“Where my writing explosion began”
For a long time, I would say I saw myself as one of the “walking wounded.” I also described my world as “Zombieland.” There were no highs and there were no lows. There was simply nothing but a bland existence.
I thought that after losing a child and dealing with three challenging children, I’d be better prepared to deal with further adversity in life. However, all that scar tissue did not make me feel any tougher. The scar tissue was numbing. I felt both scarred and wounded.
I honestly made the effort to take care of myself, and continue with all of my responsibilities. However, I could not lose weight. I was more than slightly overwhelmed by the constant stress in my life.
Currently, I am filled with wonder and amazement about how I’ve managed to find a sense of humor. Constant stress continues to bombard me. However, learning to express my feelings has saved me. Most of the time, I am relaxed and smiling, no matter what storms might be brewing around me.
I believe it is because I have become a writer.
When my mother was on the respirator for two months, I received encouraging feedback that my email messages were moving and riveting.
That is what inspired me to begin this blog.
In four days, it will be exactly two months since I started writing here. I have written a lot of stories, but very little about the experience where my writing began. I’ve decided that I am ready to share that story.
I remember it was a Monday morning. I was just leaving to drive carpool for my daughter when I received the call. My 84-year-old mother had fallen. While she was navigating the bathroom in her assisted living facility, she had lost balance.
My husband told me he would go to make sure my mother was okay until the paramedics arrived. He told me he would make sure everything went smoothly. Both of us knew that an advocate is necessary at times like this. He stayed and went with her to the hospital until I arrived. He never visited her after that. Instead, he accepted that I would be unavailable to our family for a while. I appreciated very much he went that very first day.
This story is so fresh, and perhaps it doesn’t allow for those insights that only come with time and stepping back from a life-changing experience.
However, already I can see four important lessons, which I learned during this ordeal of my mother’s illness. The first one was the release I achieved from sharing. The second one was the comfort of friendship, which resulted from connecting. The third one was the realization of my own fortitude and strength, even as I shared my vulnerability and doubt.
The fourth one was the power of love.
My mother could have easily given up. At her age, it was actually unlikely for her to triumph over so much pain. She was easily prone to infection, due to an immuno-deficiency disorder. I watched what happened with both my mother and father-in-law. They were not willing to fight this battle. My mother allowed herself to fight, because the power of love is what inspired her to do so. She loved life and she loved her family.
I might not have been able to save my five-year-old son, but that was another lesson for me. That was a different lesson. The power of my love for him, even though he died 18 years ago, is what has given me the inspiration to write. I may have had a gift for writing, but what I am really doing is connecting with other people. My mother’s illness reignited the trauma that I had only pushed back inside of me. I want to write so I can share how pain leads to insight, change, and eventually healing. This process is happening for me every day as I’ve written my stories!
Now, I am going to share some of my messages. Most of these messages were to friends and family. I often wrote deeper feelings to my hypnotherapist, Connie. Those messages started off as factual but changed as the stress and trauma overtook me.
As I begin sharing this story, I must break it up into parts. There might be a long break between parts. I wake up every day and I’m never sure what I will write about. This story is different for me than my other stories. I think that is because it’s ongoing; my mother is still recovering.
And so am I.
My heart was pounding. Was she really okay? My mom is like a cat with nine lives. She has fallen so many times and has been lucky every time. This time she was not so lucky, but it could have been worse. I was told that breaking a shoulder is much better than a hip.
Here are my messages:
November 25, 2009
Life throws us some tough curves. Imagine, after feeling the relief on Sunday – I get a call from my father that my mom fell in the bathroom that morning. She broke her shoulder and is in the hospital. A surgeon called me last night. Without surgery she will not have mobility to use a walker, and her hand will be weak (it’s her primary hand). She is sick with a cough, so nothing can be done anyway right now. I’m thinking she shouldn’t go through surgery.
On top of that, my father had a car accident on the way to the hospital that evening. His car was totaled, but thankfully he was okay. He is devastated, and I am trying to keep his spirits up.
November 26, 2009
I’ll come on Saturday. The unreality I feel about scheduling, is because I need to make a medical decision this afternoon. Today I have to make a decision as to whether my mom will have surgery to repair her fracture. Without it, she won’t be able to walk (with a walker) again. However, I don’t know if she’ll handle the surgery. It’s been hard.
I’ve been told it’s “up to me.” The surgery would be on Friday, so you can see how challenging this is. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family. I’m going to try my best to be calm. I have a lot of things to be thankful for.
You being there is one of them!
November 27, 2009
The decision for my mom to have the surgery was so difficult. I had so many reservations, but my father and my brother were very certain my mom needs it. I saw both sides, but of course, I am very worried. I was told there wasn’t time for a second opinion.
The surgery began at 3 p.m. today and should be done soon. I’ll let you know how my mom is doing when I hear something.
Thank you so much for your support and input. I appreciate it very much.
November 28, 2009
She ate a few bites last night, and I gave her cereal this morning. She still has trouble with some words, but is better!
