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Yesterday, I could not seem to get going. It was like I was in some kind of time warp, where everything was in slow motion, and most of all, my body. I felt like all the strength had been drained from me, and I needed some kind of tonic that would bring back my energy, that has been depleted for so long now.

I talked with my mom, and didn’t think she sounded well, though her speech was more lucid, as it had been yesterday, when my husband, Rob, visited her. I asked her if I could bring anything, and she asked for corn dogs from the Krystal. It’s hard to go there anymore, because it was always our place to get a little snack, after a doctor’s appointment or a strenuous afternoon. We would park the car, and savor every bite, often laughing and enjoying each other. (There are precious memories in that parking lot.)

So I ordered several corn dogs, in case she was hungry, and ate one myself on the way to the nursing home. As I carried two large diet drinks and the corn dogs into her room, I saw that she was crying. She was having those terrible muscle spasms, like she had for 6 hours in the ER, that even morphine could not relieve.

I practically threw the food and drinks down on her bedside table, and ran to comfort her. She said that she didn’t think she could take much more pain. One of the CNAs came in, and we told her the problem, but she disappeared, and never came back. My mom reached for my hand, and squeezed it tightly, with a look of pure fear in her eyes. I have had a cold for the past week, all through her surgery, and following, and though I have had to be present, I have tried to protect her by not getting too close, or kissing her. This time I knew that she needed me to hold her hand, so I did. Later, I applied hand sanitizer to both of us, trying to be so careful. When the CNA never returned, I went to find help on my own.

I was pretty much ignored at the desk, as they were looking for some paperwork for another patient, which seemed to be missing. Finally as I headed back down the hall, a nurse from the other end of the hallway called out to me, and asked if I needed help. I told her the problem, and she pointed me to a new nurse, that was my mom’s night nurse. She was chatting away with the CNAs, and I said that when she was finished, I needed to talk with her. When the CNA who had been in the room earlier, heard me say my mother’s name, that seemed to trigger her memory, and she told the nurse (finally) that my mom was in pain.

When the nurse came into the room, I told her that these were really strong muscle spasms, that had not even been relieved by morphine in the ER. I told her about the problems that Betty had with the Valium being injected into her Morphine line. (She nearly OD’ed.) I also told her that a sleeping pill that they had given her at the nursing home had caused terrible hallucinations. I questioned what we could do to get my mom’s Oxycontin dose back to where it had been, before they cut it in half. I explained that she had been on it for many years, and that at least we trusted it, knowing how it affected her. She has never abused it, and in fact, it is safer than many of the arthritis drugs she has been on.

The nurse told us that she had been given the half dose of Oxycontin, about 15 minutes before I came in, and that it would probably take a little longer to have an effect. She would check back. In just a few minutes, the pain subsided, and my mom was calm.  I was so thankful, as I don’t think she could have withstood much more pain at that level.  (She wanted me to tell her roommate that she hardly ever cried.) Bless her heart, I told her to cry whenever she needed to, as it would help to some degree. She then ate one corn dog, and so did I. I also helped her with the huge drink that I had brought with me, and she loved that. Her mouth had been so dry, and they often would forget and push her bedside table too far away for her to reach it, when they were working on something nearby.

She seemed to calm down a lot, and her face looked so much better. I helped her brush her teeth, put on some lotion and Chap-stick, combed her hair, and kept offering her more to drink. She said she loved me, and that I had “saved her life.” (It is a helpless feeling when you have to stand by and watch someone you love suffer.) I was so glad that I had come in when I did, and that she felt better. I told her to keep being vocal about her pain when it was that bad, and that we would continue to try and fight for her original dose of Oxycontin. The nurse said she would leave a request for the nursing home doctor.

I had stopped by my mom’s house earlier to pick up her mail, and sort through her bills, and a sadness seemed to envelop me. I could smell her perfume on her clothes when I walked into the bedroom, and the house seemed so wrong without her in it. I noticed that things were going stale on her cupboard shelves, and figured there were probably plenty of “science projects” now brewing in the fridge as well. I made a mental note to return one day soon to deal with the food problems. I began to cry a little. It just seemed so unfair that my mom had made so much progress through her therapy, and should have been home, instead of unable to move (now with a broken hip), in a nursing home bed again.

I had just had a conversation with her dear neighbor, who had just returned from a visit with her son. She knew about the broken right foot, and the broken left leg, but did not know about the hip. She was so very sad to hear all that had happened while she was gone. I gave her my mom’s number, and told her the best times to visit.

But soon, I pulled myself together and went on my way,  sadly locking her door behind me.

And so it goes…I tried to encourage her by telling her that within a few days, she would probably be able to use a bedside toilet, and at least the bedpan horror  would soon be over. (She hates that part so much, as any of us would.) I do worry about her trying to get up though, but I guess that can’t be helped when the time comes. For now, they still have the alarm on her.

I told her that we were going to get through this together, and that I would be there for her. I reminded her that I was just a phone call away, and to call me any time, and I’d come running.

I felt better (and grateful) as I turned out her light, that at least for now, she was not in pain…

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