One of These Days, Alice…Pow! the Moon

Notes from the Eldercare Underground:  Split personalities

There’s a saying here in Texas that if you don’t like the weather, wait fifteen minutes and it’ll change.  You could say the same thing about my mother’s personality.

Today was one of those days where both weather and mother collided. 

I had to accompany my mother to a doctor’s appointment this afternoon because she’d had a rattling chest cough the last few days.  (She’d also fallen—yet again—in The Hotel’s dining room and hit the back of her head on either a chair or a table on her way down.  No major damage from that, but it didn’t help matters any.)

When I left home the temperature was approaching 80 degrees and I’d had to put the AC on in my car.  By the time I left The Hotel to come home about three hours later, the temp. had dropped to 45.  There was a cold wind blowing in from the north, causing me to turn the heater on.

Ah, Texas.  Whiplash weather.

Also whiplashing was my mother’s personality today.

We saw the physician’s assistant at her medical clinic, who determined my mother had, at the very least, a case of bronchitis.  She prescribed an antibiotic and also Mucinex to get rid of all the “gunk,” as she put it, in my mother’s lungs that was causing the awful sounding cough.

But to be on the safe side, since the weekend was coming up, she wanted my mother to go over to the hospital and have a chest x-ray to be sure that there wasn’t any pneumonia starting.  If there was, she would put her on a stronger antibiotic.  She didn’t want to start out with the big guns just yet because she said that antibiotic can be hard on the kidneys and she wanted to keep it in reserve, if at all possible.

Fortunately, we were being squired around by The Hotel’s van driver and I’d had the presence of mind to have my mother ride in a wheelchair instead of her Candy Apple Red Ferrari (her walker.) 

It certainly made schlepping her around a lot easier.

So, over to the hospital we went and checked into the radiology lab.  After a brief wait, we were ushered into the x-ray room and told to go into the dressing room, strip to the waist (her, not me) and put on one of their fashion-forward gowns that tie in the back.

All of this was to be accomplished with her still in the wheelchair.  My mother complained about my cold hands while I was trying to get her pullover sweater off and even more when I was undoing her bra in the back. 

But we did it, and then wheeled out to the room where I had to hold her up in a standing position so the technician could take two views of her lungs with the x-ray machine. 

I got to wear ten pounds of lead apron.  Not a good look, but it serves its purpose.

Then it was back into the dressing room where I reversed the process and heard more about my cold hands.

The technician said the films were good and he didn’t need to retake them so, after wandering for a bit in the labyrinthine hallways of the hospital, we made our way out to the reception area where an auxiliary made the phone call to The Hotel to let our driver know we were done and needed to be picked up.

If I’ve learned anything in dealing with my mother through her various health crises, it’s that when everything is over and she’s on her way home, she tends to make me the brunt of her barely submerged anger.

We were sitting there looking out the big windows that face the parking lot.  She thought the hospital shuttle was our van and pointed it out to me a couple of times.  Each time I had to correct her and tell her that, no, it wasn’t our van.  I could tell she didn’t want to hear that.

When our guy did show up, he had to park back behind the shuttle.  By that time we’d had the sudden temperature drop and the wind was blowing pretty hard.  I didn’t see any reason to charge out the door until our driver had put the ramp down for my mother’s wheelchair.

She, however, was rarin’ to go.

If the weather can go from 80 to 40 in 30 minutes, my mother can go from pleasant to nasty in a nanosecond.

In a voice just loud enough that I knew the hospital auxiliary at her desk could overhear, my mother said

“One of these days I’m going to knock the crap right out of you.”

When we got back to The Hotel, I made sure the manager knew what meds. had been prescribed and that the chest x-ray results would be faxed to them tomorrow.

Then I picked up my mother’s laundry and got her settled in her chair with a bottle of water since the physician’s assistant said she needed to drink more fluids to get the “gunk” out.

As I went out the door, my mother blew me a kiss.

There was a twinge in my neck that I swear felt just like whiplash.

22 thoughts on “One of These Days, Alice…Pow! the Moon

  1. Oh, Honey, hugs from here.Can I get your jammies and you slippers, and a cup of tea? How ’bout a hug and something a little stronger for a beverage? Sweetie, you are doing all of the heroic and wonderful things you can do for your Mom.

    Sorry that she cuts that short on you. You are the best, keep that in mind.


  2. Oh, my love, my joy, my heartsong, I love reading your notes from the elder underground, and I am equally glad that for me, this whole process is in the past (parentwise). Gratitude and good thots to you.


