Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Monday, December 20, 2010

That which does not kill you ...

... Makes you stronger.

Truer words were never spoken.

I sit in mom's private room at Brooke Grove Rehab and Skilled Nursing in Sandy Spring, Maryland, pondering the course of events that brought mom and I to this place.

First let me say that Brooke Grove Rehab is a beautiful facility filled with competent and caring professionals. When I realized that mom couldn't come home from the hospital I was in a panic about where she could go to get her strength back. Nursing home and rehab facilities are not all equal. One that I saw was a nightmare. My daughter came to my rescue and suggested this lovely facility. Throughout this whole journey filled with hospitals, rehab, worry, and fatigue, I have had been most fortunate to have the right people helping me when I needed it most. My daughter's knowledge of assisted living and rehab, and this facility in particular, was an example of that. My son's frequent visits to see his grandmother, and his "first sleep over" with his grandmother when she went into rehab was another example. My children literately kept me from falling several times during the last month.

This posting is a long one. I have been gone awhile - much to share. So if you are unable to keep reading - I understand. Check in with me later when my life returns to some level of normalcy.

It all began with my illness after Thanksgiving told in my posting "Return from the Brink". Apparently we didn't actually return - I think we fell into the brink but I didn't know it at the time.

I was beginning to get well, when my mother got what I had - that terrible vomiting and diarrhea virus. She was hospitalized within 4 hours of getting sick. All that was covered in a previous post. When she was discharged, I thought she was on the mend, when she got sick again.

We returned to the hospital - thinking she had a bladder infection -something simple carried over from the first hospitalization. Turns out it was a bladder infection, but she was also septic - an infection in her blood stream. This condition was quite a bit more serious than just a stomach flu. She spent time in the ER, then transferred to a regular nursing area, then had problems breathing. Once that condition was controlled, she was transferred to ICU - Intensive Care Unit, where she spent a day and a half. While there she developed some abnormal heart rhythms which they got quickly under control. Finally all conditions were improving enough for her to be transferred to a Telemetry Unit - a nursing unit that could monitor her heart. All that happened in 4 days. Four different beds in 4 days. I have seen way too much of that hospital.

On December 15th, she was transferred to Brooke Grove Rehab. She is well now, but her strength was seriously sapped by 2 back to back hospitalizations. And that is where we are now.

Our most pressing problem now are her spirits. She gets down - wanting to go home. She fails to see how much progress she has made. She seems oblivious to the beautiful facility, the caring staff and how lucky she has been to have her family with her every step of the way. This morning I had a serious conversation with her. I pointed out all the good things she seems to overlook. I even pointed out that many of the people she shares her meals with ... call this place "home". She does not. She is going to her home ... home with me. She is the lucky one! She said she didn't feel lucky. And I got very serious with her. She needs to change her mind - and I went over it all again - just how lucky she is. I think the conversation did her good. Unfortunately she finds it easier to focus on the negatives, rather than the positives. Human nature, I guess. But I don't accept that line of thinking. She will change her mind ... if only to keep me from preaching at her :-).

It now time for the "tough love" part of her care giving. The time for self-pity is over. The time for hard work and taking care of yourself begins. (Good advice for me as well - in January I am going back to Curves! You heard it here first !!!)

I don't consider myself a religious person. But I do believe in God. And over the last few weeks I have found myself thanking God for giving me the strength to keep going, and for giving me the right help, at the right time, by the right people. I do feel that even when I felt my most alone and tired and scared ... I really I wasn't alone. I have to remember that even when things are going well - not just when they are going badly.

Last night I had my first full and uninterrupted night sleep since the end of November. I am along way from being totally back on my feet, but getting 8 hours of continuous sleep did help.

The focus now is getting mom stronger and maybe, just maybe, getting her home for Christmas. When she comes home there won't be even one holiday decoration up, no Christmas tree, the presents aren't wrapped, holiday greetings haven't been sent, there are no Christmas cookies baked, and our holiday dinner will be cooked by the local grocery store ... sounds dismal, but if mom gets home for Christmas, it will be the best Christmas ever for me.

If she doesn't get home, then we will have Christmas here at Brooke Grove - all the family as well as my son's 2 dogs (Meathead and Grimace), my daughter's dog (Milo), and my sister's new puppy (Morgan). Believe me when I say, Brooke Grove Rehab won't know what hit them!! LOL. And our Christmas dinner will be cooked by the wonderful cooks here at the center.

More later. I have my lap top with me now. And Brooke Grove has WiFi.

Note: I have pictures, and my camera, but left my camera cable at home. Pictures will follow!!


  1. Oh,my. What can I say. I do feel for you, and I continue praying for you and your mom, all the caregivers, and anyone connected with the facility. I'm so glad that you do know that God is real, and does help you.
    I've also learned that we have strengths we don't know we had, until we need them.
    Christmas is a time of sharing, it's a feeling within us, and the wrappings and decorations are not necessary; people are what's important.
    May you and your family have a blessed time this Christmas.

  2. You will have all your family around you for Christmas - not dismal at all! So glad to hear this are on the upswing. Hugs, Linda

  3. Christmas is having all of your family with you no matter where you are. I know you are taking joy in the fact that she has come through. Boy enough already!

  4. Through everything how fortunate you are to have such great kids.
    Your mom must be a fighter to have endured all she has.


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