The Power of Connection!

Tuesday March 23, started like every other day. I got up at 4am, worked out, then got ready for work. I had just pushed the button on my coffeemaker at 5:55 when Janet called from Mom’s group home. Mom was in pain and moaning, so 911 was immediately called.

Mom arrived at Southern Maryland Hospital’s emergency room at 6:55am. The first call I received was around 8:30am requesting permission to treat her, but it was the second call around noon that stopped me in my tracks. I was told that Mom has some sort of infection / inflammation in her gallbladder which had spread to her liver and that they’d give her something for the pain and the surgeon on duty would call me shortly with “options”. My head started to spin.

The call from the surgeon came around 3:30pm. She explained that Mom was in acute liver failure and needed some sort of surgical intervention and she was calling for a decision on what I wanted done for my Mom. One of the hardest things I’ve done over our now 15 year journey was to explain to the surgeon that my Mom didn’t want any type of surgical intervention or tubes or anything done to her. I asked if Mom could survive without surgical intervention and was told that Mom’s condition was extremely critical and that it was unlikely that someone her age would survive this. She stated that any surgical intervention would likely hurt Mom more than help her without prolonging her life. I asked if I could see her and she said due to COVID she couldn’t authorize it but she’d try to get permission for me to see Mom. I was asked if I wanted hospice to be called and I said yes. Our family has had wonderful hospice experiences with my grandmother, aunts and my sister.

Permission was granted and I arrived at the emergency room right before 5pm. By that time Mom had been alone for about 10 hours. She looked small, frail and literally scared to death. I was devastated. I asked if there was a prognosis and was told she’d likely live for a few days or weeks. We were moved to a room and I was told I could stay with her as long as I wanted and could spend the night in the Lazy Boy chair in Mom’s room. I advised that I wanted Mom to be taken back to the group home and they agreed to discharge her on Wednesday.

I began reading to her from The Book of Joy by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It’s an incredible and uplifting book and Mom started to nod as I read certain parts. She was breathing funny and I was pretty sure she was dying. They gave her oxygen so she could be comfortable. I played spa music and continued reading. Her eyes had been closed for most of the evening, but then at 11pm her eyes opened and she was awake for almost the rest of the night. Every time she looked at me she nodded and smiled. She was recognizing me!

Through the night we hummed along to jazz, the oldies and some gospel music too. I continued to read to her. By morning when breakfast arrived she had no idea how to use the spoon for her oatmeal so I fed her. I turned on the tv and she watched the people move across the screen. She began pulling on her oxygen tube and was very fidgety but I didn’t have anything with me to keep her hands busy like I usually do. I found the hospital’s menu in the drawer and that saved the day! She read the menu items over and over and was literally having a ball. Who knew menu items could be so exciting!!!

By noon on Wednesday I had met with the hospice leader and some of the rest of the hospice team who were assigned to Mom and she was admitted to the hospice program. I was told Mom would be picked up and transported back to the group home at 4pm. I was relieved. Just then the nurse supervisor came in to notify me that I had exceeded my visiting time limit and needed to leave as soon as the doctor came and spoke to me. I was surprised as they’d told me I could stay as long as I wanted and Mom was leaving in four hours anyway. But I said OK I’d leave. Ten minutes later the doctor arrived and took one look at Mom and how great she looked compared to the previous day in the ER. She told me to “disregard” what the nursing supervisor had told me, that it was clear to her that Mom was responding to me being there. I can’t imagine being in the hospital during this COVID period because very few people come into the room and there’s virtually no interaction unless the patient is in crisis. I was relieved that I could stay and the nursing supervisor returned and apologized to me. For the remaining four hours before Mom’s transportation arrived we hummed and sang, read the menu and laughed at absolutely nothing. We were together for 23 hours and it was priceless.

Mom is happily in her own bed in the group home, is now feeding herself again we are taking it day by day. She’s being pampered every single minute by Janet and she deserves it! I really need to get her a Wonder Woman cape! On Friday afternoon I went to meet the hospice and group home nurses and the hospice social worker who was there too! After they all left, Mom and I had a wonderful visit, and you KNOW it included LEGO bricks!! I had just attended a lunch-time session called “Six Bricks” given by a LEGO facilitator from Ireland and tried some of her techniques with Mom. It was amazing!

The COVID pandemic has left millions of people isolated, alone and unconnected, and that’s so devastating because the Power of Connection is what keeps us going! I know how fortunate I was to be able to be with Mom in the hospital this week. I was terrified for the first few hours when she was doing so poorly, but the more we connected through the night, the stronger we both became. Never underestimate the Power of Connection! Please connect with someone today!

