Ocdbloggergirl's Blog: OCD, Life, and Other Misunderstandings

More Mental Malaise, Less Donald Trump

Filling the Hole — November 20, 2014

Filling the Hole

babymotherdeathPerhaps “Filling the Hole” is not a wise choice of name preceding my last post, but what the hell.

I am fine physically, in spite of my lifelong belief otherwise. Now I need to know why I’m alive. After my mother’s death, my life’s purpose croaked too.   My organs were supposed to shut down, one after the other, in solidarity with my mother. Until the age of 33, I had one identity: daughter. My identity died September 13, 2011. My family was dead except for a few distant relatives. I called my mother’s first cousin, Charles, but he was still angry at my mother for distancing herself from the family after my grandmother died. Cold in the morgue or not,  them there mountain grudges die hard. He was nice in that he never said he was mad at my mom, but it was a “don’t call us, we’ll call you,” scenario. I wonder if sometimes he and his sister wonder whatever happened to me. Now I was no one’s daughter, no one’s family member. I didn’t belong anywhere. It made me even more certain that God overlooked me the day my mother died.

Now look at me. Almost 37, and once again reminded that for no particular reason, I’m still alive. I played the hand dealt, and I’m the only one holding my cards now. I did pretty well for myself considering all the blows that came that first year. My mother died and I gained the love of my life. Then the love of my life, gay man that he was, used my love for him against me. I’m still in love with the illusion he painted. The one person in the world who understood me, who saw me as brilliant, who shared the same interests as me, and the same ideals. He told me I got him on a level no one else did, that we would be friends forever. He’d hold me in bed at night, nothing overtly sexual, but he must have known the feelings he sparked within me. His abused past, how he got his disease, made him all the more mesmerizing to me. The one thing I’m certain we both shared, was low self-esteem. I only saw it once in a restaurant when he teared up because he thought the restaurant manager was staring him down. The rest of the puzzle came in the stories he told. Men who were also in love with him, friends he had that never materialized, stories I knew were lies.The stories may have been true in his past, but not now. One guy he spoke of was in a foreign country when he spoke of going to give him a hand job. Another guy was a cop. In fact he used the pretense of writing an email to Cop, but it went to me instead, and I think I was the target anyway. The email was titled, “Pig in a Blanket.”  The email told his lover that I was the pig who never did anything and freeloaded on them. It’s true I wasn’t good at chores (or doing them at all) and I did eat them out of house and home for just 250.00 in rent/ later 475.00 their pain and suffering rate after my botched suicide attempt. My bad.

But the point is, I do what I got to do now. I live alone and it’s such a blessing to have no one to tell me what to do, to not be fearful of being thrown out by one wrong step, to just be. I tend to my cats, I help out a friend, and I have my hobbies. I have internet friends. I read, occasionally write, I’m a gamer, I swim in season, and I go places, and I eat a lot of burgers. La dolce vita. And I dumpster dive. But that deserves a post of its own. 

Went to Grocery Store, Ended Up in Cemetery — June 3, 2014

Went to Grocery Store, Ended Up in Cemetery

You’d think after approximately two years of riding mass transit, I’d remember that the bus stops running at 6pm on Sundays, not 6:30.  Since the driver offered me a transfer, I thought maybe I still had the chance to get on another bus. Nah.

“Where you getting off at?” asked the driver as we neared the downtown transfer.

” Uh, I was hoping to get on the 202.”

“No, the bus stops at 6, so you going downtown?”

“Yes, I guess I am going downtown,” I said with affected cheer. Now, I could have got off earlier and went to a different grocery store location with more of a walk, but the dread of extra walking made me take my chances with a transfer. Fail. Well, I’m here, I thought.  Might as well enjoy myself a little while, then walk 10 blocks up to a Family Dollar and do my shopping there. All downtown were the signs of life being lived:  people drinking, eating, and sightseeing. I drowned my sorrows in frozen  yogurt, saving the colorful plastic spoon for my collection. Then I began my quest for the 10th Street Family Dollar. Passing by Ye Olde Church, a sight caught my eye. The gate to the oldest cemetery in town stood open. Before now, the gate was always locked. My mother and I always wanted to tour that cemetery, but Mom was a little ‘late’ to this Land of Dead Episcopalians. So it was just me and her ashes around my neck. And this is what I saw:

 

Dead people.
Dead people.

