Friday, May 06, 2011

Intimations of Mortality

I got a phone call yesterday from one of my aunts, the one who's most likely to call if there's a problem.

I've gotten to an age where good news pretty much never comes in a phone call, but bad news does, and so this was bad new, but not horribly bad or scary. And I'm grateful I have an aunt who will call.

Within a couple of hours, I'd talked to my Mom, who was, by then, in a hospital room (and our call was interrupted by the doctor entering, so she talked to him instead of me, which makes perfect sense to me), and I'd talked to my brother a couple of times, mostly, I think, because we were both making sure the other knew what there was to know (not much at that point) and was doing okay. I'm especially grateful right now for my brother. I grew up watching our Dad be a big brother to his siblings, and was jealous of them having such a brother, but my brother has grown up to be very much like our Dad in that respect, and a very, very good big brother. We may disagree sometimes, but I have such confidence in his judgment and caring for people. He may even be better at big brotherness than our Dad was.

I spent a good bit of time last night thinking that someday I'm going to get a phone call and it's not going to be just a problem that's not horrible. It's either going to be pretty darned horrible, or done. I would rather done, so long as it's not painful or scary.

Today we've been waiting for news. Apparently, there's something that needs to be done, but the doctor who needs to do it doesn't know yet, because s/he is busy with someone who is far sicker than my Mom. I'm guessing pretty much everyone else in the hospital is far sicker than my Mom. So I don't know when what needs to be done will be done. (Do they do things that need to be done on the weekend? I don't know.)

But until that's done, I don't know what to do, except call every few hours to check in.

I'm guessing that the hospital staff is thinking that this woman's children are absolutely despicable because neither of us has shown up there yet. Nor are we likely to show up any time soon, because what needs to be done doesn't need us to be there, and we wouldn't actually do anyone any good just hanging about looking worried.

I am SO the wrong kind of a doctor to be at all useful about these things. If I were the right kind, at least I could probably have a job within a couple hours drive, and I could take a day and say reassuring things. But no, I'm the sort of person who reads Titus for a good time, and that doesn't lead to anything reassuring.

It's a lousy way to approach Mother's day, though.


  1. I'm sorry for what's happening; hopefully it can be resolved in a good way by Mother's Day. If not, well, don't feel guilty or like the wrong kind of doctor. You're a good daughter. Yes, you are, shut up, I know. Your mom is lucky to have you for her daughter, and I'd bet my own mom-hood that she knows just how lucky she is to have you and your brother. Hope everything turns out all right, and happy mom's day to you and your mom on Sunday.
    *massive hugs*

  2. Big hugs to you, sister. It's really, really hard to be far away from family when this sort of thing is happening, but you are not despicable, and screw anybody who would think that about you. I'm sending all good vibes in your mom's direction. And then a few extra in YOUR direction. Seriously.

  3. When you really need to be there, you'll go. It sounds like it's not that serious, and I hope it stays that way; it also sounds like your family is not guilting you into going (yay them for that!). It doesn't matter what the staff thinks. They might even take better care of your mom if they think they're all she's got right now.

    When the real problems crop up, there should be someone there to advocate for your mother, because the person in a hospital bed sometimes doesn't understand what's going on as well as you might expect. But that doesn't have to be you or your brother. Look into senior services in your mother's area now, and find out what your options are. There may be volunteers who can help out, or you might be able to hire someone---when that day comes, if you can't be there, or if it takes you a day or so to get there---and it would be good to know what to do when it happens.

    Best wishes!

  4. I am sorry to hear of your mother's hospitalization. I hope the specialist is soon able to see her and determine the best course of action.

    Don't beat yourself up about not being there. Supporting her from a distance is, at this point, probably a lot better. While everyone's in a holding pattern, it's not great to crowd the landing field or burn off all your fuel!

  5. I'm sorry. I hope that everything goes okay, and that your mom is much better soon.


  6. Anonymous7:13 PM

    I'm sorry too, and you should not beat yourself up. My mom died a few weeks ago, just after she was diagnosed with something that would supposedly give her a year or more. I can't say I got to say any formal goodbyes, but I'm glad I went out to be with her and near her, and honestly wish I'd listened to my inner voice a little earlier than I did. All that to say that if something (not just guilt) is telling you to be there, then I'm all for getting there.

  7. (((Bardiac)))
    It sounds as if checking in is the right thing right now. And you might be able to organize either you or your brother (or both together -- skype is great) talking to the doctor. My husband was once hospitalized while I was away, and at one point he had a doctor get on the phone with me to tell me what was happening.

    And, what Dame Eleanor said. In addition, if this is an "intimation of mortality" but not serious, it's a good time to make sure that your mother has a medical power of attorney and an advance directive. You want to do those thing sooner rather than later, before it's necessary. And you want to know that everyone understands what she wants to have happen.

  8. Oh dear -- I'm glad that it's not sounding too terribly serious (if everyone else in the hospital is probably in worse shape than she is), but a hard weekend for your whole family nonetheless. I hope that the doctors are soon able to do whatever needs doing.

  9. Anonymous9:54 PM

    So very sorry to hear this! Hope she improves really soon.

  10. Just catching up on some sorry about this. Yes, it happens to everyone, but it's new and uniquely difficult and frightening for each one of us. I'm glad you have a good big bro, that helps a lot!

    Thinking of you. (((Bardiac)))