Hospital Dreams

IV machine

She looks so pale and frail lying in that bed with the blankets tucked up around her shoulders so only her sweet face pops out.

Five or more enormous bruises on her arms are nagging reminders of the multiple IV's (both failed and successful) she's had over the past week, but they are hidden now under the butter-cream cotton blankets - once comforting, fresh out of the blanket warmer, but now cold and impersonal like everything else in this hospital.

The whirring of the IV machine pumping fluids into her tiny veins has been in my ears for so many days that I almost don't hear it anymore. Until it rudely brings me back to reality with its alarm piercing through the monotonous whir. Where is the nurse?

Her feet stir under the blankets as she sleeps. Perhaps she is dreaming of walking through a fascinating land, "far, far away," (her code for any foreign country) that she has traveled to in the past - free of cane, walker or wheelchair and able to express her enthusiasm and curiosity verbally.

This morning marks my Mom's 5th visit to the emergency room in the past 9 months. The last time was just a week ago and resulted in a 5 night fun-filled hospital stay. Just two days back home and we find ourselves once again enjoying hospital-ity after another fall, more GI distress and who knows what else. Its the multiple health issues at once that are so overwhelming for her - both physically and emotionally. No offense to this health care institution, but I think we'd both rather have a root canal than be back here again. Waiting, waiting, waiting.  6 1/2 hrs now since the fall and most spent in our curtained cubicle waiting. Still waiting.

I tried so hard to prevent this. Got more help for my parents in the mornings. Was arranging for home health nurse, physical therapy and occupational therapy to build her strength back after lying in a hospital bed for 5 days. My sister and I have not left her alone at night since this started a week ago. Bought a monitor so that I could hear her from their spare bedroom if she started to get up in the night but it didn't work and planned to get another one tomorrow. Went low-tech and gave her a bell to ring. But still my Dad awakened me at 4am for help and there she was on the bathroom floor, unable to get up and unable to walk once I got her up.

So many emotions accompany this episode: glad I was there; ashamed that I slept through the fall. Grateful for kind paramedics, doctors and nurses; frustrated they haven't found the answers. Reminding myself that she is strong and a fighter and has come back from miscarriages, surgeries, stroke, breast cancer and broken hip; scared that this will be the time her resiliency fails her.

I've heard that positive thinking draws good things to us, so to pass the time I close my eyes and envision her smiling, energetic, mobile, purposeful and safe. I dream of doctors with answers and treatments that work. I imagine her reading the paper at the kitchen table in the sunshine eating a hearty breakfast and sipping Daddy's coffee laced with cinnamon. I hear her laughter when Jackson brings his toy around and gives her gentle kisses on her cheek. I see him happy to have all his people in one place. I feel her essence shining through brightly again, hopeful and enjoying the quality of her life. I dream her independent. I  feel her cool hand on my face.

Amy Goyer lives in Phoenix, Arizona, taking care of her mom and dad.

Photo Credit: Amy Goyer.

Follow Amy on Twitter @AmyGoyer and Facebook AmyGoyer1

Search AARP Blogs

Related Posts
February 04, 2016 09:00 AM
When Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, I knew he would need all of his senses to help interpret the world around him and balance his changing cognitive abilities. But he has hearing impairment and limited vision (glaucoma plus visual-processing problems associated with Alzheimer’s). Even though there is only so much I can do about the visual issues, I assumed  hearing aids would solve his auditory problems. I was wrong. The good news is that we eventually discovered a surprisingly simple solution.
February 01, 2016 10:00 AM
The phone rang one day when I was at work. It was my mom. “Come right away, Elaine, we need you,” she said. Mom had just driven Pop to the emergency room. I knew Pop must have been very sick, because Mom hadn’t driven a car in years.
January 21, 2016 01:00 PM
I have been both a live-in caregiver and a long-distance caregiver. In fact, currently, I’m really both. My dad lives with me (as do my sister and her two sons at the moment), and I also travel for work, about a week every month. I’ve learned to manage my loved ones’ care no matter where I am. Here are some of my tips for other long-distance caregivers.