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Yesterday I had a meltdown. I guess I was heading that way for some time. Pressure has been building up, and I was feeling increasingly overwhelmed, and worse still, abandoned. That I was carrying the full load alone. This is the result of all those weeks of intense worry and scanty rest or sleep while my Mom was going from bad to worse. It is no wonder. The day started badly enough with my being woken up by the nurse to come see to my Mom, then hearing her screaming my name. I jumped out of bed and was half way there before I was fully awake. When I got there to see that it was just the same hallucinatory complaints, and I just standing there in my nightgown and barefooted, shaking. It took a great deal of effort to collect myself and pacify her and go back to my room to calm down a bit before starting my morning routine of medication, tea then shower. I had barely caught my breath when the screaming for me started again. This happened four times before I got to my shower. The last time I blew up and started screaming right back and told her I am going in to have my shower so won’t hear her or come running for the same complaint. Then went under the shower and couldn’t stop crying.
For the rest of the day it was a pendulum of moods: iron control or bursting into either anger or tears. I was trying to stay under control with her but totally lost it with everybody else.
Finally at around three in the afternoon the “nephrologist” arrived. If I was not in such a totally scattered state I would have realized that he was more than that, even the fact that he let slip that he worked with the largest psychiatric hospital in town should have alerted me. But I was in such a disturbed state, I wasn’t really thinking at all, let alone thinking straight.
The first thing he said was that he wants to talk to me first before seeing her, and I thought he wanted a background sketch of her recent illness, so I gave him one. I should have noticed that his questions were not purely medical, he was trying to get a picture of the setup here at the house and who was carrying the main load of decision making as well as every day-to-day tasks. When he finally got the picture he said to go see her. The second thing I should have noticed was that his examination was as much an assessment of her alertness, her attitude, as it was of her physical well-being. She was going strong abusing the nurse, ordering her out of the room then turning on me and berating me for leaving her with the nurse. Then she started on the doctor, was very bad tempered with him, even going so far as to say they were all useless. When the doctor suggested we go down again to talk, she went into a tantrum and made a few sarcastic remarks.
Going back to the study downstairs we continued our discussion. The second hint I should have taken was when he said that he was assessing the full family situation. But I took it in stride. He then very carefully broached the subject of hospitalization. I told him we had just come back a few days ago from a three week stay there. He then said, no this will be different, she has to go into intensive care and that there should be no visits. I was worried. Is she as bad as all that? And he said no, but that I was. I was quite surprised, but I said yes I am tired, and today more than before, but nothing new, that has been my life for the past few years, but more intensely so over the past six weeks or so. He then came out very bluntly and said if I collapsed she will suffer, and that I was on the verge. I sat back and listened. He even said : do you want me to take a picture of you and show you what you look like now? I just shook my head. I know I was avoiding all mirrors in the house. He said she will go to the ICU where she’ll be cared for around the clock by professionals, and that I was to keep away from her completely till, minimum, the end of the week. That I should resume my social activities and give special attention to food and sleep.
I must have been really dazed because even then I did not realize that this doctor was mainly there for me and not my Mom. My anger with the family doctor and my tearful meltdown with my brother over the phone got them to the point that I was the one in need of medical attention more than my Mom.
To cut a long story short, the driver came and took us to the hospital where she was taken into intensive care. I talked to the doctors there, gave them her recent medical records, and they remembered her from our previous stay. Then they practically kicked me out and told me not to come back for visits, to just call. All this and I still hadn’t caught on.
It was on the drive back when I was talking to my brother to let him know how things went at the hospital that he let slip a couple of things that told me that he had a much fuller briefing of my conversation with the doctor than I thought. It then struck me that this could have been a way to give me a much needed break, that though she did need hospitalization, it could have been in a normal room, but the ICU was devised to ensure my taking a full break. I then remembered the doctor suggesting I take a short trip of five days anywhere out of Cairo, which I automatically refused. So he suggested I stay at the house instead of the Zamalek apartment as I would not be allowed to see her, and that I should take full advantage of these days to go back into my previous social environment.
So for the next five days I am to concentrate on me. Sleep well, eat well and enjoy the company of my friends. I am very lucky indeed to have a brother who cares and who is sneaky enough to put one over me, for my own good. That realization alone has caused me to feel much better, no more as alone as I thought I was. God bless you my dear, sneaky brother. I am indeed blessed with my family and friends. I am now looking forward to a lovely day in the company of my friends this coming Friday, happy in the knowledge that my Mom is getting the best of care and that I too am being subtlety and sneakily looked after as well.
26 February 2014

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