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My Mother, My Best Friend..


chandralynn2012

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chandralynn2012

A week ago this past Friday, I lost my mother to a laundry list of health problems, and a sudden onset of pneumonia. She had been in and out of nursing homes for several years, but it was only within the past couple months that I knew the end was coming soon. Mom started telling us through a morphine enduced haze that she was dying, and needed hospice. In her professional life, she was a nurse for several years, so we valued and respected her opinion. We met with mom's care team and doctor. The care team was on board, but mom's doctor didn't see the need. He even resisted at first because he thought people on hospice had less than 6 months to live. This was the middle of January... I work at the nursing home mom was living in as the network administrator (I take care of the computers). Every morning I would go to see her before my shift started, then eat lunch with her, then stop to see her after work was over. Over the next couple weeks, mom lost her ability to have a conversation, to feed herself, to write, then eventually she stopped eating all together. She became too weak to even pick up a fork. I sat there on my lunch breaks feeding her, and she would take a few bites, then insist she could eat no more. I spent the rest of my time with her holding her hand and talking to her. Although I knew it was most likely that she didn't understand a word I said, I would still tell her about my day and what my future plans were. Mom was trapped in her own little world and would see animals and people in her room that weren't there. She would get anxious and irate at things that made no sense, but I did my best to play along with what she was seeing, and it always seemed to calm her down. A few days before she died, my mom announced to everyone that she wanted to go for a walk. We put her in her wheelchair and I gave her the tour of the nursing home she never had. She also announced that she was hungry and wanted to go to the dining room to eat dinner-so I stuck around a little longer and wheeled her to dinner-as my dad and I sat watching her she took a couple bites of dinner, then we watched as the surge of energy faded and she was once again completely out of energy. Two days later I took off work to spend a day with her-I had been wanting to, but had just not taken the time to do so. I got up that morning and went into work at the usual time, but instead of staying in my office, I spent the entire day in her room. Mom was extremely weak that day...her skin was yellow and she had a fever. She kept trying to get out of bed and telling me she needed to go to the hospital. The hospice nurse came in to evaluate her that afternoon and said that nothing looked imminent to her, that nothing was going to happen that day, that we were more likely looking at weeks. After the long emotional day I had with mom, I left her room at the time I would have any other day. Before I did, I handed her her tv remote and her water, kissed and hugged her, told her I loved her, and that I would see her in the morning. I drug myself out of bed the next morning as I knew it was going to be another exhausting day. I got into the shower, and just as I did, my phone rang. My husband answered it, and it was the hospital. The nurse on the line told him that my mom had been taken to the hospital overnight because of distressed breathing-and that she didn't know how long mom had. I had heard this before, so I was trying to prepare myself to spend the day at the hospital. Not 10 minutes later, my phone rang again. It was the hospital.."This is April from the hospital. I just talked to your husband a little bit ago about your mom?" "She passed just a little while ago." In that split second, my world froze. I fell to a heap on my bedroom floor and cried harder than I ever had in my life. I had to hand the phone to my husband. The past week seems like it has been an eternity. I remember the day she died, I remember the viewing and the funeral, but it all still seems so surreal. Today is my first day back at work and everywhere I look mom is there. I am feeling the raw pain I did in the days following her death, and I don't know how to deal with it..

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Chandralynn,

I am so very sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. Of course you are raw from the pain and anguish of her passing. No matter how much we think we are prepared (as I thought when my father died), it is life altering and shocking when it actually happens. I knew my father was going to die, and he was in so much pain and suffering that I thought it might be best for him, but then I was completely overwhelmed when he actually passed.

It's okay to cry as much as you want. It's okay to be numb, angry, shocked, guilty, lonely and all other emotions combined into a big horrible ball of pain. Talking about her will help you. Please feel free to come share the story of your mother--who she really was and what she meant for you.

Are you sleeping? Are you eating? Tons of caffeine and no sleep will make you physically drained, which doesn't help the emotional turmoil. If you can, try to eat healthy and drink plenty of water. If you can't eat--try some nutritional drinks like Ensure. Continue to keep talking to people about your mom, and don't be afraid to cry.

We will be here for you.

ModKonnie

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Chandra: When i read your post, i had to look at it twice, it looks just like my story only my mom is gone almost 4 months now. I will tell you the first 6 weeks are very hard. the first 2 as you know are a nightmare.

