Saturday, April 15, 2017


In the beginning of the first year that the mommie lived in the Hood she had a health crisis. One of the ancillary problems was she didn't want to eat or drink. I spent the day pleading and cajoling trying to get her to sip water or take a bite of apple sauce. After she ate or drank she flinched and pulled away. I talked to so many nurses and doctors about it. Her primary doctor at the time ran a blood test and three days later had his assistant call to tell me to push fluids. It will always be one of the most ridiculous things a health care professional has ever said to me. Was I supposed to water board her? Eventually I took her to the hospital because I was worried about dehydration. 
I was talking to a nurse there about the eating/drinking problem and she suggested that the mommy might have Thrush. I have since learned that Thrush is a common occurrence when people take antibiotics. Thrush makes eating and drinking painful. There were so many health care professionals taking care of her and none of them had thought to look in her mouth. I asked the next doctor to enter the room to do that, he diagnosed the Thrush and the treatment began. 
I took her back to the nest and hired round the clock home health care. (There's an entire chapter to be written about why I did that.) I noticed that she wasn't eating the meat or vegetables in a soup but she seemed to like the broth. I started heating broth and having her sip from a straw. It felt like it took me too long to figure that out. It felt like I was always playing catch up. I was always realizing something about her decline after the signs of it had been evident for a while. But I was surrounded by people who had the job of managing her health care. Why didn't they figure it out? Why did I have to ask the doctor to look in her mouth and see the condition that was somewhat probable? 
I have so many of those why questions and the answers are usually about resources and time and funding. There is an occasional somewhat beleaguered acknowledgement of the wrongness of the situation, which rapidly shifts to an affirmation that every one is doing their best. I'm always supposed to understand that I shouldn't be angry at people who are working so hard and I should accept that things just are the way they are. It's some kind of perverse sign of maturity when you're able to accept the unacceptable.   
I'm a sixties kid. I haven't trusted institutions for most of my adult life. But the extent to which I feel the elder care systems failed the mommie and me is infinite and I will never recover from that failure. I will find a way to hold all those feelings and carry on with my life but I will never not be furious. Ours is not the worst story. I've heard too many. 
The mommy was in the nest for Easter two years ago. I was eating ham and eggs for breakfast. She looked at my plate and asked what it was. I told her and asked if she wanted any and ... she did. 
It was a turn around moment. Eggs could now be added to the very short list of things she would eat. I called it the Easter miracle. 
But, ya know, it was really about the Thrush clearing up and her beginning to heal. People told me she wasn't eating or drinking because she was getting ready to die. She got well and lived almost another year and a half. 
The mommy died a few days before Thanksgiving. I sort of held my breath through the Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years daze. I didn't mind other people celebrating but I couldn't feel any joy. I didn't expect Easter to be hard. But this year her birthday falls on Easter. It's just too much. 2017 has been a bit of a bummer so far. Too much snow in January.  Too sick in February. Toe infected in March. And just now a flu/bronchial thing has me hacking up a lung. 
I feel the need to write about the great care givers and the visits from friends and the things that have been good. But I just feel bad. I'm sad. I'm angry. I want to bake an apricot upside down cake and get ready to celebrate. I know my friends and family want me to be happy and I will be. I promise. Just not today and not tomorrow and ... I'm not sure when.  
Happy Vaisakhi. 
Chag Kashruth Sameach. 
Happy Easter. 
Happy birthday mommie.