Slice of Life #11
I stayed home from school because my 87 year old mother, Dolores, who lives with me, came down with the nasty designer virus that kept me coughing and slowly turning into a cat sleeping all day. I heard her first telltale coughs last Sunday.
Uh oh, Mom’s getting that thing. I was flattened and still cough…
During the week I went to work and worried and Dolores lounged around, took Robitussin, and got worse. She is immuno-suppressed as a kidney transplant patient. My brain went wild beyond worry about pneumonia and bronchitis and the unknown. Wednesday night I woke up hourly hearing her cough.
So, today, with the rain drizzling and mom propped up on pillows, I am trying to do what I can for her comfort. My first check in to her room showed a worn face, tilted on the pillows, wearing a tired expression — a band aid taped to her forehead from a basal cell cancer removal last week. She was coughing but eyes closed. Let her sleep a little longer.
After I made tea, I made her coffee so I could bring in the first cup when she was ready. In awhile I heard her stirring, struggling to arrange the pile of pillows and get herself propped up. I pulled her pillows up and opened the shades. “Are you ready for coffee, Mom?” She nodded wearily. I set the vase with three Double Delight roses in on her dresser.
I brought the first cup, with the milk heated and sat on the love seat by her bed with my tea. I offered to get her pills out of the dresser drawer. She nodded. “The blue case.”
“I can’t remember when I’ve felt this miserable,” she said, putting in her hearing aids. I shook my head and agreed that this is a mean, nasty thing going around.
“Mom, I made custard this morning, if that sounds good to you after your meds.”
“I’ve been wanting to make custard for two weeks,” she rasped. There was a bit of spark, that get up and do that is natural to my mom. But mostly a resignation. Her countenance and posture droop, showing that drained state I recall when I was in the middle of the virus.
She had called her doctor yesterday [finally admitting how sick she is] who can’t see her today so we discussed Monday’s appointment. I asked if I should push for a visit today. She looked not up for discussing anything more. I left Dolores with her coffee to watch the national bad weather news.
I felt better to be home, even if I cannot fix the virus cold. Better than worry from work. And I texted my daughter in Capitola that I would postpone my visit tonight for a walk on the beach in the morning.
I started a load of laundry to get Mom’s favorite white pj’s clean. To my wonderment, the spinal doctor’s receptionist, who had not returned Dolores’ call, called me to set up an appointment. [This process has taken since the first of February.] The receptionist had a wounded tone saying how the doctor told her my email said that the appointment hadn’t been made. I explained that my mother called Tuesday and that mom says she always has to leave a message. No one picks up the phone at the office. Anyway, we got next Tuesday and I hope that will provide Mom some back relief, because now her shoulders and lungs ache from the constant hacking.
I retrieved the cup to bring more coffee and told Mom she officially has an appointment with Dr. Cluck. “Amazing,” she said. I checked to see if my adjustment for ‘a little more sugar’ made the coffee satisfactory. And refilled her water glass.
I can’t find the words to describe the ground she’s lost since January. I am watching a decline I expected to happen over years. I can’t describe her look but I still feel her strong nature even with the frailty and protracted pain.
She’s had her coffee and meds and moved on from national weather disasters to Nancy Reagan’s funeral. Mickey has done nothing but sleep. I will make one more inquiry into whether we need to push on primary care doctor today, or if we’re going to ride this out for the weekend.
The custard’s cooling on the stove. The drizzle continues. Mickey is still sleeping in the same curl on my pillow where the morning started. I am still helpless, but at least I’m here.