And, In Tonight’s Main Event, We Have Mom -vs- Depression
This is a follow-up on Mom. I say it this way because you have all heard about her from blogs past and feel its easier to just write it this way. As I mentioned in earlier blogs, Mom has battled with a mild (right) case of depression and with everything she has had happen to her in just these past four years (see list at the end of the blog) we thought it would be nice to combine our Christmas gifts to her and send her on the upcoming CareGiving.com Bahamas Cruise for a get-away. We set up the cruise, the flights, have started looking into hotels, reserved a scooter for her on the ship so she doesn’t have to have someone push her around in a wheelchair the entire time, has her own room on the ship, everything to give her a sense of freedom or individuality.
Us: Yes, Mom?
Mom: Ummmm (x3) I don’t think I’m going to be going on the cruise, I just can’t do it?
Us: Why? What’s going on?
Mom: I just don’t know. I think it’s that I don’t want to be that far away from the doctors in case something happens.
Us: And it goes on from there but you get the idea.
We tried to see if there was anything concrete that she could relate it to since she was saying “I think” and she looks at us and says, “You should just like the docs.” She apologized over and over and kept saying she felt bad about the cost of the trip and not having insurance to which I said, “Really, Mom, don’t you know me and Trish better than that? Of course we have insurance on both the cruise and the flights for both myself and you.”
We have had several experiences in the past where I have had to return in the middle of a vacation. Once due to a pump issue, another time we lost the entire rental fee on a motor home because of my back problems, and once because of Mom being put into the hospital. We’ve learned that insurance is a must. This calmed her down quite a bit yet she was still nervous from just having to tell us.
We did explain to her that she has only been on her anti-depressant for one-and-a-half weeks and everyone has told her that it takes a minimum six to eight weeks to fully see the effects. Once she agreed to give her meds and talking with her doctor a few more weeks a chance, we mentioned the need to get the passport process going. Were we surprised when this opened a whole new can of worms. Just the thought of starting the process of getting her passport, even though she may never need to use it, was overwhelming to her. Of course we didn’t want to pressure her any more so we left this issue open for another day. But not too far away–our deadline is next Friday which will be two months and two days from our departure date for Miami and then the Bahamas.
On Monday I am the one who will be making the call or maybe just scheduling a coffee or breakfast with Mom to discuss the possibility of running by the post office to start the application for her passport, just maybe.
It’s so hard for me to see Mom this way. When my father was stationed in Vietnam with the Army (three tours), Mom raised us three boys (1 1/2 to 2 years apart). When he was home, he had either a side job somewhere, was drunk and angry, or just wasn’t all here.
When I turned 17 and finally left the house for good, it was Mom who stayed in contact. The last I spoke with Dad was to get him to sign my military entry papers because I was still under 18. It was mom who would not let us meet without her there. When I was in boot camp I found out my father left my mom of 24-plus years and was filing for divorce. Mom, a stay-at-home mom and whose only job had been as a babysitter, was alone, one kid still at home, no training, no extra schooling, a true mom of her time.
Mom pulled up her bootstraps. Here’s where she becomes my hero. She moved, went back to school for her secretarial training, became a printer’s assistant (she used the big machines), then went to work for the California Historical Library working with 100-plus-year-old documents. From there she transferred to the California Board of Prison Terms; she alone oversaw “all” of California’s inmates with disabilities or who spoke another language. She insured they had either representation or a translator at any and all of their hearings.
All this while still raising my younger brother, going through her divorce, having to move and much more.
As you can see, Mom has never been a couch potato or slacker. She has always been go, go, go from doing crafts, her jobs, rafting or water slides with us boys, attending any and all of our school events, involved with her grandchildren, her church and being the family caregiver to both her younger sister and her Mom over several years.
To see her slow down is to know she is getting older on top of all her medical issues. Just recently she met with one of her doctors who told her the same thing–that part of her depression is in relation to her just turning 71 and her having to accept that she is not the young, active, soccer mom she once was. We all get older, Mom. “Birthday’s are just another day,” or “It’s not how old you are on the outside but how young you feel on the inside.”
Now we wait and see what Monday brings with regard to the passport. At this point, the cruise, which would most likely be Mom’s last travel adventure, is on hold until her anti-depressant kicks in and she feels safe to travel the 2850 miles to the Bahamas. Even with the depression and no matter which round, this is my mom, this is my hero.
Medical Events Timeline (the ones we know of):
- Had emergency surgery to have infected (gangrene) gall bladder removed.
- Right knee replaced.
- Mom has a stroke and heart attack five days apart. Affects her short-term memory and speech.
- Still dealing with childhood damage to two of her heart valves and goes through one to two minor surgical procedures.
- Left knee replaced.
- Mom slips and damages her artificial knee and it needs to be replaced (only 2 years old).
- Mom has several more minor strokes, we’re waiting for another big one.
- Heart valves still causing issues; the heart doesn’t want fluids and her kidneys are not processing the fluids quick enough.
- Ongoing heart valve issues, during one of the procedures to inspect and open her valve something is nicked and causes fluid to build up around her lungs, of course, causing breathing issues and more heart issues.
- Surgery is done to remove fluid from in and around Mom’s lung; at the same time doctors have to scrape the inside of her lung to remove a build-up of some sort. During this procedure a rib is broken causing the extra breathing pain she’s already experiencing to be intensified.
- Five months later, Mom has double heart valve replacement surgery.
- Problems with Mom’s heart; a spot still sends signals from left side to the right side of the heart that tells Mom’s heart to turn up the heart and has her heart running at 120 -145 bpm all the time. Think about your heart thinking its running a marathon all day every day and on new valves to boot.
- Mom is sent to one of only five people in the U.S. who specialize in the electrical signals of the heart and who can go into you heart to find these erroneous signals and turn them off. Surgery is scheduled and surprisingly they find numerous areas where signals are being transmitted. They find, turn off and spend five of the ten hours in surgery looking for one signal provider and just cannot find it.
- OK so we go into the ER because Mom’s heart rate is at 125 bpm for the past six days. Finally we are told to go in and Mom’s cardiologist will meet us there. For a third time, they need to jump-start Mom’s heart with the defibrillator which will stop and then restart Mom’s heart, more or less re-booting it. OMG!! It works, normal heart rate.
- Since the heart surgery, Mom has been on Coumadin to keep her blood from clotting. Side effect of this is you need to monitor your coumadin level regularly through blood test and Mom’s levels have always been up and down which causes her to bruise real easy. She needs to be safe because any small nick or cut can cause her to bleed out.
2009 – Current
- Mom still battles with maintaining a healthy “water weight,” too much and her heart has issues, too little and her kidneys have issues.
- Water weight also causes physical weight issues and depression issues.
- Coumadin (medicine issues) on going.
- Memory (short-term) and stammering issues caused by the stoke, also on going.
- Need a Hand Up? (caregiving.com)
- Mom Makes Me Feel Guilty (caregiving.com)
- Out of the Gate, You Must Communicate (caregiving.com)
- Loneliness, Depression and Caregiving (caregiving.com)
- My Mama Is a Rockstarr (caregiving.com)
- Mom’s Shopping Trips, Just Because…. (caregiving.com)
- Paxil Please! (caregiving.com)
- Dealing with (someone else’s) Depression (caregiving.com)