Quick update before I leave for work…

We’re hoping to get the o.k. for mom to go home today. She was up walking and sitting in a chair yesterday and eating as usual. She had a few levels in her system that were a bit out of whack, like sodium and magnesium, etc. so they wouldn’t let her go yesterday. I wasn’t there when the nurse or doctor talked to my sister, so not sure what those issues would mean. They were expecting to have everything back to normal by today so she can go home.

She’s definitely ready to get home and back to her routines.

Thanks all for your thoughts and prayers.

My mom’s doing better! She had a long night last night with a bad headache and nausea (probably from the anesthesia or the pain medication) but as of mid-day, those symptoms are nearly gone and she’s been able to have a reasonable amount of food and keep it down.

She’s resting well, so now we’ll just wait for tests to come back on Monday that may help the doctors know what caused it and if any other steps are necessary to prevent it from happening again.

She’s looking forward to getting better and back home…hopefully by Monday or Tuesday.

The photo is in honor of her “road to recovery”. I took it in the Rose Garden at Butchart Gardens last year. She loves roses!

It’s interesting what happens when someone you care about is in the hospital. It seems like everything in the outside world just stops and the only reality is what’s happening in the hospital.

For most of us, our everyday lives don’t really have pressing responsibilities that can’t be missed, so our normal life stops while we tend to the one we love. When I try to think about my day-to-day tasks or deadlines that may be missed, I try to put it in perspective with a question. “In the grand scheme of things, if this doesn’t happen today, will anyone know or care 10 years from now?” I’d say for 99.9 % of our lives, we can easily answer, “No” to that question.

Wednesday night, my sister took my (83 year-old) mom to the emergency room because she’d been having extreme fatigue, lack of energy and some shortness of breath for a few days. She’d been feeling under the weather for a week or so, but thought it was just a virus or something. A few days ago, when she admitted that she didn’t have the energy to walk down and pick up her mail, we knew there must be something wrong. She LOVES to be out and about seeing her neighbors, so it was a big deal when she couldn’t do that.

My other sister and I met them at the hospital. After they ran a few tests, they decided to admit my mom. They found that she had fluid around her heart that was preventing it from pumping like it should. They had to do surgery to drain it. So, for the last few days my 2 sisters and I have been taking turns at the hospital, with a few other visitors coming in along the way.

Today mom had the surgery, which went very well. Sad thing is, she’s had a headache and nausea all afternoon since the surgery, probably from the pain killer that they gave her. It’s hard to just sit and not really be able to do anything to help, but I feel better somehow just having at least one of us here with her.

Hospitals bring up lots of thoughts in me. I’m constantly thinking about the patients and families that are here with much more serious issues than me. I’m also reminded of the times when I was visiting the hospital with more serious issues.

It so hard to be in a place like this without thinking of our own mortalitlurk y, but it’s comforting to know that God is watching over the details of each of our lives and that nothing happens without him knowing about it and giving permission for it.

We’ll continue to pray for my mom, of course, but she’s a real trooper and in great shape for her age, so I have no doubts that she’ll be up and around in a few days. Every member of the staff who comes in to see her says she looks great for her age! I think she does too. It will be really nice when she’s back to normal and feeling better.

The realization lurks out there that at some point, she may need to live with one of us, but for now, she loves her independence and we’ll let her hold on to it.

Mom’s 83rd Birthday Bash!

Today we had a birthday bash for my mom’s big day. Actually we just had a simple lunch with some of mom’s favorite foods and a get-together for the family members that were able to make it.

My niece, Heather surprised us by coming and bringing her daughter, Faith. They live in Kansas now, but she surprised her mom with a holiday visit and showed up at our place too. She’s the one with the big earrings sitting next to her big brother, Russell . You’ll also notice that the two of them are in the cousins picture in the post below. How fun!

My niece, Lisa and her boyfriend, Davis (in hat) were also there. Lisa’s sucking her finger in the post below. I’m sure she loves that I’m pointing that out.

We decided that since my mom’s getting up in years, we wanted to try to record some of her stories while she can still remember and communicate them. Right now she’s doing great and you’d never know she’s in her 80’s, but it’s one of those things that could change any day. She even mentioned that every year she feels like she’s slowing down a little more.
Anyway, we enjoyed our lunch, then had mom open gifts. Pretty simple stuff…some clothes, lotions, jelly bellies (her favorite treat), and her very FIRST cell phone. My oldest sister, Diane got it for her so she could have it when she walks to the store, etc. in case of emergencies. Yes, she still walks a few blocks to the store once in a while, which is probably some of what helps to keep her in good shape. I gave her a gift certificate for a weekend away. She’s always loved to travel and doesn’t like to go alone. Last year mom, me and my two sisters did our very first trip together to visit her sister in New Mexico, so maybe we’ll do it again this year. I told her it had to be within driving distance of Phoenix, which still offers a lot of options.

