You are either a glass is half empty or glass is half full kind of person. I have always considered myself a glass if half full kind of girl, until the 50/50 I was given were my mom’s odds of living. I switched to half empty. This might sound insane; I know it sounds insane to the average person. It would have sounded insane to me 3 days ago. But with the glass half empty, you can only add more right, there isn’t more to take away; you still have that bit that keeps it half empty.
On New Year’s Day my lovely husband let me sleep in! Lucky girl, I know. I woke up close to 10:00am and was making the bed when he walked into our bedroom with Everly and closed the door (otherwise the monster would run away you see). He sat down on the bed and said, “your mom is sick.” My mind immediately went to the movie Forest Gump… “his mommas sick…”comes over the loudspeaker when he is on his shrimp boat and he jumps into the sea to get to her as soon as possible. I didn’t speak. He told me that she was in a medically induced coma and that she was very, very sick. She had gone into kidney failure, had severe pneumonia and Clostridium Difficile. I stared at the wall, slightly mindful that Everly was ripping books off the bookshelf. I started to cry. Loose slippery tears. Not the big fat heaving sob tears, but sneaky tears; tears that kept coming without me even thinking about it. I said, we need to go there. He said we will leave right away.
I ate some Cheerios and called my dad. Despite my parents being divorced for many years he was the first person that I needed to call. I let him know what was happening and he asked me to keep him informed. I texted my sister. We made arrangements for her to come with us in our car. And then I called my Nana. I got in contact with the people I needed to be strong for first, before I let it all out. My Nana is great for that. She has this way of helping you to see the silver lining. You tell my Nana any situation that you are in, no matter how dire and she will find you the silver lining.
My Nana reminded me of the last few years that I have had with my mom. She said you have been lucky to have those. She reminded me of how lucky I was that my mom was clean and sober and that she remained clean and sober despite the odds against her. She reminded me that my mom had been there to meet my daughter, her first grandchild. And that was it, I cracked. Oh how grateful I am that my mom met Everly. Here came the heaving sobs where I felt like I couldn’t breathe, the world span, I wanted to puke. But I had found my silver lining. My time with my mom is one thing, but she got to start fresh with Everly and she has done a really great job of being grandma to Evie. My mom loves Everly to pieces and she is always so proud of her and amazed by her. My mind went there. And I have to admit that I was comforted.
We drove up island, we went to the hospital and we looked at my mom through a glass window. We weren’t allowed to go in her room. Her condition was so severe that they could not risk us giving her more germs, and she was contagious so they didn’t want to risk us getting sick either. My sister and I walked down the hallway with my grandparents. My grandma said there’s your mama. Oh God. If she had said it any other way, if she had called her anything but mama I might have kept it together in my mind a little better. Everly calls me mama. I was once my moms baby and my mom was once my grandma’s baby. I looked at my grandma and my heart just broke for her. As sad as I was I always expected that I would live longer than my mom, my grandma never thought she would see her baby die before her. When I looked at Everly I knew that there could be nothing worse than what my grandparents were feeling right now. We went back to there house and Everly did a great job at keeping everyone’s minds off the situation. She is always our silver lining. It felt amazing to see and hear my grandparents laughing.
Saturday night they called us at my grandparents and said that things had gotten worse. They were going to try giving her a “miracle drug” that costs $13,000 a vile and it’s a last ditch effort that we can try for 96 hours. They said they would call us through the night if we needed to be there. We went to bed. But I don’t think we slept.
The next morning we all headed to the hospital, by this time nearly all of our immediate family was there. We crowded into the tiny ICU waiting room. My grandparents went to talk to my mom’s doctor. The came back down the hall with red faces and wet eyes. My grandma handed me her purse, they were going to let them in to see her. I knew this was not a good thing. The doctors had decided that she was sick enough that it was more important for us to be with her than to keep our germs from her. I asked my grandma if they would let my sister and I be in the room with her, she said she didn’t know but that she would ask. I said well I don’t care what they try and say we are seeing her.
Grandma and grandpa come out into the waiting room, my grandma said it was time for my sister and I to go down there. Never has a hallway seemed so intimidating. We were met by a nurse who told us how to gown up. Yellow gown over your arms and body, latex gloves on your hands, a face mask with eye shield attached over your face, and then you can go in. Well I didn’t see this on TV. Everyone that visits someone on life support on TV always gets to touch their loved one. They get to hold their hand, skin to skin. They always comment that the person in the coma still has warm hands. The person in the coma always looks pretty good too. Sure they have tubes and lines in them, but they are rosy cheeked and have lovely lashes resting on their cheeks.
My mom’s hands were warm, I could feel that through the gloves. Her hands were swollen, I couldn’t even see her knuckles. Her arms, legs, feet- everything was swollen. Her neck was pretty much gone from swelling and she had all kinds of tubes running into her body. There were about four IV poles, each with four different bags hanging off them, all alert and moving with their green numbers and tickers ticking. The respirator moved her chest up and down. It looked fake. I watched her “breathe” and was immediately aware that it wasn’t real. This didn’t feel like my mom in the room with me. I noticed her belly, it was swollen out so much that she looked 9 months pregnant. I thought, that’s how she looked when she was pregnant with me. My hand went down to my own tummy, resting over my belly button. Breathe I told myself. I could have used the respirator myself. I looked to my sister. She was crying. As an older sibling it’s hard to see your little crying and to know that you can’t do anything to take it away. I told her she could leave if it was just too hard. I wanted to protect her. She left. I was alone. Alone with the animatronic body that was supposed to be my mom. I told her that I love her, I told her that I was here with her, I told her that I forgive her. Everyone in movies has this big spiel that they say and it’s always so poetic. I could barely breathe enough to get these small words and phrases out. And I didn’t know what else to say. What do you say? By this time the inside of my face mask was completely covered in snot. The eye shield was fogged up. My neck was wet with the tears that had endlessly come out of my eyes. My aunt came in the room, it was my cousin’s turn next. It was time for me to go. I couldn’t leave. My feet were glued to the floor. How do you leave? You feel like you are leaving her. A minute ago I wouldn’t admit that this was my mom and now I couldn’t leave her. I held my breath and walked out. The nurse told me how to properly dis-gown and I made it my mission to find someone who would give me some answers.
I grilled the nurse. The nurse told me that my mom’s heart was beating on it’s own and that she was maintaining her own blood pressure. She needed the respirator to breathe, she needed broad spectrum antibiotics for the pneumonia and C.Dif. She needed the miracle drug and she is a very, very sick woman who was developing severe sepsis. I heard all I needed to. The glass became half empty.
I let go of hope. I know that sounds stupid and the opposite to what you would think would happen, but I couldn’t keep hope, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to handle disappointment. For me it is more bearable to be pleasantly surprised by a recovery than to be let down by a decline when I was expecting recovery. So call it stupid if you want, call me a Debbie Downer, call me a pessimist, but I am doing what I have to do to protect myself and keep me functioning to take care of my babies.
So here we sit. Waiting. We started out with 96 hours, we are halfway there. It’s not like counting down to Christmas, you don’t want to the days to go faster so that the date gets there. But then you do. Because you want the wait and the hurt to end. You don’t really fixate on the means to the end. You just want things to go back to normal.