Friday 24 April 2009

Giving my mother something to live for, while she moves on ...

Pearly Gates: Please enter your PIN ... this picture and caption will amuse Mum ...

Dear Mr Postman .. this is a letter for you .. so that you can get an idea of the sort of amazing days I have with my mother ..

Yesterday was an incredible day with my mother .. only an hour and a half – but so uplifting and thought provoking. My mother is quite extraordinary .. and has been throughout this whole process. She originally had her strokes 26 months ago .. was stabilised in the Acute Brain Injury Unit and we eventually got her down her to Eastbourne 19 months ago.

The doctors realised that her stroke had not affected her cognisance or her ability to communicate and so were happy to let her have a PEG feeding tube fitted – initially she had a small intake of food and tea ... but since she’s been in Eastbourne .. she’s been nil by mouth.

She’s been in hospital now for over 3 weeks – she’s well! – but unfortunately her feeding tube had come out and the Nursing Centre were not able to put it back within the 2 hour window of opportunity there is for these things. For 11 days she was only on a drip .. then they tried to reinsert the PEG feed using a camera .. that failed & it was Easter.

At this point the doctors decided that she had to have a nose feeding tube .. so she could get nourishment and her drugs. This week, 2 weeks later, they tried again to fit the PEG with an Xray – sadly her stroked leg got in the way & that failed.

Wednesday night Mum obviously got irritated with the nose tube and it came out – so now needs to be reinserted. The Staff Nurse and Sister were with us during part of the following conversation ... – which she was wide awake and bright for: she’d been fairly subdued for most of the 3 weeks .. which is not like her. So this is my report back to my mother ..

Darling Mum .. you never cease to amaze me .. yesterday we needed to get your agreement to having the nose feed reinserted, which you didn’t want! Fortunately the Sister had had one and understood that it’s irritating – I haven’t, I agree – but we want you to have it put back.

The choices are pretty limited .. we need to ensure that you keep your strength up with the feed, and the nurses need to be able to give you your drugs, so that next week they will give you an anaesthetic and operate to reinsert the PEG.

If we can’t give you your feed – then you’ll die. Well I’m going to die anyway sometime soon aren’t I? Yes – but are you ready to die now? No! Will you have the nose feed reinserted – Yes ... with an anaesthetic! Well I’m afraid we can’t do that.. the PEG operation will be with an anaesthetic.

This went on .. but interspersed in all this ..which was repeated a few times .. we were laughing or smiling .. as soon as Mum said ‘yes – but with an anaesthetic’ we started laughing .. and she was belly laughing .. it’s so good.

Did you say you saw that Granny is here? Yes – she’s still alive isn’t she? Well – no Mum .. she died about 37 years ago .. perhaps she’s here with you waiting to go with you through the pearly gates? Why don’t they give her a key then? .......

You tell me – how you couldn’t laugh .. and we laughed and smiled round the problem .. she eventually consented to the nose tube .. which I hope has happened over night.

During this I read a couple of cards we’d received from friends .. including one from an employee of my mother’s .. regarding, her own mother’s, Lorraine’s 90th birthday party .. Margaret said she used to cringe when Lorraine and my mother argued over whose kitchen it was ... Mum owned a Care Home in Cornwall – we reminisced a bit about the old days.

Then I mentioned the two recent posts .. on Asparagus and Rhubarb ..”what a mix!!” and we talked about growing asparagus .. and making rhubarb fool with our new Kenwood mixer! Then I told Mum about St George’s Cross .. and how St George and the Dragon came about .. she was most interested.

Darling Mum – I am honoured to have been able to share so much with you over the last two years .. and to have been able to laugh with you, smile with you .. and watch your belly ratchet up and down laughing uproariously .. bringing others into our room to see what’s going on!

