Sunday, September 5, 2010

Taking Care of Mom

** In this post, the Mom I refer to is my Mother-in-Law.

My Mom was in the hospital this week for back problems and untreated diabetes.

Its been a week of turmoil.  Mom's biggest problem is that she hasn't been able to walk.  And that she is obese.  Although we all love her so much, none of us can lift her.

It all started a couple of weeks ago.  She started complaining that her back hurt.  Her progression from having a hurt back to being unable to walk is hazy in my mind, but basically one day she just was in pain, and then the next day she had fallen on the floor and couldn't get up.

We came over, and through a long process of using a board that she could get onto and then slide up onto a chair, we got her off of the ground.

Then the next day, she fell again. She didn't tell anyone and was on the floor for hours. Thats when we decided that someone had to stay with her all of the time.

Her back, and then leg, continued to hurt. It was increasingly difficult for her to get up off of the couch.

Her daughter decided to take her to the emergency room in the middle of the night.  At the emergency room, they found out that she had high blood sugar, but didn't do anything to treat it.  Mom said that she didn't need any pain medicine, and after an x-ray, she went home.

So the emergency room didn't accomplish anything, but she did get an appointment with her doctor in a few days.

In the meantime, I took turns staying with her.  I stayed two out of three nights with her.

It would take her over an hour to get up to go to the bathroom.  And then she would sit in her walker and I would push her to the bathroom.  We didn't have a wheelchair.  The second night, we got a portable commode set up for her next to the couch, but she still had extreme difficulty getting up to use it.

I didn't get much sleep either of those nights (2 hours one night), but I managed to get through it without a huge mood problem!  Yay!  I did cry a bunch and feel emotional, but I was able to deal with it.  It was very stressful for me to sit there and watch her try to get up to use the bathroom.  All I could do was offer food, words of encouragment, and pray with her.  I tried to keep the situation as positive as possible, even though inside of me I was scared.

Finally it was the day for her doctor's appointment.  Her doctor admitted her to the hospital. She stayed in the hospital three nights.  After the first night, she finally agreed to take pain medication (vicodin) which made a would of difference.  They also gave her medicine for diabetes.

Now, she is at her son's house.  She has a wheelchair and hospital style bed.  She is taking her medicine and on a diabetic diet.  She is going to have physical therapy twice a week.  I'm confidant that she will regain her mobility.  Already she is able to move around easier, and can use the portable toilet on her own.

All of this has been hard on me.  I've come to love her very much, and I want to help all that I can.  It is a pull between wanting to do everything and being careful to let others do the work so that I don't hurt my health.  

I'm sensitive to changes.  For example, her house is right down the street from mine, and I like to walk to her house about every other day and visit.  When I wasn't doing well, she often provided me with emotional support. Now I can still visit her, but I have to drive about 15 minutes.  It's not bad, but not the same.  Other people are there too, so it's not the same as having one on one time with her.  So that's just one change in my routine and support system that I have to deal with.

The hardest part is that I tend to take on other people's emotions.  Perhaps a better way to say it is that I have a lot of empathy.  When she was scared about being in the hospital, I felt anxious for her.  I worried about her.  I worried that without her mobility, she might have to be in a nursing home, and it might not be a good one.

Fortunately, her son and his family are able to take care of her in their house.  So now I feel a lot of relief.  But I still wonder if she is going to recover well enough to be at home by herself.  Everything seems to indicate that she will be able to, but the future in unknown.

Taking care of her has changed me.  It was a lot of responsibility and stress, and it makes me wonder how much I can take on and still continue to manage my bipolar OK.  I think I was successful because I continued to take my medicine on time, I got sleep whenever I could, and other family members helped me.  I cried and got hugs and it was all OK.

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