 

More dead people.
More dead people.
This guy.
This guy.  Can you see the eye?
This
Sacred to the Memory of Solomon Somebody
This fellow was a sea captain who gave up the ghost in 1787.
This fellow was a sea captain who gave up the ghost in 178?
I didn't do it.
I didn’t do it.
Sad.
Sad.
j
“27  Club” before it  was cool.
B
Polly
All sides are graves, including this 10 year-old boy.
All sides of this stone are graves, including this 10 year-old boy.
Whoops, nearly fell over someone.
Whoops, nearly fell over someone.
Redefining "Rapture Ready"
Redefining “Rapture Ready”
Even if you were beloved  when you died, one day you'll be forgotten and share your plot with an air conditioner. Lucky you.
Even if you were beloved in life, one day you’ll be forgotten and share your plot with an air conditioner. Lucky you.

 

Dead in

Location! Location! Location! Molder in comfort with central heat and A/C. Solid brick home. Lots of shade trees and QUIET NEIGHBORS!
Location! Location! Location! Molder in comfort with central heat and A/C. Solid brick home. Lots of shade trees and QUIET NEIGHBORS!
Oldest Grave in Cemetery -an 18 year-old
Oldest Grave in Cemetery -an 18 year-old
Lovely view on the way to the Family Dollar
Lovely view on the way to the Family Dollar
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Fate — November 23, 2013

Fate

Added to my regrettable poetry, this humble offering. My mother would have been 71 today, I sometimes find myself thinking on her birthday, that it isn’t fair she’s dead. I know, just look in a cemetery at all the young folks who croaked, but one can’t help how you feel sometimes.

Whoever said life’s not fair is right.

Trying to stay above water,

not give up the fight.

But the water is murky,

Try as we might,

some of us slip out of sight.

Left to our fate,

no one sees our plight.

Pepper to Taste — June 20, 2013

Pepper to Taste

Ever since my old therapist chucked me due to new Medicaid restrictions, I have a  new therapist named Pepper. It isn’t a pseudonym, her name really is Pepper. I have no idea what her last name is, just that she’s a therapist. I just liked her when I met her during an intake interview and asked if she was taking new clients. So voila. When I think of Pepper, I think of that doll by Ideal from the 1960s. Pepper the doll had red hair. Pepper the therapist has red hair. In fact, if Pepper the doll had an age progression photo done to age her into her late 50s, she could be Pepper the therapist.

ImagePepper

But let me digress a bit. So new Medicaid restrictions were causing dumping of us ghetto/trailer folk all round. The first to fall was my eye doctor. People on Medicaid apparently do not have eyes. They literally cut all coverage for eye exams, glasses, etc. Well OK.  Next was my dentist. Due to the fire hoops all Medicaid providers must jump through, my dentist dropped all Medicaid folks. Then my therapist dropped Medicaid for the same reason. “I’m just not going to play their game,” said she. I don’t blame her. My psychiatrist, though, was the most emotional about it. Her eyes got watery as she said she really cared about her Medicaid patients, and would do her best to try and keep us. She told me before that she  felt an obligation to my  late mother to make sure I’m OK. Well, OK.

My psychiatrist was determined to find the loophole in the needle that was in the haystack to keep her Medicaid patients. I sometimes wonder if it was the specter of my mother urging her on, though I’m sure she has other far  more likeable patients than me. My mother was the likeable one. The shrink should know, because I drug my mother in with me every time. When I came in the first time after my mom died, she thought my mother must just be parking the car. Awkward. I always had been    intimidated by my psychiatrist, she who wielded the power to diagnose my crazy ass on a whim. My shy, awkward ways, my lack of smiling all made her wonder if I had Asperger’s.  I think she later figured what I believe to be true, my lowwwwwwww self-esteem and fear of doing the wrong thing is the culprit. I get social cues, so next diagnosis please.

