I would rather not this sort of week become a regular feature in my life. Last time I went home in February I found it incredibly stressful and it really threw me.
Monday morning at 2am I took the coach to Heathrow to fly to Norway for a week to see my family. I was aware my mother hadn’t been in great shape as she’d had the flu for the last week and a half or so, so I went to see her as soon as I arrived and stayed until Tuesday, getting the fire going in the living room and doing bits and pieces around the house.
My sister had told me she wasn’t very well – but I hadn’t expected her to be as unwell as she was when I got there.
This is the most ill I have ever seen my mother.
Even when she had chemotherapy and radiation therapy she was not this sick.
She was so weak that she couldn’t even raise her head and she stayed in bed for my whole visit, not having the strength to get out of bed and feeling completely wiped so didn’t want the carers to help her out either.
What I found very unsettling and distressing was how confused she was.
She asked me repeatedly if I’d been to check on the house. When I let her know we were home, she stated she didn’t recognize where she was. She asked me repeatedly where Husband was, if I’d fed the cat (her cat had to be put to sleep a year ago due to poor health), and where her grandchildren where. She would ask me about people who (I assume) were from her past and what they were doing.
My visit was spent tucking her in, giving her a drink as she didn’t have the strength to hold the glass, and trying to coax her to eat something as she hasn’t eaten much at all since becoming ill. I could see how sunken in she has become and how much weight she has lost since I saw her at Christmas.
I felt so helpless as I couldn’t really help her or make her comfortable or get her anything she wanted. She asked me to buy blue grapes when I went food shopping, but then said no thank you when I’d washed them and brought her a bowl. I’d offer her some cake or dessert and she would say yes, only to say no thank you when I brought it to her bed.
As I had to get up in the middle of the night to get to the airport, I was completely wiped by Monday night, but sat with her to ensure the carers did come to do their night routine. I could feel myself falling asleep sitting on the stool next to her.
The next morning the carer came and woke me, to let me know they had persuaded Mom to have an emergency appointment that afternoon with her doctor. I thanked her and silently wondered how they would get her into a wheelchair let alone out into a disabled access taxi, but two carers came and ensured we got in alright. I packed a bag for her in case she was admitted, and I packed my things so I could travel on afterwards. My sister called me and when I explained how Mom was not making any sense at all, she explained that Mom had developed delirium and that she would need to be admitted whether she wanted to or not that day.
At the doctor’s office, they did a CRP check (measures infection in the body) and we were seen by her usual doctor. He had a listen to her chest, got her CRP score and declared that she had pneumonia. He then said that it would normally be treated at home but due to her state he wanted her to be admitted to have treatment administered intravenously.
A CRP reading was taken from her the Friday before I came which showed a reading of 37 – so something wasn’t quite right, but Mom did not want to be admitted. When the second reading was taken on Tuesday it showed 185. Most healthy adults should have a CRP reading of between 0 and 5, and most people will die if their CRP reaches 300 or higher.
I steeled myself, as I was expecting to have to challenge Mom as she has been very reluctant in the past to be admitted. But surprisingly, she accepted it and the doctor’s office ordered a taxi for us to take us there. So I travelled with her and once she’d been settled in I travelled down to stay with my sister the the rest of my stay.
We visited Mom on Thursday on the ward and she seemed a bit better and less confused. Saying that, I called her this week and she still seems very confused so I will have to ask my sister if the treatment is working. Pneumonia is no longer as fatal as it was in the past as we now have antibiotics. However in someone already weakened, or if it is a viral version, it can be quite hard to treat. Mom is home now.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom.
I got to see my sister and her family and my brother and his family. I could have a fire going every day. My sister and her family were very generous and sent with me two sides of salmon, some lamb and some beef, a bunch of sausages and wiener dogs and some sliced ham, so that will all help on the grocery budget for us.
Husband’s mother suggested I ring the credit card and explain that our lives are in upheaval as a reason for forgetting the January bill and asking them if they would as a gesture of goodwill waive the charges. I rang them while waiting to board on Monday and they could see we had been paying diligently and in full every month so waived everything.
Last year I applied to the student loan company to get some of the interest on my student loan written off. They responded last week and they could see that in 2014 we met the requirement to be classed as a low income household, so £1440 has been written off the student loan as that was the interest we had paid that year. They asked me to apply for 2017/2018 once we have our Annual Tax Statements to see if we could be eligible for even more to be written off.
All the same.
My flight home was on Friday afternoon, and the coach from the airport got in at midnight. I had to get up at 6.45am the next day for work at the uni. Didn’t manage to finish unpacking my suitcase until Tuesday as I worked Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Got some nice reduced stuff on Sunday night from the Tesco Express while waiting for the bus.
Those three days were spent on autopilot, as I didn’t feel like I was all that present due to being so worn out.
I just found it incredibly stressful and upsetting to watch my mom in such a state, and feel quite raw about it. I certainly don’t feel like I have had a break at all.
It was as though I was sitting by someone who was passing away.