On the other side with Mil­lie Pete

GA Voice - - That's What She Said -

“We’re here, aren’t we?” That was the re­sponse from a nurse when I asked her in the hall­way how her Christ­mas was go­ing. Nei­ther one of us was at home that day and it made me re­al­ize the hol­i­days aren’t al­ways about par­ties, food, and presents.

My mother, who is af­fec­tion­ately known as Mil­lie Pete, is 86 years old and has en­joyed great health the ma­jor­ity of her years. I can’t re­mem­ber Mom ever be­ing sick when I was grow­ing up, and she has only ex­pe­ri­enced a couple of med­i­cal set­backs in her el­der years. When she ad­mit­ted to me in De­cem­ber she wasn’t feel­ing well and needed to see some­one, I knew some­thing must really be wrong. My son and I had both been bat­tling colds at the time and were on an­tibi­otics, so I as­sumed our trip to the doc­tor would re­sult in sim­i­lar med­i­ca­tions for her too. Lit­tle did I know when I picked her up that it would be a month be­fore she’d be able to go back home.

Dur­ing the ap­point­ment I no­ticed Mil­lie Pete wasn’t able to take in a breath, let alone a deep breath, while the doc­tor had her stetho­scope on her back. The doc­tor no­ticed it too, and while Mom was be­ing es­corted down the hall to get a chest x-ray, the doc­tor closed the door to strongly sug­gest to me that I take Mom to the hos­pi­tal im­me­di­ately. Fol­low­ing her in­struc­tions, I no­ticed as we checked out that writ­ten on Mom’s re­ceipt were the words, “Po­ten­tial Life-Threat­en­ing Con­di­tion.”

The hos­pi­tal de­ter­mined that Mom had pneu­mo­nia. For an 86-year-old this is a lifethreat­en­ing con­di­tion, and she was placed in in­ten­sive care unit for mon­i­tor­ing un­til the fol­low­ing day. Un­com­fort­ably tied to ma­chines and un­able to catch her breath, she tried to keep her com­plain­ing to a min­i­mum as they de­ter­mined the right course of ac­tion for her age and con­di­tion. Mil­lie Pete re­mained in the hos­pi­tal for an­other week, then was moved into a re­hab fa­cil­ity for two more, which meant she would spend Christ­mas and New Year’s away from home.

We never lost sight of how grate­ful we

“Ill­ness doesn’t ob­serve the hol­i­days. Those who are sick and those that serve them tend to be for­got­ten on Christ­mas Day by the out­side world, es­pe­cially our el­ders and their care­tak­ers.”

were that Mom was im­prov­ing, since her con­di­tion could have gone in a very dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion. How­ever, there was a sense of melan­choly that hung in the air for all of us. My older sis­ter came to stay with Mom a few days, and had to re­turn home to work over Christ­mas week­end. My brother came to visit sev­eral days be­fore Christ­mas, but left on Christ­mas Eve to go back and spend Christ­mas with our sis­ter. This was also the first year I didn’t have my son on Christ­mas Day, per my agree­ment with his other mother, so when De­cem­ber 25th ar­rived it wasn’t the most fes­tive day. When I ran into that nurse in the hall­way of Mom’s fa­cil­ity to ask her how her Christ­mas was go­ing, her re­sponse made me re­al­ize she too wasn’t feel­ing in the spirit of the sea­son.

Ill­ness doesn’t ob­serve the hol­i­days. Those who are sick and those who serve them, es­pe­cially our el­ders and their care­tak­ers, tend to be for­got­ten on Christ­mas Day by the out­side world. I guess my gift this year was to ex­pe­ri­ence that side of our city and to make sure I don’t lose sight of what else goes on while fam­i­lies gather and carols are sung again.

Melissa Carter is one of the Morn­ing Show hosts on B98.5. In ad­di­tion, she is a writer for the Huff­in­g­ton Post. She is rec­og­nized as one of the first out ra­dio per­son­al­i­ties in At­lanta and one ofthe few in the coun­try. Fol­low her on Twit­ter@Melis­saCarter

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.