Dependent personality disorder. Oh swell. I might buy it and I might not buy it. I’d be more apt to believe it if I didn’t do so well on my own, and for the most part want to be alone. But my past is my past. When my mother was alive I depended fully upon her. When I was with he whom I called my Soul Bro, I thoroughly depended on him to the point of sustaining  emotional abuse. Why do I still see him as the great love of my life? I must be a head case.  I’d rather not be dependentocdbloggergirl.wordpress.com, thanks.

 

And back to Pepper. Pepper is great. Pepper is awesome. I even try to take her advice sometimes. Whereas my former therapist mainly did talk therapy, Pepper is big on cognitive behavior therapy, mindfulness, and shit. I preferred talking and my therapist giving me insight, but OK. She is trying to give me coping skills, assertiveness skills, and learn not to obsess on doing everything to please everyone. Learn how to breathe all mindfully,  be aware of other things going on around you. Cool. Sometimes, however, I must refrain from mumbling, “Lady, are you for real?” Such as the Kitty Cat Exercise.

 

Yes, the Kitty Cat Exercise. One day, I showed up in her office flushed from a hurried walk from my apartment, a good little jaunt. I either missed the bus or didn’t have the fare, and I was late. I apologized profusely, though I am the type who will be late to my own funeral.

Seeing my state, Pepper asked me what my favorite type of water was that I liked to visit.

“A pool” said I, so the idea of me thinking of ocean water and hearing the waves was out of the question, I guess.

“Well, what is your favorite sound?”

“There is nothing nicer to me than the sound of a cat purring.”

This Pepper could work with, so she had me relax, turned on a ‘relaxing sounds’ app on her smart phone, set to purr mode. Then she cut the light in her office out and had me imagine a long-haired grey cat with a bit of white on her nose and me stroking her fur.

I tried to do the exercise, but my mind decided to be a smartass as usual.

That cat sounds like it’s on a respirator.

Then the cat I pictured became Nyan Cat, the animated cat with a pop tart body.

When the exercise was over, Pepper suggested I find such an app so I can do this on my lonesome. I said, “Yes, that sounds like a good idea.” Or I could just go home and pet my cats, same results.

 

One last thing though, and I don’t want to be maudlin, but I had the most bizarre dream. It is in my dreams that I remember I once had a mother, and that my memories of her and my life before she died are my memories.

I dreamed that my former roommates invited me back to live with them when I wished for $250.00,  but I still had my own apartment. Things had not changed though, they were both insulting me and I felt a constant threat of making them mad, or being thrown out of Faux Bro’s life which I was paying to be in. Philippe was with me. If you remember, Phil was the cat they wanted to keep as their own, the other two my nurse had to retrieve from the pound.

Then I found myself at the McDonald’s down the street, a place I had gone to get away from that oppressive environment sometimes during the final days. And there sitting waiting for me was my mother, my dead mother, which I kindly reminded her of her state. “Mom, this is a dream. You’re dead. You can’t really be here. Please stay.”

At the end of the dream, I venture back to my own apartment with Phillipe in my arms. 

 

Thanks for reading and I’m sorry I haven’t been around here or at your blogs, will do  better. XOXO

End of a Series That I Started Over a Year Ago…What Happened to My Mom and Me Part IV — December 7, 2012

End of a Series That I Started Over a Year Ago…What Happened to My Mom and Me Part IV

In case  you missed it:

https://ocdbloggergirl.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/what-happened-to-my-mom-and-me-part-i/

https://ocdbloggergirl.wordpress.com/2011/10/10/what-happened-to-my-mom-and-me-part-ii/

https://ocdbloggergirl.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/what-happened-to-my-mom-and-me-part-iii/

I try again on that red phone and this time we are allowed into the ICU. The third time is the charm. My mom is in room 14. The doctor I met in the ER asks me questions, the one with a European accent and wonderful bedside manner. 

“We  can keep the antibiotic drips going, which may let her live for a little while longer, but I’ve rarely seen anyone get better this far along. But it’s your decision.”