I am so sorry and feel your pain when you got that phone call. I got the same phone call. My mom had parkinsons for years, she was my everything and was from scotland.

Like you the first few weeks seemed surreal. I am praying for you and am glad you have a husband. I am alone. My mom ended up with pneumonia also and was in and out of nursing homes. I had her out in Calif and now in NJ. This time the social worker told me she should remain in there and not go home. We fought for several months and they couldn't get her to eat. I had my ways of getting mom to eat, so she was losing weight.

Anyway, like you it was awful. she was taken to the hospital and was diagnosed with pneumonia and mrsa. I am lost and sad without my mom and used to cry alot. After 6 weeks it gets somewhat better.

Its so hard to see an educated woman who you love in this condition. I fully understand and went thru the same thing. I am doing my masters online and just now am feeling like i will look for a job again.

I will be thinking and praying for you.

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chandralynn2012

Christine Agnes Foytik Berndt, Chris, or Mary Christine (as debt collectors called her), was a wonderful woman. She started her life in Philidelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of parents who worked in a box factory. She had 1 older brother, a younger sister, and a younger brother. She always felt like the black sheep of the family-and told me stories of being tormented by her brothers and sister. Her first experiences with school were full of bittersweet memories, as her parents chose to enroll her in Catholic school. Apparently, it was not a pleasant experience to grow up around and have to answer to nuns, at least not to my mom. She told me of one particular instance where a teacher was showing a display of coins to the class. Later on, one of the coins went missing. For whatever reason, my mom was accused of taking the missing coin. When she insisted that she didn't, and kept insisting, she was held upside down over a toilet and told to confess. She never did. I never did ask mom if the coin was found. Even with her negative experiences in school, my mom held onto her Catholic faith. She believed profusely in the Blessed Mother, and on occasion could be heard reciting Hail Marys. After high school, mom decided she wanted to be a nurse. She enrolled in then eventually graduated from Our Lady of Lourdes nursing school in Camden, NJ. After that, nursing was what defined her. Mom sent out applications all over the country for nursing work, and one day got a call from a hospital out in the midwest-Wichita, KS Wesley Medical Center. She took the job and to her parents dismay, loaded up her car and drove out here to Kansas. Wichita,KS is known for many things. One of which is the prestigious hospital mom first worked at, and another is the McConnell Air Force Base. After going on a few dates that more than flopped, my mom signed up for a singles dating service, and went on a blind date for the first time. On that blind date, she met Bill Berndt. Dad was stationed at McConnell AFB. After a short courtship, they moved in together and eventually were married June 13, 1981 at the hospital chapel. Bill was offered a job at Smokey Hill Air National Guard Range, and Mom and Dad made their first home together just outside of Salina,KS. They had 3 children together: me, in 1983, my brother, in 1989, then my sister in 1990. My mom loved being a mother- when it came to being sick or needing mom to kiss a boo boo, she was the best. On weekends that she wasn't working she would take us into Salina and we would get Tacos from Taco John's, take them to the park, and feed the squirrels whatever we had left. Then mom would take us shopping, and end the day with a movie. Once in awhile, we would go to visit mom at work on the weekends when my dad had off. I used to watch in awe as she took care of her patients, and ran a nursing floor like a navy ship. For a very long time, I wanted to be a nurse too. Mom's medical journey started with ulcerative colitis. The aftermath of this included an ile ostomy bag, and a new set of rules to live by. All of us kids learned how to cut out perfectly sized adhesive, and even how to help mom empty her pouch as she called it if needed. Nobody liked this job, but we made it through. A couple years later while getting a lapriscope done on her remaining bowel, a doctor made a perforation where it shouldn't have been, spilling the contents of mom's bowel into the rest of her body. This condition is called Peritonitis, and 90% of people who get it die. Mom spent 2 months in the ICU, and another 2 out on the main floor. We were told to expect her to die, and were in the process of making funeral plans and picking out a headstone. She pulled through. Again, we learned another set of rules-how to irrigate the gigantic incision down the middle of her abdomen that had to be left open to heal, and how to change dressings. Mom went back to work a few months later. One night while re-positioning a patient in bed, mom received an injury to her back which would turn out to be the end of her nursing career. She pleaded with the hospital to give her an administrative job to make use of her extensive medical knowledge, but she was cast aside. That was when I saw the fire and the light disappear from my mom's eyes. The years that followed were spent in a drug induced haze-mom started popping lortabs like they were candy, and would pair them up with extremely powerful sleeping pills, and other drugs that numbed the pain. Eventually, all she did all day was sit in her recliner chair demanding that we wait on her. The muscles in her legs became weaker and weaker until she required the use of a wheelchair and a walker to get around. We tried and tried to encourage her to get up and try to live again-our pleads were met with "Get out of my house!", "You don't love me!" and "I might as well kill myself!!". With the increase in confusion, came numerous falls, numerous trips to the ER, and the saying "Mom's in the hospital" was as common as "See you tomorrow." When mom's lungs could no longer even handle her getting out of her chair and going to the bathroom, she was put on oxygen. At this point, I was barely in high school. Then, started the nursing home surfing. Mom would go into a nursing home, and because of her declining mental status, would come to disagreements with the staff, and we would be on the hunt once more for a new place for her to live. This went on for about 8 years. Till one day, we found a nursing home in Minneapolis that not only accepted mom, but made her feel at home. She would only move nursing homes one more time, and that was to the one where I currently work. She only lived here 4 months..

