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

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Location: United States

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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Blogger rilera said...

Oh Joanne, I'm so sorry. I know what you are going through. I walk through the house and look at Mom's things and I cry. I miss her so much. I try not to, but I feel guilty about placing her last fall. I feel like I let her down. But then I remember that, like your mom, she could no longer walk and toileting her was impossible. It's this awful disease. I hate it. Please take care of yourself and hug your Mom tightly. Cherish your time with her; make the most of it. None of us knows how long we have with our loved ones.

3/09/2009 8:56 PM  
Blogger Lori1955 said...

Oh sweetie, I am so sorry for the turn of events in your life. As I read your post, I can feel the heaviness in your heart. You have not let her down. You are making sure she gets the best care possible. I know though, that knowing that in your head and feeling that in your heart are two different things.

Please keep us posted and allow us the priveledge of walking with you through this.

3/09/2009 10:24 PM  
Blogger Annie said...

Joanne, I'm sorry to hear this. You have not let her down! Sending good thoughts your way.

3/09/2009 10:27 PM  
Blogger ¸.•*´)ღ¸.•*´Chris said...

Some of us have quit blogging but just of our AD experiences. We are taking different paths with our blogging now. It's helping to try different things.

I'm sorry you have been so ill. I hope you are feeling better with every passing day.

Don't ever think you let your mother down. You didn't. Like others have said though, we can tell you that, but how you feel is totally different. I think you have done the best you could do for her and that is all you can expect from yourself. This disease stinks.

Please take care and hang in there. We are here for you. (((hugs)))

3/10/2009 12:54 AM  
Blogger nancy said...

today i am able to post a comment. yeah! i worry about you, that you will forget to take care of yourself through all this. i can sense the sadness in your post, but somewhere deep down your mom knows you have always been there for her and always will be, no matter how this all unfolds.

please try to keep us updated, even if it's only a few sentences. we are here for you, i hope you know that. ((((hugs))))

3/10/2009 1:43 PM  
Blogger rilera said...

Sending hugs your way Joanne. Please remember that you are not letting your mom down. You are an amazing, loving daughter and your mom knows that in her heart. Please take care of yourself and try to update us when you can. We care deeply about you and your mom.

3/14/2009 1:06 PM  
Blogger flintysooner said...

Sorry to learn about your mom Joanne.

3/15/2009 8:34 PM  
Blogger Frank Baron said...

Jo, it pains me to see a woman I once considered of unquenchable spirit, suffer so. The ache in your heart retards your body's healing.

I understand you missing your mother's presence but that presence has been fading for some time -- gifting you with the time to adjust to these changing circumstances.

You can best serve your mother in her ending time by taking care of yourself: eating, sleeping, walking, resting -- building strength physically and spiritually. Not until your own has rebounded can you loan strength to your mother.

Let your conscience rest. You're a fine daughter. Your mother, of all people, knows that.

Please try to leave weekly updates here or drop me a short email whenever you can.

3/17/2009 6:42 PM  
Blogger ~Betsy said...

I'm just now seeing your post. I'm sorry it has taken me so long. I think of you often and wonder how you are getting by - now I see things have been very difficult.

Please take the advice of the others. Rest, take care of you while your mom is getting the help she needs right now. This disease takes its toll on everyone and it hasn't skipped you.

3/20/2009 9:00 AM  
Blogger Katmir said...

like you and others, i'm behind in reading updates and writing in my own blog. sure hope by now you've recovered and life in the mountain is beginning to show signs of hope.

hang on, sweet lady. we're with you. days may pass as life takes on it's own meaning, but i'm praying for you and your family each day.

4/28/2009 10:30 AM  
Blogger Mark Pettus said...


I'm sorry to hear of your struggles. I hope things are better with mom.

5/04/2009 8:46 PM  
Blogger Cinnamin said...

Thinking of you today Joanne and wanted to let you know it! I keep waiting to spot an update posted. I hope things in your part of this world are going well.

6/05/2009 3:17 PM  
Blogger Ray Wong said...

Hugs and much love.

7/01/2009 11:48 AM  
Blogger Anne C. Watkins said...

Thinking about y'all, Jo. Love you.


7/09/2009 5:20 PM  
Blogger nancy said...

i keep visiting and hoping i'll one day see a new post. please know you and two and your mom continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

i hope all is well with you. ((((hugs))))

7/22/2009 9:25 PM  
Anonymous Tracy Rosen said...

I don't know you and found this blog in a strange way (but I thank you for your oatmeal story as I was about to feed BOTH of my dogs the stuff since I'm out of dog food this morning!) but I want to say keep writing. It can be a lifeline during times when we think we can't go on. I know it has helped me come back from the bottom of myself and beneath a few times.

Courage, strength, and thoughts from Eastern Ontario,

8/09/2009 6:28 AM  
Blogger Ray said...

Missing you, still.

8/12/2009 12:02 AM  
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Blogger rilera said...

Hi Joanne, I miss you! I hope you and your mom are doing well. Thinking of you and sending hugs your way.

10/08/2009 12:52 PM  
Blogger Lori1955 said...

For some reason, you are on my mind today. Please let us know how you are when you can.

10/28/2009 10:46 AM  
Blogger ~Betsy said...

Hey there Joanne....just stopping by to check in on you. I hope all is well. (((((hugs))))) my friend.

12/17/2009 9:20 PM  
Blogger Frank Baron said...

Hey Jo. Hope you're well. Drop me a line.

7/01/2010 10:22 AM  
Blogger Frank Baron said...

Anytime you want to fire up your emailer....

11/25/2010 2:22 PM  
Blogger Avila said...

Nothing stays the same and we can't go back again. Life can be so bittersweet.
I've been off blogging for a while too - somehow, life had to happen and I had to work and life got complicated..... but recently, I've returned to one of my "first loves" - writing for fun - blogging. And I looked at all the blogs I had linked - all of them stopped.
I think of you every so often, Joanne. Please know that right now, you are in my heart and prayers.

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