You’ve been an inspiration to me .. in that you’ve never complained, never worried, never whinged or moaned .. we’ve laughed our way through your adversity, our trials and tribulations ..we seem to have settled into a wonderful existence and have two minds that have met enjoying each other's company, while also appreciating the snippets of information or things that amuse us

I don’t know where your brain is .. but it never ceases to amaze me at what you can remember .. you may be muddled occasionally .. but it doesn’t matter you’re just so pragmatic about everything and ready to join in the fray – you are most definitely extra special .. and I love you.

I love you photo from Daphne and her "A Positive Letter to Hilary" post written for me at Joyful Days blog .... I am just grateful for everyone's support ... THANKYOU!!
Mr Postman thank you for laughing with me over this incredible tale .. it is so wonderful to have such a positive mother .. I am so lucky .. someone so spunky and not giving up on things ..
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters


Daphne said...


Thanks for this brave and cheery update on your mum. She's a gutsy woman indeed, and she's also blessed to have you at her side through these difficult times.

I hung onto every word of your update, and am becoming a fan of your mum. My dad too did his best to be cheerful at the end and that made all the difference in the world.

Thanks too for the link. Take care, both of you.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Daphne .. thanks for coming back and for continuing to be so supportive .. yes my Mum is truly amazing .. I use the word spunky .. it seems to fit her!!

Mum today asked me for some of my stories .. and asked that I bring more in when I go back now .. - I told her I was writing them for her .. and she said 'good'!!

Mum is so accepting of her fate .. one of the things she can't do is cry or get depressed apparently .. so lucky!

I just thank you for picking up on my comments to your post about the Ideal Reader .. I now just need to change the top of my blog a bit .. to reflect these thoughts.

Your letter to me was so kind ..

I'm very grateful .. all the very best

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

positively present said...

This is an excellent post. As Daphne said, this is a very brave post and I was truly inspired when I was reading it. Thank you so much for sharing it with your readers.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Positively Present .. thank you so much for being inspired by our journey. Her repartee never ceases to amaze me ..

I really appreciate your support and care for us ..

Thank you -
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Liara Covert said...

Your mother is aware of where you are at every moment. She knows how you feel. Writing the letter is a way to draw to your conscious awareness what your soul already knows. Soul-level connections strengthen mindfulness. You learn not to worry. Everything is for the best.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Liara .. thanks for visiting. You are right .. everything is turning out for the best - my mother is happy, I am happy with my journey and she's connecting with the next life ..

I am relaxed and just let life flow .. do what I can when I can .. and be with her as much as possible.

Thank you so much for your thoughts
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Michelle @ Find Your Balance said...

I enjoyed your post. My mother-in-law suffered a series of strokes and is now in a nursing home. We struggle with how to deal with this every day. Kudos to you for all you do for your mom!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Michelle .. thank you for finding me and my Ma .. she is certainly inspiring .. however we are lucky that she can communicate - and I love my visits to her and chats with her.

Perhaps you're not able to do that .. and obviously we all need to adjust to each individual situation .. I hope that I can help you in some small way ..

I'm going to post this comment and see if I can send an email privately .. if not please email me .. full name (no hyphens!) at gmail ..

All the very best & I hope we can keep in touch and support each other ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Marketing Unscrambled, Home edition said...

Hilary, It is good to hear about your mother. Thank you for also putting in the link to Daphne's blog. She did such a nice job on that letter to you. It is not fun dealing with the loss of a parent. I lost my father at the age of 12. I did not get the chance to say good-by like you are having. He drown will fishing in Yellow Stone Park. He was missing for two weeks when they found his body down stream and outside the park. I am glad that you can have this time with your mother. It is a gift to be sure. I know that you are taking all the opportunities that you can to be with her. That is great. My sweet husband Dan lost his mother and brother at a young age. He was 11. His mother to cancer and his brother to a farm accident on the dairy farm that they owned. If we can help email us. We would be glad to help. Give our love to your mother. Hope that all goes well with both of you. Do not forget to take care of yourself as well. She needs you healthy. Take care, with love from us.
Dan and Deanna "Marketing Unscrambled"

Marketing Unscrambled, Home edition said...

