Five Years in Five Months

The last time I wrote a blog post, I was ten days away from moving from Des Moines to Davenport. And finally, nearly 90 days after moving, I have progressed enough with my life’s tasks to be making time to blog once again.

This was a pretty fast move. I had a move to the Quad Cities area in my sites for late 2021 or even 2022, but you know what they say about plans…..

My reason for moving back to the Quad Cities area was family, and specifically my mom. Her Parkinson’s has been progressing more rapidly since the summer of 2019, but with so many things, we always think we have more time.

Me and my mom enjoying an afternoon together, just one week before she was rushed to the ER in Davenport.

Then she aspirated while eating a donut on Friday, August 28, 2020, and ended up in the Genesis ER in Davenport, soon to be transported to the ICU at St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Illinois. It was the closest ICU bed open. (So yeah, those Covid-19 news briefings telling us that we had plenty of open hospital beds in Iowa at that time…..)

I went to Peoria the next day and stayed there for two nights even though I was not allowed into the hospital due to Covid restrictions. I went to support my dad, who was the only one allowed in to see my mom. I was his chauffeur and tour guide, selecting spots for outdoor fresh air relief and good meals.

During that Sunday in Peoria, I attended mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral, and that is when I was hit with a wave of “You need to move NOW.” OK, God. 10-4. Moving. ASAP.

So the next two months were a blur with rearranging my life and preparing for a move. Things seemed messy, but I knew they would work out. God told me they would. And they did, even better than I could have ever imagined.

While Mom was in Peoria, we were riding a roller coaster. She was better, and then she was sedated. She had g-tube surgery. And then a tracheotomy. She was also on a ventilator for a few weeks.

Mom was finally transferred to Select Specialty Hospital in Davenport and then to acute rehab at St. Luke’s in Cedar Rapids. While in Davenport and Cedar Rapids, I was able to visit her once a week. She was released to go home TWO DAYS after I moved to Davenport. Chills.

Pedi time!

Since moving, I have been able to continue to work from home and visit my parents an average of two times per week to help with Mom’s care. She has five g-tube feedings every day that include a combination of Parkinson’s medication and her liquid food, and Mom tells me I am a pro during my feeding shifts. She requires daily and monthly trach maintenance, and I have helped with some of that. I have also helped her shower, given some pretty awesome manis and pedis if I do say so, played solitaire, lost at UNO, colored, and baked with her.

My mom is a fighter. And she shows so much gratitude toward me every time I help her with something. I tell her that it is my privilege to be able to help her. I recently heard the term tragic privilege, and that sums up how I feel on the inside.

I am thankful that my mom is able to safely live at home, and that my dad is such a rockstar with shouldering 99% of the workload to care for her. I have a newfound admiration for caregivers and those living with Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases.

I feel like the past five months have actually been five years, based upon the emotional and spiritual journey I have embarked upon. This lady is not the same one who woke up on Friday morning, August 28, 2020.

While I wish my mom did not have a horrible disease that was robbing her of the life she once knew, I am thankful for how this experience has strengthened relationships, humbled me, and begun to transform me into a better person.

And if you are facing a really tough moment in your life, consider going to mass. You may sob the entire time and feel immensely vulnerable like I did, but you might also be quiet long enough to hear God telling you something important. 😉

The Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception – August 30, 2020

A Friend in Pain

I often write posts well before I publish them.  It takes some time to connect all of my thoughts into something more than a rambling list.  The following post was written one week ago, and I intended to publish it much later than today.  However, I feel a series developing with this particular story in my life, so it’s necessary to lay the groundwork before expanding upon it any further.

My goal is to be positive, and this post is a bit of a downer.  That’s because before being positive, one must be real.  And if I couldn’t be real and upfront, I’d simply go crazy.  So here it goes:

I write this tonight knowing I will not publish it until the time is right.  But I have to get it down in writing now, Thursday, February 24, 2011.

My friend is in pain.  He has been in pain for some time, but now it has reached new levels and areas.  He went to the doctor on Tuesday, felt something wasn’t right and thought it could be the early stages of pneumonia.

He found out his blood cell count was half of what it should be.  I don’t know much about all of this medical stuff, but I know this is bad.  He called me as he was getting a blood transfusion that afternoon.  I was woozy then and am now just thinking about it.  I don’t do well with blood and all of that stuff.

Yesterday he told me he needs a liver transplant.  There’s a bunch of fatty tissue on it.  While he was in a bad car accident years ago, and that has contributed to his multiple health issues over the years, the doctor said in the case of his liver, the accident could have saved him.  His liver has had issues for some time, even though he was never a smoker or drinker.  No one would have paid attention to his liver had it not been for the accident.

And today I saw him in person.  His spirit is broken.  It is so painful to watch.  I try to empathize but can’t.  I’ve never been told that I have a serious medical condition.  I am a ripe 31-year-old, and he is in his 60s.  I haven’t looked death in the face, which is what he is doing now.

I saw a list of songs on his desk after he left for the day, and it brought chills.  I know these are potential funeral songs.  Scratch that – celebration of life songs.

This is a friend whom I have cried in front of, who really gets me.  He’s one of a handful in the universe.

And all I can really do is listen to him and pray for him.  It doesn’t seem fair.