It is always home here. Things Seem pretty much unchanged since my last visit in 2001. There is however one exception. Mother is not here. And thus the reason I suppose for this trip as she had "called" to me in an unspoken voice that was so strong I could not deny this trip. Though not here physically, it kind of feels like she is here. There is a presence about the place and it does not feel as empty as I thought it would.
We go to the hospital to see Mother. She is in ICU. We wait, I'm told she looks bad in preparation for what I am about to see. Entering the ICU, I ask to see her. Partially escorted and directed to her room, I look in and stop - this is not her. I return toward the desk and state who I am here to see. That is her. Still after entering the room and taking a closer look, I am not convinced that it is my Mother in law. It does not look anything like her. I look at the name on the monitor, it is hers. So I realize this must be her. Acceptance comes slow. And then come the tears. I touch her awaiting a response; there is none. I call to her, "Mother." She offers no response. I look at the ID bracelet one more time just to be sure, and the blood ID bracelet - that will be a definitive identification. It is her. But I don't feel her. She is not here. There is only the body that she used to occupy assisted to life with mechanical ventilation and vasopressors to maintain a blood pressure. I know she called to me to come. Where is she now? I can't help but wonder. Finally convinced, this is her, with tear filled eyes I caress her gently and mull the regrets for not having come sooner.
But here is the now and here we are. I go into the nurse mode and after a brief assessment realize that if this were my patient, I would wish for her release and an end to what suffering she might know. Is this why you called to me so vividly I wonder. Am I the one to petition for your release Mother? How different is it on this end of the nursing spectrum. I open her eyes, there is no response. The monitor shows a normal heart rhythm. The pressure is maintained. But there is no neurological evidence that life exists here. The ventilator delivers every breath and she does not even try to assist. Her kidneys are working somewhat, I see, as the Foley has a good amount of urine. I am told that she is not tolerating the tube feedings anymore and they are to begin Hyper Al. I am told the family wants everything done. But I know there is a time to let go. I know there is a time when all you can do is never going to be enough. I know there is a time to let go. But where is that knowledge now?
I want her to wake up and smile one more time. But in reality as I can see, that is not to be. From what I know, short of a miracle, she will never smile again. The bed sores will not heal. She will never come home. I hurt so. I hurt for me, I hurt for her, I hurt for Daddy, "J", my x, and Brittni. As I try to write through these tears, I think how can I be strong here? How can I be strong now? I am usually pretty good at comforting my patient's family members in times like these. But this is not a patient of mine. This is someone I love and short of a miracle. . .
A miracle for whom? For Mother who will never have again the life she loved? She will never see the same quality of life. I know she would not want to live this way though we might love having a part of her around. But she is not in the body that I have come to the hospital to see. Standing by her bed, I don't feel her presence here at all. I feel her more when I am at the old trailer she called home. Still I wonder where she is right now. I know that she is not completely gone because she is still held to this world by a body that is forced to cling to life. But could she have walked with me on the beach today? Could she have walked with me in the desert yesterday and did she share the beauty of the desert wildflower? Yes, I think she was there.
So if we are talking miracle, can we have her back to health. Can the bedsores be healed, the cancerous tumors be forever taken away. Can she walk again, and do the things she liked to do? Can she smile and laugh again. Can we restore her youth? Can we take her out the home place again that she so longed to see again? Realistically within the limitation of this life as we know it, I know it cannot be.