Perhaps delirium is under-rated.
My mother is currently living in some alternate universe.
It is possible that this state has been brought about by heavy-duty narcotics being given to her each day. These drugs are working to quiet the cough that has been wreaking havoc on her body ever since the procedure that was supposed to permanently clear the fluid from her lungs.
She did not have a constant harrowing cough originally. She did not even know she was sick. She did, however, get diagnosed with a massive tumor in her lung, quite by accident. And we were told to do this procedure to make her breathing easier.
Now not only has her breathing capacity declined so severely that she requires oxygen almost constantly – she also requires drugs intense enough to sedate the cough, without quite sedating her to the point of no return. This, apparently, is a fine line.
In the very recent past, I was able to have conversations with my Mom on the phone, during which she would ask reasonably relevant questions and I would answer. She would usually recall what we had talked about, and even ask follow-up questions during our next conversation.
That person seems to be missing in action at the moment. Now, she is in some fascinating reality of her own creation, and our phone chats have taken quite a different turn.
Last night, she told me about the lovely festive dinner “they” had eaten, and about the hotel where “they” would be going later, to see the “gypsy dancers”. When I mentioned that dinner had not yet been served, she simply replied “That’s true”. When I reminded her that she is in Whitehall Rehab, she said “Yes, we’re all here together at Whitehall”. I did not ask further about the gypsy dancing, although that was something I would have actually liked to hear more about.
The day before, she reported that the weather there was terrible, and that it was a very “messy”, rainy day. I was informed by my sister that the sun was shining brightly all day long.
Seems sometimes she goes to a better place, and other times not so much.
Am I supposed to bring her back? Why not leave her with the festivities, rain or shine, and let her enjoy the show?
What, really, is “quality of life” anyway? Whose life? And what quality?
The life of an 84 year old woman who cannot do the basics of standing, walking, toileting, dressing for herself, who is getting radiation that further weakens her, and who no longer lives in her own home with her husband – That life is perhaps made better by a bit of delirium.
The life of a 47 year old woman longing to have talks with her mother while there is still the chance to do so – That life is perhaps made better by having a mother who is at least a bit conscious of reality.
And I will do my best to be loving:
to leave her in her delirious dreams when she sounds happy to be there;
to honor my own delirious dream of a mother able to truly connect with me;
and to continue grieving for all of the loss – past, present, and future.
And should I happen to come across some gypsies, I hope to be wearing my dancing shoes.