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chandralynn2012

Today is my second week back to work, and I am feeling halfway human again. This past Friday I met with the hospice chaplain, and had a good hour long conversation with him. Usually, I hold back on my thoughts and feelings, but I told him EVERYTHING, and wasn't embarrassed in the least by them. He made me tear up a couple times-like when I said I missed my mom, physically MISSED my mom-he asked me what I missed about her, and a picture was immediately infront of me-mom in her recliner chair, sipping on an ice tea, smiling at me. I told him I would give anything to just touch her hand, hear her laugh, or brush my hand through her hair. I told him how scared I was that as time goes by I will forget her, and he said that would never happen. Today is a beautiful day here-upper 70's, sun is brightly shining, and hardly any wind. I sat outside on the patio at work for lunch , and it felt awesome. I even took my whole lunch break for once. Every once in awhile I feel mom with me- I feel her confidence as I stumble my way around at work, and when I have an accomplishment I can hear her saying "Way to go Chan!" My dad is coming home this afternoon, and I don't think I have been this excited in awhile. He was talking about staying with us for a few days, and I am more than happy about that. I know things are going to hit him hard when he gets back to town, but I somehow feel like I can support him now. I think it was just fate that I had to face working here and being reminded daily of mom's death, so I could be stronger for dad when he gets here. I have made it my mission to thank everyone here who had something to do with my mom's care, and I have done just that so far. I can't do it without crying yet, but I don't know if that will ever happen. I might even have the will this week to fill out some thank you cards, put up some pictures, and go through the boxes of mom's things that have been sitting in my living room for 2 weeks now. I am also trying to recover financially- I got 3 days of bereavement leave paid, but had to use 2 of my PTO time. I found out today that I only had enough PTO for 6 hours of one day, then none the other, and will be 10 hours short on my check. After paying for flowers, someone to do the service, and feeding my family for the week, our funds were tapped out. Trying not to let financial frustrations get in the way of my healing..

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chandralynn2012

Another beautiful day here today, I love spring :) It's so much easier to have a positive outlook on life when the sun is shining, birds are singing, and just walking outside feels like being wrapped in a warm blanket. It's supposed to hit 82 by the afternoon. I have made progress on projects at work I never thought I would be able to this soon after coming back, and so far have met all the goals I would have if mom were still here. In a way, I feel a heaviness off my shoulders. The last couple months that mom was alive, every time I would see her it hurt more and more. There's nothing worse than watching the woman who gave you life confused about where she is, who you are, in constant pain, and unable to care for herself. I was mourning for mom way before she ever died-and mourning is exhausting. In a way, I feel like I have been grieving for well over 2 months now. I don't have to wonder and worry anymore, and I don't have to carry that extremely heavy emotional load that I did before. I started thinking yesterday about how I would be feeling today if mom were still alive-I would be depressed, full of worry, and still trying to hang on to someone I know doesn't have much time left. I don't know that I could have handled what I was doing before much longer. I used to wake up every morning feeling sick- wondering if today was the day the other shoe would drop, either with mom or with something at work. I was standing on the emotional edge, ready to fall off. It hurt losing mom..and it still does hurt. But I feel now like I am in a place where I can handle the hurt, and am actually able to think beyond just tomorrow.

