Monday, April 23, 2007

The heart of the matter

OK, so I am going about my day on Tuesday and then I get a call from my dad saying that my mother was going to have open heart surgery the next day. They'd attempted to do an angioplasty and that did not work. Needless to say I freaked out and then immediately left to go home and get ready to pack to go up there.

See, here's this thing, I have a VERY tumultuous relationship with my mother. She was terribly abusive both physically and emotionally, and I could never do anything right in her eyes. I spent a lot of time in my life wondering what life would be like if she were dead and how much I would never miss her if she died. Well, I did not expect the reaction I had when I got this call.

DP and I managed to get to the hospital that night and my brother and his wife were there. Prior to leaving I had phoned my therapist and she called me back. We had a long conversation about how I was feeling and what I might need to say in preparation . . .the time never seemed right to tell mom what I thought and felt that night, but before I left I made her look me in the eyes and hear me say I loved her--despite how much she always said I hated her.

Dad and I were to be there in the morning before she went in, and right as we were to leave for the hospital, we received a call from mom saying they were taking her in early. We said "WAIT" we are coming. I drove about 70 the whole way there, and my dad didn't say a word. Normally he is the king of backseat driving/commenting.

We got there and she looked scared. They had already started hooking her up to all sorts of tubes and things, and shortly after we got there they asked us to leave so they could put a central line in her neck. By this time my brother came and we all sat with mom. She asked us to hold her hands and she began to softly cry. We said our goodbyes and went to the waiting area they directed us to. They said it would be about a 3 hour surgery from start to finish.

We went to grab a bite to eat, but the three of us really just pushed the food around. We went back up to the waiting area and waited. There was a loud woman in the waiting area who felt the need to scream her life to everyone who would listen. She had one of those voices that just grates on your nerves. The silent looks between my brother, father, and I were priceless. After 4.5 hours, we still hadn't heard anything and I was recalling every scene from Grey's Anatomy and ER where they come to tell you the bad news. Surely this was not good if 5 hours later they still were not done.

Finally we receive a call in the waiting area that they had been looking for us for a long time in another waiting area. The doctor had come out at 11 to see us, but we weren't there so he left. So while we were waiting in the wrong area, mom was waking up in the intensive care unit. When we got up there, she had a nurse all to herself for the first 24 hours, and she was amazing. She answered the billion questions that I had, and was really good with my dad who was having a hard time with all of this.

She did great the doctor said, and she was a model patient. Though we were worried about how she would fare, as she is only starting out at about 60% as she has diabetes and is in poor physical condition. We stayed there Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday. Thursday was a very rough day, but I suspect it was also the worst day she had in the hospital as well, so I am trying not to personalize the words she said. I told her I was just worried, and she told me I was upsetting her. We went back to work Friday just to get what we could done, and then headed back up on Saturday.

Dad called Saturday and said she was coming home. I was very excited for her, but also very worried about how she would do, and how my father would deal with having her home. He is not in the best shape either, and my brother just had surgery the week before.

We got her home and set up and I don't know what kicked in, but I began to care for my mother. I got her the things she needed, I changed her dressings, and I showered her--all with next to no complaining or whining. I never thought these would be things I would do for my mother-you know, the one I hated. I don't really know what to think or feel about that, or if there even IS anything to think or feel. She said to me that she needed to rethink her idea that I would ever take good care of her if she needed, and she was very grateful for my help.

I still have a million thoughts swimming around in my head, and I haven't really spent time trying to sort them out. I am thankful that she is still alive--I was not ready to be a motherless daughter, even if the mother was like mine.

I am exhausted, and feel as if I need a weekend now. DP asked me what we were doing this weekend, and I said "Nothing". I really hope this is the case, since it has been a month or so since we have had time to just be.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

I'm glad your mother is ok and I hope this experience allows you two to develop a better relationship.