Eleven days ago I was sitting at the computer answering emails and texting my brothers sarcastic comments about the recent legislative session. But mostly texting my brothers because we were so funny we just couldn’t stop. Until my sister sent us all a text that said, “We have bad news…”
And the seconds, hours, and days following that message have seemed to have gone on forever.
My sister was with my dad at the hospital. They had taken my mom in for a procedure that is meant to help stop the side affects of the Parkinson’s Disease that she was diagnosed with 15 years ago. We all knew that the operation was serious however the benefits seemed to so far outweigh the risks that all of us were way more excited that she would be able to have the surgery than we were afraid of the risks. However, not long after the operation began my mom suffered a serious stroke.
The procedure was stopped. My dad and sister were informed of the situation and my sister sent us the message: “We have bad news…”
I remember hurriedly driving up to the hospital with my brothers….me asking questions while I drove and them googling any information they could find in an effort to prepare us for the hospital.
But nothing really prepares you for things like this.
We found my dad and sister in the waiting room outside the trauma unit. There our family set up base camp for the next 7 days….waiting…
Waiting to hear if my mom would survive the stroke….waiting to be able to see her…waiting to see if she would ever open her eyes again…waiting to see if the bleeding had stopped…waiting to see if she would be able to breathe if they removed the breathing tube…waiting to see if they could control the swelling in her brain…and the seconds lasted forever.
Today my mom is still in the hospital and we are still waiting.
Her breathing tube has been removed and she has been weaned off of the oxygen mask. She still has a feeding tube and is unable to stand, sit, or communicate.
Fortunately she is no longer living in the Intensive Care Unit. She was moved Friday night to a rehabilitation unit that works with those who have suffered brain trauma. I was able to spend some time alone with her and the therapists on Saturday…reviewing the pre-stroke mom with them..all of her abilities, qualities, interests, and determination…and helping them to set some goals that we all desperately want to see attained. My heart broke as we tried to practice things like swallowing and holding our head up. How hard this must be for her. And the seconds seemed to last forever.
Monday night we took our kids up to see their grandma for the first time since the stroke. I worried about taking them…I worried about not taking them…they see their grandma usually once or twice a week and they love her but how would they respond? I did my best to prepare them but like I said earlier nothing really prepares you for things like this. If they were scared or afraid it would break both my parents hearts. My head hurt. My heart hurt. There was a lump in my throat. They walked in the door, Simon in the lead…everything was quiet…the seconds lasted forever.
My mom raised her hand and Grace grabbed onto it.
My head still hurt, my heart still hurt, and I was having trouble keeping the lump in my throat from rolling down my cheeks. But I knew that bringing my children to see their grandma was the right thing to do. Everything was not perfect but it is what I would call a success.
Right now I can’t tell you what the future holds for my mom. No one can tell you…believe me, we’ve asked. We’ve asked every doctor, nurse, and therapist we’ve come across and all they can tell us is that only time itself will show how well she will recover. But I can tell you what I want. I want my mom back….whatever we can get.
And I can tell you something else…in these past 11 days full of seconds that have lasted forever…I’ve learned about strokes, brains, a variety of breathing apparatuses, and the lives of our super amazing nurses…but I’ve also learned something else, something about myself. I suppose it’s something that I’ve always known…the real reason Elizabeth and I feel so drawn to what we keep calling “the art of homemaking”…which is that when I am standing there in those moments that last forever the only thing that matters is my family…and those people that make up my family…my husband, children, parents, and siblings…those are the ones that I want to be with FOREVER…in the good times or the bad.
Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day. And while I wish that these past 11 days were just a terrible dream I will still feel lucky…lucky to have a mom to wait for…lucky to have a dad who loves my mom…lucky to have a husband who loves me…lucky to have three beautiful children…and lucky to have some seriously awesome siblings.