I know Mother’s Day is tomorrow, and I know it’s the time for every mom to receive flowers, treats, and presents.
But unfortunately, this isn’t that kind of celebratory post.
So, if you’re looking for something to warm your hearts and inspire you to celebrate this annual day of recognizing your great mom, stop reading now. There are better places to go for that.
However, if you’re in a more introspective mood, then perhaps this post might be just what the doctor ordered.
How my mom ended up in the hospital
Last week, I posted about the big life lesson learned from renovating my home toilets (it ended today…finally).
What I didn’t talk about was how the whole reno saga coincided with another major saga.
My 88-year-old mother who’s stayed with us since 2019 after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, was warded in the hospital over the weekend prior to the reno’s commencement ten days ago.
The original plan was to move her to my sister’s place when the renovation started. But that plan got derailed when a heel blister she had somehow ballooned overnight into a major open wound.
Now some background on my mom.
Last year, we learned that Mom had a rare skin condition called bullous pemphigoid. Well actually, that’s not exactly true. It’s not that rare for the elderly to contract it. And as far as medical science can say at this point, it’s not hereditary and no one knows how people get it.
Bullous pemphigoid (BP) is a chronic autoimmune skin disease that causes blisters on the skin and/or mucous membranes. The condition is caused by an autoantibody-mediated immune response, where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the skin’s basement membrane zone, leading to the formation of fluid-filled blisters or bullae. (Info taken from ChatGPT)
How BP affects my mom
Those who have BP typically develop itchy blisters on areas of skin that often flex — such as the lower abdomen, upper thighs, or armpits. In my mom’s case, it also appears on her back and her palms. In short, just about anywhere that she has loose or hanging skin. And because of her advanced age and Alzhiemer’s, she lacks the necessary resistance to scratch non-stop when the condition takes charge.
That means she’s her own worse enemy, cos when “it itcheth, she scratcheth”! Vigorously.
The only way for my mom to manage BP is through prescribed oral medication and special skin creams. And for us to remind her constantly not to scratch, which is usually an exercise in futility. My mom can barely remember what she had for breakfast every morning.
Now back to that open heel wound.
Mom needs healing…in her heel
Ordinarily, most of us wouldn’t worry too much if we had one blister that broke and bled. Just clean it, let it air, apply some antiseptic, and either leave it or plaster it. In a day or two, it should heal.
In my mom’s case, however, it’s less straightforward.
Three years ago, she fell and needed a hip replacement that left her mostly wheelchair-bound with only limited mobility, except via an assisted walking frame. That incident also put her on blood-thinning pills for life cos doctors fear she could easily develop deep vein thrombosis from being sedentary. For someone of her age, and with her medical complexities, that could prove potentially life-threatening.
So any bleeding means my mom must be immediately attended to by trained physicians in the hospital.
Hence when this latest saga happened, we decided to ward her right away to head off any complications.
Unfortunately, there is a bed crunch in local hospitals this period, thanks in part to a resurgence in Covid cases. So my poor mom ended up waiting four nights in the Accidents & Emergency section of her designated hospital before finally getting a proper ward, room, and bed. There, she spent another three nights while doctors run through various treatments before she was discharged last Saturday.
The verdict from the doctors? Restore her previous oral medication routine that controlled the BP so her skin has time to heal from the itches and blisters. (The medication had been discontinued a while back when her condition was under control). Also, to continue bandaging her wound in a prescribed manner daily for another three weeks.
By then her heel should heal.
Hang on mother…we’ll bring you home in two days
However, as our toilet reno was only into its fourth day then, we had to leave my mom at my spinster sister’s place for three days (cos my sister had to leave thereafter for her vacation to South Korea, which she booked two months ago). Then, we had to place Mom in a temporary nursing respite care residence until our house was ready and cleaned up.
Which isn’t for another two days as of the time of this post!
Talk about one saga heaped on another!
No doubt, it won’t be a moment too soon for Mom to return home.
And no doubt, we shall try to do something to commemorate Mother’s Day for her, even if we can’t do it tomorrow, the official Mother’s Day.
But this whole experience just makes me wonder what quality of life is there for someone in my mother’s situation who has to be shuttled from one place to another at a moment’s notice.
Or for any elderly with multiple ailments and near-complete dependence on family and caregivers for their daily needs.
My mother…my daily reminder
My mom is a constant reminder to me that dignity and the quality of life in our sunset years cannot be taken for granted. It must be planned for in all aspects, not just financial or even medical. We need to consider how we’re loved and cared for by those closest to us. And I’ll admit, that’s not easy for me, given my checkered past with my parents, which I’ve alluded to in past blog posts.
My mom is also a daily reminder of how I treat others, and how I wish to be treated in return.
Especially when I’m 88, a distinct possibility since I come from “good stock.” My mom’s still alive now at 88, and my dad passed on nine years ago at the ripe old age of 98. Plus, there are new findings published recently which suggest we will all likely live to 100!
So this Mother’s Day, I need to reflect on what being old today means for my mom. And for me, when my time comes (which is less than a couple of decades away!).
What about you? What’s your take on aging and how are you preparing for it?
Anyway, to all celebrating tomorrow, Happy Mother’s Day!