“How much difference would there be in time if I take her off the drips?” I ask.

“It’s hard to say. She could last a few hours or a few days.”

“But it’s near impossible for her to get better?”

“Less than a 1% chance, but if you say to keep going, we will keep pumping her with antibiotics and doing all we can.”

“I need to think about it a bit.”

He asks me about taking extraordinary measures to keep my mother alive, but I know my answer already. “No, my mother wouldn’t want that if she would be brain-dead. I’m certain I don’t want you to resuscitate and she’s told me before she wouldn’t want it.” Break my mother’s ribs so that she can be a dead woman breathing? No. NO.                                                           

“I don’t know if in her condition any of her organs could be used, but if they can, I want them to be donated. My mother wouldn’t mind. She had ‘organ donor’ on her driver’s license. It would be nice to know my mom hadn’t died completely in vain.”

They are going to do some other procedures to my mother, so Bestie and I go out to the waiting room again.  Bestie is on the phone with her mom and telling her about my indecision in keeping Mama on the antibiotics. And of course Bestie’s mom wants to give me her sage advice in the matter. I politely listen.

“She’s your mom. You can’t give up on her.”

“Yes, you’re probably right,” I reply. 

“What kind of insurance does your mother have?”

“Just Medicare.”

“Well, you know with people without anything but Medicare, they try to do as little as they can with them and get them out of there.”

I tell the doctor that he should keep the drips going just in case. Afterall, they are also keeping her on pain meds and sedation just in case. I probably would’ve made this decision anyway without the intervention of my bestie’s dear Mama, but…

I have to ask, though. How do you ask such a question without giving offense? “Um, I don’t believe this of course, you’ve all been so wonderful, but…my friend’s mother is a bit of a cynic, and she told me y’all don’t do everything for Medicare patients because of their insurance. Is there any truth in this?”

The doctor’s answer was no. “In fact, this is a teaching hospital, and most of the patients that come here don’t have any insurance at all, so we do everything we can for all our patients.”

Cool deal.

I decide to go home for some sleep. I am assured that the nurse would call me should my mother take a turn in the night. A nurse is attending my mom’s IV and I remark to him, This must be one depressing job.”

“It can be.”

“How much of the people who come in here live?”

“About 50 %.”

It is 10 pm when Bestie and I head home and I collapse into bed. I know no more until about 4 am when the phone rings.

“You might want to come now. She’s taken a turn for the worse,” says the doctor.

“Hearing the phone at this time of the night doesn’t give me a warm and fuzzy feeling,” says Bestie. She was sleeping on the couch and we go to the hospital in the quiet of the ear morning. This time I don’t have to  wait when I pick up the red phone. I tell Bestie that I want some time with my mother alone at times, but would check on her in 20 minutes because my friend is an anxious soul too. 

I tell my mother that I would understand if she has to go, that I would be fine, but if she could, please stay.  I make myself not beg her to stay for the sake that if she can hear me, I don’t want her last thoughts to be worry over me not being OK without her.

I see the chaplain when offered. He is a young Episcopalian and we pray together. I like him so much I take his number in case I need someone to preach a funeral (my mom and I hadn’t been to church in a number of years). I even end up asking  him if he thought my mom would be OK if cremated. My grandmother didn’t believe in cremation and I suddenly felt  the need for reassurance from a man of God. “God is bigger than that”, was his answer. My mother felt cremation was fine and to rid myself of the ashes in the sea was what she wanted.

I even saw an old high school friend and he was a nurse there. Small world. The last time I’d seen him he was a server at one of those steakhouses where they think it’s a good idea to use roadkill as decor. I guess the road to the original Texas Roadhouse was fraught with many an animal.

Shortly before 8 am, September 13, 2011 my mother took her last breath. I couldn’t restrain my tears now. She was gone and I held it together as well as I could to not upset her. I tried to calm myself again for the Bestie to not upset her more than she was. Who was that woman that shoved anxiety ridden Lisa into a corner and took her place in my body those two days? It wasn’t the me who had dreaded this day for years and went to extremes to prevent her death. It was the  Lisa that only comes out when I’m drowning and that Lisa swims.