We have put an link to your blog on our blog it is on this one today. It will be on our other blog tomorrow. If you would like to check them out. Have a good Day.
Dan and Deanna "Marketing Unscrambled"

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Deanna .. thank you so much for visiting and sharing my mother with me. I consider myself very lucky that we are able to spend this time together.

Your poor father - and you all left behind .. accidents or unexplained deaths are too sad: as are sudden deaths. I'm sorry to hear about Dan losing his mother early and the accident to his brother .. that must have been a terrible time.

I hadn't realised how wonderful this time would be .. and the extra bonus is being able to share and hear others stories - there's nothing like the camaraderies of understand friends: which the net offers - especially via blogging.

It's a real privelege to hear your story .. I'm healthy and keeping well - thank you so much.

Keep well & keep peace in your heart - with love
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Dan and Deanna .. thanks for putting the two links up .. on your two blogs .. I'll be across there .. I have some rhubarb notes to add in!

All the best -
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Peter Baca said...

Hi Hilary,

Your mom is a brave and intelligent woman! After reading your post it reminded me so much of the trials and tribulations with my mom!

Enjoy your precious moments with her!

We are having similar issues with my father-in-law! He did survive the surgery...we were very concerned about that due to his congestive heart failure.

Now he is having halucinations...believes he is on the U.S.S. Intrepid. He was on the carrier during his Navy service. It maybe the drugs that he is on! We are working with doctors to solve that problem. Thank you for your comments on my blog concerning his medical crisis.

Best Regards

Pete Baca
The Car Enthusiast Online

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Pete .. it is a tricky time and obviously resonates for so many. I do enjoy the times I can have with her .. sometimes it's difficult .. as I just want the best for her.

I've replied on your blog re your father-in-law .. but I'm pleased he's come through.

Let's just enjoy our near and dears ..

All the very best -
Hlary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Marketing Unscrambled, Home edition said...

A link to your post is on our blog today. go to
Dan and Deanna "Marketing Unscrambled"

Tess said...

You're an inspiration to everyone struggling with an aging and ill parent. My dad had a stroke 2 years ago and his stubberness has kept him going.

My mom has had her ups and downs being 89 and every time we think she's ready to go she pops back up like she was never near death!

How lucky your mom is to have you by her side. My sister that lives close to my parents has been an amazing blessing for both them and the rest of us who aren't near by.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tess .. many thanks - it's good to have you back. I'm pleased both your parents are still going .. stubborness or otherwise!

It's one think I've been grateful for my mother hasn't 'fought' - she hasn't been able to - she's accepted her lot & directed her strength towards maintaining her mind and trust in those around her.

Unfortunately now she's in hospital .. she's in a ward and I usually can't visit before 2.00 - so it's not v satisfactory .. as she can't be awake on tap, so to speak .. and some days just doesn't feel like it .. having been up and down to xrays, or pummelled, poked or pricked about .. it's not easy to watch .. or be part of her.

Thanks .. and I'm pleased your sister is near your parents - at least they have local support when required.

all the best and welcome back -
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Believe Achieve - Hugo and Roxanne said...

Hi Hilary,

Your post brought back memories of the many times we had to insert Mia's nose tube before her g-tube was placed. Through experience, I can tell you, it's just as uncomfortable for the nurse who has to put the tube in as it is for your Mum.

This post shows your bravery through this trying time. You are inspiring so many to stay positive and that there is always a sunny side to every situation.

More Hugs to You and Mum!

Many Blessings....
Roxanne and Hugo ~ Believe Achieve

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Roxanne and Hugo .. thanks for visiting and empathising with 'our' plight. The nose job is awful and Mum hates it - but it's the only way at the moment.

There is a sunny side .. and always will be fortunately .. the people I meet and knowing that her memory will live on .. her strength of mind is pretty amazing.

I appreciate your care .. we love our hugs from friends overseas!! To you too ..

All the best Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters