Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thank God It's Spring!!!

This seems like it has been the longest winter. Last winter wasn't so very hot, what with Aged Mother crashing with influenza just before Christmas and then picking up Norwalk virus on her first outing out in January.
This season kicked off with an aunt coming down with pneumonia just before Christmas, and succumbing to it rapidly. Great sadness just before the holiday. Day after Christmas Beloved Sister is hospitalized until New Year's Eve with complications from a condition that later turns out to be medication-induced liver toxicity. My mom has eyelid surgery, my sis and niece took her to that one. Less than a week later, I get a call from my niece that my dad has fallen. Yes, he did break his hip and yes, he did need surgery. The night of his surgery, his sister was admitted, so I headed up to the ICU to discover it was very, very serious. I was very grateful that I had dialed her number so he could say goodnight to her- it was the last time he spoke with her. Auntie died exactly four weeks to the day that my first aunt died. Extremely sad and traumatic for all her family.
During the surgery crisis, we had got sister to a specialist who confirmed my suspicion that her problem was caused by a medication she was on for many years. Reversing the damage will take months. In the meantime, she gets sicker, and is admitted with serious complications of her liver problem- pulmonary thrombi, and lots of them. Aged mother visits dad and passes out in the bathroom, prompting a hospital admission for a cardiac workup. And my cousin is admitted with pneumonia to the same ICU bed Auntie had been in previously. Three in one hospital and one in the next city over. It was stress in the nth degree, yet also comically coincidental. Example; when my cousin (who is mentally handicapped) was transferred from ICU to the rehab unit, my middle sister was there, and helped her settle in and answered staff questions until her family/caregivers got there.
And then my sister became really, really ill, and I dragged her to a major teaching hospital where she was admitted and tortured for two weeks while I prayed the specialist of our dreams would be called in on her case. That still may happen- she did get a call from him, but her experience there left much to be desired.
And just about then, we had a major crisis at work- two people out on extended leaves put me at the wheel temporarily. I'd like to think I rose to the challenge but I am so exhausted i can't really tell.

The good and positive things that came out of all of this: my extended family proves once more that both grief and laughter are best shared in solidarity. My cousins are brave, compassionate, strong, generous and damn nice to be around. When Cousin ended up in the same rehab floor as Dad, there was much visiting up and down the hall, and there was always company for the invalids. Dad got to find out how funny my cousins' kids are, and my kids brought ice creams up the hall for my cousin.
I found out exactly how good the next generation is at handling crises and chronic demands. When Mom collapsed, I was at work; I dialed cells, and got fast responses. My kids and my niece flew in and kept the information flowing, one stayed with my dad and kept him calm. My daughter stayed over multiple nights when my mom and dad got discharged. My niece volunteered to be the one to discharge Dad so I could rest, and her husband visited with him so the rest of the family could go to wakes. My daughter minded the little ones so that my nephew could visit, and they made artworks that had pride of place on his bulletin board. My son's girlfriend brought hot tea to my dad on her way to school (part of the hospital is her grad school program) when he complained that his tea was lukewarm every day. My niece took him to follow-ups. My nephew brought the kids up to see him (the baby thinks the walker is like a cage and enjoys sitting beneath it..)
We got the parents moved to the first floor, eliminating multiple daily trips up the stairs. We'd like this to become permanent, but we'll see.
My sister is stable for now. The specialist may see her sometime soon. This is good, in a tentative way.
My schedule was tough but I think 90% of the time I was truly needed, I was off or could trade shifts. This is a huge blessing.
The last good thing was that my son proposed to his girlfriend. We adore her. We are ecstatic.
So there were some blessings mixed in with all the craziness.

And now, we are in spring.
So far, my beloved sister-in-law (my favourite ex) fell and broke her hip while skiing- she is fortunately recovering nicely and I will visit in a few weeks.
My godmother passed away, rather quickly and not expectedly, but had a peaceful passing. We buried her today.
A dear friend lost her mom yesterday. A peaceful passing, surrounded by family and faith, after a long and hard illness. We'll attend her memorial this weekend.

I have decided that some respite is in order.
A trip is in the works, and I will post on that later.
Cherished readers, do you agree that I am ready to welcome spring in my heart? The wicked winter has not let go of my loved ones yet, but there is hope. After all, the nine-foot pile of snow Plow Guy lovingly shoved into a corner of my driveway has been replaced by a puddle on the dirt, and my first daffodils bravely poked their heads above last fall's leaf mulch blanket.
I was inspired to pick up the trash in my yard and pull up some of the tall dead stalks remaining from my Russian sage and catmint and mallow on a lovely warm April day.

And that is how I threw out my back...
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