13 thoughts on “The Power of Connection!

  1. My dearest Loretta and my dearest Doris, any words I write in response to this tellingly poignant and powerful post of love’s enduring passion would be superfluous. Simply, profoundly, I pray the Lord’s continued blessing upon you as you, each and both, follow the course of your pilgrimage as mother and daughter. Love

    • Thank you Paul for ALL of your words, especially your prayer for Mom on Tuesday night!! Those words got me through those tough hours!! I’ve continued to read the prayer all week!! The words bring much comfort!

      Love!

    • Hi Julie!!!
      Quite the rollercoaster but I know that so many people are surrounding us with love so yes I’m doing ok. One minute at a time!!

      Love ya!!

  2. You have been on my mind ever since your mom went to the hospital. I am so glad you got to be there with her and that she was able to go back to the home. Our continued prayers for your mom, superwoman that she is, and for you as you continue the journey with her. ❤️❤️

    • Thank you Meg!!! I feel soooo supported by all of the people who love us!! You and all my RVW sisters have really kept me going!!

      Love y’all so much!!

  3. Dearest Loretta,

    How you had the strength and presence to write about this after having lived it, I just don’t know. But I’m so glad you did. And I’m so glad your mom is back in her group home and is comfortable and calm. Yes, please get her a Wonder Woman cape, and while you’re at it, pick one up for yourself too! “Energizer Bunny” just doesn’t quite cover it anymore!

    I’m so sorry this has happened, but I know age inevitably takes its toll on the human body. Your mom’s wondrous resilience, and her response to you and your inspired ways of relating to her, however, are nothing short of miraculous. I will look forward to hearing what adventures you two have going forward. The pictures of her and the menu and the Legos are priceless. Such intense concentration!

    In addition to being inspired by what happened on Tuesday, I so appreciated your words about connection at the end of your post. You have helped me so much to understand the deep importance of connecting and reconnecting, even in difficult circumstances, Loretta. I want to share with you that tomorrow I am having a Zoom call with a woman with whom I lost contact years ago. Ours was a brief and intense friendship that subsumed the time of a traumatic event in her life. The last time we were in each other’s presence was shortly after that event. Thereafter our lives took us in different directions and we lost touch. A week or so ago, I decided, for reasons I won’t go into, but which also involve some deep human connections, that I had to get in touch with her if I could. And so tomorrow we will see each other and talk for the first time in 52 years. Yes. Connection. It means everything. It means God is present and active in human lives. And God is certainly alive and creatively active in your and your mom’s connection. Thank you so much for sharing that truth yet again, as example and inspiration.

    Keep in touch, dear friend. And know that you and your mom have my prayers for healing of all kinds and for sustenance and comfort in the days ahead.

    Much love to you, dear sister,

    Karen

    • Thank you Karen!!!!

      What a week!! As I was typing I remembered that I had told you I’d call you and let you know when I would be able to see Mom. Never anticipated that I’d be writing this on this Saturday. I was soooo at peace on Tuesday evening once I shared my Mom’s wishes and the surgeon said “I would totally do the same thing if it were my Mom”.

      Your story is sooooo powerful and I can’t thank you enough for sharing it….52 years!!! I pray that your Zoom call will go well and that your reconnection will be permanent. One of the scariest thing about being in the hospital with Mom was that it was like a ghost town. No worried relatives sitting in the surgery waiting area, just a few people in the huge cafeteria and none sitting at the same table. Everywhere I looked there was only “unconnections”…. I pray that when COVID leaves us, that we will be able to reconnect again. Your words gave me hope!!

      Good luck! and much love!!

      Loretta

  4. I’m so very happy that you two got to spend some much time together. What a complete Blessings!! Thanks for always sharing your story. Continued Prayers and Blessings.

  5. Amazing Grace! Loretta, reading the journey you and your mother shared is nothing but God’s Amazing Grace, covered by the Angels of God. I loved the spiritual connection, you and your mother have. Your presence, you knowing what she needed to hear your voice, the LEGO’s, the music all of these things. I simply adorned the picture of your mother reading the menu, it is priceless. Thankful to the doctor for recognizing the connection. More thankful, mom is back ‘home’ among her caring and loving staff. My love and prayers are with you, mom, staff and family!
    To God Be The Glory!

    • Belinda,
      Thank you my friend!! Truly a spiritual connection at work!! You know how much I appreciate your prayers!! I am thrilled she’s back in her own bed where she’s being pampered as she deserves! Love her so much!!

      Loretta

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