I found this in my memorabilia box. My mom wrote out instructions on how to do laundry when I got married. I had not lived away from home prior to that.

On Monday night, Kulak’s Woodshed was overflowing with performers. There were almost sixty people who wanted to play that night at the open mic venue. I was very fortunate to be picked as the eighth performer.

It was my fourth performance there. I was still slightly nervous, but significantly better. Although I’ve improved, after listening to some of the other fabulous singers, I’ve realized that my voice will never reach their level. Some day, I hope to reach my best potential with the voice I was born with. I want to convey the beauty of my original songs as best I can!

I played my original song, So Real. I’m quite excited about recording it this Saturday with George. I’m sure he will create another terrific arrangement. Recently, I composed new, instrumental chords for this song and once again the music connected with my heart.

Text messages between myself and my vocal coach, Peaches (who saw my performance on the live, webcast), after I performed:

From: Peaches

YOU DID IT! You did what you practiced. That was sooo beautiful from beginning to end. CONGRATULATIONS and you looked good.

From: Judy

Wow, I feel like I want to cry!

From: Peaches

Happy tears right?

From: Judy

Very happy. I’ve come so far and I’m still moving!

From: Peaches

Yes, you have and yes, you are.


Tonight, I took my mother out to dinner. When I came to pick her up, she looked radiant, and her caregiver, Miriam, was waiting alongside her. Miriam told me my mother was filled with joy all day long at the anticipation of our outing. I felt so thankful that I had made the decision to hire this wonderful woman who has cared for my mother so lovingly. Miriam walked along with me and helped me put my mom in my car. I also asked her to take a picture for me.

My mom and I went to a restaurant called the Coral Tree Café; I have enjoyed going there with friends many times. We shared a sandwich and soup, plus I also ordered a large mocha. The mocha arrived first. My mom took a sip and commented at the “sweetness.”

Then the soup arrived. My mom looked puzzled. She pointed to the mocha and said, “I thought this was the soup!”

That was why she was surprised it was sweet! Then she said, “Shall we mix them together?”

I said gently, “Mom, I don’t think vegetable soup and mocha go well together.”

The dementia dance was once again in full effect, as my mom struggled with words and names. I danced along with her, and our waltz became smooth and seamless. For every word she forgot, I filled in the spaces. I have become an adept “dementia dance” partner.

Only a few years ago, my mom had so much energy and shopped everywhere with me. Lately, I’ve noticed that I mourn our past relationship far less. Mourning the past would mean I was going back in time.

At this moment, I am embracing the present and hurtling forward; my future has become very enchanting for me.

Six months ago, my life was completely different. Lest I forget, I went ahead and sorted through all the emails I wrote during a very challenging period of my life. That was when my eighty-four-year-old mother was very ill and on a respirator for two months.

Writing about my mother while she was ill became the catalyst for my blog. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time. I’ve faced many challenges in my life, and the experience of seeing my mother recover was truly miraculous.

The other miracle was my own recovery.

This evening – June 29, 2010.

December 9, 2009

I went to see my mom – honestly, it’s been getting harder since the last few times she was unresponsive to my presence (due to heavy sedation).

However, as difficult as it is to see her this way – staying away is also very difficult. I talked to her and explained how the weaning process is very scary and painful; I encouraged her not to panic, but just to breathe as fully as she can. If her oxygen levels are good enough, she will then be rid of the discomfort of the tube going down into her lungs.

My mom heard me, I’m sure. She raised her hand slightly several times, and as I was leaving she raised it even higher. I told her how her friends and family are all pulling for her to get through this. I wished her luck tomorrow morning when an attempt is made again.

A CT scan was also done today – the results showed that she has not had a stroke or any injury to her brain. That is very good news.

December 10, 2009

This morning the process continued.

The nurse also said mom was coughing up a lot of secretions, and was moving quite a bit. She was working quite hard to breathe. I quizzed more about mom’s level of awareness, and the nurse said that although she was semi-awake, mom did not respond to simple commands such as to squeeze her hand.

I guess a lot of patience is required for this withdrawal.

I gave consent for mom to have a main line put in, and the procedure was done earlier today. Her IV is getting “old,” and they are constantly sticking her. This way, they can leave the line in for a longer period and draw blood from it without sticking her.

She’s getting food in a concentrated liquid through a tube in her nose.