 

 

 

Poetry Potluck: Mother’s Day — May 2, 2012

Poetry Potluck: Mother’s Day

 

Dianthus caryophyllus - Garoafa
Dianthus caryophyllus – Garoafa (Photo credit: Nite Dan – Enjoypixel) Really. The smell reminded her of funeral arrangements.

Happy Mother’s Day! they say,

Hallmark, K-Mart, even Safeway.

My mom’s dead, I say,

Mom didn’t like carnations anyway.

 

Written for

 http://promisingpoetsparkinglot.blogspot.com/2012/05/thursday-poets-rally-week-67-may-3-9.html

Laying Bare My Sorrows — April 27, 2012

Laying Bare My Sorrows

I’m back home, but along with the clothes I quickly grabbed, I brought back more baggage than an airport in December.  It’s getting better than it was when I got here, and I’m starting to feel happy more and uneasy less. But the uneasiness isn’t gone, the feeling that I’m merely a transient or at least a guest doesn’t go away. The day my mother died was the day I became displaced in a world where I belong nowhere. Before my mother left, I knew my place. She needed me from the day she realized she was pregnant as I told you long ago. My mother’s great love broke up with her, her two best friends died, and when her 6 month married life ended there I was. Even a therapist I once had told my mom that he didn’t know what would have happened to her if she hadn’t  had me.

So where does that leave me today? Every person has a reason for being alive, but some of us find it harder than others to discover that reason. I suppose there’s a reason for me being here too. I’m not certain of much anymore. I don’t know who loves me or if I’m just one misstep away from finding myself alone in the world again. Yesterday, I went back to my therapist for the first time since I tried to play my swan song, and she was less than happy to see me. 

“If they threw you out, what are you doing back there?”

“Soul Bro was able to convince The Partner to let me back,” I replied. She listened to my fears, to everything I could cram into 50 minutes. There’s a lot I just can’t say for fear of losing my Soul Bro, and looking back at my reasoning for trying to kill myself, I don’t ever want to risk losing him. I love him that much and am that terrified of being alone (this blog has gotten 10 shades more creeeeepy with this last paragraph. My bad). I am  an orphan, a mental midgety one at that, and I don’t have relatives at all. Well, none that care whether I live or die, they made that more or less clear when I told them my mother was dead. Oh well, they were just cousins. Second cousins. I’ll get into that some other time.

I  shouldn’t be admitting this junk, but I told my therapist stuff I’d never venture to say aloud (please don’t hate me, Bro, should you read this).  I’m not saying he lies a bit, but he stretches the truth until that bitch screams, to make himself look better occasionally. I think. Maybe it’s me being paranoid. 

I think he got mad at me for begging to come home and not being “proactive” enough in trying to be independent, so he did the worst thing anyone could do to me. I think he decided he was done with me until I was back on my feet, so he put most of my stuff in my storage unit (including my mother’s ashes), and took two of my three cats to the pound. I was able to get them out because my home health nurse saved them and they’re living with her for now…Soul Bro says I can ask to bring them home in June if The Partner agrees. My nurse told me the story they told the pound that their owner died in September and they had lived in a barn in a rural county.

Soul Bro told me on the phone that my three cats had been picked up by the pound with some strays and that he had mistaken the feelings he had for my mom with the feelings he had for me.  Of course several days later he repented, because he is a good person. Perhaps it was a bipolar thing, but  it was obvious whoever that other guy had been was gone.

I never told this to anyone, but if I had the opportunity to do it, I’d have tried to kill myself again. When I first came to Window Licker Hall, Millie, a middle aged perpetual cutter/suicidal woman told me if I really wanted to leave the rest  home she had half a bottle of pain pills. I told her then, no thanks. Around the time my Soul Bro said he had cared for my mom, but me not so much, Millie came back from a few weeks vacation at a mental intstitution. I was frantic and asked her if she still had the pills. No, she didn’t. And so I was saved again. Now I know regardless what happens, no matter how low I get, I can’t kill myself. I promised my Soul Brother I wouldn’t ever again and I was never so serious in my life. He’s had enough shit to last ten lifetimes (and at least one day of Lifetime Television programming).

