Not A Hallmark Card

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***Another “Blast From the Past.”  I’ve been reading through the blog posts in the Drafts folder.  I’m deleting some of them.  Others, like this one, I will post.

This entry was written on Sept. 5, 2011.  Weird that I would read this today….exactly two years after I wrote this entry.  All I can say is, “WOW!”  Our lives, all of our lives, have changed so much in these past two years!  

I called Andrew tonight, and read him this blog entry.  He was stunned, too, by how things have changed.  Thankfully, the changes have been for the better.  Yes, there have been many, many growing pains along the way, but I am so very proud to say that we’re all in a better place now.  🙂

As much as I wish that my life would be as neat and tidy as a Hallmark card, things usually end up being much more like the made-for-TV, full-blown, Sunday night Hallmark movie, a Kleenex box tear-jerker. Continue Reading »

Yelling Sucks

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Today someone yelled at me.  It was at the end of the day.  I am sick and exhausted.  My energy was already depleted, and the yelling sucked away whatever remained.  Even now, hours later, I am shaking.  I didn’t deserve to be yelled at.  While I spoke in a calm, reserved voice, this person blamed me for causing their lack of control.  No.  No person deserves to be yelled at, and no person can be the cause of another’s lack of control.  Hang up the phone.  Walk away.  Table the discussion.  Mentally healthy adults do not yell…..under any circumstance.  Yelling is a selfish, weak, self-absorbed way to handle a difficult situation.  Yelling is cowardly. Continue Reading »

A Conversation No One Should Have With Their Own Mother

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We have watched my mother’s health steadily fail for the past six months.  In December she fell and ended up in the hospital.  She wasn’t strong enough to join us for Christmas.  It was my first year without MY family for Christmas, and even though Mom and I have had our issues, not having any parents or grandparents around for the holidays was a very sad thing to face.

On New Year’s Eve, Mom was taken from the restorative care unit to the hospital due to congestive heart failure.  More dialysis, in addition to the three other times each week, helped to relieve the symptoms.  As the days passed, it became clear that she was failing.  Her weight dropped below 100 pounds.  Her mind was becoming fuzzy.  She began to lose control of her bodily functions.  She hid her medication.  She though that she was on a cruise ship.  She thought the nurses were trying to kill her.

I called a meeting with her Nephrologist.  I wanted to know what the long-term prognosis was.  Would Mom ever be able to return to independent living?  The answer was no, yet he still “held out hope.”  Hope for what, I am not sure.  Her kidneys had not functioned  at all for years.  She can no longer walk.  She is on oxygen, and a million different medications.  I’m not sure what his definition of “HOPE” is.  She wasn’t going to regain health.  What he meant by HOPE was that she could be kept alive with extensive medical intervention so that she could linger for a few weeks in a nursing home.  I asked him if anyone had ever considered discontinuing the dialysis.  Well, yes.  Had they ever discussed that with my mother?  Well, no, they hadn’t really thought it would come to this point.  They hadn’t thought that she would live this long.  (So many of years of medical training, and they hadn’t considered all of the possibilities?)  I was shocked.  Well, here we were.  It had happened, and it was time to make some decisions.  What I was looking at seemed cruel.  This was no way for a human being to live….and to be kept alive.

The doctor and I approached my mom with the facts.  We made it her choice to consider ceasing dialysis.  She decided to continue to receive treatment.  I was in support of her decision.  It was obvious that she needed to  let everything sink in.  We all needed to buy some time to make the adjustment to the next step.  Mom was moved back to the rehabilitation facility and would continue to be transported to the dialysis center three times each week.  This was last Thursday.

On Friday morning, I received a call from a nurse.  Mom was refusing all treatment.  She said that she had had enough.  I was at work, had walked out of a meeting to take the call.  I asked the nurse to tell my mom that I encouraged her to go to her treatment and that I would be by to talk to her after work.

T and I drove down that evening to talk with her about what was going on.  I explained that a nurse had called to tell me what had happened, and my mom said, “They should mind their own damn business.”  She said that she was done.  She was tired.  I felt a sense of relief.  I have her medical power of attorney, and I didn’t want to have to make that decision without her consent.  I called Mom’s friends to tell them what was going on and asked them to pay her a visit.  I spent most of my weekend by her side.  It was calm and peaceful.  She slept most of the time.  Sometimes, she was disoriented and asked if Dad was out in the yard.  I tried to get her to drink or eat small bits of food that I felt would be soothing.  We watched “Parent Trap.”  The old one with Haley Mills.

