Today I got a call from the VA Hospital informing me that Power of Attorney was activated, and I am named in that capacity. Any decisions regarding my mom's treatment would be mine to make. What a bizarre feeling.
The plan was, she was going to come stay with me starting February 4. But before we got her room ready and before she was ever discharged from the nursing home, she got a little goofy. She has had trouble distinguishing dreams from reality, and her motor control and speech have deteriorated. On Tuesday, the nurse called the doctor about her motor control, speech and dazed mental status, and the doctor ordered her to the hospital, suspecting a stroke. It's been a rapid slide since.
I hadn't given the VA the most recent POA papers my mom had signed, which also names my sister as POA, but I told the doctor over the phone that she was on her way with said papers in hand. Now we share the responsibility on an either/or basis. I think my mom chose us because she planned to stay in our homes and we'd need the ability to act on her behalf.
I don't think she'll be staying with either of us any time soon.
Today, my sister says, my mom was traveling. She was heading to Venezuela, with a stopover in Miami, to visit her boyfriend, Cesar, who is 86. She also picked some strawberries today. Yesterday she planted roses and paid her bills and was quite annoyed that she didn't have any stamps or underwear. She saw my dad and our neighbor Lenny, who died in 1987. There were birds in her room. She believes she is at home.
Now, some of this is plain hilarious. Seriously. Cesar? He speaks English, by the way. It's also difficult to watch her struggle to figure out what the hell is going on, and she really tries hard. She held a pen in her hand and worked diligently to write out a bill to UW Health. She was apparently satisfied with herself, so I snatched the paper away from her as soon as she paused and told her I'd put a stamp on it at home. Later, after I left, she lined up tissues on her table and tried to write on those, paying more bills, just like a little girl playing pretend.
It's not heartbreaking to me to see her mind go, and I'm surprised at that. She is busy and mostly at ease and content, except for her underwear and the stamps, or whatever the problem of the day is. I think if she were aware that she wasn't really there it would be heartbreaking.
What is more heartbreaking is seeing how my kids and my siblings are dealing with it. She's our mom, you know? Kelsey said it made her sad that she can't make cookies and cakes with Grandma anymore. Kayleigh is sad, too, and worried Grandma is going to die, and angry that Eric is supporting me – to her mind – to the exclusion of everyone else's needs.
On top of it all, I'm horrifically sick. I don't want to go down there and pass on my germs to her. She just doesn't need that. So I'm hunkered in bed with Tylenol and cough drops and a chocolate malt (thank you, Eric), resting, coughing, sneezing, moaning, and hoping I get better soon, just as we're hoping the same for my mom.
The doctors are hoping that a different dose of antibiotics will knock out an infection and help clear her mind. We'll just have to wait and see what happens.