Tuesday, October 16, 2012

That was the week and a half that was

Well! That was certainly a week and a half. No really, it's been an eventful week and a half. Although properly, it started two and a half weeks ago when I got a call from my mother on Thursday telling me she had been in the hospital since Monday.


I was in the middle of the grocery store, and while I called her back later, her phone kept cutting out, so I wasn't able to gather much more than that she had gone in for heart tests and they had decided to keep her for several days. She got out of the hospital the next day though, and seemed healthy enough to drive out to see us a week later for James's baptism.

So last weekend, my mother, her intrepid aide and my brother drove out to visit us and my aunt and uncle drove down from Connecticut as well. We don't get to see my aunt and uncle nearly enough given that we only live three hours away (thank you, weekend jobs), so we passed a lovely weekend catching up with everyone.

James was baptized on Sunday, wearing the traditional familial christening dress, now 106 years old. He was an absolute doll, allowing the minister to walk him through the congregation, smiling beatifically the entire time. He really is such a lovely, happy baby. If you're going to have a surprise third baby, I highly recommend having one like him.

My mother and brother stayed until Wednesday, so we got more of a chance to visit. And Doug and I went out to dinner alone with my mother so we could discuss various things about her health. On the whole, given that it was a conversation that largely revolved around what you could call end-of-life housekeeping, it was pretty good all things considered. It was established that yes indeed, we DID want to be called when she was in the hospital, preferably before she had been there three days. And my mother was even the one who brought it up, although my brother and I had gone in planning to talk to her about it. My mother had significant issues with her parents telling her about health crises - she learned about her mother's first heart attack through a letter written two weeks after the fact - so she's always felt pretty strongly about this sort of thing. Which is why it's been so surprising to me that this is the second time this year I haven't learned she was in the hospital until she had been there several days. We discussed making sure Doug and I both have all of the power of attorney we need (I have financial, but I'm not sure if I have health) and discussed other such cheerful topics as whether the insurance company would want any of her medical equipment back or if we needed to dispose of it. Not cheerful conversation, but necessary and good to have.

As it turns out, she was in the hospital because she's had a heart murmur her entire life, and they were doing a heart catheterization to establish what kind it is, but couldn't because there was too much pressure in her heart from fluid in her heart and lungs. So they admitted her for a few days to get rid of it and established that the heart murmur isn't a bit deal, so we only need to worry about that pesky congestive heart failure. She's not sure what her prognosis is, but as she said, it's never enjoyable to receive a diagnosis with the word "failure" in it.

Sigh. I don't feel ready for this yet. It feels like when you're dealing with a person in their late 80s or 90s who have a significant health crisis that really knocks them down and then have a series of little things for the next few years until the final big thing hits. So far this year, Mom has been in the hospital twice for her heart, once for a UTI that got out of hand and then got C. diff. Only she's only 74. It's too early for end-of-life conversations and accelerating loss of health.

So: family - good! Congestive heart failure - bad! Baptized child - cute! It was a long week but I guess that pretty much sums it up.

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