Lately, on TV, there is a car commercial that keeps repeating the word “recalculating”. As I heard it being repeated I sudddenly realized that this word sums up my life these days.
When you are dealing with someone in palliative care there is no constant state, it is forever changing and usually not for the better. At least not in the long run. The thing is – my Mom may seem like she is on the way out one day and then she wakes up all cheery and fine the next morning. Meanwhile I have spent an agonizing night thinking I am going to lose her at any moment.
It’s like being on a yo-yo. Someone is whipping you back and forth sometimes at top speed that makes you dizzy and sick to your stomach and then once in a while a yo-yo trick is thrown in just to complicate things.
This past week I had an electrician come to the house to do some very minor changes on two outlets. In the course of turning the power off and on a couple of times it just happened to knock out Mom’s chair lift – the one that goes up and down our stairs and cost 10,000.00 to install. A fluke. I call the company I bought it through and was told you could not get parts for it any more and they would not send out a technician to my house. It is less than 4 years old. So I RECALCULATE….. what do I do now?? I am in a new reality of crisis proportions since now my elderly mother is trapped on the top floor of my house. Fortunately after a day of extreme anxiety the electrician and another company were able to get a replacement part and it is now working again. RECALCULATE….
I go with Mom to the doctor hoping to arrange for a palliative doctor to be assigned to Mom’s case. RECACULATE… no such luck. She’s apparently not imminently palliative so I am just supposed to keep calling and leave messages to the doctor when I have a problem. And wait….
Mom was taken off one medication for her diabetes. She was put on another one and reacted terribly to it. I thought I was losing her. RECACULATE…. Acting as doctor for my mother I call and tell her other doctor that I think she is reacting to the medication and she should come off it. Doctor agrees. Now her blood sugar levels are screwed up and I must every night RECACULATE to hopefully get the dosage right so her levels don’t spike.
Mom is getting weaker. She needs more physical supports to get around. I buy a new tension floor to ceiling pole to put in her bedroom so she doesn’t fall like she did one night. She loves it and it is helping her. I need to RECALCULATE…. I’m not used to her having a pole almost in the centre of her room and I bang into it every time I’m in her room. I’m clumsy at the best of times. This will take some extra RECALCULATION…..
I now have 4 hours respite every Sunday morning so I can go to church and not worry about Mom. This is all fine and dandy until I realize that every sunday morning now I have to make sure the kitchen and living room is tidy, instructions are given, food is left ready, etc etc RECALCULATE…..
Are you getting the picture here?? Everyday there is something that happens that I have to physically or emotionally or both RECALCULATE to care for Mom. RECALCULATE = CHANGE. I don’t do well with change especially when it is happening constantly and often at top speed.
And change is most difficult when it concerns what is directly happening to Mom. I am in constant limbo about her condition. Is she getting worse? Will she bounce back or is this the new normal? When she feels horrible at night will she be alive in the morning? When the fullness comes in her chest and down her arm is she likely to suffer a heart attack? When? So I RECALCULATE… thinking I am going to lose her. No, false alarm. Maybe something she ate. RECALCULATE….
That word RECALCULATE is my new norm. My new reality. Except RECALCULATING means my new reality changes every time. My head spins sometime. My heart sinks lower and lower. RECALCULATING is exhausting and highly anxiety producing.
I’m not exactly sure what the car commercial is all about concerning the word recalculating but one thing I do know. Recalculating a car is very different than recalculating life with your elderly mother day in and day out. There is no manual. There is no guide. This is uncharted territory and I am terrified. The road has so many twists and turns and potholes and bumps that you just hang on for dear life. You just grip the steering wheel till your knuckles are white and you RECALCULATE…. Again…. and again……and again……