So, I continued to stay with and take care of my Mom (which I was glad to do but technically that was the responsibility of the guardian (Mark.) My Mom got so stressed out not having her husband at home she started smoking heavily after having quiet many years prior. I tried my best to get her to stop; find her “stashes of cigs” and throw them out. How she kept getting cigs I don’t know. Again, my brothers didn’t help out. Mark made it difficult for me as he tore down a fence I put up at my parents house for my dog Dakota.
On or about Nov. 4, 2008, my Mom had a respiratory arrest and by shere luck this happened while she was waiting to have a routine chest x-ray at Mercy Hospital. The waiting area was literally just “feet” away from the ER. I think her respiratory arrest was caused primarily due to the stress of not having her husband home; realizing that my brothers were never going to let him come home; suspecting that they were going to force her into a nursing home; and, having waited for over an hour to get a chest x-ray.
So, she was immediately rushed into the ER. I’m “freaking out” because having worked some years prior as a respiratory therapist, I knew elderly people with COPD usually don’t survive a cardiac or respiratory arrest. I snuck into the ER; found the room she was in as there were about a dozen staff outside the room looking in. I knew what I was going to see. She was on an exam table buck naked tubes and wires everywhere and a doctor doing chest compressions. I expected that very soon the doctor would “call the code” which means the patient has died and discontinue life saving measures. However, somebody (I assume staff) asked me to leave which I did. When I walked out of the ER to the waiting area, someone who I believe was with the hospital spiritual ministry asked if I wanted to see a priest. I said “that’s all I need – is to see an f- – – ing priest.” That issue is maybe for another blog. I was frantic; pacing; pounding on walls because I was angry and feeling that my brothers had caused this. So, someone else connected with the hospital ministry suggested I come sit with my brothers in a much smaller room off the waiting area. This person walked me over there; I looked thru the doorway and saw my three brothers sitting on a couch; one kind of laughing; it seemed like they were carrying on a regular / normal conversation. I said I don’t want to be with them. I then went to the main lobby of the hospital and paced assuming that very shortly I would be told Mom had died. It was unbearable. I felt a strong need to be with someone to share my pain and anxiety. I called my good friend Sharon; she didn’t answer. I checked back with the ER. They said they were still working on Mom. It was just too much. I felt so helpless; hopeless there was nothing I could do. So, I left and went to be with my Dad at the nursing home; One, to be with someone; And two, that he would not be alone if somehow he was contacted and told his wife had died. When I got to his room I had calmed down some. I was straight-up with my Dad; telling him what had happened and that I didn’t know if Mom had survived or what her status was. This might not have been the best thing to do; to “lay” this on my father already stressed out and upset from being forced to stay in this nursing home against his will. Some of what further occurred is a “blur” but, I remember breaking down; falling to my knees into my Dad’s lap and uncontrollably sobbing. My Dad was comforting me when actually I should have been comforting him. I eventually composed myself; and, I knew I had to make the call – the phone call to the hospital. I called expecting the worse. Again, by sheer luck (I believe) my Mom had survived and was in the ICU on a ventilator; not exactly good, but she was still alive. After about an hour my brothers came to the nursing home. Tom [who’d always been kind of a “clown”; very extroverted; upbeat (which I admit I envied)] waltzed in first smiling and kind of joking around with Dad; telling him Mom had had a “little mishap.” Maybe this was ideally the way to handle this with Dad as to not get him upset. What do you readers think? Mark and Bob were there also but more stoic than Tom. The chatted with Dad; basically, telling him we (all) were in a wait and see mode. They soon left. Dad seemed okay and encouraged that Mom was alive. I went back to the hospital – to the ICU. My Mom was on a ventilator and unconscious. A nurse or doctor told me she was heavily sedated (as is typically done when someone is initially on a ventilator so as to keep them from “freaking out” and “fighting” the machine.); that her vitals generally were stable. Realizing there wasn’t much I could do (then and there) for Mom, I went back to the nursing home to update my Dad and reassure him. He asked me to stay with him; not to leave him alone. The nursing home was accommodating; provided me with a cot next to Dad’s bed. We laid “head to toe.” I held his hand as he fell asleep. It was probably the first time I had been that physically intimate with my Dad since I was an infant and he had held me. Again, a whole other story. We had just never been that “close” partly due to our subdued and introverted personalities (which I’d often been told by others and by Dad were very similar); and because he always was working 10 to 14 hour days, seven days a week for 50 years. My Dad loved “medicine” (i.e. being a doctor.)