It’s Happening.

Sister K is 25. She is an adult. She is not so little anymore. But to me, the big sister, she is still my little sister. But for the past day she has been Mom’s warrior at the hospital. I have had to come back to work, Dad had to go to DC for one night last night so Sister K has been holding down the hospital room with Mom. Managing what doctor’s are saying, making sure things are getting done, and being a bit out of her comfort zone at times. Last night though she stepped over the comfort zone line and the hospital better watch out because I don’t think she is going back. 

At about 1:30 am I woke up to the sound of a few text messages. Dad didn’t answer his cell phone so Sister K was seeking my advice.  

Sister K: In case you’re awake, have a question- Mom’s about to do MRI and we were just told it may take 3 hrs. She said I don’t need to go down and go in with her but I feel bad.

Dad usually goes in and sits with Mom, holding her hand during her MRIs. After a few quick minutes of texting about this she called me. She was irritated. A nurse had just come in to tell her that they may delay Mom’s MRI. The doctor had told Mom at 5pm he wanted her to have the MRI done and now at 1:30am it was finally her turn and they were wanting to delay it more. Ridiculous. I sat on the phone with her encouraging her. Telling her she could handle this. Be firm but they need to know Mom needs this MRI.  The rude nurse told her things like “the hospital is short staffed to get your Mom down there, why wasn’t this already done, etc.”  All good questions/issues except as Dad likes to say at times “that’s not my problem, fix it.”  I sat there on the phone as I heard the nurse in there. I couldn’t make out what she was saying but it was a rude, know it all voice. There was a scuttle of commotion. She made another comment about the MRI and that’s when Sister K showed this nurse she wasn’t just some little sister hanging out with her Mom.  Sister K very politely, yet very firmly said: “Well, it’s happening. Mom has lesions on her brain that the doctor wants to look at to determine the course of treatment and what is going on. This was ordered at 5pm today. It’s happening”

And they backed down.  I sat there on the phone with her. Encouraging her as she spoke. Reassuring her.  You’re doing great. Don’t second guess. Stay strong.  You’re doing really well. I’m so proud of you. As the big sister I was holding her hand as best as I could through that phone.

They got Mom situated and wheeled her down. We hung up the phone. She then called me back once Mom was in the MRI and she was heading back to the hospital room. By this time it was about 2:30am. I told her I was so proud of her. Thanks to her Mom was getting the MRI. She had really advocated for Mom when she needed it most. We talked for a few minutes and then both went to sleep.

Or at least I thought I could sleep. I layed there in bed just thinking about everything going on right now. My mind was racing with thoughts. Scared thoughts. Sad thoughts. I also just felt sorry for Mom and everything she is going through. I don’t think I slept much. There are too many unknowns right now and too many of them are scary. I am trying to manage my mind and not let it “go there.” But hearing the commotion of the hospital room, being on the phone while all this was going on, it made it real again. As if all of this isn’t real enough. It felt more real. Living in the real is scary right now. Life, it’s happening.

It’s a Corner Built for Two

All I want to do today is crawl into a corner.  That’s what sister K texted me this morning as I was getting ready for work.

I responded: Can I be in the corner too? 

She texted: Of course. It’s a corner built for two.

This weekend has been traumatic. I am still processing it. I realize to a lot of people what I write may not sound traumatic but to me this was a really big step in the wrong direction with Mom’s MS. It was a scary step. In some ways I feel like I had figured out how to deal with Mom’s MS. I had it in a nice box, tucked away and I was learning to deal with it and manage it. Then this weekend happened. I feel the like the box lid is off and there are things just pouring out. Faster than I can process them. Faster than I can think about them.

Mom had been having trouble last week with shooting pain in her leg. By Friday she had been diagnosed with what we thought was a herniated disc. Saturday and Sunday though she was just growing progressively worse.  No longer in pain because she was on such strong pain medications, but on Saturday she had lost the use of her left leg.  We thought this was related to the herniated disc. But then on Sunday she lost the use of her right leg. Dad started making decisions. Fast ones. Phone calls. Initially he pulled me aside to tell me he was thinking Mom may need to move into a rehabilitation center temporarily because someone needs to be working with her legs. He said given that he had pratically been up all night Saturday (in addition to the other nights prior with little sleep), he couldn’t continue to provide the level of care she needed right now. This was becoming an issue of quality of life for her. I watched as Mom just sat in her wheelchair sleeping with her head slunched over. It was sad. The only word I can use to describe it. Sad.

I always said I would be strong. I could be strong. He told me this and I started crying. This all of a sudden was becoming real. Facing the reality of what was going on. He then made a few more phone calls. Her doctor was concerned because she had lost the use of her right leg. That may be the MS and unrelated to the disc. Her body may be having an MS flare up. He wanted the MRI done asap.

While all this was going on Sister K was driving home. I was updating her on the phone. We were both scared, shocked, and leaning on each other. I needed her there. I didn’t realize how much I needed her there until she walked in the door. She got it. Without saying a word but just giving me a hug she understood everything I was feeling.

Dad called an ambulance company who came to get Mom. No sirens, no flashing lights but she needed to be taken in on a stretcher. She was essentially paralyzed. Dad told me to come back here. Sister K would stay. He said there was literally nothing I could do at this point. As annoying as it was, he was right. 

The MRI revealed Mom doesn’t have a herniated disc. Everything was normal. Sister K texted me the update this morning. The doctors didn’t read the MRI until about 1am. This wasn’t good. This was all MS. I tried to fight the tears and the panic. This is when Sister K decided she wanted to move to a corner.  And I wanted to go too.

Later this morning Dad called. He said Mom is having an MS flare up and they have started her on a steroid IV. He said she has to stay in the hospital 72 hours and then they are likely going to transport her to a rehabilitation facility. Luckily it is one that is affiliated with the one she goes to. She will see familiar faces. Maybe it won’t be so hard.

For now though she is in the hospital. Sister K is with her. I talked to them on speakerphone at lunch. Mom seemed in good spirits. She was cracking jokes. Sister K said every once in awhile she says something wacky or just falls asleep.  That’s where we are now physically.

But mentally. Mentally I am all over the place. I am scared. I couldn’t stop crying yesterday. I was trying to keep my mind in a good place and not let it drift to the world of the “what ifs” and “unknowns.” But it’s hard. I just want Mom back. I want her back mentally. It was so depressing to see the state she was in this weekend. To watch her debilitate like that. It was cruel. I just went through this with my Grandmother who passed away from Alzheimer’s in 2010. But that was different. I don’t know why. But then again I do. That was my Grandmother.  This is my Mom. It’s just a lot. I am even getting teary eyed writing this. It’s hard. And it’s sad.

I want to thank you for walking this journey with me. I had many thoughts yesterday that I knew somehow I wasn’t alone. I had those thoughts because of this blog. So thank you for being in the back of mind as my support team.