coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Sunday, November 13, 2016

That time Baby Sister healed the sick

I read (click here) about a medical condition called delirium that can result when older people have surgery. It mimics dementia, but is usually not permanent. This happened to my mother (Teresa) in 2007 when she had back surgery at age 81.

She was fine going into surgery, but a very different person woke up. Angry, distrustful, paranoid, and confused, she thought her children were out to get her. We still laugh (to abate the horror) about when she lay in the hospital bed pretending to read the newspaper. She was actually furtively monitoring my brother (Big D) and Baby Sister. How did we know? Her eyes darted back and forth over the newspaper, which was upside down.

Her doctor knew what was going on. He admitted her to the rehab side of a nursing home for a few months to recover her senses and get back on her feet (literally). However, Mom forgot she was too weak to get up by herself or walk without a walker. Consequently, she kept falling. That made her an insurance risk for the "home." She also refused to follow directions, hallucinated, and was uncharacteristically rude. They labeled her as a dementia patient, even though that was not what she was suffering from.

This took place in Indiana. About a month into her convalescence I went there for a week to help my siblings convince the rehab center that Mom needed further physical therapy. The rehab people thought she was a goner. They were ganging up on Baby Sister, urging her to end therapy and permanently admit Mom to the long-term care part of the nursing home.

Baby Sister was Mom's principal caregiver. She was not ready to give up on Mom. Our mother had Parkinson's Disease. We knew the time would come when she would need to go into end-of-life nursing care, but if Baby Sister (an absolute powerhouse of a woman) thought it wasn't time yet, well, we sure weren't going to argue with her.

The rehab people gave up on Mom. They stopped making her try to walk to the dining hall, keeping her in a wheelchair instead. Baby Sister knew that meant Mom would never walk again, meaning she would never go home, meaning she could be forever traumatized and unable to care for herself. So Baby Sister decided to make Mom walk.

I was there the first time Baby Sister pulled Mom out of the wheelchair and positioned her in front of the walker. It was a little disconcerting, but Baby Sister is no one to trifle with. If she says "Walk!" the lame will walk! It took forever to get from Mom's room to the dining hall. One of Mom's aides passed us in the hallway. I heard her mutter under her breath, "Damn, Teresa is WALKING!"

A couple months later my telephone rang. Who should be on the other end but my sweet, sweet Momma, back from LaLa Land. She wanted to hear how I was doing. She had no idea how long she had been "gone" and remembered very little about the past 4 months. She was back in her little apartment, walking with a walker, happy, fiesty, and ornery. Our Momma was back. Thanks Baby Sister, for never giving up.

To be continued...


Mom in 2009.  She died in 2015.




16 comments:

  1. Bravo to your sister! We went through a similar experience with an elderly aunt (now 102) when she got sick with UTI - for 10 days she was convinced we were the secret service and about to murder her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My mother got UTI's, too. Luckily antibiotics can take care of them fairly quick. Such a horror, though. 102, huh? Wow.

      Delete
  2. I miss her so much.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Delirium is so common in elderly patients. Kept happening to my mum as well when she was sick. I'm glad your sister didn't give up on her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me, too.

      Such a sad thing to have to go through when one is old and vulnerable. Doesn't seem fair. But then, what does?

      Delete
  4. Oh what a Beautiful Story of Love and Faith and Tenacity... Love never gives up and Believes all things to be Possible. Thank You for Sharing! Dawn... The Bohemian

    ReplyDelete
  5. That is such a great story of perseverance. Four months is a long time, and what a gift to have your mom recover. Wow!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Such a lovely thing you've done for your Mom here. You were both so lucky to have that addition time together. And she looks like she was such a dear woman.

    ReplyDelete
  7. We simply cannot be kept down! We are too damn powerful! We have the strength of generations of strong women in our blood and to them we owe our diligence, our resilience, our fire & will to carry on!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Bravura to your sister and to you all for supporting her. All elder patients should have such attentive and tenacious care.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed. And Baby Sister is nothing if not tenacious.

      Delete

So, whadayathink?