The Hillhouse

The Journey of a Mother and Son

Hospital Stay February 8, 2013

It was probably inevitable, I suppose, that one of my parents should find themselves in the hospital. Even though dad’s situation doesn’t seem like it would require such treatment, it had nonetheless been him who I’d pictured going in first. But no. Instead, my mother, the woman who still captains the ship, who still feeds my brother and dad, who takes care of the five cats, who shops, cleans the house as she can, works two days a week, pays for Elihu’s Waldorf education as well as the mortgage on our house – it is she who must stay for four days and four nights in the hospital. She’s been increasingly out of breath the last couple of months and learned she has Atrial Fibrillation (otherwise known as Afib). They tried to zap her heart to make the top and bottom valves get beating in sycn again, but it didn’t take. So now she’ll need some new meds – and she’ll have to stay in the hospital as they monitor her progress. Naturally, upon learning this, I was worried about her, but then a new reality came to me: I was now in charge. Crap. Good thing I only have one kid. Good thing I have an automatic coop door opener. Good thing my schedule isn’t over booked. Here it is, finally. I’d wondered how I’d deal with something like this for a while now, but I hand’t taken the train of thought and gone very far with it. I had a vague idea, but thought it still somewhere far off in my future. And really, even now I’m not overly concerned; things aren’t dire, not really. Mom’s being well cared for and I think dad’s ok too, and Elihu and I will enjoy being with grandpa and making him supper over the next few nights. It’s ok for the short term, but I can’t imagine living like this. Yeah, I think a one parent household is a ways off yet – but still, this is a good little wake-up call. I realize that things won’t always be thus.

It’s weird. The way we’ve all prepared the docs and sat around the table with a lawyer; on paper we’re ‘ready’ – yet still I have no idea what I’ll actually need to do when the first parent passes. I know, I know… I shouldn’t talk like this. But hey, my mom’s a 78 year old woman with a heart condition. My dad can’t even remember if he’s eaten lunch, much less operate a phone or a microwave, and his condition will only get worse as time passes. Things are changing, and I need to consider some game plans. But for now I can’t, I gotta run. Accidents at night still necessitate loads and loads of laundry (I really need to invest in a second pair of sheets and another mattress pad!), the birds still need tending, eggs need to be washed and packed, food needs to be prepared…. Plus dad needs a bunch of meds twice a day, mom needs some things brought to her in the hospital, and guess what? I’m out of gas and low on cash. And it’s a snow day, so I’ve got the kid tagging along. Sheesh. !

One thing I will do today. Mom doesn’t own a light bathrobe. She’d never in a million years think to buy herself one, because it’s a luxury, not a necessity. So, armed with a Kohl’s gift card I’m going to get her one. So she can get out of that bed and walk down the hall with some dignity. She hasn’t asked me to bring much, just the last issue of the New Yorker, some deodorant and floss. I’ll try to do better than that. I’ll pack her a little weekend getaway bag. Cuz this really is the closest thing my mother has probably ever had in her life to a real vacation. Hopefully she’ll find some rest and relaxation over the next few days, and she’ll find her heart beating normally again. Then maybe she won’t need another hospital vacation again for a long time.