I am sitting in my mom’s hospital room where she has been sitting up, eating, getting out of bed, having a conversation with me, and was able to walk (with assistance) down the hall.
About a week ago she could do none of those things.
About a week before that the doctor told us as a family to be having end-of-life discussions.
About a week before that she drove up to the city and spent the afternoon picking plums at my sister’s house and felt fine.

So yeah…it’s been a bit of a month.

After only a day or so in the hospital, it was very clear that mom was very, very sick. So much so that my siblings all started to make their way out, knowing we might be saying good-bye to our mother. That her 15 grandkids would have to say goodbye through a window. That her siblings would never get a chance to sit and chat with her again. That us kids would lose our mom.

Her kidneys had shut down (creatinine levels ~500) they were seeing something in her liver, her heart was fast and irregular, she was in a lot of pain, was completely fatigued, and couldn’t walk. Her Thyroid was WAY off (so hyperthyroid that TSH was undetectable, and presented as hypothyroid as the thyroid hormones basically went toxic) There were some really rough days, but slowly she’s been getting better. There was one stretch where her body was so fatigued, worn out that she slipped into delirium, and didn’t sleep for over 3 days. Over the next while her kidneys recovered completely due only to hydrating them with IV fluids. Her thyroid is now responding very well do a steroid to suppress it (Prednisone) and her strength is returning.

I accidentally took this photo in the middle of the night during one of those hard weeks. I realized it fairly accurately conveyed what I was feeling. Everything was off-kilter and fuzzy.

Amazingly it was Thanksgiving weekend when everyone got here. So for the first time in probably a few decades, all of my brothers and sisters and all our kids were together. We had an outdoor, physically-distanced thanksgiving meal. A few of them actually. Since many of you will know what happens in a tight-knit community when the word gets out that someone is in the hospital. Ham dinners showed up. Turkey feasts. Someone brought out a massive roaster full of ribs one day at like 10 AM. One of our cousins brought down his camper so we could have more people stay at mom’s place, while at the same keeping the house empty so M and I could come home and sleep after our shifts at the hospital, in a COVID-free space.

This is sort of like Uber Eats….when you have family around.

Since she was admitted my sister and I have been trading off being with her since she was hospitalized (COVID restrictions means she can only ever have two visitors). That means that everyone else had to visit through the window. Amazingly she was put in essentially the ONE ROOM in the unit that opens up onto a courtyard so people could come to visit. We’d phone through, and they’d visit. Kind of had a lawyer-visiting-his-client-in-prison sort of feel to it. Except with more singing of hymns. And more laughing. And more family. And more smiles. And more singing. And laughing. And my 90-year old aunt throwing snowballs at my mom since there was snow overnight one time.

There have been LOTS of visits. Rows of cards, phone calls, and so many passed-on greetings have poured in, and continue to do so. Just today (her 21st day in the hospital) she got another flower arrangement and another card.

Unfortunately she has been moved from that room to another one, and the ability to visit is rather restricted. Although to be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t put it past my 70-90 year old aunts to try to scale up to somehow get access to this roof.