When a parent is sick

It has been a good bit since my last blog post. Each time I blog I make a promise to myself that I will keep it up and be more consistent. Never happens!

2018 was not kind to my sweet mother. Literally one health problem led to another and then another and then another.  At 85, she is petite 4’9 and weighs 111 lbs.  A two-time breast cancer survivor, heart attack and stroke survivor too. She has diabetes, osteoporosis, heart failure, and seizures. Yet she fights on. Literally she is the strongest and bravest woman I know. Last year she had blood clots in both her legs. The clots were cleared but complications arose and she developed compartment syndrome resulting in the need for an emergency fasciotomy to relieve the swelling and pressure build up that was occurring, essentially saving her leg.  This event was truly the most painful and the most difficult she has had to endure in her life. Throw in a doctor who is as heartless and disconnected from his patient’s needs (pain control) as you can imagine.  Yes he saved her leg but so much more happened post surgery that could have been handled differently.  But that’s for another post. I simply want to talk about my mom and how faithful God has been and continues to be with her. The fasciotomy did indeed save her leg but left her with a drop foot problem and several months of recuperation. The wound was left open because it needed to heal from the inside out. Because of her diabetes the healing took much longer than expected and many months of painful dressing changes. My brother, dad and myself had to stand by and watch as the nurse changed her dressing every couple of days. No one should have to listen to their mother cry in agony from the pain.  Sure pain meds were given but it didn’t completely numb out the pain.  If that wasn’t enough she had to have a bulky wound vac attached to her leg for many weeks to suck out the dead or dry tissue. No easy feat for an 85 year old. Yet she did it. Through many hospitalizations and two separate stays at different nursing facilities she battled on so she could get home.

After several months and a referral to a wound care doctor who in my book was a gift from heaven for my mom, the wound finally started to heal and eventually closed.  The scar is not pretty to look at and the indentation it left is quite noticeable and she still has nerve damage that resulted in her foot drop, BUT, she has her leg and can walk even with a limp. For this we are extremely grateful to God and to the doctor He put in our path.

Unfortunately her health challenges did not end there. In the summer of 2018 she had a couple of heart attacks then three different strokes all mild but resulting in hospitalizations and more medications being added to her plethora of pills she is already taking daily.  Many more hospitalizations have since occurred and the latest one this year was for an infection and fluid buildup in her lungs which led to her being placed on oxygen so she could breath. More meds, and a bout with hospital delirium which frightened us to no end. To watch a parent’s health and mind deteriorate the way it did was heart stopping. We were told it was the combination of all the drugs she was being given, the difficulty with breathing, her elevated heart rate, the infection and just being in the hospital that brought on the delirium. Thankfully in the days leading up to her discharge her confusion and memory loss lessened and on discharge day she was her normal self. Still very very weak but much better.

She is home now with my dad who watches her and with my brother and I living close by we are constantly visiting and checking on things. What a year it has been.  Throughout all the ups and downs I have witnessed God move mountains for my mom and literally breath life back into her when we thought we were slowly losing her and there was no hope. He sent us the angels we needed in the form of doctors, nurses, home health nurses, physical therapists and pharmacists.  The saying goes “it takes a village”. I am here to say yes it does!  A village of people who are skilled at what they do, a family who loves ferociously, and prayer warriors made up of cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, and even strangers who with faith, covered my mother in prayer and asked God to heal her and deliver her from illness.  My prayers were for healing, peace, strength and understanding if the Lord’s will did not align with what I was praying for.

I feel so blessed and grateful that my mother is with me and that she is strong-willed.  Life has not been easy for her but she finds strength everyday to put one foot in front of the other and keep going.  If you are reading this and your parents are still living please, please love on them like there is no tomorrow. Share your favorite memory of them, cook together and write down those favorite recipes, go for walks hand in hand, take pictures, cry together, and recognize that they are not perfect and flawed like you and me.  And more importantly, thank them for a job well done because being a parent is the hardest job.  Remember life is so short and tomorrow is never promised.

 

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