Losing My Mother

Dani Blackman

It still seems like a dream sometimes, (a nightmare!). I phoned my Mom on December 20th, crying after just having lost my Mother-in-law the night before to a massive heart attack. She was shocked and saddened, and listened as I cried. She was so concerned for me, my husband, and my kids. She was coughing quite a bit, and I finally asked if she was OK. She told me she too had been in the hospital last night, but they had sent her home. She couldn't stop coughing, couldn't breath. But they gave her some type of medication, and told her to rest. The next day we got the call that she was back in the hospital. They were running new tests, and thought it might have something to do with her diabetes. I called her in her room, but she couldn't stop coughing long enough to get many words out. I told her I loved her, and to Rest and get better soon.

On Christmas Eve they diagnosed her with Myasthenia Gratis from her diabetes. A crude description: The nerves are attacked by the diabetes, and the muscles inside loose their strength - Her muscles inside her windpipe were collapsing and she could not get air. They were transferring her to a specialist in Vegas (from Havasu,) that day.

Christmas Day was tough, my Mother in law suddenly gone, my mother in a hospital 300 miles away from any of us. My steppdad called in tears, she had been placed on a ventilator, it didn't look good. My sister and I had already planned to go right after Christmas dinner, maybe 3pm. We decided not to wait, Christmas Dinner became a hamburger in Barstow.

We got there about 2, she was out of it. She had a black eye from trying to climb out of bed the night before. She wanted water! They said no � She was still coughing and she was going to get it anyway! And on her head she went. They then tied her up, and she was furious! She would thrash and cry and beg to be untied. In the morning they determined the ventilator would allow her to breath better, and rest, and hopefully to begin healing. They would have to sedate her. That is the condition she was in when we arrived. 2 days later, there was a new diagnosis. Congestive heart failure: a bad valve, She needed surgery to repair it, or she would die. But she was so weak, if she did the surgery, she would die.

They finally decided to take her off the ventilator, and put in a "Trachea" Then they would be able to reduce the sedation. They took her off.... and no response. We were so frightened that she had somehow suffered some brain damage. It took 4 days before she began to come back to us.

Finally, in February, she got transferred out of ICU! They decided to get her strength up, send her home to recuperate for a few months, then do the surgery. She spent another 2 weeks in the hospital, then was transferred to an extended care facility. We thought the road home was in site! How wrong we were.

In March, she looked well.... thin, but well. We had lunch on the patio, her in her wheelchair, my stepdad lovingly pushing her where she wanted to go - outside in the front to see the mountains... to the patio, to see the flowers, hopefully, a hummingbird!

The very next day she was admitted back to the main hospital, as she would be 2 more times. The hardest part through all this, is that she wanted to be back home in Havasu, They were going through all this alone. And it seemed like if maybe if she was home, she would have the incentive to get better. We could tell that she was wearing down, getting tired. It had been 3 1/2 months now.

As April rolled around, she was exhausted. On 4/10 my sister was there and talked with some personnel about getting her transferred back home. (Ins. co. problems.) This started a 4 day campaign of phone calls, faxes, begging, pleading, from 5 women in 3 states. By Monday, the transfer was set for Wednesday.

She was so happy to be going home! Back in Havasu at a nursing center, Thursday and Friday were good. She had visitors, and my Grandma spent much time with her. Getting her to eat through all this was difficult, she didn't want to. I still believe that was a factor of her death, she wouldn't eat and had no strength. That Saturday she took a dive. They admitted her to the main hospital in town. My sister and I got there Sunday morning. She looked awful. She had a condition called Ademia, where the blood begins to separate (like oil and water) and the thick part continues through the veins, but the thin part starts seeping out and into the tissue, and the body begins to swell up!� It didn't even look like her. She was not alert, but she could respond to our voices. She couldn't talk, but she could squeeze our hands. My brother arrived from Oregon the next day. Debbi and I were supposed to return home on Monday (kids, jobs, etc,).... but I could work late on Tuesday, so I planned to borrow my Step Dads car, and stayed Monday night too. We were going to come back Wed. night....... but we would not see her alive again. She passed on Wednesday afternoon, at 1:40. - As Debbi & I shared our lunch hour together from work and school. We were talking about her at that very moment.......

And every day goes by, the hole in my heart grows deeper.

You can meet my Mom at: Mom

Dani Blackman

You can send email to Dani at: [email protected]
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anniversary date 04-22-98
date of post 06-07-98

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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW