Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Christmas I Tried Not to Have

Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you. -Walt Whitman

You may be wondering where I have been, since it has been nearly a month since I posted. I am kind of wondering about that myself. First of all, my last post suggested we were going to get a new refrigerator...that did not happen. The freezer section did ice up again because, apparently, there was ice inside the door that did not completely melt the first time, but this last time we got it all. So, our old one actually started working as it should without icing up thereafter and we cancelled the order. I still want all stainless steel appliances—one day—but this may not have been the best time.

Since my life has been a series of flashes, this way and that, I thought I would just go with it in this post.

I like simplicity, partially because I think everyone overdoes Christmas with decorations and fuss, but then I myself tend to overdo it...probably to make up for a childhood that did not have enough. This year was the picture of simplicity...a bit too much simplicity. Is that an oxymoron? We did get out our half-sized nativity set, because I think the entire neighborhood would miss too much if we did not have that at least, judging by the number of vehicles that still slow or stop in front of our house when it is lit up. Other than that we had no outside lights and no wreaths on the windows or even the front door.

We had gotten a Noble Christmas tree and my husband and I trimmed it. A few days later the Princess and I got the lights on it, which is something my husband and I usually do, but we knew that he was going to be working even through the weekend before Christmas. Now we like about a week with just the lights on the tree and last year I had bought all new programmable lights after Christmas on clearance, as our old one would not twinkle anymore, just so I could have my highly desirable random twinkle lights with no muss and fuss of dealing with old wires and lights. As it turned out, these were to be the only decorations on the tree.

Christmas Day
This is the very first Christmas my husband and I have been apart and it was going to be anything but typical or traditional or what we wanted it to be. There have been Christmases my husband had to work, but he was at least at home for most of it. Knowing that we would be apart, we decided to postpone the opening of presents. Instead, my daughter and I planned to take friend of hers for his first 3D IMAX experience to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which took up our day from 11:00 a.m. when we left our house to 4:30 p.m. when we returned—so worth it and got our minds off what could have been rather a rather depressing day. Then we fed all the furry ones and ourselves before we skyped through my husband's computer to Grandma at the hospital so she could see the Princess open the presents she sent her. She also opened the one thing she asked for, arm warmers, and a planner with stickers and such from me as that was time sensitive, so to speak.

Flash Back to About Two Weeks Ago
My mother-in-law fell onto her left knee from tripping on the low step from her Florida room into her bedroom on that weekend. It became swollen but she assured us that she was able to walk on it without much pain. She did have x-rays taken right away this time. (I write "this time" because, if you remember, she fell just six months ago: Stepped on a Crack.) However, since nothing was broken this time, she made an appointment to be seen by her primary doctor on Thursday. He was rather upset with her because by that time it was so swollen he placed her in the hospital.

While there she was seen by a knee surgeon, who felt that there would be a higher risk of infection if he tried to surgically drain the knee, which by that time was draining on its own through open sores. So she was released after a two-day stay with a home care nurse scheduled to redress her bandage three times a week.

My husband was still working Connecticut on an installation and I told him that he needed to go see his mother, because I just knew (being empathic) that it was worse than they thought and it seemed I was wrong for the first day, but then came the next day....

Mom did not answer the door for the home care nurse nor did she answer her phone. The neighbor, who had taken her to the hospital and had a key, saw the nurse leaving and stopped by to open the door. Mom was sitting in her chair and seemed a bit off. The knee was infected, so she was taken back to the hospital.

At this point she was going into septic shock. They planned to do surgery to drain the infection immediately, but then they were faced with the same problem she had a year before I started blogging when she contacted C. Diff. from visiting her husband in the hospital: low blood pressure. Low blood pressure is not just a problem that makes surgery risky, it also makes it difficult to get antibiotics and medicines to circulate through the body that would help her fight the infection. (Last time, her arm was chemically burned from the inside out, but they saved her life after she was given only 20% chance of living. She had to have skin grafting on that arm, which complicates for future IVs.)

My husband was at a standstill with the install due to damage from the freezing cold during the transport (not of his doing) and there was a problem with the replacement parts, so he flew down to Florida when she was supposed to be in the first surgery that was postponed a day. Apparently, it is common that two surgeries are needed for this kind of drainage. After the first surgery, her knee was about half the size it had been. It had partially swollen more because she was dehydrated from the antibiotics, so they were pushing fluids that her kidneys, due to beginning to shut down from the septic shock, were not able to work well at getting the fluid out.

Flashing A Bit Forward, But Still Behind
Mom had her second surgery. She had two different infections and still has one or developed another one...still fuzzy on the facts of that. However, it was said that she had a deep blood infection, which I think is another way of saying she was septic...? They would have released her from the hospital three days ago, but for this infection. Then the plan is two weeks in a rehab nursing home to work on her mobility. Maybe my husband will be able to come home during that time so we can have the rest of our Christmas together...? However, his work wants him to go back to Connecticut to finish the install. I honestly do not plan to see him for another two to three weeks, but it would be nice if he could make it home.

Flashing Into the Future
After trying the soft approach with increasing pressure to get Mom to move so we could avoid these events where we have to rush to Florida because Mom has no one who really watches over her, we finally have taken the no-more-choice approach. Mom has been told that she is NOT going to be living alone anymore. She has always given the argument that when she moved her own mother down to Florida from New York, she lived alone until her last two years. I then asked Mom how old her mother was when she moved. 63? Mom, we are talking about a 20 year difference in age! And your mother did not fall even once. She is not really arguing the point now. I think this past year she has come to realize that she is not doing so well on her own.

While she was in the the hospital for the first time I went with the tough love talk, I told her that either my husband quits his job and we move in with her or she moves up here. She said she had been thinking about moving and she wants to go into an assisted living place. We all have told her that she does not really need that level of care yet and she will not have enough money left to get good quality care when and if she does really need it. Even her doctor, to whom, she listens to more than us obviously, has told her that she will have greater control of her life and better care if she lives with family. However, she just does not want to do any yard work, cooking, or laundry anymore. It is not that she is incapable, just that she does not want to do those things and that might be mostly due to her living alone in a house too big for her to keep up by herself for the last six years since her husband passed on.

So, our future kind of looks like this: Mom moves here. If she can take a few steps to get into our house then she will live in our home with us while we work on getting her home sold or she will rent a place for a few months. Then we try to find a three-to-four bedroom home with three full bathrooms (we still have a teenager) and buy it together if we can get financing before we sell our home. Mom will have the master bedroom on the main floor of the new house. Then we will work on selling our house.

So, we have a plan....?

My Lord, I hardly know where to start, for what to pray, and certainly I am not looking forward to any of what must be done, but I trust You. Help me to keep my face always toward You and let what is not from You fall away.