Running on empty

It’s been a month since I picked Mom up off the floor.

Since then, I’ve been over there nearly every day for a couple of hours, sometimes twice: checking on her and fixing meals. And, of course, trying to keep my own household running.

It’s not really working.

For every hour I spend at Mom’s, it’s an hour that stuff doesn’t get done at MY house. Stuff like laundry. Dishes. Cleaning. Cooking. Shopping. In general, restoring order.

So there’s not much order at my house these days.

Don’t get me wrong; time spent helping out Mom is well spent. I don’t mind helping out; I’m glad I’m making her life easier.

But it has been making my life a bit tougher. (Insert nervous breakdown number two here.)

Some days, I think I can’t take it a moment longer. Other times, I feel happily adjusted to my “new normal,” and lucky that as a stay-at-home-mom, I have the flexibility to help the way I do.

I did have that four-day vacation break last week, though, when she was in the hospital. Did I tell y’all about that?

I’m not a doctor, of course, but here’s my understanding of what happened. Mom likely had some bleeding in her intestines (according to kidney nurse, not uncommon for CKD patients). The blood had to be processed by the kidneys, which were in even worse shape after her fall). That pissed off the kidneys, which triggered increased potassium in Mom’s system. The potassium triggers heart problems (when we came in the ER at her kidney nurse’ urging, her heart rate was 40. Blood pressure was 97/41).

She spent 2 days in ICU, and two in a regular hospital room. It took them that long to balance out all her medications. She got 2 or 3 new ones, and dosages adjusted on others.

When they released her, her PCP wanted to send her to a nursing/rehab unit. Why? Because Mom had spent the past 4 days flat on her back, and nobody had the time to get Mom out of bed to see if Mom had the ability to walk. Terrific.

She was released last Friday, and my sister drove in from Chicago just in time to pick Mom up from the hospital. She stayed with Mom on Saturday so I could have a much needed break.

At the moment, Mom still has an aide coming in daily to help her, but I’m still there at least once a day making sure she gets a decent meal or two. Ever since her fall a month ago, Mom’s appetite has been lousy. But if she doesn’t eat, it makes everything worse. Especially now that she’s on a medication that she needs to take with food, or she’ll vomit.

I don’t get paid enough. Oh, wait. I don’t get paid AT ALL.

I was there to take her to the dining room for lunch today, then I escaped for a while to take the kids to a local pool. On the way home from the pool, I stopped again to help her with dinner.

By that time, I was so tired that I begged my husband to bring home pizza.

Here’s my day tomorrow:

11:30 am dermatologist (to follow up on nose job and stress-related acne..oh, look! I’ve been breaking out for a week!)

drive half an hour to

12:30 pm swimming lessons

1:45 pm quick lunch and pick up Mom for half-hour drive to

3:00 pm kidney clinic appointment

4:00 pm drive half an hour to drop Mom off, feed her & kids and get kids changed for

5:30 pm dance lessons (the recital is in a week and a half!)

Did I mention the swimsuits and towels are still wet and it took me half an hour to collect dance leotards this evening?

I’m tired.


About Kathleen

Kathleen Heuer is a serial arts advocate and volunteer. She is the mom of two beautiful girls, wife to a brilliant nuclear engineer, and referee between her golden retriever and her hissy 18-year-old cat. For more, go to
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