On Monday, something changed.  She woke up demanding to go to dialysis.  Her nurse called me.  They were under the impression that dialysis treatment had been discontinued.  What did I want them to do?  What should they tell her?  Initially, I told them, no….no more dialysis.  Then I stood there wondering what I had just done.  Was I denying my own mother medical treatment when she was requesting it?  I called T.  What should I do?  I asked him to meet me at my mom’s room.

She was angry and disoriented.  She said, “Well, yes….I am going to dialysis.  I will die if I don’t go!”  I was stunned.  We had had moments of peace over the past few days.  I didn’t know what to do.  I stood there feeling helpless.  She lashed out at me.  She said, “I can see by the smirk on your face that you enjoy having this kind of control over my life.  You want to pull the plug.”  I was speechless.  I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t know what to say.  I looked at the floor and reminded myself over and over not to say anything that I would live to regret the rest of my life.  I looked at her calmly and told her that there was not one thing about any of this that I was enjoying.  I told her that she had made the decision. She asked me where Dad was, and I blurted out that he had been dead for two years.  I burst out crying and had to turn around.  T sat there in the middle of a terrible situation.  I remember him talking calming in a low voice to her, but I don’t know what he said.

When I came back near them, and was more composed, she looked at me and apologized.  She said that she wished she knew where our relationship had gone wrong.  I felt adrenaline flood through my body.  Thirty years of wrong.  How could we resolve thirty years of wrong?  I had been determined to do right, not to let past differences and slights cloud my judgement in making the best medical decision for another human being.  I had been kind and caring.  All of this came out of the blue, and it shocked me.  I have never been so hurt and shaken in my life.  I wanted to run from the room, and running away is not usual for me.  I wanted to melt.  I wanted to cease to exist in the middle of this life of mine.  Too much hurt.  Too much.  I was shaking and crying.  I told her to go to dialysis.  I said that I refused to feel responsible for making this decision to discontinue treatment.  “Go!  Please go.  You don’t have a plug.  I am not pulling a plug!”  I left the room to tell the nurse to make arrangements for my mom to be transported to dialysis.  The nurse looked shocked.  She advised that my mother may not make it through a treatment.

There was another call this morning.  This time it was from the Kidney Center.  They had been surprised to see my mother show up for treatment.  They discussed a feeding tube with her.  They discussed hospice care.  They suggested discontinuing treatment.  They wondered what I thought.  After all, I have that damn power of attorney.  I told them that one of their own doctors had told my mother that there was hope.  Yes, hope for a day, a week.  They didn’t think that she would live out the month even with treatment.  There was a meeting later this afternoon with all of the Kidney Center staff.  They would discuss my mother’s case at that time and call me later.

It was determined that treatment was no longer of any benefit to my mother.  She could continue to receive treatments, but at this point, they may do more harm than good.  A feeding tube would enable her to have a little more time, but my mother had already said that she didn’t want to go that route.  Did I want them to talk to her and arrange hospice treatment or would I prefer to tell her myself?

Tonight T and I went to tell my mother that there was no longer any hope.  A few days, a week, a month at best.  We entered her room, and she was sleeping.  I woke her up and asked how she was feeling.  She was groggy for a while, and we three sat and watched HGTV.  I didn’t know how to begin this conversation.  I was at a loss.  T finally began talking.  Quietly we explained everything.  She just looked at us.  What do you say when someone tells you that it’s real, you are now dying?  Mom, this is it.  There isn’t anything left to do.  I told her that I wanted the time she had left to be comfortable and full of family and friends rather than more and more medical care.  I told her what to expect physically.  There should be no pain.  It would be peaceful.  (I pray to God.)  I asked her if there was anything she wanted.

She asked me if I believed in Heaven and Hell.  I told her no, I don’t.  I said, “I believe life is Hell enough, what waits on the other side is Peace.”

As T and I drove home, he told me that when I had stepped out to talk to the nurse, my mom had asked him if I was OK.  He told her that this was not easy for me.  She is all I have left of my family.  When she is gone, I don’t have anyone else left of my family.  He told her that I was carrying  a burden of guilt, because I didn’t want her to think that I was responsible for ending her treatments.  She said, “Why would Pam think that?”  He reminded her of what she had said the previous day, and asked her not to say such things again.  He told her that we would do our best to care for her, and asked her to leave me with peace.  I was shocked by what he told me.  I didn’t know he would defend and protect me in such a way, and I loved him for being able to say the words that I was not able to speak.

