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Friday, May 23, 2014

.....the pact we'd made...........

If you're "just tuning in" this post may leave you wondering what the heck I am rambling about, I hope you take the time to go back and review my earlier posts so you can catch up with our story. I very much appreciate your thoughts and comments For anyone who has been along for the whole wild ride - Thank you!

.....the pact we'd made...........

“How can I help you officer?” the elderly lady in her convertible asked.
“Do you know how fast you were going?” the police man asked and then answered, “TWO, you were going 2 miles per hour”!
The lady smiled and replied, “Yes, Sir, I always obey the speed limit.  I saw the sign that said “2””.
The officer explained to her that “2” was the highways number NOT the speed limit as he glanced in to the back seat where three more little old ladies
looked terrified and windblown.  “What’s the matter with them?” the policeman asked the driver.
“Oh, they’ll be fine; we just came off highway 101” was her reply.

I giggle every time I think of that joke, but I wasn't giggling when I followed (or tried to follow) the van that was transporting my mother to her appointment with the infectious disease doctor on August 13, 2013.  I imagined mom probably looked like one of the passengers that just came off the “101”.  Even though the wheelchair was strapped in, mom was still being jostled from side to side in the chair as the driver sailed through intersections and around corners.  I lost sight of the van at about the 3rd stop light he ran through; at that moment I was wishing I had gone ahead and paid the astronomical price of renting a wheelchair accessible van so I could transport mom myself.  I had to figure something out before her next appointment; I didn't want to make her ride in that van again.  Besides, I was going to have to have something that she could ride in to take her home ten days.

The thought of going home after being away for over a month brought happy thoughts to mind and I relaxed a little on my way to meet mom.  I hadn't seen my husband; my younger daughter; or my son in over a month and couldn't wait to get home.  With luck we would get home on the 23rd of August; we planned to leave immediately following moms’ last dose of IV antibiotics and her release from the orthopedic surgeon.

Both mom and I were looking forward to making it home on my brother’s 60th birthday.  I was also looking forward to being home for my 50th birthday and to celebrate our 27th anniversary with my husband on August 30th.  I was still letting my mind stay in a happy place as I found a parking place and walked across the campus to find mom being lowered from the van; she didn't look any worse for the wear, so I collected a number to dispatch the van when we were finished and wheeled mom in to her appointment.

Mom was checked in and we were shown to a room where we chatted while we waited for the PA.  We talked about how bad her ride to the appointment was; we talked about which of the staff at the SNF was good and which were not so good; we talked about her laundry; we talked about everything except the big pink elephant in the room – what exactly was Mycobacterium Avium Complex, and what would this new diagnoses do to moms’ current prognosis?

We had successfully managed to avoid the topic of why we were there until the PA joined us in the small room.  She was a pleasant woman who took her time explaining to us not only the infection, but also the course of treatment.  It sounded like they had it under control; mom was already being treated with all but one of the appropriate antibiotics and had begun to show improvement.

I still had a few questions, “So, will mom have to go home on the IV antibiotics after all”?  I was pleased when the answer from the PA was
“No, they will all be oral”.  “How long will she have to continue them?” I wanted to know.  They wanted mom to be treated for a minimum of six months with three, possibly 4, heavy duty (and very expensive) medications.  My mind was trying to quickly calculate the best and worst case scenarios when I asked, “So, she will still be on the antibiotics when they put in the prosthesis in October, right”?  I felt numb; I couldn't have heard her answer right!  I felt the heat in my whole body; I thought I was going to pass out.  At that point I didn't know if the horror I saw on my mother’s face was because of the news we had just received or if it was due to my reaction to said news.

My eyes widened; my voice thundered; and the Physician’s Assistant looked terrified as she visibly flinched and, since the only way for her to get to the door was through us, she slid her chair as far from me as she could get without crawling under the desk.  After a moment or two of silence, the PA flinched again at the sound of my voice.  “Nobody ever said anything about mom having that rod in her leg and not being able to walk for SIX MONTHS.  I can’t even get her in the car to take her home!” I roared in the small room.  This is where rational and emotional collided and nearly derailed me.

I tried to calm myself as I listened to the shaky voice of the PA as she very quietly explained, once again, the complications of this new infection
as well as the time frame of “usual” treatment.  Rationally I knew that they were doing everything they could for mom; rationally I knew we were lucky they had found this infection here or it wouldn't have ever been found at home; rationally I knew that we were going to do whatever it took to fight this infection as long as mom had any fight left in her; rationally I knew the tears I felt stinging my cheeks were from the emotional turmoil I was feeling at that moment; rationally I knew I was being selfish.

Emotionally, however, I was a wreck.  Although I truly did have a lot of
concern about moms’ immobility, that was only part of my falling apart.  If mom didn't get her new knee prosthesis until mid to late January 2014, she would likely be in the hospital and/or rehab when my third grand baby was due to arrive BACK HOME; I so wanted to be home with my younger daughter and her husband when their first child made a debut.  While I was contemplating what we would do next, the PA managed to step between us and excused herself from the room.  With tears glistening in her eyes, my mother said, “I’m sorry honey”.

I nearly choked trying to talk around the big lump that had formed in my throat.  How could I have been so insensitive?  How could I have acted so selfishly that my mother felt the need to apologize for being sick?  “No, mom, I’m sorry”, I knew she knew I had been thinking about what I was likely going to miss out on, rather than what all this was doing to her; I felt so guilty.

I stepped beside mom and wrapped my arms around her.  “We’ll get through it.  Whatever it takes, right?” I said reminding mom of the pact we’d made nearly a year earlier.

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