Sunday, April 03, 2005

Eighty-One point Nine

I can't seem to keep this number from haunting my thoughts. "It's too low," I keep thinking. "How did this happen?"

81.9 pounds is how much my mom weighed last night when the hospital hoisted her up from her bed in a canvas sheath that was attached to a scale. My husband commented quietly to me how she looked like a little chicken wing wrapped in paper- no meat, only bones. Mom's broken-down liver has given her a yellowish tinge except on her legs, which sport blackish-purple bruises from the slightest, little bump against the couch or from socks that are too tight. I swear, one could look at her cross-eyed and she'd bruise.

The hospital doctor called today to tell us that he has discovered the problem. Mom's liver has been dumping excess toxins into her system, causing extreme dementia...which has resulted in her refusal to eat. He's going to try some new meds, so we can rebuild her cognition and help her gain some weight. It's hard to believe that a 5'4" woman can weigh so little.


As far back as I can remember, my mom used to make me promise that I would take care of her when she grew old. She never asked my other sisters, it was always me. They used to tease me about it, stating that it was fate and non-negotiable. When I bought my first townhome at the age of 30, they inquired if it had enough room for mom when she moved in. Their taunts would send me into fits. I couldn't imagine how it would ever come to pass. And now the time is here and it's hard now to imagine not having done this, despite the toll it has taken on me and my marriage.

Ochenta y uno nombre nueve

Mom never worked when we were kids. I'm not really sure why, since dad never held a steady job. When I left for college she began to work in a baby store for $5.00 an hour. Mom hoarded every paycheck in a checking account with just her name. Dad didn't have access to it. She was bound and determined to have some money to cover her heath care needs. Dad didn't save for retirement, he never earned a pension. He exists solely on Social Security. The small amount of savings that they have is due to mom, and I'm spending it liberally so she is completely taken care of. So she's not lonely or alone when she needs help.

Dammit, it's impossible to beat this thing.