Life Interrupted

Suitcases Packed Life Interrupted

© 2013 Carolyn Moore

My mother’s life was violently interrupted this month by bacterial meningitis. Of all things that might befall this hardy 71 year-old woman, I suspected a landscaping debacle involving a palm tree, hedge clippers, and a ladder would bring her down. Great genes, great bone density, good BMI, physically activity – health concerns shadowed the recesses of my brain with a taunt of ‘someday when she’s old.’ She had a brief episode of cancer 20 years ago and has never been seriously ill since. But a handful of days and a chance encounter with a carrier landed her in the ICU intubated, sedated, and experiencing renal failure.

A splenectomy, 18 years ago, left her more vulnerable to meningitis than the rest of the population. The fight of her life began after being discovered on the floor of her bedroom by the police. I wept when the police officer described the entry and rescue, but I had no clue of the emotional nightmare to come. As I was pelted by phone calls states away with urgent decisions and approvals, my brother raced to the hospital through seven hours of rain. We quickly began to see how tenuous life the hold on life is and how heartbreaking it can be to make life-saving decisions for a loved one. Sixteen days later all I can recall clearly are the plethora of times my brother and I have said to each other ‘What do we do now?’

I have to admit I barely listened when my mother spoke of her ‘arrangements.’ My brother knew all those details for when she passed and I thought it inconsequential to think so far ahead with her so healthy. I didn’t know what I didn’t know until I was in the moment. I couldn’t ask my mother if she was allergic to penicillin, her blood type, the name of her primary doctor, or tell the police which neighbor was okay to leave her purse and keys with since they’d broken a window and left the house vulnerable. I didn’t know the difference between being on a vent for life support and being intubated or if either of those procedures violate the DNR. I had to learn the difference between EEGs, EKGs, and MRIs quickly so I could keep up. Initially the prognosis appeared optimistic at the weeks start; it became a ping-pong game of stabilize one symptom, create another problem, over and over again.

The situation vacillates between overwhelming and humbling with chaotic days plus an uncertain future created by the meningitis, the hospital-supplied MRSA, and erratic levels of care. But I’m not the one laying there fighting for her life. I pray she’s truly not in much pain and that she hears our voices. I pray for peace for her mind and body.

Life is on hold and out-of-state until then.

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  1. #1 by susanwilinski on February 26, 2013 - 7:13 pm

    As you travel to be with your mother and face the heartbreaking reality of role reversal this situation has set in motion, know that you are not alone. There are friends who have been exactly where you are and know how you feel. Lean on them when you can no longer stand on your own. In the meantime, prayers for peace and healing.

    • #2 by Carolyn Moore on February 26, 2013 - 8:22 pm

      Thanks, Susan, for being such an encouragement! I know that you’ve experienced so much that’s similar to what I’m going through. Thanks also for encouraging to share some of these emotions and events – it does help. And all the prayers from my various sisters has certainly given me a foundation of peace throughout this trial so far.

  2. #3 by afterthekidsleave on February 26, 2013 - 7:25 pm

    Oh, how awful for all of you! And as you say, all the worse and harder to deal with, because it was so unexpected. I understand the bewilderment and confusion of having to make all those sudden “hospital decisions”–and that feeling of “now what do we do?” You will get through this, and I pray that she will, too. Until then, try to take good care of yourself. Eat well, rest, drink lots of water, try to take breaks to go outside and feel non-hospital air. Best to you.

    • #4 by Carolyn Moore on February 26, 2013 - 8:25 pm

      Yes, so unexpected, but life is so full of twists and turns. The flurry of decisions as you said are the hardest part emotionally along with the fact that I can’t discuss important decisions with the person I was always first turn to. God knows we’re doing our best. Thanks for the encouragement.

  3. #5 by bkswrites on February 26, 2013 - 9:09 pm

    So sorry to hear of this challenge for you, Carol. Know that all the decisions you make in love are the right ones. You’re in my prayers.

    • #6 by Carolyn Moore on March 9, 2013 - 8:19 pm

      Thank you, Barbara! So good to ‘hear’ from you! It has been challenging, but I’m glad I’m here in the midst of it all – strong when I can be; lifted up by His strength when I’m weak. Thanks for the prayers.!

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