My mom looked good when I saw her this morning. I did just get a call from my brother that she has lung congestion. A little concerning. Hopefully, it will pass. I’ll stay in touch. Still planning to play tennis. I can visit before and after.
November 29, 2009
Rough few days. Had to decide if my mom should have surgery to repair her broken shoulder. It was supposed to be my decision (my father asked me), and of course I agonized. Wasn’t sure, didn’t know what to do. It turned out my brother and father were absolutely certain she needed it done, and the surgeon convinced them not to even wait for a second opinion. She had it done on Friday night.
My mom had complications, yesterday. She has congestive heart failure, and is being aggressively treated. We don’t know much, but she had a lot of difficulty breathing, yesterday. I hope today is a better day. I’m trying to be strong. I cancelled tennis this morning. I really wish I could hit something right now. Hope things are going okay in your world.
November 30, 2009
I’m feeling pretty down today. Didn’t sleep well, and this morning I got a speeding ticket on my way to the hospital. When I got to the hospital, my mom was very down. She had choked badly while eating breakfast, so I felt frustrated that I didn’t get there sooner. I think her mood change is due to the medication they are giving her. Prednisone is a powerful steroid and is known to cause horrible side effects.
Up until now, she wasn’t in pain, but today she was. That was very hard for me. My brother came, and he cried a little – I didn’t, but I thought it was interesting to see how affected he was. I allowed myself to come home now, because he said he’d stay. It was nice to feel his support.
I went to get my mom something cold, so I walked a few blocks to Gelson’s where I found some Gelato for her. Walking back, I almost keeled over from pain in my stomach.
I am sensing this is going to be a battle she won’t win. I’m not sure how long this is going to be going on and I’m scared that I won’t be able to keep it up when I’m needed most. Just having a loved one present, seems to be such an important key to my mom’s recovery. I went through five years with Jason, and it’s coming back to me what a hellhole hospitals are.
December 1, 2009
My brain is so tired, I can’t think of what to write. Yesterday was so up and down. I feel like I’m hanging onto a roller coaster.
My mom did have big improvement last night. I should feel great about that, but I can’t trust it to last. I’m not sure what I’m feeling, except trying to figure out how and when to catch up on household things. However, I still am chugging. My presence is very appreciated and helpful – even necessary. Can’t think about how long this may go on. Just glad everyone else is managing okay.
December 1, 2009
Today was up and down. This morning, my mom was sitting up and looked much better.
However, when I went this evening to visit with my dad – she was struggling to breathe. She had a little setback with some bronchial spasms. It was very scary, but the doctor said she’s now stable. It seems like they discontinued her oxygen too soon, and will have to add medication back through her IV.
I hope tomorrow is a better day.
December 2, 2009
I know this sounds horrible, but I don’t know what to do and I’ve thought about writing a speech for “when the time comes.” You and I both know that Jewish funerals are held quickly. If she improves, then at least it’s a testimony I’ll always have. If I do write something, I would definitely love my professional writer/friend to read it – you!
I appreciate your support more than you know.
December 2, 2009
It was very traumatic when I arrived this morning. I met a rabbi (chaplain) on staff at the hospital. She said a blessing in Hebrew with me to my mom. She was with my mom while she was struggling to breathe, and helped her.
Sending out email is definitely a way of reaching out. The responses are helping me. Especially yours.
December 2, 2009
This morning my mom was put on a respirator to help her breathe. Obviously, this is very serious. However, we were told that she’d be kept sedated and comfortable; she cannot be awake while on the respirator. It will be a few days of this, at least. We are holding out hope that she will be able to come off it.
I feel helpless and I’m trying to be positive.
December 2, 2009
To my friend, Janis:
I remember well how you were there for me when Jason died. That was a long time ago. You simply know exactly what to say and do – that is such a source of comfort.
I spent some time sorting through my mother-in-law’s things – something I haven’t had time to do. I’m going to go bring my dad over here, if only to keep him busy. I’m torn about going back to the hospital. Do you think she knows or hears me when I’m there?
December 2, 2009
I’m trying to be positive, but I feel like a zombie. Yesterday, every minute with her counted and today I can do nothing. She called me this morning, and wondered when I would be there. When I got there, a code blue had been called. I was able to say a prayer for her with the hospital chaplain.
If she recovers it would be a miracle. I’m trying hard to support my poor father. He is coping with my mom’s illness as well as his loss of independence with driving. He totaled his car in an accident while on the way to see my mom in the hospital. I don’t know if he should drive anymore. It’s all sad, but part of life.
I still have reason to be hopeful, however, because I have been so close with my mom – I’m preparing myself. I’ve always understood the time would come, but I also know how I will miss her so much. I am trying to grasp that reality, and I’m walking around like a zombie.
December 3, 2009
I saw my mom this morning – she’s being kept sedated, but she was aware of my presence and able to squeeze my hand.
Tomorrow at 4 a.m. the process of weaning her off the respirator will begin. It is painful and difficult, but this will be a huge turning point if she is able to breathe on her own. I’ll keep you posted.
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