Saturday, December 26, 2009
Putting Mom to Bed
Last night Mom woke me up twice. Once she yelped, I think -- my memory's hazy -- and my nephew and I both woke up (we're in rooms next to each other, down a short hall from her room) and called in unison, "Are you all right?" I got up and went to investigate; she'd just gotten back from the bathroom and was cold, so I helped her find slippers and draped a sweater over her shoulders and sat with her for a while (she was sitting on the edge of her bed) before I went back to bed. That was about 3:30, I think. Around 6:00, I heard more yelping and got up. She was still sitting on the edge of her bed. She told me that she'd lain down, but the sweater wasn't mussed, so I was skeptical. She said she was having trouble breathing; when I saw her oxygen tube on the floor, I understood why. I got it in place again and asked if I should call 911, and Mom said tartly, "Oh, good heavens, no: if we did that, they'd be here all the time." I checked her oximeter -- below 90% -- and cranked her concentrator up from 3 liters to 3.5, which helped.
She said she was still cold. I helped her lie down and covered her with blankets, and she relaxed right away. (My sister said later that a lot of her breathing trouble seems to come from fear of not being able to breathe as much as actual difficulty breathing; her O2 levels are always best when she's lying down and relaxed, rather than sitting up and tense). We talked for a while, mostly about my father ("I think about him a lot," Mom said, "but not sadly"), and then I got into bed with her and put my arm over her. My mother's often disliked physical contact, especially when she isn't feeling well, but she held my hand and squeezed it. After a whlie she seemed safely asleep, so I went rather groggily back to my own bed.
My sister woke me up several hours later for a shopping trip we'd planned yesterday; more on that in the next post. We went into Mom's room and she told my sister how I'd "put her to bed" and how much she loved it when I got into bed with her. "I loved it," she said. "Loved it. I cherished it. I wish you could do it every night." Over dinner tonight, she called me her "night-time elf."
I was very moved that she was so happy to have me there, and was so articulate about it. One of my abiding regrets about my father is that I didn't spend a lot of time just sitting with him, not nearly as much as he'd have liked (although, in fairness, I couldn't, because I was running around trying to manage both his life and my own). So putting Mom to bed was a luxury for me as well as for her, and it was also a welcome break for my sister, who's usually the one to respond to all middle-of-the-night calls.
I must say, though, that I'd rather all this hadn't happened in the middle of the night!