Mom, Where Are You?

When Mom first got her eviction notice sent in January, our family scrambled to find low income housing. But this is California and only a small percentage of seniors seeking affordable housing find it in the first year. Everywhere we called said no vacancy. At the same time Mom said she hadn’t been feeling well and we noticed that she was getting forgetful, mixing up dates and forgetting to pay bills. Otherwise she seemed fairly normal.

We had no idea.

We were struggling to find a place for Mom to live when I got the phone call. “My kidneys aren’t working right. I need to go to the hospital.” What?! I called my principal to take my class, and rushed to pick her up. Soon, I learned the truth. Stage 4 Kidney Disease. Irreversible. No treatment but hydration. She was put on an IV drip which improved her kidney function slightly. And she seemed lucid most of the time although the nurses noticed that she had some dementia.

When she was released from the hospital she had two weeks to vacate her home. With no other choice, my brother and I decided it was best to move her in with me. (That hellacious weekend packing her and discovering she’d been a hoarder is a story in and of itself.) I bought a dresser and nightstand, cleaned out my office to make room for her computer, and put cozy new sheets on her bed. Hoping a peaceful environment with regular meals would improve her health.

She only got worse.

I put up signs everywhere hoping to help her navigate her way. . Still in the middle of the night she couldn’t find her way back to bed after using the restroom. She’d search every room including mine. So I started locking my bedroom door.

I installed security cameras and got an app called KASA for my phone to watch her while I’m at work. This gave me some peace of mind since I received a notification every time she used the stairs, one of my biggest worries. I put her medicine next to the coffee pot with a note and dosage. She only took her meds half the time. I put bottles of water on every table she might use and made sure there were healthy snacks like cut fruit, nuts, and yogurt she could eat with no prep.

She barely ate. Forgot to drink adequate water.

Three weeks into living with me she had her kidneys tested. Function was down to twenty percent, five percent worse than when she went in the hospital! The doctor ordered her to drink more water.

She said she was. I knew she wasn’t.

I was trying the best I could but I knew I was failing. It was time to get help so I contacted a local company specializing in placing caretakers and hired an angel: Sarah.

And I would advise anyone else dealing with this to do the same. You can’t do it alone.

The mother I once had is gone. But at least this one has a little peace. With help.

About Laurie: The author of Forests Secrets and Finding Joy as well as The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Rift, Persistence of Memory, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky of the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles, Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at Author Laurie Woodward — Next

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