This post has been running through my head since the beginning, but I've hesitated to write it. More than anything else I've written, it sounds whiny and selfish. In fact, it is whiny and selfish. But this blog is meant to be a way to try to purge my mind of the negative thoughts and feelings that keep me from dealing with things as they are. I can't say that's actually worked; but still, I write.
I'm a solitary person by nature, and possibly by nurture. I don't cope
well with constant interaction with other people. I need a lot more
alone time than most people I know. Which isn't to say I don't feel
lonely. I do, quite often. I've never really found the right balance of
solitude and companionship in my life. But I can't think of a lonelier
time than the past fifteen weeks.
That first week in the hospital, while Mom was in ICU, seemed to last
forever. I sat in Mom's room from the time visiting hours began at ten
o'clock until near the end of the day shift, usually between five to seven o'clock.
Sometimes Mom knew I was there, sometimes probably not. Mostly I was
there to get what information I could while the doctors were there, and
to answer their questions, since Mom couldn't answer them herself.
Depending on how busy the unit was each day, and how proactive the nurse
assigned to Mom was, there would also be many visits from her or her
assistants. I found myself impatient for the arrival of some
specialist with questions, a new flock of interns trailing after their
mentors doing daily rounds, or the nurse coming in to check something.
They all seemed to me like visitors from the world outside Mom's room, and I
clung to those moments of contact. Going to and from the hospital, I
felt like I was traveling in a bubble, separated from everyone around me.
When I got home, I had people to update, on the phone and by email; but
mostly they felt like just one more item on the to-do list. My only sense
of companionship came from Twitter, of all places. Using replies to keep
the conversation mostly among mutual friends, I cast out my pleas for a
lifeline or two. And these friends, some of whom I've yet to meet in
person, kept me afloat.
The second week was worse. Mom was moved to the telemetry unit, a step
down from ICU in the intensiveness of care. There were fewer doctors
asking or answering questions, fewer visits from the nurse, and no
flocks of interns. I felt abandoned. That's actually the word I used in my head. Abandoned. I was in Mom's room fewer hours,
since I had to go back to work and visit after, but my time there felt
longer. The weekend in between I had some company. My sister came up to town for several hours one day. My closest friend came too, and stayed with me a couple days, helping me with the to-do list in a big way. Their company was much needed and appreciated. But in some ways it made the return to being alone harder. That pressure thing again, I guess.
Recently, I've had another sister and one of her sons visiting for a few days, and a longer visit from my friend. Again, the space they left behind seems emptier for having been filled for a bit. And I wonder why I ended up this alone. I know my long-distance friends are there for me, and their support has been beyond measure. But still...
In the midst of all my self pity, I try to remember how alone Mom must feel, unable to even communicate, to make herself understood. I feel utterly alone when I'm with her. Does she feel the same way when she's with me? And what about all the times I'm not there at all? I don't know how to fix this for either of us.