Tuesday, April 9, 2013

About the Same

Our friends and family know that this has been an especially difficult season for Husband's 91-year-old mother. Over the past six months she has moved temporarily from her two-bedroom apartment into a room where she could receive more assistance in daily activities. Then the move became permanent at Christmas, but she began falling and eventually needed to transfer into the full care wing of the nursing home.

These loved ones ask us how she is because they know the winter has taken a toll on Husband and me and they want to support us, but it's hard to know how to describe how she's doing, because any status report calls to mind two comparison points.

How is she doing in comparison to last fall, when she was still in her own place and was feeding the cats that begged at the sliding glass door to her patio? Really poorly. Or how is she doing in comparison to two weeks ago, when she was in a hospital bed with a brace stabilizing her fractured neck and a horrifying gash in her scalp held together with staples? Much better.

How was she doing two days ago when she held her head in her hands and cried to get back in bed? Not well at all. Or how is she doing today, when she knows us and enjoys the piece of chocolate I unwrap and place in her hand? Much better.

At the start of this slide we tried to be descriptive and precise. We said that she was declining but not in pain, and that she enjoyed visitors. Then as the decline became steeper we told people that the woman they had known would not be the woman they would see.

Now we don't try to be precise. She's about the same, we say, and this covers the variableness of her condition from day to day as well as the certainty that what she had last fall will never return.

We're hopeful that when the doctor approves removal of her neck support she will be more comfortable, and that more comfort will...well, we can't really hope for more than that. We're thankful she's getting good care, and more than grateful for friends who empathize with this stage of her (and our) life.

Because we know that from now on, comparisons are no longer useful. She'll be about the same.

No comments:

Post a Comment