Friday, 23 September 2022

Trying to focus

 Another month

Another online visit to Okaasan.

Strange times we live in. ๐Ÿ˜–

She was...well...I don't know. Okay? She was in bed, on her side and had a tube up her nose. And her hands were in big gloves to stop her pulling the tube out.

Her hair was cut short, and with the pressure from the pillow had quifted up in a little grey spike, like Tintin in black and white. With a lot of encouragement from the attending nurse, Okaasan focused in one the tablet screen for a few minutes. Every now and then her eyes would slip to the nurse, or the bedside curtains.

She appeared to nod. Maybe smiled? Hard to know.

These online meetings leave us grasping at tiny straws for some evidence of connection to our "visit". Does she know us? Is she happy?

We grabble on about the changing season, the temperature, the cat, Queen Elizabeth, our grey hair....anything to fillout 10 mins between the endless: "Hi! Okaasan! It's us. Can you see us? Okaasan! Hi!". Until the computer clock that we have successfully filled out the time and can start doing a minute or goodbyes and see-you-next-time chat.

Then the nurse/we click End Meeting at the bottom of the Zoom screen and it's over for another month.

We go back to watching Stranger Things 4, and prepping dinner.

Okaasan goes back to lying in a hospital bed, with tubes for nutrition in and out. Staring at a bedside curtain or wall. Listening to voices and sounds around her.

I don't want her living in the house with us here. I'm no saintly daughter-in-law who will camapign to Bring Mother Home, so we can have the tube changing/bed baths right here in our lives. But still. I feel sad that her life is this now. ๐Ÿ˜ข

If she were MY mother. Would I feel differently? If this were England, and I could raise hell in my native language, with a care system I can easily understand? Like a heartwarming movie, would I Bring Her Home to Die? Set up the living room with the care bed, and have quirky care helper come in to do the medical stuff, so I could sit at my mother's bedside and have meaningful end of life conversations?

Maybe. I am certainly up for being the difficult customer and fighting a hospital/care administration - mainly because I watched my own mother battling unfortunate service workers over the years. But I'm not sure I would sacrifice my own time and easy life to care for somebody in my home. That's a huge thing. Respect to the people who do it. But, most of us are pretty selfish and are relieved to let strangers do the caring at the end of our elderly's life.

I used to have a middle aged student, whose severely invalid mother had months to live. As her sister was a nurse with necessary skills, the hospital allowed mother to move back to the family house where she amazed everyone by living for almost two years - enjoying her favorite icecreams, visits from the great grandkids and hand massages. It was a wonderful situation. 

But I know I don't want to do that. Can't do that.

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