Then one day she tells me she isn’t feeling well, but refuses offers of help. The next day my aunt goes to check on her and Mom can’t get out of bed. Aunt offers several options and Mom refuses them all. Then she starts crying and tells my aunt to ‘just leave me’. Aunt says, “You just want me to leave you here in your bed, crying?” and Mom says ‘yes’ So she does. The next morning Sis goes to check on Mom. She’s peed the bed twice and is still laying in it. She hasn’t been eating. Her medicine (in the weekly organizers) are only half taken. A few from this day, a few from that - like she was handpicking for some reason. She has also gone through a disproportionate amount of pain pills. Mom, again, says to ‘just leave me’. Sis refuses and tries to change the bedsheets. Mom can’t get up though. At all. So, against Mom’s wishes, Sis calls an ambulance.
At the hospital, Mom is disorientated, keeps forgetting where they are. Turns out her hemoglobin, which should be at 12 minimum, is at 8. They give her 4 liters of blood, keep her a few days, say they will do some tests as soon as her BP comes up, and send her home to her house. She seems to do pretty well after this, but her BP continues to hover around 90/50, so they never do the tests.
Middle of May rolls around and we find out she has been walking all around town on her own. It is discovered when my cousin is going to meet her at Big Boy - 4 blocks away - and sees her walking, pushing her little walker. She honks, Mom doesn’t respond. She pulls alongside, Mom doesn’t respond, She calls Mom’s name, Mom doesn’t respond. She can’t see or hear a damn thing! Which is scary if she is out walking the streets. When I ask her about it a few days later, she says, “Oh yes, in fact, I just walked to Kroger today.” Kroger, for reference, is a mile away. Then shopping. Then a mile back. It was near 100F out with the heat index. I reamed her for it. Sis reamed her for it. She blew us off. Instead, she just sat in her house, refusing to turn on the air conditioning, because it felt cold to her. (circulation for her is a bust). We would find out later that she wasn’t drinking enough water and was consuming too many pain pills, yet again.
The morning after the Kroger incident, Aunt checks on Mom. Mom isn’t feeling well, so Aunt gives her Ensure, water, pills and goes to work. Two hours later there is a frantic message on my machine - (I am still asleep, it’s l0am, and Sis is at work) - “I need, help! Why won’t you help me?!” Another left on Aunt’s voicemail. Then she calls my brother, who is on a job site. She’s crying. Says Sis won’t call her back. He says, ‘Sis is at work.’ “Why? It’s the middle of the night.” It’s 10am. “911 won’t answer my calls.” Brother asks if she knows where she is and she pauses and then bursts into tears and says “No.” She was clearly at home, as she was calling from the house phone. Brother tells her to hit her panic button. At one point, Brother is on the phone with Mom, who is inside the house, Aunt is on the phone with the neighbor and the paramedics, who are outside the house, Sis is on the phone with the security company.
Mom goes to the hospital. Her hemoglobin is down to 8 again. They give her 2 liters of blood, run a bunch of tests, find absolutely nothing. Sis says Mom has to come and stay with us. Mom refuses. Sis says if so, she will no longer do any care service for her (i.e. errands, doctors). Mom won’t talk to Sis for several hours after that. Dr. comes in and says, “What? No, you can’t go home! Go home with your daughter, you’re lucky she’s offering.” They finally sell it by saying it’s just for the summer, until they can figure out what the problem is and get a treatment plan. (Spoiler Alert: They still don’t know what the problem is).
Mom gets iron infusions after that, twice a week. And weekly blood work. She is disorientated as fuck at first, but ever so slowly gets her health and stamina back. They discontinue the infusions to see how long it takes the hemoglobin to drop, so they can set up a treatment plan. It’s been 3 weeks, her hemoglobin has stayed at 11.
She goes out every day of the week, with this friend or that. More in a week than I do in a month. But she tells me she doesn’t know how to have fun. She doesn’t have hobbies. ‘What would you be doing if you were at home?’ “Laundry. Dishes.” Like, ‘a) that’s not fun and b) no you wouldn’t, your house was a mess.’ I offer her a whole host of hobbies, even to help her set up a blog, buy her an apple pencil for art, etc. She shrugs her shoulders at me. I leave her to stew in her despair, because honestly, that’s how she likes it. Why are we putting all this work into keeping her alive, if she isn’t going to Live. Fuck. Sis has had to move into the downstairs bedroom, so Mom can have her room. Every time I turn around, she’s there. She moans about everything. She jumps on Sis the second she walks in the door. She hates her life and she’s making us hate ours.
Dad gave me 3k (which was a source of anxiety all its own, money, but good Dad) to redo my room and make it more of a living space, so I could escape Mom when needed. But I miss Sis, she seems so far away in the basement and she doesn’t sit down from the second she gets home until bedtime. Between Mom, me and the pets, she doesn’t have a single moment. She started working four 10hr days, so she could have Wednesdays off to take Mom to appointments, which ends up being her whole day, spent with Mom, adding up to basically working 50 hour weeks, counting those Wednesdays. She is exhausted. I am exhausted for her. Mom continues to moan.
But this week she was told she can go home! They still don’t know what the problem is. They still don’t have a treatment plan. We don’t care. We are letting her. I don’t have hope it will be for long. But for a moment, a brief moment, we will have a reprieve