a plane ride away and I am an only child. I have attempted to raise this issue with mom multiple times. She claims she will know when it is time to give up her house and 65 acres but i know differently. She won’t. I know my family. We are independent, we don’t take advice from one another well. Denial is a mode of communication. I made an effort to get my mother to downsize to a small house or condo and she said would end up killing herself. When I expressed a fear that she would have an accident while outside and die unable to get help, cell phones don’t work out there and she lives alone, she said she thought was was a good way to go. I don’t actually disagree. But it isn’t nice.
Most of my friends and family members think the place is too big for her and she can’t manage the property without help, and they are right, she can’t. But she is a free agent she earned this right to live and ultimately die as she choses with years of work and sacrifice. I can’t patronize her even if I want to. What I think is best directly contrasts with her idea of what her life should be. She decides. I don’t. Adults have the freedom to be foolish to make the wrong decisions. In our hyper consumerist life that will likely crumble dramatically in my lifetime we have the illusion of choice without actual choice. How we live our lives, safely, recklessly, stupidly, wisely, with joy, with anger, is one of the few freedoms we have left.
So here I am ruminating, doing laundry, staying up late till who knows when even though my flight is in the morning, trying to make sense of circles I was not ultimately intended to truly understand.