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Amongst other things, this is a love story.... the theme changes occasionally... this year it is fitness and learning to love yourself.

13 April 2015

Knowledge and knowing #atozchallenge Care for the Carers

Two days after her 73rd birthday my Mum took her final breath. She had Alzheimers and Motor neurone disease. For her final 3 months I was her main carer. A privilege I am grateful for and will cherish forever. This years #atozchallenge theme will focus on being a carer / care-giver.

Remember to care for the carers.  

When I did my first clinical placement in a nursing home I knew from the start that I never wanted Mum to spend time in one. I also made a habit of treating patients as if they were my parents.

Knowing my parents' routines made my job of establishing a new routine easier at times and impossible at others. Mum would have been better off for example with several small servings of food throughout the day, but I couldn't shake their lifetime routine of '3 square meals a day.' 

Knowledge from working in surgical wards, doctors clinics, dementia wards and palliative care made everyday tasks easier, especially because she was such a dignified lady. The palliative care team were constantly telling her to just do what I told her to do, because 'she knows what to do.'  

There's also that type of knowing that makes no sense at all.  I knew Mum would die at home and I knew she wouldn't die while I was home with her. It was what she wanted. I don't know how I knew it - I just knew it.  

The day after her birthday we spent the morning together but that night I went to stay at a friends house for a much needed rest, after another family member offered to stay with her. I wasn't getting more than 2-3 straight hours of sleep and often less than 5 hours a day. 

I knew she was close to death, and began getting  in the habit of treating every conversation we had as if it would be our last. We told each other we loved each other, she thanked me, and she said everything will be ok... 

My last thought before falling asleep was 'I wonder if she'll be strong enough to last another week until my next 'night off' - I was so sure she would wait till I was out of the house. At the time it didn't occur to me that 'tonight was the night.'  At 3am I received a text message saying she was doing fine. At 5.30am a phone call saying 'it's time to come home, she's gone, it's happened, we've lost her' - or something like that.  I took my time, no need to rush. 

On the morning of her funeral I walked into one of her favourite stores as I was waiting for my hairdressers appointment, at the clinic she had used for decades. Over the speakers a significant song started playing and stopped me in my tracks. The song is about a woman named Ita Buttrose, (sounds so much like Ida we've always replaced Ita with Ida) 

' I believe, I believe what Ida tells me to.'  From that moment I knew Mum was close by and still had her sense of humour.  

Cold Chisel - Ita.

On my way back home I didn't know that the last leg of my flight from Melbourne back to Denmark would be upgraded to business class... but plenty of people have told me they know why.  


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  1. Only one of my grandparents ended up spending any time in a nursing home before the end.

    1. I didn't really think about how my idea and decision to not see Mum in a nursing home might translate to people who have family members use them. I think they they are the best place for some people. I often said Mum would have enjoyed the social side of it, but it just wasn't the best place for her given the diseases she ended up dying of, and that, through a very fortunate set of circumstances, I was able to be there for her.

  2. It's such a tragic story.

    1. We are never to old to lose our Mum's Jo, so yes it is tragic, but in many other ways she was content and happy to be surrounded by family, and stay at home.

  3. Hi Ida - so well done you were able to be with your mother and keep her at home ... my mother needed too much nursing and was bedridden, so the choice couldn't be made - and she accepted it .. she was amazing: we were lucky. And as you say you were aware of the likely way of passing .. and I'm sure she's still with you ... welcome back to Europe and Denmark .. cheers Hilary

    1. The last few days were the most difficult in so much as she was getting to weak and could hardly weight bare anymore, it was definitely much harder, any worse and it would have been a 'two man' job to lift and move her... and she may well have been better off in a nursing home. Thanks Hilary, it's good to be home.

  4. SHE said everything will be OK. She knew; she knew it was time to go and that her journey would be OK; also that you would be OK.

    I, too, have felt that definite connecting with my mother since her passing. It is unmistakable, and I believe it's for good purpose -- they are watching over us, telling us something.

    Samantha Mozart