November 6th, 2014

Encounters with Mortality, and Moving On

So I'm just back from LA. My Mom called me on Sunday Oct. 26th, very alarmed about my Dad driving over a curb and leaving a cast-iron pan on a running stove, and wanted me down there Right Now. She also voiced some concern that she might have had a micro-stroke, but as she was never all that coherent in the first place I didn't pay a lot of attention to that. I got down there on Tuesday the 28th, and her behavior continued odd -- but still, it was just progressive exaggeration of things that have been part of her all along, so I didn't attribute much to it beyond "Yeah, 82 is getting old."

On Sunday the 2nd, my brother called from New Zealand to chew me out for not having taken her to the ER as soon as I'd arrived, as he was able to diagnose a moderate stroke by phone. (No sarcasm here; Daniel is good with voices and being able to tell things from them.) So I got on the phone with the Kaiser "advice nurse", who suggested I bring her to the ER right away. As at this point it had been more than a week since the stroke and she was asleep, I figured morning would be soon enough. So after a night's sleep and a few hour of tantrums and drama, we got to the ER about 11am, and they admitted her and kept her overnight. I went home to Portland.

I still want to get ahold of the neurologist who saw her after I left and get the medical details, but Dad not answering the phone or returning calls tells me all I need to know: The part of her mind that is gone is not coming back. She now has an attention span of about six words, and since she's accustomed to speaking in the eight-to-ten word grammatically elegant sentences of the elementary school English teacher she'd started as, this means any sentence longer than "Please turn off the stove" will take a right angle turn after a few words, and then do it again a few words later, and so on until she gets tired. I clocked a couple of four-hour 'sentences' while I was down there.

There's a lot more to say on this, but I'm running tech at OryCon this weekend, and need to get down to the hotel and start putting out metaphorical fires. More as I can get to it.