Yes, my therapist ain’t happy, but I am. My Soul Bro is the joy and light of my life. To me he is a gay god, almost perfect. He keeps me laughing, except when I worry I’ll mess up. I imagine him thinking awful things about me.  If anything goes missing I imagine him thinking I stole whatever it is. I fear he’ll think I’m on drugs, and I worry that I will never be what everyone expects of me.  If I mess up in the slightess way the lack of perfection drives me crazy. One day I messed up and used the bathroom and bathed with his cell phone there. He accused me of taking it and even said that a lot of stuff went missing while I lived there before. I had to swear on my mom’s ashes that I hadn’t touched it. I forgive, but I don’t forget. I could say my theory on who stole stuff, but I will refrain from naming anyone. Soul Bro realized he was wrong and wrote out a note saying I couldn’t  be thrown out for any reason, but I think some of the power belongs with The Partner, so who knows? All i can say is I ain’t a thief.

One last confession paragraph before I stop, I now pay about twice what I paid in rent the last time, but I’d pay more to be with my Soul Bro. My therapist thinks I’m being hosed and I don’t care! I think it was The Partner who came up with the sum. The only thing really marring my happiness is not having my cats, which makes me not want  to face the plastic box holding my mother. I don’t think I can remove her from the storage unit until I get them back. 

If my nurse hadn’t rescued Dondee, the pound would have killed my Mom’s

                                         best little buddy.




Things I’ve Done in 2011 — December 19, 2011

Things I’ve Done in 2011

1. Decide to have a self-hosted blog in addition to my regular blog. Get money!

2. Decide self-hosting ain’t worth the trouble after my mom gives up the ghost (look out for posts coming here that were written there. You may not have seen ’em.

3. Watch my mother go from having a simple cold to being cold dead in the morgue in three weeks. I don’t recommend it.

4. Come to the fabulous conclusion that I am an orphan in every way, as my family  tells me in a nice way to F off. Thanks Mom  for alienating us, but whatever. I don’t recommend not having blood relations though, I really don’t.

5. Find that my “soul brother,” the kindred spirit  that I always yearned for lived just down the hall.

6. Having my life possibly saved by being invited to live in his apartment with my three cats. If I had to give up my mom AND my cats that would have been the knot in my noose. My mother loved those cats so much that I got my reason to live in caring for them. ( Talk about needing to get a life.)

7. I got to go to Washington, DC!

8. I got buzzed on a glass of semi-sangria.

9. I tried pot, tried pot, tried, tried…I try it every time I can. It numbs the sense of being in limbo that is my constant companion… My mom wouldn’t approve, but pretty sure my dad would.

10. I had a date, a genuine adult date for the first time in my life. 

11. I didn’t know it was a date until the guy walked me to my door, reached out for a hug but planted his lips on mine. Then,  what do you know, but I felt his tongue trying to get in. I gave it a thought, thought “Ah, what the hell” and opened my mouth. I let my tongue stay where the good Lord put it, because I was shy and stunned. Still counts as my first experience in the French tongue, non? A lady never tells, but I’m a blogger, so…

I’m sorry to everyone I haven’t responded to. Life has been hectic. It’s been bad, good, and definitely different. Stay tuned!

What Happened to My Mom and Me Part III — October 27, 2011

What Happened to My Mom and Me Part III

You are tired of waiting. You try to pull yourself together. You WILL NOT sob in front of people. Making your way to the visitor’s desk, your best friend is coming through the sliding glass doors. You will look back at this later as fate and good fortune entwined since you have never felt so alone in your life. You don’t want to do this alone. Now you have an ally. You both are brought back, but intercepted and sat down in a waiting area within the ER. “I will come back in about 15 minutes,” says the nurse, but you know hospital time is different from the world outside, and aren’t surprised that fifteen minutes becomes a half hour. You and your bestie watch a mini drama unfolding between a woman, her grown son, and a couple of nurses. Waiting with dignity intact is not brain surgery, but apparently this gent has actually had brain surgery in the past and fainting or some such has brought his presence in this ER. He, along with his mother, are arguing his place in triage and are showing their proverbial asses. You look and listen with disdain. You want to say, Hey asshat, at least you aren’t dying, but your mother raised you better. Instead you passive aggressively give the pair the evil eye.

