Just over two years ago I wrote this post about my mum and the awfulness of watching her disappear to the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease. It was at a time when she had taken another dip, this time she had started to turn down food and I had horrible visions of what may lay ahead. Over the twelve years since her diagnosis I had spent many hours reading and researching and I knew the awful things that could be ahead. More refusing to eat possibly followed by refusing to drink, I knew could lead to a very miserable end to my mums life and it was with that in mind that I wrote my previous post about her.
What I didn’t know was that just six days later I would receive a phone call that would lead to the most traumatic 10 days of my life, two years ago today my mum had what was believed to be a stroke.
I remember that evening so well, the dinner I was just about to eat, the phone call from the care home, the mad dash to the hospital. I remember as I was driving there pleading with family members already past to just take her, to not drag out what was only going to be more suffering. When I arrived at the hospital I was sent to wait outside the resuscitation area, I sat by the door listening to the beeps of machines beyond, unsure which tones were good signs and which were bad until eventually someone called my name. At the other end of the corridor was a young doctor who suggested we go into the relatives room, I remember the panic running through my head, going to the relatives room was never a good thing was it. By the time we had taken a seat I was sure she was going to tell me that mum had died but I was wrong, she was still alive but very sick and the reason we were in the relatives room was so she could talk to me about DNR.
The DNR discussion was just the first of many difficult conversations I had to have with different doctors over the next few days and my first of three visits to different relatives rooms. The DNR was followed a couple of days later by three different conversations about treatment or rather the stopping of it, palliative care was the only sensible option.
And so that was it, after 12 years of watching her slowly disappear it had come to this but she wasn’t going to slip away peacefully in her sleep oh no! Any time a nurse or I tried to offer water on a sponge she would clamp her mouth shut. She couldn’t move her arms, legs or head but somehow she managed to close her mouth. It was her final bit of control I guess and in some ways was a comfort that she was still in there, behind the Alzheimer’s, the paralysis, that strong stubborn woman I loved was there.
It took another week after moving to palliative care, I spent almost every waking hour at the hospital but typical of my mother she waited till I wasn’t there. As I got ready to leave for another day at the hospital my mobile rang and I knew, she’d gone. I drove to hospital and went to see her but she wasn’t there, physically she was but her, my mum, my idol was gone.
Two years on I thought maybe by now I would find these anniversaries easier to cope with, I expected the first year ones to be tough but the second years have so far been just as hard. My moods have been all over the place and I’ve started crying completely out of the blue several times but I know it will pass and I will go back to normal soon. Grief really does affect us all differently and we all learn different ways to deal with it, I’m not sure whether writing this will have helped me but it might and if it doesn’t that’s okay too.