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I already did my Dear 2010 post, so I will just say it was a year with incredible highs and some devastating lows and leave it at that. 2011 will be better – it has my lucky number in it.

I told you about Christmas Day with MoC, but I left out one of the more amusing moments. An aid came in to help MoC get into her chair so that we could go to the dining room. MoC has a little tether thing that hooks to her clothing with a magnet on the other end that hooks to a plastic base. If MoC gets out of her chair (or out of bed) the magnet is pulled from the base and an alarm sounds and the nurses run in to scold her. The aid told MoC that since I was there, she wouldn’t put the tether on her. And MoC said, “That’s okay. If I do anything wrong, she’ll just kick me in the nuts.” The aid almost fell over, but MoC just smiled and went right on. So that’s been the joke for the last week.

As David and I were moving her apartment, we both had moments of “to hell with it, let’s just throw it away!” MoC has a baker’s rack against a wall between the bathroom and the second bedroom. It has a collection of glass plates and cups on it (very cool plates and cups from South Africa). But every time we walk by, we bump into it or the air disturbs it and it rattles and freaks us out because if we broke anything on that stand, MoC would kick us in the nuts. David threatened to throw it away and I said, “Could you destroy it first?” And his eyes lit up and he said, “Excellent idea!”

Because we didn’t have very many boxes, we ended up packing stuff, taking it downstairs and unpacking it so we could re-use the box. Which was a giant hassle. So I said, “Let’s just cut a hole in the floor and toss her shit down there.”  And David nodded very seriously and said, “Now you’re talking. I’m going to need a jackhammer and … ”

So I told MoC that’s what we did. She also thought it was a good idea. And she mentioned it to one of the nurses … who took her seriously. This is where this post gets slightly less amusing, but there’s a punchline at the end, so read on if you dare.

Because we’ve been packing/moving/unpacking since Sunday (hey, she’s lived there 20 years and she has a lot of stuff) we haven’t seen MoC since Christmas day. And I haven’t talked to her since Monday because she goes to bed very early. I called Wednesday but didn’t get an answer, so I called the nurse’s station and talked to the nurse. MoC had an MRI on Monday. The first thing the nurse said was, “The doctor is going to call you in the morning.”  Oh noes! I made the nurse tell me what she knew (or was willing to say) and it wasn’t very good news. She thinks MoC has declined physically as well as mentally. She mentioned that MoC told her we cut a hole in her floor and were throwing her things downstairs. Oh. My. God. I said, “MoC isn’t delusional and she didn’t make it up – we told her that. It was a joke!”

Still, I was worried because MoC has seemed exceptionally tired lately and she has been mixing up her words again or unable to find the correct word. The nurse thought she might have had some mini-strokes.

I talked to the doctor yesterday. He told me that my mother seems to think she’ll be able to go home by herself and that it just wasn’t possible “for a while.” He said she had declined physically and that they would keep working with her, but she had leveled off and we needed to figure out Plan B. Which to me meant “nursing home.” He also said she has had “two small strokes.”  Which explains the word confusion and the tiredness.

When I got off the phone I was completely depressed. He made it sound like she had one foot in the grave. And all I could think about is how ALIVE she was – you’ve read about all her antics and believe me, I only told about a third of the stories. The thought of her in a nursing home just broke my heart and it’s making me tear up as I write this.

I spent the day in a depressed little bubble, hoping no one would talk to me because I knew if they did, I would cry and if I cried, I probably wouldn’t stop any time soon. David finished moving the furniture downstairs (through the hole in the ceiling, of course) and I am going over today to clean the old apartment, so I had last night free to sit around and feel sorry for myself. I also had time to go see MoC. I steeled myself for what I would find … a little old lady, scrunched up in bed, confused and dazed and on the brink of death.

What I found was … my mother. My real mother – MoC in all her dry-wit glory. She’s fine. Well, she isn’t fine, exactly, she did have two more little strokes, but she was alert, awake and not searching for as many words as she had been in the last week or so. It may have set her back a little bit, but I didn’t notice any more physical difficulty than what she already had. In fact, when the aid came in to take her to dinner, my mother sat up, scooted to the edge of the bed, grabbed the wheelchair, stood up, turned around and sat down in the chair. The aid had her hand on my mom’s arm, but she wasn’t helping or supporting her, my mother did it on her own.

We had a long talk. I told her she has to work her ass off if she wants to go home – and she won’t be going home alone, my sister MMB is planning an extended stay once MoC gets out. In MoC’s mind, MMB won’t stay forever and so she will be on her own – eventually. But the nurses don’t know my mother and how she thinks, so they take her at her word. I told her she had to be careful about what she says because the nurses write down everything and most of them can’t tell when she’s joking. When she first started the recovery process, all she wanted to do was go to dinner (she has a feeding tube). So she worked and worked until she progressed to pureed food – and they gave her bacon the other morning. Real bacon. She still has a long way to go, but she was determined to eat again and she made that happen. I told her she has to do the same thing with her mobility. If she’s in bed watching television, move her legs. Move her arms. Practice, practice, practice. The therapist doesn’t have to be there for her to do that.

We do need to have a Plan B – that’s reasonable and prudent. But even if she does have to go somewhere else after she is released from the rehab, it doesn’t have to be permanent. That doctor made it sound like she was going downhill fast and that we should prepare ourselves for the end.

The end is not here.

And when I see that doctor again, I’m going to kick him in the nuts.

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