Last month I was in the hospital a lot. Not for myself, but for my Old Ladies. Not because they had covid-19 at the time, but one for sepsis and the other who was refusing to swallow.
Old Ladies: Aunt & Mother ca 1970’s
The Old Lady refusing to swallow was my mother who after two weeks of getting fed through a nasal gastric tube had to have a feeding tube put in. The refusing to swallow apparently is a symptom of dementia. The other Old Lady, my aunt, is back in the nursing home and seems to be beating the odds (this is where I knock on wood). The nursing home where my aunt resides is reporting six deaths due to the virus, but from what I can tell from our Facetime chats, she has not succumbed to it.
I am not sure how long I can keep from succumbing to a dementia of my own. A dementia brought on by the stress of making life-changing decisions for other people on top of the guilt that has been gnawing away at me since I took over the Old Ladies’ care back in 2011.
But I don’t want to let them down.
There are people who I know are dead
and people I suppose are dead
and people who I fear are dead
and dead people long forgotten
and dead people who never leave
excerpted from “There Are People Who I Know Are Dead”
by Robert Hershon
My aunt was taken to the ER last Wednesday and then admitted into the hospital because her blood pressure was dangerously low.
The first three days were in what they call “medical step down”: less critical than ICU but too critical for the regular hospital floor. On day four she was downgraded to the regular unit, but in a control isolation room. This means you need to put on a gown before entering and wash your hands without fail.
She contracted an infection while in the nursing home and was on antibiotics for two weeks, but the bacteria was still in her system. The nursing home didn’t test her stool and so didn’t know she was still sick. Apparently you can die from such infections if you’re an old lady.
I think I know how this movie ends. But I don’t want to rush the scenes. And if I’m allowed some rewrites of the plot along the way, permit me to make sure my Old Lady doesn’t croak in the hospital. Perhaps she could be in a field of bright yellow flowers when it’s her time.
In this light
I can see the animal of truth
unleashing equal parts delirium
What can Time take
that you have not already
–excerpted from “Animal of Truth” by Jiwon Choi