Thursday, November 27, 2008

You Have to Take Care of Your Mother Even When it Scares You

I received a phone call that my mother was very sick. Her itching had become more severe, she was oozing liquid from her pores. There also extreme swelling of her arms and feet. She had breast cancer 15 years previous and had nine lymph nodes removed. Was her lymph system not functioning? What was going on within her body?

She was in agony. I was in agony seeing her in that condition. My mother was the matriarch of the family—strong, driven, and always healthy. How could she have gotten to this stage? I could not leave her in the hospital alone.
The nurse arranged for a bed to be brought in for me in her hospital room. It was my turn to take care of my mother. She of course was worried that the bed would not be comfortable for me. I assured her I could sleep anywhere and that I would be fine.

As I lay in the bed next to her, I recalled all the times when I was ill and she was by my side. I recalled how she was by my side when I gave birth to my two sons. I recalled the times she was by my grandparents’ side when they were ill. She had always made herself available to give love and comfort to her family.
Now, here I lay next to this “rock” of our family who was not able to take care of herself. I’m glad I was available to be there for her. Yet, I felt helpless as I saw my mother in such a weakened state and in pain.
I decided in that moment that I would:
Appreciate every day, every hour I would have left with her
Do everything in my power to find a way to make her pain less and make it easier for her once she returned home
Understand what was happening to her physically and accept that she was ill

This would not be the last time my mother would be in the hospital. But it would be the first time I realized the gravity of her condition. And it scared me.


Anonymous said...

I am moving toward the role of taking care of my elderly and ill mother. We're setting in motion the plans to move my parents in with us. Dad needs just minimal assistance at this point, but I know it will be progressive. Mom needs a lot of help. More than help, she needs a lot of tenderness and understanding, as she's in constant pain. It won't be easy. There will be difficult days. I am afraid I will experience moments where I feel I've lost myself... that I'm only a servant. I need to keep some sense of who I am, besides a caregiver. But I want to be a blessing to my mom, to relieve as much of her physcial and emotional pain as is humanly possible for me to do.


Annette Gonzalez said...

It is important that you take time for yourself. Listen to the voice inside you when it says, “I need some relief” or “I’m so tired” or “I just can’t visit my elderly, ill parents today.” Your body, your mind is telling you something. Listen to your voice because it is protecting you.

It is also important that you are prepared to be the caregiver. I've written an article on this,

Hope this helps,

Nann Loh said...

Hi, I just discovered your blog. Your decision to "appreciate every hour, every day" you had with your mother was a blessing, and your awareness must have given you comfort after the death. My father died 11 days ago and I wish with all my heart that I had thought of that. I had been mostly indifferent and will always regret this.

Annette Gonzalez said...

Don't be too hard on yourself. Take time now to write down the things you remember fondly of your father. This will help you in the grieving process.