A New Chapter in My Mother's Journey and Our LivesJo Dee Messina
In April 2013, my mother went into the hospital for chest pains. Four days later, she underwent heart surgery. With every complication possible, she’s remained in medical care ever since. The majority of my immediate family’s 2013 was spent living in the hospital with my mother, monitoring every vital sign, procedure, and medication. We spent endless nights sleeping (or not sleeping) in a chair next to her bed, being woken by nurses getting vitals, giving meds, or taking blood. Meanwhile, machine alarms and alerts went off while an oxygen machine hummed.
My mother retired from the government and has good insurance. But insurance can only cover so much. Medicare eventually runs out. And it has.
That being said, today we have to bring my mother home. To prepare, I’ve spent the last week gutting her home — sorting through every box, cabinet, and drawer she owns. I cleared the bookshelves of trinkets and things I doubt she remembers she has. The house needs to be not just clean but sterile, so I’ve washed, folded and sorted every piece of linen she owns.
The dressers have been cleaned with bleach. When my mom arrives, the house needs to accommodate for a wheelchair and hopefully, someday, a walker. So my husband built a ramp. He also replaced a wall in bathroom, fixed cabinet doors, replaced the HVAC filter, and reset the commode. I brought in carpet cleaners, upholstery cleaners, exterminators, plus a professional cleaning service to sanitize everything. I had to be sure there wasn’t a spot untouched and that the entire space had been scrubbed to its cleanest. After everything was said and done, I thought I would collapse from exhaustion. But that’s not the toughest part.
Next up are my mother’s medications, which I’m terrified about. My mom is on so many medicines that, now, must be administered by us: blood thinners, three blood pressure medicines given three times a day, meds for her heart rate, potassium — the list goes on and on. My trip to the pharmacy is one I’m blocking off a good deal of time for. After I receive instructions for administering them, I’ll create a chart to stay on track.
Through this entire experience, I have learned more about medicines, procedures, and the medical world than I ever wanted to know. Life as we knew it had changed in 2013 and will change again as we kids become her full-time caregivers. She lives here with me, so I’m trying my best to get prepared — but I can’t help but feel as if I’ve overlooked something.
Today begins a new chapter in our lives. Despite my uncertainty, it brings hope and a belief that anything is possible.
My mother hasn’t spent a night in her own bed since April 19, 2013. Starting today, she will sleep in her own bed. She will be able to see her grandchildren every day, and be surrounded by family and those her love her at all times. It is a miracle she has come this far. So, today is a beautiful day. One filled with gratitude ( and a little fear). Today is the day my mother gets to come home.
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