This morning at 7:15 or so when I was out walking the dogs, the hospital called. My mother had gone seriously downhill overnight and they had just moved her back to ICU. "I'll be there," I said, "As soon as I can."
And I was, meeting my brother in the hospital lobby and browbeating the perky volunteer at the front desk into sudden terrible pity - I don't think she'd ever had to call ICU before - and standing talking with a doctor who looked to have been transported directly from 1955. Perhaps they unfroze him just to keep my mother comfortable.
Anyway. I wrote a long thing while I was waiting about all this and maybe I'll copy it all out in a minute or tomorrow or sometime. But that essay is more about feelings and stuff. This is the facts. The facts are that they think Mom had a small heart attack this morning but that at any rate her chest X-ray is much, much worse; she is struggling to breathe. The facts are that she is walking, right now, a very thin edge, although she woke up this afternoon and told us all about the Indians.
She was in a dance, she said, buried up to her neck in sand with a lot of other people in a circle. Being buried was okay, she said, there were cones of oxygen and of air around them. The Indians were dancing and playing music: Indian music, she said, but nice. One by one, the other people who were buried were moving on. They were dying, she said, but it was okay: they were all happy to go. Suddenly one Indian told her that she had to go back. "I don't want to go back," she said, "I like it here." "Sorry," he said, "You have to go back." And then, in her words, she was WHOMPED into the ICU.
"Whomped?" said my cousin P, who was there with us.
"Whomped." said my mother.
"You know," I said, ever helpful, "like, whomped."
So she came back. She's back now. But she's back in the ICU with an oxygen mask and her heart rate is fast, fast and her hands are cold and her lungs are full of fluid. They asked us again this morning about the DNR and whether we would consent, please, to a ventilator and we said, No. No, she doesn't want that and neither do we. Then we'll try to keep her comfortable, they said, and we said, you do that.
I felt this afternoon when I left the hospital to go check on the QOB and take young M home (I pulled young M out of school and he was there at the ICU most of the day, along with my daughter A and my cousin P who showed up since the grapevine yesterday got all the news and my brother B) like I'd been taking acid for days. Bad acid, laced with strychnine, bad acid done with bad people in a bad place. And I still feel like that.