Once again you tire of waiting. You are careful not to act impatient as you ask for an update, explain you don’t mean to seem impatient, and apologize.  At last you are both brought back to your mother. The ventilator is in place, your mother is unconscious from the sedation. Does she hear? You and your friend say hello to her. You’ve seen two other people on ventilators before haven’t you? What happened to them, Lisa? Your grandfather, later your grandmother. You were 15 when you watched your grandfather die in the ICU, 23 when your grandmother died in the Respiratory Care Unit when they pulled the plug. Yet you still hope. It seems important to you to let your friend know this isn’t her fault.  She’s crying. You tell her, “It will be OK. If it’s her time to go, she would have caught that cold anywhere. God makes no mistakes and she could have caught it somewhere else.” You find it almost funny that it’s your mother dying, but you’re trying to comfort someone else. A switch has turned on in your head. You are nice, but steeled. The mental midget you, anxious and alert for trouble at all times, has walked away, until you need her again.  You need to thank her, for it was Mental Midget You that always thought something awful was about to happen to your mother. She was the one who told you your mother is dying if she was late picking you up, was a victim of crime, had a heart attack. Or that you would die while you were away from your mother. Mental Midget You’s scenarios are always worse than fighting for life in a hospital. It is an advantage of having fear as your constant companion that anything bad that happens has already been imagined in far more extreme circumstances, so that you are anesthetized to reality.

You are allowed to see your mother before they cart her away to ICU. They tell you to wait an hour before trying to see her in her intensive care room, because “setting her up” takes a long time and the doctors will want to see her.

OK. You go to the café, the alternative to the bland cafeteria. You can’t eat a sandwich, so you stick to Reese’s Peanut Butter  Cups. This still isn’t real. You feel hyped. The world is different. Then you go to the ICU. Outside the door is a red phone that only connects to the Medical ICU when you pick up the receiver. You are told to come back later, the doctors are still working on her. Oh.

You and the bestie go to the elaborate waiting room for this ICU. It is two floors big, plenty room to spread out, even little nooks for families to huddle together. All fine, but you need to update Elsie and Bob, and your phone can’t get reception, so you go outside. Someone is outside stealing a smoke, stealing because the Smoke Nazis won’t even let a soul smoke in the parking lot. Funny. Your mother is dying, no doubt in part due to her smoking since she was 17, weakening her lungs to infection – yet you find it ridiculous that you can’t light up in the open air. Later, when your mother is no more than ashes in a plastic box, you will still think this.

You call Elsie. You tell her that there is a good chance of your mom dying and Elsie still can’t believe it. You can’t either, but that other you is there, and she will face it while Mental Midget You takes a vacation. But now you are alone. Steeled You’s armor is let down a bit when you are alone. You feel a tear, but you need to get back inside. Your friend will worry, so you gather your armor again for the battle inside.

Another hour passes and you return to the red phone. Doctors are still in with your mother. You thank the nurse, you are just so polite aren’t you? They will not know you are getting impatient. They have free Wi-fi for the people waiting for family members to give up the ghost. Among the advantages of being obsessive-compulsive is you bring virtually everything you own with you if you might be waiting awhile. You and your bestie play Pac-Mania on your netbook, but you are fine turning the computer over to your friend. Someone’s family is here, including a young girl on her netbook. They seem upbeat. You doubt their family member will die, or maybe it’s because it’s a big family supporting each other.

What Happened to My Mom and Me Part II — October 10, 2011

What Happened to My Mom and Me Part II

When someone is brought to the ER via ambulance, the people who come to be with their loved ones must wait for admittance. We go to the visitor’s desk, but Mom hasn’t been registered in the computer yet, so the woman tells us to wait 15 minutes. We comply. I hope Elsie and Bob don’t catch something here like I believe Mom did. They are 88 and 80 years-old, and if my mom caught a cold bad enough to bring her to the hospital, think what would happen to them? I feel so alone though, so I am grateful that they came.

