1:40am Thursday morning, my phone rings and I press the green answer button. It’s my dad. He says, “Yeaaah. Your mother is on the floor. She’s been passed out for about 30 minutes…” After a brief pause, I wake up as if I was waking up from a nightmare in the middle of the night. I respond, “I’m on my way.”
I pack my overnight bag and briefcase, open the garage and I’m out the door in 2 1/2 minutes. I drive 40 minutes to my parents house in the middle of the night with the wind and rain blowing like crazy over the freeway. I’m less than a mile from their house and try to center and gather my thoughts. I pray to God, “Please Lord, I pray for my mom. For her health. That she will be ok and get through this. I pray for my dad. My family. Health. Please Lord, I pray.” Honestly, I don’t remember exactly what I said but those short and choppy sentences are probably pretty close to the prayers I said in my head as I came upon their driveway.
I pull up to the house and the garage door was open with the lights on. The garage door being open is not a normal occurrence for my family in the middle of the night. Immediately, thoughts started to flood into my head about the past. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a stretcher go into my parents house through the garage accompanied by 4 to 6 firefighters and ambulance personnel. Memories of when my mom couldn’t breathe and I called 911 at least a handful of times due to pulmonary embolisms. Or the night my mom had a tumor rupture that was full of cancer and she was in excruciating pain on the right side of her abdomen. This time, I walked through the garage and as soon as I was about to penetrate my key into the lock the knob spun and my dad was there to open the door. He knew I had arrived.
Honestly, I’m not even sure if we made eye contact. Frankly, it was 2:30am and I was there with a purpose. I followed him to the bedroom. He kept walking through there bedroom towards the master bathroom. I looked at the bed as if I was a CSI agent. My eyes were dialed on scene scanning for clues as I quickly followed my dad around the corner. My eyes immediately looked down at the floor and there was my mom laying face down on the cold tile floor. Her face was on an angle with her brown hair covering her face. Her stomach flat against the surface with her right arm tucked awkwardly under her. My dad had towels under her body and had one slightly placed under her head for temporary comfort. The trash can and scale looked as if they were kicked across the tile floor. My dad said, “She’s breathing.”
I was there to get her back into bed. At my dad’s age of 63, he is in no position to lift my mom up off the ground. With her face down on the floor, the lights on, she had fallen off of the toilet. It was 1:30am when she had gotten up to go number two and she had taken pain medications to go to sleep about 3 hours earlier. The combination of her being tired in the middle of the night and the pain medications make it difficult for her to be completely coherent in the middle of the night. She must have been wiping up after going to the bathroom and had fallen over. Hit her head on the wall or ground and remained laying in that position.
My dad said, “Let’s roll her over on her right side and then we can drag her over around the corner and get her to the side of the bed.” This was dead weight. My mom wouldn’t want me to say her weight but let’s just say she’s no Taylor Swift. I squatted on the floor and put my arms under her arms and started to gently drag her across the floor. She didn’t flinch. I had black under armor socks on and as I was dragging her I kept sliding. I slipped and slid about three times until I pulled my socks off to gain traction and a bit of leverage.
I got her across the bathroom tile floor and onto the carpet. I locked my arms under her armpits and got her another 6 feet across the floor. She was starting to wake up and became somewhat cognitive. Her hands reached down to pull her pants up as they were starting to slide off as I was dragging her legs. My dad reached down and pulled them up as I was in the process of getting her the next 4 feet to the edge of the bed. I was grateful that she woke up and was starting to come to her senses. That was the first sign to me that we were going to be okay. I had done something like this before and she hadn’t woken up.
I’ll never forget how scary it was about 6 weeks ago when she was supposed to go in for a colonoscopy and I went to wake her up and she didn’t wake up. I had her even sitting up straight in my arms on the edge of her bed after putting water on her head, playing loud music, and shaking her. She never did. She slept for almost two days without waking up. This time it was a blessing to hear her breathing and have her talking.
There she was at the edge of the bed. My dad uttered out some words about how I should position myself to get her dead weight up the two feet into the bed. Frankly, I’m not sure what he said because my adrenaline kicked in as if I was running into a burning building to save someone’s life. Without thinking, I got behind her. I put my arms under her armpits again, squatted, and lifted her up to the point where she was sitting on my lap as I was sitting on the edge of the bed. Luckily she had feeling in her feet to barely support herself up. I leaned back with my arms locked around her as she was laying on top of me. I used my body to roll her over onto her side and my dad helped swing her legs over onto the bed.
There she was in bed but now awake. Mumbling and half asleep she said, “I have to go the bathroom.” I may have rolled my eyes but I said, “Just go to sleep.” After back and forth and, “You got to be kidding me’s,” her strong willed self was going to do whatever it took to go to the bathroom. I thought to myself, “there’s no way!” She already has 1 maybe 2 broken bones in each of her feet, hasn’t been able to stand up straight for over 18 months, and has been starting to fall often. I thought, you can’t be serious. I yelled at my dad to go get the portable potty. With that said, there house sometimes resembles a hospital with the bed side commode, wheelchair, walker, crutches, and foot braces everywhere.
My dad placed the bed side commode next to her bed. She sat down and I held her up while my dad cleaned up after she was done with her business. Some of the stuff I’ve seen and experienced… no one should ever have to see or do. But someone always has it worse. It’s important to remember the blessings we have in our lives. I’m so very grateful to just simply walk into my parents bedroom and hear my mom breathing. I can’t count how many times I’ve gone into her room just to hear her breathing and say a prayer. You see the difference for me is that I’ve grown up with this reality for over 18 years now. Things have happened for this to progressively reach this point due to the complexity and rarity of her health complications. Yes, she’s missed out on a lot of the things I’ve accomplished and done but her presence, life, and love have always been there for me. That continual support has been the driving force behind my drive to do good in the world. Her spirit lives through me to impact many.
My mom lives in bed alone often while my dad is at work most of the week. But her spirit has fortunately been multiplied through me and those I come in contact with. Her fight has been one of the greatest blessings in my life and yours. If you’ve read this far with me, you are reading my words through her spirit. Her love and her positivity have reached you and it’s my hope you appreciate the blessings in your life.
With hugs, love, and blessings for your health,