Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.



My Mom is in the hospital again. The Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit, or CVICU, to be exact. Her congestive heart failure is acting up again, she's gained nearly 20 pounds of fluid in 10 days, she's been having chest pains, they're checking to see if she's had a mild heart attack, and they may be doing an angiogram tomorrow or Saturday.

For close to three-quarters of my life I've lived with the fear of her death. Cancer, repeatedly, diabetes, pneumonia, and heart problems. On my maternal side most of the women have had heart problems. That I've avoided them speaks strongly to how much of that risk is lifestyle.

It was an upsetting call. The shock of her being in the hospital is not the hard part anymore. As I was trying to talk to her they were attempting to do a blood draw from her hand. After many rounds of chemotherapy and IVs my Mom's veins are pretty shot. Combined with her arthritis and fibromyalgia it means that the blood draw, which apparently entirely missed the vein the first attempt, was very painful. Hearing my Mom crying out in pain left me feeling like a small, helpless child.

Once again we weren't at zazen, instead we had Vietnamese food and went up to the hospital. We sat and chatted with her until nearly 10pm and she seemed very relieved & pleased we had come. He husband wasn't there tonight, something that prompted a long discussion between CK and I about how we would handle things if one of us were in the hospital.

I'm struck by my Mom's unhappiness and unhealthiness. I cannot recall my Mom being content, being happy. Maybe moments, but the discontent is always close at hand. I find it terribly sad sitting with her now, seeing how unhappy she's been her whole life.

I hope she improves. I hope in some way I can do my part to maintain this relationship we have. In the short run - I hope we can take her to the beach for the weekend in March for her birthday. Maybe it will be another small pocket of happiness and contentment for her.

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