Up until the past few months things had been going fairly well. Mom had her ailments and there was no doubt that each year added to her age made her a little more frail. First it was the necessity of a cane to get around safely. And then Dad's walker. Finally nothing was enough. On many occasions I had to bodily pick her up and help her to our portable toilet which we moved ever-closer to her chair or bed.
Her weight dropped steadily. I saw a peak reading at nearly 90 pounds when the edema flooded her feet and legs with water her body could not rid itself of. And then, when the water came out, her weight crashed. One visit to the doctor she weighed 84 pounds. Two week later she was 79.
I told her to eat. But with mouth sores she couldn't. I tried soft foods: soup broth, oatmeal, ice cream, even liquids. She could drink part of a warm beer and I welcomed the calories. Eventually it was all too much. She had no appetite.
In recent years Mom was diagnosed with two autoimmune diseases. A recent blood test showed positive results for a third. Her body was fighting herself. [Note: Mom asked that I not publicly talk about the actual diseases and so I won't, not even after the fact]
On Sunday October 29 she finally found her mouth pain too much to tolerate, "Agony" she said. I had told her many times in the weeks before that we needed to go to the doctor (we finally did where she was given something for dry mouth; useless) and then finally the ER at Sycamore Medical Center.
I called the Farmersville Fire Association medics to take her to the ER in their ambulance (10/30). She said she could not possibly get to the car. That was Sunday morning. By late in the afternoon she was given Fentanyl for the pain (it erased it for an hour or two) and told a CT scan showed nothing serious. The doctors said it was likely canker sores, perhaps brought on by a recent Prolia shot at the rhematologist's.
We left to come home just before 4 pm.
Nancy picked us up while Bob stopped at Kroger's for two prescriptions. The three of us sat on the driveway apron while we waited for Bob to arrive. I got the wheelchair ready and Bob and I carried her into the house.
But no more did we get her into her chair than things began to change. She could not swallow the new medication. The little she put in her mouth just foamed there, wouldn't go down. "Could you call and ask them how to swallow this?" she said. I told her just like water. But she had suddenly lost the ability to swallow.
She needed to use the toilet (of course) but could not move her legs at all. Bob and I virtually carried her there, But sitting there her head began to fall to the side (as though she was asleep). She also held her head like it hurt.
Finally she said, "I can't see". I asked her if she meant her right eye, where she had lost most of the vision with one of the autoimmune diseases. "No, I can't see at all," she replied.
Hearing those words made me think of a stroke. I stayed with her while Bob called the paramedics. They came, loaded her onto a stretcher again, and we headed out to Kettering Medical Center (Tom Wallace, the fire chief, said there'd be more people there to help her on a Sunday afternoon).
Tom said Mom was talking to him when the trip began.But he also saw small drops of blood in each eye.
We started out without lights and siren. But by the time we approached N. Miami Avenue and W. Central Avenue in West Carrollton, Tom called out "Lights!" and the driver began driving quickly. I suppose that was about 6:20 pm.
I was riding up front (Tom and another paramedic were in the back with Mom). Soon I could see frantic activity, even CPR and forceful compression of her chest. Another had a respirator bag on her face. I feel that Mom died on the way to the hospital.
What can I say that my life feel into a deep, dark hole. Coming home to an empty, cold house was harrowing. And yet it is a life I will have to get used to.
As sick as she was, Mom stayed mostly cheerful to the end. She was never a complainer but rather an accept-er. She was a good example to all of us.
I miss that sweet soul desperately. I was indeed lucky to have 68 years with her, almost every day spent in her shadow.
And for now, it is all shadow.
Courtesy: Sherry Lummis