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Blogs of Writer, Artist, Photographer, & Caregiver Joanne D. Kiggins

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Joanne has published more than 2,500 articles and was award recipient of the 1990 Woman of the Year for Beaver County, Pennsylvania, for her accomplishments and excellence in journalism and to the community. Her co-authored book, “Unforgettable Journey,” won fifth place in the Grand Beginnings romance contest. An excerpt from her WIP, “Unearthed,” placed her fifth in the Absolute Write Idol contest. Most recently, her essay, “Perseverance,” is published in the Stories of Strength anthology in which 100% of the profits are donated to disaster relief charities. Her most recent articles were published in ByLine Magazine, Writer's Digest, AbsoluteWrite.com, and Moondance.org. She has a monthly freelance writing column at Absolutewrite.com. Currently, she is the sole caregiver for her 85-year-old mother.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Nothing Ever Stays The Same

The frequency of my posts most certainly hasn’t increased and neither has my visits to other’s blogs to keep updated on what’s been happening in everyone else’s life. It’s sad. Sad, because I come back and find that Robyn lost her mother in January during my absence. I’m so sorry that I wasn’t there for you, Robyn. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

I was finding it more and more difficult to find time to spend on the computer, but to come back and read the news of Robyn’s mom and find that many of my friends have quit blogging has saddened me even more. Nothing ever stays the same.

I’ve felt lost lately. During the whole month of January, I had bronchitis and pneumonia again. I placed Mom in the assisted living from January 5th through the 25th so I might be able to recuperate and gain a little energy to bring her back home to continue on this journey of Alzheimer’s with her. We were snowed and iced in the whole week after I brought her home. Unable to get off this little mountain, I spent the last week of January concocting ways to keep her and myself busy. We did everything from coloring to baking and I found myself exhausted again by the first week of February.

Once the driveway was cleared, Mom and I were back on our routine schedule—I took her to day care, spent the days trying to catch up on sleep, grocery shopping, preparing everything for taxes, and all the normal running that one does to keep two households afloat.

On February 11th, on the way to day care, Mom complained of a headache, nausea, and dizziness. By the time we reached the front door of the day care, her legs became weak and she had turned ashen white. The caretakers at the day care grabbed a wheelchair for her to sit for a moment. A few minutes later we had her back in the car and I was on my way to the hospital with her. At the hospital, after routine blood tests, chest x-ray, and CAT scan, the ER doctor said she had a very slight start of a UTI, a very slight start of pneumonia, and no indication of stroke. He prescribed antibiotics and sent her home. He said she could continue going to day care because the antibiotics would knock both the UTI and pneumonia out within three or four days since they were caught very early.

Mom seemed to be doing fine other than an increase in her confusion. Monday, February 16th when I arrived at day care to pick her up, the nurse greeted me at the door. Mom was in a wheelchair and the nurse said Mom was having a difficult time walking and her confusion had increased. It took three of the caretakers to get her to the bathroom during the day and two of us to get her into the car. I called Two Feather to meet me at Mom’s house and he helped get her out of the car, into the house, and onto a chair at the kitchen table. Her legs were very weak, she was out of breath, and she was complaining of nausea and a headache. I called her doctor to explain what was going on and told him I was going to call the ambulance to have her taken to the hospital.

More of the same tests that were run six days earlier came back negative—no UTI, no pneumonia, and no sign of stroke. Yet, Mom was increasingly confused and her legs were increasingly weaker. She was sent down to physical therapy each of the four days she was hospitalized. Her doctor suggested I have her sent to a skilled nursing facility for continued physical therapy. So, on February 19th, Mom was transported to the skilled floor above where she had been in assisted living while I recuperated when I was ill.

Mom’s been there ever since—in a wheelchair. She’s receiving speech, occupational, and physical therapy every day and will through the end of March.

It’s been three weeks since Mom has been home and I find it increasingly difficult to deal with. It’s not like placing her for a respite care where I know when she’s coming home. It’s heartbreaking. I visit her every day. Some days are good visits when I wheel her down to the daily activity, play bingo, or we sit in her room and talk. Other days are excruciating when she cries and begs me to take her home. Good visit or bad, I always come back home feeling empty inside except for the overwhelming feeling that creeps in that I’ve let her down.

I don’t know what will come from her therapy, what will happen next, or whether or not she will regain her strength, but I do know that walking into her empty house doesn’t prepare me for any of it. Everything in the house is the same—except she’s not here. I walk around glancing at her things and cry constantly. Visiting her every day is not the same as having her home. I miss her terribly.

I love you, Mom.

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