Ear Update
Let Us Move On To Happier Things

Who Knows Where The Spirit Goes?

My Mom's been sick with a UTI since Wednesday. Her blood count is very low and her BUN and Creatinine are elevated. Everything points to the beginning of renal failure. When really old people get UTIs, the infection can knock them for a loop. In addition to being very weak physically, Mom's also been foggy and confused.

Joe and I went to her assisted living home yesterday afternoon; she was in bed and passed out when I got there. It was 3:30. I woke her up to tell her I was there. She recognized me, but she was really out of it and somewhat confused. The aide came in and told me that the nurse wanted to talk to me.

That's a bad sign right there, isn't it?

The upshot of the conversation was that she was now on an antibiotic for the UTI and had received a Procrit treatment for the low blood count. (Procrit is insanely expensive: $1000 per shot. Yes, that's one thousand dollars. I am amazed her insurance approved it.) The doctor said that if she didn't improve a lot, and improve a lot quickly, that perhaps it would be time to consider hospice.

I ended up spending the night, sleeping on the sofa, because... well, because. The nurse suggested that perhaps we should hire a private duty nurse, but there is no money for private duty nurses. My unspoken thought was "I'm sorry, but is this not your job?" I knew I didn't have to stay, but... well, if something had happened and I had gotten The Phone Call, I would have... had to go into therapy.


The night was weird. I did sleep, but fitfully, because Mom chattered away in her sleep all night long. At first, it was just soft gibberish. Then, very clearly, she said, "Look at this apartment! So many rooms!"


Then she started calling for my uncle and my gramma, both of whom have been dead for years.

"Charles! Charles! Mother? Charles! Charles! Charles! Charles!" clear as a bell. Then she drifted off again.

Later -- I have no idea how much later -- she started hollering for my sister, then my brother. She called and called, loudly, sometimes forcefully, sometimes angrily. She called them as if she were calling them from playing, with a singsong tone. She called them as if she were going to scold them, demanding they show up right now.

Each episode lasted about 15 minutes, or so it seemed to me, as I lay on the sofa in the darkest part of the night, when there is no time, just darkness, just calling. My gramma, my uncle, my sister, my brother.

She seemed a little better this morning, slightly stronger, a little more with it. She ate an egg and a couple pieces of bacon. The aide gave her a sponge bath and dressed her in clean clothes and sat her in the chair. She slept away the day, though, only rousing for lunch or when the nurse came in to give her pill or take her blood pressure.

Then, just before I left, she asked me, "How does that place we were last night correspond to the building?"

I said, "Mom, we were right here all night. You were in bed by 6:30."

"Oh no, we weren't. What was that place where we were?"

What indeed? What is that place that your spirit goes, when you're on the edge of life? Is it just brain chemicals and BUN and low blood count, or is it something else, something you don't see or hear or know until you experience it for yourself? An apartment with so many rooms, where you see your mother and your brother and you call for them -- and then you call for your children, your living children, because it's not quite time to go there.

It's not quite time.