Mom-a-dukes: The Patient

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Got a busy weekend ahead of me. Pig Roast and Pajama Party on Capitol Hill Saturday night, going away barbeque for a friend that’s off to San Fran on Sunday afternoon and DC Conspiracy get-together on Sunday night. I’m trying to get Robin out of the house on Friday night so I can get some work done – I just don’t have time. The following weekend I’m in NYC, following weekend is Halloween, following weekend Robin’s parents comes up, following weekend is the Counter Culture Festival – what the fuck? I need to quit my job and dedicate my time to writing because I’m losing weekends.


We all get to that point when you start to experience firsthand the frailty that comes with old age. My mom’s not old, by any means, but she’s certainly at that age where things begin to fall apart and if you don’t track your health, it’ll all fall apart ridiculously quick.

It was the summer between junior and senior year in high school, we were going to my Titi Lisa’s apartment out in Bay Ridge. The whole family was there, as usual, and we were just going to eat some good Spanish food, dance around a little bit and most likely end up playing some Pictionary or Trivial Pursuit – standard family get-together.

My mom is afraid of elevators. She’ll rarely get into a modern one and if the thing looks old or moves slow she’ll either take the stairs or simply turn around and go home. My Titi Lisa was on the seventh or eighth floor, the elevator looked sketchy, so without hesitation my mom decided to walk up; my sister went with her. My father and I get to my Titi Lisa’s floor, ring the bell – they ask where my mom is. We tell them she’s taking the steps, crack a few jokes about my mom and elevators and make our way inside.

Except my mom never made it up.

My sister comes and gets us, tells us mom wants to talk to my dad. My father and I both go into the hallway and my mom is sitting on a step two flights down, breathing heavy and complaining about her chest hurting. Shortly thereafter she’s in an ambulance and making her way to the hospital. A couple of days later she’s having stents put in her arteries. A couple of months later she’s repeating the procedure. Later still is the bypass surgery.

Over the course of a couple of months my mom’s health got worse and worse. It was the Chronic Artery Disorder on top of the hypothyroidism on top of the newly developed diabetes. And it was just weird watching this woman that’s always been the strong constant in your life - the one that fed you as a kid and took you to school and brought home the Superman comics when you’re sick – just fall apart like this over the course of a year.

She needs to lose weight. She needs to work out. She needs to eat healthier. She needs to limit her stress. She needs to take medication. She needs to eat less salt. She’s reacting badly to the medication. The stent didn’t take. She just needs rest.

My mother, except for little things here and there, never needed anything. She gave. She provided. For almost twenty years of my life, from childhood straight through college, my mom was the person I went to when I needed something. If she was broke she’d still give me money. If she was busy she’d still make time to help me out.

On Christmas, you ask my mom what she needed and she’d say a new pair of socks. Now she needs to got to the doctor monthly and see specialists whenever something seems out of whack.

But we rallied behind her. We supported her, adjusted our lifestyles to better fit her new one. She lost the weight. She limited her stress. She started getting healthy. She looks better now.

But that still doesn’t replace that image of seeing my mom in the hospital, hooked up to tubes, pale as all hell, in pain, scared out of her shit and trying to hold herself together, holding back her tears as she told my father she needed me to leave.


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