I return to the visitor’s desk and my mother still hasn’t been registered in the computer, so the woman is kind enough to go find where they’ve taken her. When she returns, I go to my mother on my own since it’s hospital policy to only allow two people at a time and it wouldn’t have been right to drag Elsie back there to see what’s happening or exhaust her. I’m led far into the emergency room away from the run of the mill  curtained off beds and into another section, which must be the area for people in respiratory distress. There was my mother in a hospital gown. She is wearing an oxygen tube in her nose like the one my grandmother used at home the last 13 years of her life. This is what I remember of our last conversation, which happened between doctors and nurses coming in and out of the little room:

“Hi,” I say cheerfully, as though punctuating the shitty day with a grin.

“Hi.”

“Oh well, at least it will be something to blog about!”

“Great, I’m going to be blogged,” says Mom with fake (maybe) annoyance.

“Are you nervous?” And the award for the dumbest question of the year goes to me.

“Uh yeah.”

My mother is uncomfortable. She needs another pillow. I foolishly ask a doctor if she could have one. So no, she didn’t get an extra pillow. My mother’s throat is so dry from coughing and not eating, so that she talks like her dentures are out of her mouth for a couple of days now. They give her ice to suck on, because they won’t allow her to drink. I think she might have snuck a little down her throat anyway.

The full oxygen mask is now being used because the one for her nostrils doesn’t seem to help her and she said so herself.  At some point, Mama says to me, “I’m sorry to put you through this.”

I tell her I was just glad she was finally getting help. The three weeks leading up to the hospital had been hellish for me as I watched my mom’s decline. She had suffered.  The fits of coughing were long and frequent. I’m not coughing up anything yellow. I will be all right. Nearly falling a few times, one time even needing a neighbor to help her through the hall. If I faint I’ll just wake right up the moment I hit the ground. It’s OK.

I think my mom’s last words was a garbled attempt to ask me to sneak her some water, but I couldn’t tell for sure. She said something like ” Doctor… nevermind,” when the doctor appeared.

The doctor, a kind man with a European accent, takes me outside the curtained room to talk to me. I doubt my mom heard us in the commotion of treatments and the general sounds of a busy ER. I hope she didn’t. “I’m going to level with you. Your mother is a very sick woman. The infection has spread to her blood. We’ll keep pumping her with antibiotics and do what we can, but there’s a chance she will die.”

I ask him what are her chances of living.

“50/50.”

I don’t cry. I am polite. I thank him for telling me the truth and that I appreciated all he was doing for my mother, that I was sure he would do his best. My mother’s dying, but Emily Post would approve.

Through the course of all of this, I went out to my friends, who said they were my family, for fear  no one would deliver the message to come out to the waiting room. They had left and returned to check on me. I tell them all I know, plus that Mom’s heart is in afibrillation and that I overheard a doctor say, “kidney failure.” I tell them that I’ll call them if I need a ride and to update them.

 

They are going to put my mom on a respirator and stick a huge IV to give antibiotics near her neck. It looks more like something one would plug into a wall outlet and I know it hurt my mother. Though I was too chicken shit to watch, I heard her groan. Mom, I should have been in there and held your hand through everything – you would have done it for me. I’m sorry. Luckily the sedation probably kicked in by the time they put the respirator down her throat. By then they sent my pacing ass back to the waiting room to do this and prepare her for the Medical ICU.

This isn’t really happening. She was supposed to go to the hospital, get some antibiotics, maybe stay the night to be re-hydrated. 50% chance of living. Those odds aren’t bad. She’ll live, antibiotics will save her, they’re just telling me she might die just in case. She’s always been healthy before now. It takes her a long time to get over colds because she’s been smoking since 17. She’s only 68, her mom was 85 when she died, her grandmothers were 91 and 80-something. Not happening.

A little girl, about 3 years-old, comes up to me and says hello in the waiting room. I say hello back, but when she leaves I feel my tears.

 

 

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