  3. Oh, sugar. BIG HUGS!! Been there … done that. At least your Mom only uses her mouth. Mine used to grab the nearest knife … Oy!!



  4. have i mentioned lately that you are, in fact, a Saint? capital “S” Saint.

    my niece gets substantial compensation, but she is the one on the frontlines of my family ‘eldercare underground’. i do believe i am going to send her a thank-you note tomorrow. i get mom for a weekend in april, and generally cover the quarterly cardiology appointments (because of a terrible crush i have on her cardiologist, by the way). but those of you who handle the day-to-day machinations? you deserve combat pay…


    • No saint, that’s for sure. Just nearby. My brother lives in Colorado and they would surely be at each other’s throats if he was the one to have to take care of her. She always was an expert “button pusher” in that relationship. I think my buttons have been pushed so many times they don’t work anymore. 🙂


  5. “One of these days I’m going to knock the crap right out of you.”

    Your mother certainly has a unique way of expressing her appreciation for you. She makes me think of one of my brother’s favorite sayings, “The way you shoot your mouth off it’s like you brush your teeth with gun powder.” It’s not to late to make her switch to Crest, but I personally recommend Tom’s because I’m a stereotypical East Coast liberal.


  6. Oh my…this is my story about two years ago….are you my twin sister by any chance??? I have so been there in the hospital, doing the x-ray thing and having my mother chew the “crap” out of me later for God knows what. Have hope – now when I go to see her, she thinks I am someone else and just complains about that “no account” daughter who never shows up to see her. (I go everyday but Sundays, feed her dinner, do her laundry, etc.) Does God make daughters like us anymore??????? I don’t have one so I guess I’m sh*t outta luck!!!


    • We may not be too far from that point. She frequently gets me confused with my daughter and asks me where the kids (my grandkids) are. When I say I don’t know, she thinks I’m a rotten mother. It’s kind of become our little shtick.


  7. Good grief. Gratitude isn’t your mother’s strong suit, is it?! (That part reminds me of my mother-in-law!)

    Have your thyroid checked. Cold hands are a symptom of a thyroid deficiency and since the imbalance can be caused by stress, mama may be responsible for your cold hands.


    • Thanks for the concern, Mary, but my cold hands this time were from the bottle of water I’d been holding. They had a little mini-fridge in the x-ray waiting room with complementary bottles of water for anyone who wanted one. A nice touch, I think.

      What’s that old saying? “Cold hands, warm heart?”

      With my mother it should be “Warm hands that’ll knock the crap out of you.” haha


  8. Oh, yes….so familiar. Yet so sad. I can only hope that I will not act like my mother when I get to that point. But I have already warned my children and apologized for my actions in the event that I do. My mother is just like her mother as she aged. But my mother didn’t provide the care for grandma, my sister did. And then was the first one to take on mom. After my sister’s death, I am now on the front lines. I have so much appreciation for my sister…..I never knew what she went through.
    Hang in there.
    Oh, and at least your mom WEARS a bra.


    • I put the bra out when I set out her clothes for her the day before the appointment. Lately she’s been just letting it all hang out and hasn’t really cared about wearing one. When I put her bra back on her at the hospital, I drew the line at pushing her boobs into the cups. I just sort of layed the bra over them and hoped for the best. ha


  9. There are just some things that a child should not ever have to do for their parents, bras and baths. Braless, fine. Baths, not my busness nor do I want to know those parts of either of my parents. Dad is long gone, when Mom needs help with bathing? Hello nursing home. Mom actually declared that possibilty first and I’m sure that she is serious about it. Guess I’m the lucky one there so long as she remembers that she said that. Hangin there Kiddo.


    • At The Hotel she has help with showering, thank goodness. She didn’t want them to help her but I insisted. Her bathroom has a step-in shower with a shower seat. I’m just glad it’s them doing the bathing and not me. Holding her upright for the x-rays was hard enough.


  10. My mother died almost 6 years ago.
    She would never have been so direct, she would have been more subtle and criticized my clothes or kids or something else.
    She would have made some withering comment to the women sitting at the desk instead.

    I have been able to understand or come to terms with my mother and her comments.
    I am sorry you have to go through this, especially when you are taking care of your mother.
    A good friend of mine told me to let the bad go when remembering my was grate advice.


    • My mother would have used the more subtle approach too, so that’s why it caught me completely off-guard when she said that. I think she no longer has an internal “censor” and her real feelings come bubbling up to the surface. Thanks for your comment and advice.


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