Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Truly Dark & Stormy Night

I haven’t written anything for a while. This is due in part because several difficult events collided in my life the past few months. Among other things, I’ve spent the past 3 months helping my mother. She landed in ER one night the end of April and we nearly lost her. We thought she was suffering from a stroke. It turned out that her electrolytes were dangerously low, especially her sodium level. Who knew that something that sounds quite simple could be so devastating?!

When her sodium level plummeted, the cells of her body filled with fluid. The symptoms mimicked a stroke and she has spent the past 3 months regaining strength, agility, and her memory. For a few weeks, she stayed with us after being released from the hospital. During this time we did our best to help her recuperate. Physical therapy came in a couple of times a week to help her, as did wonderful Home Health nurses as my very determined mother fought her way back to a sense of normalcy. We were assured that in time, she would probably make a full recovery. This gave us an important hope to cling to on challenging days.

We found ourselves rejoicing in small victories, like mastering how to use a cane, and seeing bits and pieces of my mother’s personality resurface. In time she impressed the nice physical therapy people, and they released her from their care. As she recovered, we all realized the next step was to ease her back into her normal routine, and so we loaded her up and moved her back to her nearby apartment where she could relearn daily skills that most of us take for granted, like using the television remote, and the phone. I found myself reliving the emotions that went with sending our kids off to college. Was she ready for this? Had we taught her all she needed to know? True, I was only a phone call away, but it was still a bit of an adjustment.

I came in each morning to help her get ready for the day and to make sure meals, meds, and exercises were on track. Again, it was a challenging time that consumed numerous hours. The first few ventures into public realms, like the local grocery store, were entertaining as we worked on rebuilding strength and social skills. Friends and family members often called to check on the progress being made, and some were disappointed to find that Mom wasn’t quite back 100% yet. 

We learned that it was a miracle that she had survived. We were told that younger people had died when their sodium level wasn’t as low as Mom’s had been. This knowledge put things into perspective as others not acquainted with all we were dealing with continued to offer interesting advice.

We are seeing the light at the end of this particular tunnel. Mom’s memory is improving by leaps and bounds. She is acting more and more like herself, and her stamina has increased greatly. I count blessings daily, grateful for her example of perseverance, determination, and courage. She has faced yet another character building moment with considerable grace and fortitude. 

Imagine waking up in a hospital setting, unable to move, or remember much of anything, dependent on others for the most basic human needs. I will probably never forget the look of terror on her face the first few days, as my siblings and I did our best to help her reclaim her life.

She is indeed the “Unsinkable Molly Brown,” as we have often called her during other challenging events. Hopefully her tendency to never give up will influence the rest of us to hang in there during these taxing latter days. We are all being stretched in some manner. None of us are immune to difficult trials that often descend without warning. How grateful I am for the tender mercies we saw on almost a daily basis, items that helped us know we weren’t alone in facing an overwhelming test. None of us know what the days ahead will bring, but it helps to know that prayer is real, faith soothes inner wounds, and our Father’s love dispels fear on even the darkest night.