Monday, April 20, 2020

Shelter in Place - Beauty and Loss in the ICU - My Mom

The grocery stores had begun to feel like we are playing Pac-Man.   Masked bandits, trying to stay six feet away from the invisible virus chasing us.  Wait...we are too close to the next person...turn! Turn! Turn!

The craziest feeling for me has been the silence.  The streets are silent, except for the singing of the birds. The stores have instructions interrupting the quiet.

On a funny note, shopping for the ten children still at home has been interesting.  I have had more questionable looks at my one overfull cart (that will last us one week).  We have been very cared for by our village here though.  Diapers have been regularly delivered, as well as toilet paper, Lysol, food, etc.

Everyone is safely working from home, though we've had to be out of the house more than many, taking my mom to dialysis.

The last couple weeks, my mom has been joyful.  I don't know how to explain it.  It's like most of her worries were just gone.  It was a healing couple of weeks.  If you know my mom, she is such a kind person.  She loves others so much.

Last Saturday, my mom got a bit sick to her stomach, but she wasn't confused and none of the other big worrisome signs.  Allergies are in full force here, so we figured it was the lovely pollen in the air.

Easter morning came and a call came from our oldest daughter Sarah. (She and her family live with my mom and help care for her.)  My mom was confused, her blood sugar, blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen level was way lower than it needed to be...and her speech began to be affected.

We got many of her "rates" up and loaded her (she could still move to a wheelchair) into the van.  Thomas took her to the ER.  In the van, her speech became clear again.  Thomas talked to her about watching our preacher (Richard) speak about our amazing Savior and how we made the kids little Easter bags.   My mom smiled and turned toward Thomas.  "They liked it?"  Her concern, on the way to the hospital, was her grandchildren loving Easter.

As Thomas drove up, my mom passed out.

Thomas called me.  He was met at the door by people in hazmat suits and not allowed in.  He was broken.  My strong, always knows what to do in an emergency husband was broken.

For the first 15 minutes the ER didn't even know who she was.  They were wonderful people, fighting an awful virus, and couldn't let others in.  They got mom's information and Thomas' phone number.  He stayed there as long as he could, but there was no entering the building.

That first night my mom was moved to a Covid ICU unit as a "possible positive".  She was put on a ventilator.  Her numbers improved throughout the next 36 hours.  She's come back from much worse.

While this was going on, a friend that is like a sister kept hearing in her spirit, "Help Kat with her mom's homecoming."  She knew things were improving, and well...that's just not something that is easily shared when your friend's mom is in the hospital.  My friend had never used a word like "homecoming" odd.  She tried to push it out of her mind, but our Heavenly Father wouldn't let it retreat.  She felt in repeatedly in her spirit...again and again.

For three days, we couldn't see my mom. She was a "possible Covid patient".   She was in the ICU on a ventilator and we couldn't be by her side.  The hospital was wonderful, communicating often and putting the phone to my mom's ear.  She tested Covid negative and again at 48 hours.  On Wednesday they moved her to the non-Covid ICU wing.  

I got a call early Wednesday morning.  My mom's numbers had plummeted.  The dialysis couldn't clean the acid out of her blood fast enough.  She had sepsis, pneumonia, and several of her organs were shutting down.  We were told we needed to have a very difficult conversation. Each of our immediate family members and children called and told our mom that they loved her, with the phone held to her ear.

 The nurse called and said they had gotten permission for one of us to be with her one at a time for up to three hours.  When the nurse started crying, we knew that we were losing our mom.

I don't know how it got to this point.  Everything had been encouraging and our mom had recovered from the ICU before.  It was unreal what was unfolding so quickly.

We gathered everything we could to keep us safe (we were walking into a hospital).  We found our masks, our hand sanitizer, and climbed into my brothers Jeep.  The ride took only about 20 minutes,but seemed like an eternity.

I walked into the hospital first.  As I told them my mom's room number the tears exploded from me.  I had it somewhat together until then, but having to say out loud why I was being called to the hospital just about broke me.

This is my mom.

When I walked into the room, the nurse looked up.  She said, "I know you.  You look familiar." We both had masks on at that point.  I took off my mask.  "You have thirteen children.", she smiled with heartfelt emotion.  She took off her mask.  It was the "nurse that prayed".  She had my number in her phone. A little bit over three years ago, my mom was fighting for her life in the ICU.  One nurse was planted in our hearts, Crystal.  She had prayed with us, shared what we needed to be praying for medically, and supported us when we thought we were losing our mom.  Crystal from three years ago, was my mom's nurse as we faced one of the hardest and most beautiful events in one's life.  The likelihood of this happening was very small...BUT GOD.

Thomas, I, and my brother Steve rotated though.  The "shelter in place order" had my brother Ralph and his beautiful family in California.  It all happened so fast.

The doors to the hospital locked at 6pm.  You could get out, but not in.  It was about 4:15 pm when I walked in the first time.

I went in first.... and I went in the very last.

I was honored to be with my mom in her last minutes. I asked to be. My brothers and husband were gracious enough to let me.  It's painful and beautiful at the same time. I got to be there when she had her homecoming. The doctors tried to convince those in charge to let all of us, but the rules were strict with the pandemic.   My husband, my brothers, my sister-in-law, and my niece were on speaker phone.  They were there with me.

At home, Bekah sat outside on our second level, knowing what was coming.  About two feet away a Cardinal landed...then a sparrow right next to it.  They started playing together, not fighting, playing.  Bekah crept even closer.  For those of you that know us, you may know Cardinal's are meaningful to us.  They mean, "It's going to be okay."  (It's a long story for another time.) We had also recently (never before in twenty years living here) had Lark Sparrows join our feathered friends.  They have a very distinct song.  If you know the verse from the Bible...

 "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."                    Matthew 12:6-7

They reminded us of not only God watching over us, but also God's provision.  Not ONLY did they join us at our house, but one had been perching every morning at my mom's house on the highest point of her roof.  ONLY GOD....

We all talked to her.  Told her we loved her.  Laughed at crazy memories.  I sung to her a verse...

This world is not my home I'm just a passing through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore

Oh lord you know I have no friend like you
If heaven's not my home then lord what will I do
The angels beckon me from heaven's open door a
nd I can't feel at home in this world anymore 

When they pulled the ventilator tube, she didn't take one breath.  She's was ready to be home.

That night, Sarah opened my mom's Bible to where my mom was reading last.  
Revelations 12:11

"They triumphed over him
    by the blood of the Lamb

    and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
    as to shrink from death."

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In the joy of following our Heavenly Father, we sometimes choose to proceed with a whisper, a verse, or a downright matter how we follow Him, the momentum that follows is like nothing we've ever experienced before.

Join the is a beautiful place to be. It's not always easy, but then the best things never are.

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