Last updated on 2nd January 2009
Sadness. I woke feeling sad ... aching in my chest and then in my gut. Not awful, just like a dull toothache, or a hurt, a wound. Yesterday when I visited my mother in the Stroke Unit of Liberton Hospital, one of the more senior nurses came up to me as I was leaving asking to have a word with me. She said that they were now waiting to transfer Mum away from the Unit to a geriatric transitional bed somewhere until she was found a place in a nursing home where eventually - sooner or later - she will probably die. Apparently they had had a case conference about her earlier in the week. After her first stroke in early November the outlook had been positive. They talked about Mum regaining her mobility surprisingly quickly. They hoped she would be able to get back to her own flat by Christmas. Then a few weeks later (I'm muddled about dates - maybe at the end of November) she had a further stroke, or an extension of her first one. She hasn't picked up after this. She hasn't been regaining her ability to stand or walk with any speed at all, and she has become increasingly muddled. The nurse stood there and said something like "We feel she has reached her rehabilitation potential." Ouch. Of course they have to make hard decisions and deal with relatives every day, but the jargon about "rehabilitation potential" felt distancing, jarring.
And last night on Blackford Hill, watching the New Year fireworks shooting and breaking in the sky, watching the Sky Lanterns floating off into the night, somebody asked about New Year intentions. All I could think of was being there for Mum in what is very likely to be the last year of her life. And I woke this morning with the ache. So what are my New Year intentions? To be there with love for her, with tenderness. To be strong and practical, to sort what needs to be sorted, to manage the 101 issues that crowd in around these last steps in her life. And to be open, to stay connected - to what I'm feeling, to the family, to the carers who work with her, to the clients who come to see me struggling with their own pains, their own lives. I want the pain I face in these weeks and months ahead to link me to being human. This is what we pretty much all face at times in our lives. Pain, loss, a hard, real road.