 

High Horse

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What an odd day.  I had an appointment with a wine distributer first thing this morning.  I am organizing a wine tasting next month as a kick-off to our latest promotion.   As much as I like wine, I’m not sure if it’s something I necessarily like to think about first thing in the morning.  It ended up being fun, though.  We’re going to have special give-away wine glasses and eight different selections of wine.  I’m really looking forward to the kick-off party.  I have had such a good time planning this event. 

My favorite selection for the wine tasting is Bitch Bubbly.  It has the cutest name, cutest label, and it actually tastes pretty good, too.  I bought a bottle last winter when my daughter was making pink champagne cupcakes.  She only needed one cup for the recipe, and I was able to enjoy the rest of the bottle. 

When I got back to the office, I walked down to the conference room to get a cup of much-needed coffee.  I was standing there kind of gazing out the window, when I realized that I wasn’t alone.  Three people had followed me into the conference room.  They had been waiting for me.  They had a question for me.  “So, who IS Dilbert.?”  Uh oh…  Yeah, I had posted a picture of Dilbert on my Facebook page with a caption that read something like, “Really ticked off at someone who looks exactly like Dilbert.  There is no shame in being a team player, Dilbert.”  They wanted to know who is “Dilbert ?”  They were laughing, because they already knew.  The said as soon as they saw my post, they knew just who I was talking about.  Truthfully, I felt a bit ashamed to have put that out there.  It was petty and immature of me.  But hell….this guy really ticked me off! 

I did end up going into his office to discuss the matter.  I told him that while I did take ownership of missing the meeting, it had shocked me that he had not been considerate enough to take a moment to come back downstairs to give me a head’s up.  For goodness sakes, he could have used his cell phone and called me.   I would have done that (and have!!) for anyone in the building. 

Turns out, there was a NEW employee in the Planning Department who also missed the meeting.  She felt horrible.  She was really shaken up, took it personally, and worried that it would be viewed as shoddy work.  Apparently, this poor woman was a wreck when she found out that she had missed this same meeting.  We both felt much better once we realized that we weren’t alone.  This jerk, Dilbert, had not sent either of us a meeting request to schedule on our calendars.  He hadn’t even bothered to send us agendas.  So, in the end, Dilbert may have learned a lesson.  We all live by our calendars and the friendly beeping meeting reminders on our phones. 

I stopped by the woman’s office to try to cheer her up.  I told her to please not take it as a personal affront or to worry about it being viewed as unprofessional.  We are all busy as hell and juggling numerous projects simultaneously.  Mistakes happen.  All we can hope is that we have all learned a lesson and that we’ll do a better job of communication and organizing our time in the future. 

As I said, it was an odd day.  I felt unbalanced, and it seemed like those around me were also out of sorts.  I met T for lunch, and he was grouchy.  We argued as we made our way into the building.  We hadn’t even taken our seats, and there we were arguing.  He thought I was running late.  He was pressed for time.  He had things to do besides wait for me to get there.  He almost left.  Grrr….  As we waited for our food, we sat silently and breathed deeply without talking.  Tentatively, we readjusted our attitudes and had our usual mundane conversation.  As we got up to leave, I told him that I didn’t know if I really enjoyed meeting him for lunch today.  He just laughed.  I think he felt the same way.

Hillbilly Heaven

Tonight was our usual Thursday night dinner at the local tavern.  We take the kids and whoever else happens to be around.  Tonight it was just the girls and one friend.  The place was packed.  We ordered our food at the counter and then realized that there was nowhere for all of us to sit.  The kids all took a high bar table while T and I sat down with a couple of guys we knew from high school.  Well, I guess we’ve known them forever.  They were happy enough to have us join them and sat drinking beer while T and I ate our dinner.

It’s funny to go from a high-stress day to an evening at a local bar with a couple of beer drinking rednecks.  I laughed all night as they told their stories.  One of them is a carpenter and the other (toothless, I might add) installs hot tubs for a living.  As we sat there, I felt the stress drain away.  I looked around at the people.  I knew almost everyone.  It was unusual to see any man who was not wearing a baseball hat of some kind.  (Thank God, T does NOT wear a hat!)  There were John Deere caps, lots of hats supporting our high school, and plenty of  folks displaying their Nascar preferences.  There were a lot of flannel shirts, plenty black t-shirts, and not one necktie to be seen. 

I love my life in Hillbilly Heaven.  I told this to  T when we were sitting at the table alone.  He asked me why.  Remember the phase, “She needs to get off her high horse?”  Well, it’s tough to stay on that high horse too long in Redneck Country.