It’s been a long 6 days filled with worry and sadness, followed by overwhelming joy after Mom’s really scary seizure last Thursday resulted in a four day hospitalization which ended on Sunday! I was almost hysterical because I wasn’t able to see her at all while she was in the hospital due to COVID. But fast forward to today and it was all sunshine and a couple of moments of true clarity for Mom.
I had been a little worried about taking Mom to the doctor today for a checkup following her discharge from the hospital because she is still a little weak from her ordeal. But once we got her in the car it was all smooth sailing. When we got about half a mile from the group home Mom said “it’s pretty out here!” followed very closely by her favorite saying “Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” which she’s been saying constantly for almost a year now. Acknowledging the pretty day and Our Lord and Savior together works for me and immediately reminded me of how the two are inter-connected.
When we got to the beautiful new Medical Pavilion where our beloved Dr. Idoko had moved to at National Harbor (we had to investigate where she had gone when she left her previous practice) the staff met us in the lobby to take Mom up by wheelchair while I parked the car. They made us feel like family and reminded me that I’m not in this alone in this journey with Mom. If you ask for help when you need it, great things happen even in the midst of a pandemic.
One of the questions you hear people asking each other all of the time for the last 110 days is “how are you doing?” Many people say “I’m OK” or “I’m making it” even when they really aren’t OK. Today when Dr. Idoko walked in and greeted us with that Passion and Joy she has for being a doctor, it validated why I made the search to track her down (doctors aren’t allowed to recruit patients to their new practice as they are leaving the old one).
She asked Mom “how are you today Ms. Doris?” and Mom replied “I think I’m still here!” The doctor and I both chuckled, but as I sat there while she examined Mom it struck me how profound a saying that is for the times we are in. Some days we aren’t really sure we are still here! We feel great some days, and horrible on other days. We think the pandemic isn’t real, but we pinch ourselves as we try to remember our lives before March of 2020 and rediscover that this is no dream, but a daily nightmare with numbers that keep rising. Dr Idoko and I not only assured Mom that she was still here, but that she was deeply loved too!
I never underestimate the things Mom says because for me, there’s always a message in there. She’s been through a lot this past week, and much of it alone in a hospital bed. She was missed terribly at the group home by her primary caregiver Janet and all of the residents and definitely missed by me. She’d also become a favorite with all the nurses at Southern Maryland Hospital who weren’t in any hurry to send her back to the group home Sunday afternoon! I was so grateful to all of them because with COVID running rampant I worried aloud if she’d emerge from that hospital room. But emerge she did and when our appointment was over this morning, there was Janet to get Mom safely back inside the group home!
One of the blessings right now for anyone with dementia is the fact that they have no idea what a pandemic is nor the devastating effect it’s had around the world, especially in this country. Knowing my pre-dementia Mom, she would be very afraid of COVID. So I think her response to “how are you doing?” is soooo appropriate. The next time someone asks me how I am, and I’m not really feeling OK, I may just borrow Mom’s response and say “I think I”m still here!” Given all the prayers and response we received during Mom’s latest crisis I know that someone would remind me that I AM still here and that I am deeply loved. Many of you know my family is pretty small at this point, BUT the number of people who love and care for me and Mom (some of whom I’ve never met in person) feels HUGE. I love you all and am grateful for how you hold me and Mom up on the days we really don’t really feel like we’re here!!