After gifts, we turned on our video camera and started asking her questions about anything and everything…I even found out a few things that I didn’t know, like when my mom and dad were separated for a year, my mom was in her 40’s and dating a guy that was 27 for a few months! I never knew that until today. Obviously it didn’t last because my parents got back together just before their divorce was to be final. My dad said he just couldn’t go through with it and drove 2000 miles from Ohio to Phoenix to reconcile with my mom. Yay Dad! That was when we all moved out to Arizona…it was part of the deal. I wasn’t thrilled with it at the time, but I’m thankful for it now.

We also heard about the kinds of houses mom lived in growing up during the depression and special stories or characteristics she remembered about each of her kids. We asked questions and let her talk for 2 hours of taping and we probably could have gone on if we had more tape. She was getting tired and was ready for a break though. Maybe we’ll do more on Mother’s day… I think she was really honored that we wanted to take the time to hear about her life and that several of her grandkids were there, interested and listening to everything she had to say.

After we were done, the “cousins” played a game of Apples to Apples. Davis wasn’t so sure that he’d like it, but he ended up winning, so I guess he thought it was o.k.

It was a very special day for all of us. Now I need to find a way to convert the little video tape to a DVD and make copies for everyone and maybe do a little editing. I’d also like to transcribe it so that we have it in writing somewhere. Maybe that’s something that Amy can do now that she’s semi-retired!

A Brother’s Adventure update – Day 17 :

O.k. so I have a lot more to post about our trip to CA, but I have to fit this in while it’s on my mind, I started to let everyone know about my 50 year old brother, Pat’s latest adventure then never got back to it. So here’s the scoop. Pat left Phoenix on August 31st, drove a rental van to Corpus Christi, TX, dropped off the car and started out on a bicycle trip from Corpus Christi to Fort Myers, FL. This is a picture of all the stuff he was taking with him, including his bike, in the back of our car. You’ll notice a few extra items, like a folding chair that we brought to our house, but 99% of this stuff he was going to try to fit in a little trailer behind his bike, a backpack and a couple of saddle bags. Who knows if he actually fit it all in.

This next photo is Pat with our mom just a few days before he left. She’ll be doing a lot of worrying over the next few months! But it isn’t the first time that he’s gone on a major adventure and it probably won’t be the last.

Based on my very rough calculations Pat will ride well over 1300 miles. If he averages 40 miles a day, (he says his range is 30-50) his trip should take about 40 days.

He started from Corpus Christi on September 2nd so we are now at day 17 and here’s his status. He called this morning to let me know that he’s in Sulphur, LA which is at least 350 miles by interstate from his starting point. Now understand that he can’t go on the interstate freeways with a bike, so he has to travel on state highways and surface streets…so let’s add another 100 miles to his route just to be safe. If you do the math, right now he’s only making about 26.5 miles a day. If he keeps up this pace, it will take him about 53 days. If you watch the national weather at all, you know that he’s been getting rain off and on the whole time. Of course, we warned him many many times that it was hurricane season, but he wanted to do it now anyway. We’re just praying that he just gets rain and no hurricanes.

Another point that will help you understand Pat. He was in a motorcycle accident (riding without a helmet- don’t EVER do that!) when he was in his late 20’s and had severe head injuries. He can function o.k. in daily life, but many of what we all have as normal manageable weaknesses are more extreme with Pat. He gets frustrated easily, he gets confused and lost easily, he tends to be paranoid and not trust people. He’s very stubborn and always thinks he’s right and knows everything about everything. He doesn’t understand or trust computers or much new technology. He does own a cell phone – Thank you God!

Imagine what this does to his situation when he’s riding across the country in strange places with strange people and hard to follow directions. So is he extremely brave or just plain crazy? Probably a little of both. He’s probably better discribed as a wanderer…never really being able to settle his soul long enough to feel at home. He really wants to have companionship and feel loved, but has a hard time getting along with people because of the issues I mentioned before. He needs someone who can be patient, but even his own family gets frustrated with him at times.

When he called this morning the first thing he said was, “Hi sis, guess what? I’m lost!” He had been wandering around in this small town of Sulphur not far from the border of Texas and Louisiana for two days trying to find a specific highway that he could see on his map but couldn’t manage to find in real life. He said his map was falling apart because he had taken it out so many times in the rain that he couldn’t even look things up any more. He said he had gotten directions from 4 different people and had been to every part of town that he could imagine, but still couldn’t find the highway. He was starting to believe that the people were giving him wrong directions on purpose (there’s that paranoia again). I assured him that they wouldn’t do that, and while I had him on the phone I looked up the town on Yahoo Maps (What did we do before online mapping?) and helped him figure out where we thought he was and where he needed to go to get out of town. Fortunately, he called later in the day and left a message that he had found the road he was looking for and finally escaped the clutches of Sulphur, Louisiana…NEXT STOP – Layfayette, I think. These next days are probably going to get more difficult as he gets into the areas harder hit by Katrina. He was already planning to swing north of New Orleans since there is so much devastation there. I just hope he goes far enough north to be able to actually find the roads that he needs to still be intact.

So keep Pat in your prayers for protection and safety, some decent food and a good night’s sleep…and maybe even to meet some friendly people that he can enjoy along the way.