My mom will be having a tracheostomy tonight. After that, mom will be much more comfortable and will slowly be weaned. Today, after two hours she was exhausted. She may only have the trachea tube for a week, and after that it will come out with no stitches and hardly a scar. Tomorrow she will be allowed to wake up a bit. I’m so glad!

December 11, 2009

My mom had a tracheostomy tonight.

It’s so hard being at the hospital, and so hard not being there also. Yesterday, my mom didn’t look that good – the IV had leaked into her arm and her fingers looked like sausages.

I am nervous about visiting her in the morning; but I am compelled. My brother said he had a nice visit this afternoon and that she was a little responsive – I wish I had been there. On my last visit, she seemed clearly out of it.

I’ve missed her so much and assumed that after the tracheostomy procedure she would be less sedated. I was so disappointed. She will be allowed to wake up to wean, but then be sedated again.

Family members are not allowed in during that time. It is a gradual process, and I’m hoping that she will be able to have the tube out within a week. I will certainly share the good news once she is off the respirator.

My poor dad is very lost; I bring him over to my house almost every evening. He cries so easily.

December 12, 2009

When I visited my mom this morning, the nurse allowed the sedation to be taken off during my visit. I visited with my mom for over an hour and spoke with her the whole time. Her eyes were open, but she was very, very weak.

She kept motioning to the trachea tube in her neck; I can only imagine how uncomfortable it must have been since it was surgically inserted last night.

I let her know how all her friends and family are pulling for her, and how the doctors are very optimistic that this procedure is temporary. She seemed very aware of everything I told her.

December 14, 2009

This morning was fantastic – my mom was off sedation when I arrived. She had been breathing on her own (with the tracheostomy tube in her neck) with only a little support from the ventilator.

She was aware of me, and nodded her head when I asked her things. It was wonderful to have her aware of things; she listened raptly to all the updates I could share. I let her know how all her family and friends are praying for her. I also reassured her that the hole in her neck was temporary, and that hopefully in a week or so it would be taken out.

Of course, she is still fighting pneumonia, but the doctor thinks she is responding to the antibiotics. But it looked good today, and I am able to feel hopeful that she might recover; there can still be a miracle this Hanukah.

Thank you so much for your kind message – I appreciate it so much! I’m bringing my dad over to see her tonight; it’s been ten days since he’s gone to see her. It’s like a reunion. He’s nervous, but I’m sure it will be beautiful to see. My brother said my mom smiled today for him.

December 15, 2009

I took my dad to visit my mom last night after almost two weeks. It was nice when my mom mouthed to me, “I love you.” My dad was nervous, and he cried in the car while I was driving.

His first words once we got there were, “Oh my god, she’s a mess!” However, he was glad he went and my mom smiled and nodded at him.

December 16, 2009

I spent time with the pulmonary doctor this morning. It’s not a pretty picture of what my mom faces. In the next couple of weeks, they are going to want to put in a gastric feeding tube. The doctor said the tracheostomy tube probably wouldn’t come out for months. It’s all so hard for me.

Right now, she cannot move most of her body at all – she is so weak. Once her breathing is unassisted, her trach tube will be hooked up to an oxygen tank.

Right now, she is being fed through a NG tube that is threaded through her nose. The doctor said it would be more comfortable for my mom to have a gastric feeding tube. If and when the trachea tube is removed, she would be able to eat again.

Therefore, as you can see – my mom has a big climb. She has beaten the pneumonia so far, and amazingly she is relaxed and doesn’t seem to be in any pain.

I can only imagine that it is frustrating for her to not be able to talk. She smiles at me and listens; I know she is aware of everything going on. I have shared with her this prognosis, and she has such a will to live and recover – it’s simply amazing.

This happens to be one of the toughest periods in my life. I thought I was done grieving for Jason, but I still have a lot of work to do.

I still remember when I was in the hospital after having an emergency C-section. I was in agony, and Jason was very sick – he was taken to another hospital. I was given the option to be transferred to the same hospital. My mom rode in an ambulance with me a few hours after my surgery, holding my hand – I screamed from the pain that whole ride. She was there for me.

She won’t be up and walking anytime soon. I’m just looking forward to hearing her voice again someday.

© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About Judy

I'm an illustrator by profession. At this juncture in my life, I am pursuing my dream of writing and composing music. Every day of my life is precious!
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