It has not been a good week here at Casa la Brilliant. Our hyperthyroid catbaby Maggie decided to stop eating, and my 85-year-old mother, who last Wednesday was a bit dotty but coherent at her pulmonologist's office (she has advanced COPD, congestive heart failure, and arterial stenosis), was completely out of it a week later. My sister, whose organizational and logistical work she's done in arranging for care can ever adequately rewarded, is utterly exhausted and spent, and I am here in New Jersey, able to do little more than wring my hands, take phone calls, and feel guilty that I am not doing more. Add this to a crushing workload at the office, and I'm pretty spent myself, which just makes me feel guiltier because what I'm doing is a walk in the park compared to what my sister is going through.
Yesterday I got to talk to Mom during the closing of what apparently was a 90-second window of lucidity, and she repeated a phrase of gibberish a few times, which sounded like "I ate a duck", which at one time would have been plausible, because at one time the words "Chinese" and "duck" used together were one of the few things that could make her grin broadly.
She could still bounce back; I'm told that when the hospice nurse came by for an evaluation yesterday, she said "I'm a smart person. I think I had a stroke." But she's sleeping much of the time, which is probably not a bad thing, because the last news I heard last night was that 911 had to be called to take her to the hospital because she was screaming that she was being held prisoner.
There will be much more to write about my mother at some point. But in the context of our fears this week about Maggie (still not 100% assuaged, as another vet is going to look at her X-rays to definitively rule out masses), it all makes me think that as the elephant that is my generation passes through the snake that is the health care system, the creation of ethical suicide parlors is not a bad idea. A place where we will be able to go when we become infirm and where we can be painlessly slipped away in a room with a comfy bed fitted with bedding warm from the dryer, after a nice meal, and with beautiful music playing in our ears as we exit this level of reality starts seeming like not a bad thing, certainly better than ending up pissing ourselves and having all the demons in our heads activated as the neurons start firing erratically.
But while one family's chaos swirls about, and many cans of cat food and bags of kibble are opened in the hope that one of them will tempt Miss Maggie to eat, the world goes on and it is, after all, an election year.
My mom let her drivers' license expire a couple of months ago and never got a replacement photo ID. Too bad she doesn't have a gun permit. If she did, she'd be able to vote. And wouldn't that gun permit have been reassuring to the EMTs that had to take her to the hospital last night.
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