Sunday, May 18, 2008

No Use Crying Over Spilt Juice

What a difference a year makes! It was one year ago on Mother's Day, that my mom had a mini-stroke in the middle of our church service. I chronicled in my blog the arrival of the EMS crew and the trip to the hospital, the additional mini-strokes she had over the course of several months, and the move from her assisted living facility to rehabilitation center and finally to a nursing home. Since then, it's been a tough transition but we've all made the best of it and Mom has been doing pretty good. The mini-strokes have decreased in frequency and she is getting very good care.

I was a little nervous about taking Mom to church and Sunday School on this Mother's Day but she seemed to be well and I decided that we'd give it a shot. I had told her that I'd pick her up early on Mother's Day and I told the nursing staff that she'd need an early breakfast. The weather that morning was chilly but sunny and things seemed to be on track.

I arrived at the nursing home about 15 minutes earlier than planned, just in case Mom needed some extra help with shoes or grooming. I found her fully dressed, sitting in her wheelchair, and sound asleep drooped over her breakfast tray. She hadn't touched it, from the looks of it. And it was a very good-looking breakfast. There was cereal, scrambled eggs with melted cheese over it, pudding in a bowl, fresh fruit, tea, and a wonderful looking glazed donut. Mom was totally oblivious to it all. Her roommate, on the other hand, was sitting up in her chair, eating away and watching Mom with interest. I guess she was waiting to see how long it would take before Mom's nose touched the cereal in the bowl.

"Ma, wake up," I urged. "It's time to leave for church and you haven't eaten your breakfast yet."

She stirred and murmured, "Can't go."

"Why not," I asked in some consternation. "Are you sick? Do you hurt anywhere?"

"Too sleepy," she replied.

"But it's Mother's Day. Don't you want to go to church and Sunday School? And we're going to have BBQ ribs for lunch....your favorite."

Mom straightened up and opened her eyes. "Will I see Joe?" she asked. (Joe is her beloved Sunday School teacher.)

"Sure, " I assured her. "Here, why don't you eat this donut while I go sign you out at the nurses' station." I handed her the donut and headed out the door.

By the time I got back, she had finished up the donut and was looking for some place to wipe the glaze off her hands. I made a quick detour into the bathroom and wet down some paper towels to take back to her and soon she was spiffed up and ready.

"Here, Mom.....why don't you take a few sips of this orange juice while I get your coat," I suggested. Big mistake! I had just turned around to head to her closet when I heard her say, "oh, oh!" I swung around and there she was, holding an almost empty glass with orange juice down her front, in her lap, and dripping off her wheelchair and onto the floor.

"Oh, Ma...for Pete's sakes," I sputtered as I hopped over the spreading puddle and dashed into the bathroom to grab more paper towels. Back I came and down I went on my hands and knees, trying to sop up the juice before it spread any further. Having accomplished that, I headed back to get wet paper towels to clean the floor so it wouldn't be sticky. Then I turned my attention to Mom's wet clothes. Holy Toledo! She wasn't going to church in those.

"Here, Mom, you're going to have to stand up so I can get these pants off of you. They're soaked. Just hang onto my arm and we'll get you up," I urged.

She slowly struggled to her feet and as her backside cleared the chair, a shrieking alarm started to go off.
"Shit!" I shouted, forgetting myself, and pushed her back down into the chair. "They've got you alarmed. Hang on, I've got to go find a nurse so we can get that alarm turned off. Otherwise, I'm not going to be able to get you up to change your clothes."

The ringing in my ears was starting to subside and I noticed it was being replaced by the sounds of giggling. Mom's roommate was shaking with laughter. "She's a mother. Be nice," I thought to myself as I headed out the door.

I found the nurse and we soon had the alarm disconnected and the alarm pad removed from Mom's wheelchair. I assured the nurse that I could take it from there and she looked a little dubious, seeing as how Mom and her roommate were now BOTH laughing like loons but she backed out and told me to come get her if I needed her.

I pulled out a new outfit for Mom and struggled to get it on her after I'd ascertained that her diaper was still dry (thank you, Lord!). It's hard to get clothes on someone who's a dead weight AND laughing, but I did it.

Mom's roommate, in the meantime, assured me, "Oh, I know this isn't funny but I can't help it. It's just so funny. I can't stop laughing. You should have seen your face," upon which she burst into another fit of laughter. Mom followed in her wake. I carefully moved the bedstand with breakfast tray against the wall, just in case. There was still a full cup of tea on it.

"Come on, Mom...let's get your coat on. We're already late for church. The service started 15 minutes ago and we have a half hour drive to get there. At this rate, we might make it for the invitation."

"Ready when you are," Mom shouted merrily. Her roommate dissolved into giggles yet again. "Oh, no," the roommate gasped. "I've laughed so hard that I think I have to pee."

"Well, you'd better ring the buzzer than for the nurse," I advised her.

"No problem," she said merrily. "I've already wet my pants but I'm sitting on a pad."

I looked at Mom, she looked at me, and we both looked at her roommate. We all started to laugh.

 "Well, I'm glad there's not a problem," I said, "because my quota is I only change one mother's pants a day."

She went off into another round of giggles as I leaned over her to push the buzzer.

 "Happy Mother's Day, Rhoda!" I whispered. "You have a great day now."

I pushed Mom out the door and down the hall.

 "Happy Mother's Day," Mom sang out to everyone we passed. "I'm going to church with my daughter."

Yes, it WAS going to be a happy Mother's Day. After all, what's a little juice between a mother and a daughter?

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