It comes to us all I know, but when parents are aging and unwell with underlying-can-happen-any-minute conditions, it can be a roller coaster ride of worry and emotions.
First comes the dreaded phone call, then the rush to whichever hospital, the inevitable tests, the prolonged monitoring and possible decisions on future care and perceived, potential 'outcomes'.
It can be such a nightmare and it's the unknown, human factor that can confound and ultimately amaze.
We have been through this before and we have been going through it again for the past week.
I almost feel sorry for the doctors, trying to get a handle on the enigma that is my mother!
They have a difficult job, doctors. I admire them and appreciate the professionalism, understanding and care with which they they have treated us over the past few months. Whilst in hospital that is, post-stroke follow-ups leave a lot to be desired in my opinion.
There is no denying it, strokes are serious business and specific, prompt care must be afforded in accordance with accepted hospital practices. Depending on the resources of the hospital, that is. Other co-morbid conditions can cloud and confuse the issue so must also be taken into account. Although ultimately pleased with previous care received in a small local hospital (in acute ward only) there is no comparison to the care currently being delivered in a more acute hospital. None whatsoever. In fact I think all future medical emergencies should be scheduled to occur at certain hours in order to gain access ;-)
They do seem to be quick off the mark to make the tough decisions though. However doors are being kept open, within a time frame. A movable one, I hope.
See, I know there's an accepted time frame in which a patient should show signs of recovery post-stroke, in order to provide the 'best' outcome. Based on that doctor's will make decisions, or encourage the family to make the decisions, as regards further 'interventions'. Like feeding for example, where speech and swallow are affected. Such a terrible, life altering after-effect of a stroke. Truly awful.
However, sometimes the patient can defy the odds and decide what an acceptable time-frame for their recovery is. Quality of life and ultimate outcome is of course a whole other issue.
No-one wants to prolong the inevitable or to offer food in a way that may constitute 'force feeding' but neither do we, or the medics, get to play God. Sometimes patient care and interventions must be patient led and, in my experiences, doctors get that and amend decisions and treatments accordingly.
How do you respond, apart from becoming a sniveling and emotional wreck, when a doctor gives you some gently delivered yet brutal news as regards feeding and most likely outcome, within a set time-frame? Try to remain practical, the brain can only take so much battering from strokes after all, and re-iterate her amazing recovery stories?
The power of the body and brain to heal and the human spirit to fight never ceases to amaze me.
Yesterday, within five minutes of the above conversation my mam woke up and tried to talk, treating to me to a spark of her former self by giving out to me with eyes briefly bright in her head, before succumbing to more nurturing sleep!
Then today she was full of chat, stories and laughter with obvious improvement in speech! She adores her new night dresses, wants to get her hair cut and would love a cup of tea thanks-very-much!! Unfortunately she cannot have tea, or even water. Yet.
I am under no illusions here, who knows what tomorrow will bring as the risks are high, but you cannot deny a person fighting back to this extent. She deserves every chance.
Last night I was torn between saluting and encouraging her now legendary fighting powers and praying for a miracle. The miracle of release.
I know tough decisions still lie ahead but, for today, I simply give you my mother.
The Bounce Back Queen.
Never to be under-estimated.
PS: Please keep her in your thought and prayers....