We’ve begun that age-old dance, my mother and I. It’s the one that most parents and their adult children do, eventually; the one during which we exchange our lifetime roles. As we dance, my mother becomes the child and I become the parent.
It’s difficult. Mom and I are equally reluctant to do the dance. It’s painful. Infinitely tender. We’re unsure of the steps; we find ourselves awkward in our sudden intimacy; shy with love, two women who share ancestral blood and the complex history of mothers and daughters. There’s no way of knowing how long the dance will last. It could be a marathon. It could be very short. Whichever happens, we’re both in it for the duration. We’ll see its end together.
The sciatica Mom’s suffered with for the last three months is nearly gone. We’re celebrating its slow departure, delighted that she now has so little pain. But in its place has come a low, evil brown nausea. It’s stealing her appetite, her enjoyment of life, and burdening her with frustration… and fear.
In the morning she’s having an upper GI endoscopy. We hope to discover what’s causing this dreadful, debilitating nausea. Mom has lost nearly 12 pounds, most of them in the last three weeks. She can barely eat or even drink water; I took her to the ER a week ago because she became so dehydrated. They gave her IV fluids and sent us home.
The lack of food and water has not only left Mom alarmingly weak, it’s also affected her ability to think clearly. She’s confused and forgetful. She cannot understand why she’s so sick. She cries, and I try not to. To stay strong.
Tonight, a few hours after going to bed, she got up to use the bathroom and fell, scraping and bruising her back. I helped her up and back to bed, cleaned the ugly scrape and painted it with antibacterial salve. Mom said that no other part of her seemed to hurt, but of course I’m worried about her ultra-fragile bones, or that she might have irritated her sciatic nerve again. She was able to walk back to bed unaided, though, which I think is a good sign. I think—I hope—she’s all right.
That fall scared the dickens out of both of us.
I hope the gastroenterologist will be able find out what’s causing her awful nausea. I hope he can treat it quickly and effectively, so she can get on with recovering her strength and stamina. And I hope that we’ll be allowed to stop dancing, at least for a little while.