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chandralynn2012

Almost survived my 3rd week back to normal-well, what people around me call a "new normal". I got through all day yesterday without having a crying episode, although thoughts of my mom are always present in my mind. My dad is happier than he's ever been. You can just see the relief on his face, and people who saw him here at the home yesterday commented on how he is always smiling and just looks so much better. He even has a girlfriend. I can't really fault him for it-my mom was sick for a very long time, and he was without a partner in life for the duration. He honored his vows though, and stuck with her till the very end. I'm happy he's happy-and that I don't have to worry about another parent going anytime soon. I still keep hoping for some sign, however small, from my mom that she is ok. I would like to think mom is up there already running a case working angels department. These are the angels that sit with sick children, or anyone else facing an illness or injury that hinders them in some way. She would be so good at it.. When she was alive, a patient of hers drew a picture of an angel on a piece of paper and handed it to her. They said " This is what you are Chris, you are an angel who takes care of others." Maybe now, even after life, she is doing what she was meant to do.

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Hello - you have my deepest sympathies. I too just lost my mother on January 30 of this year. She was such a wonderful woman, an inspiration to be around, and my best friend. She had lymphoma, Alzhieimer's and Dementia. She had lived with me for the past year becasue she could not be alone anymore. I know what you are feeling and reading your posts makes me think things will indeed get a little better for me. I have my own health problems that I neglected while taking care of my mom by myself. I took a few days off of work and since then have just kept so busy that I don't think I really dealt with her loss too much, until last week when I got sick. Took a couple of days off of work and now I am falling apart and feel like she just left me yesterday...again. Hoping things go better for you.

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you have a good idea to use this like a diary instead of a new subject keep posting under the one you have, hmmm i might try that. Im the opposit of you, i m having a hard time again....Glad your getting better though.

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chandralynn2012

My mom has now been gone for a little over a month. It still sounds weird when I am talking about her and say things like "When my mom died", or "My mom passed away". Even after a month there's still a little part of me that wants to believe she is still on this earth, just unreachable to me-somewhere where I can't go see her or call her on the phone. There were many times while mom was alive that she was in nursing homes far away from me and it wasn't unusual for me not to see her for weeks at a time. What is noticeably gone to me though is being able to talk to her- most of all by phone. I still have her cell number programmed into my phone and every once in awhile I look at a picture of her and just dial the number- I tear up every time I hear that voice saying "Hi, this is Chris Berndt," and then again at the end of the message when she says "Bye Bye!" Like she always did.. Every once in awhile when I come across an issue or catch myself questioning my actions, I think I hear her voice telling me to go one way or the other. The same thing happens when I have a bad day, and I can hear her telling me "It's gonna be ok Chan." My family seems to be doing well. My dad is going through a late mid life crisis-he has a girlfriend, bought a 2010 ford focus (it looks like a college car), wants to dye his hair, get an earring, and a tattoo. I feel like I have another brother instead of a dad. The calls from my brother and sister have tapered off, but the last time I talked to them they were doing fine. My dad told me yesterday that my brother called him crying-upset about mom, and asked if he could call and talk to dad's girlfriend as a mom figure. I'm fine with that. My mother in law has taken on the role of mom in my life-actually, she had before my mom actually died. Mom didn't make it to many family gatherings-Christmas, Thanksgiving, graduations, parties, birthdays- she didn't make it the day my daughter was born, or even to the baby shower that was thrown for me a couple months later. My mother in law was there for all of that, and in most cases was the one orchestrating the event. I felt guilty for a long time trying to have a relationship with her when my mom was still alive. I felt like I was betraying my mom somehow, and every time I would talk about her celebrating or doing something with me to my mom, mom would get jealous and upset. I keep hoping for that sign from her that it's ok now and she understands. For the most part, I feel like life is getting back to "normal". I am on schedule with a big project I have been working on, and hope to continue the trend.

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chandralynn2012

Had lunch with my dad today, and he was in tears talking about how lonely he is and about the hole that has been left in his heart. He keeps telling me he is alone now-and I keep trying to remind him that he still has us-and he says he knows that, but he is talking about not having a life companion. I feel so horrible for him..I could not imagine going through the rest of my life if one day I lost my husband. He is the other half of me, and nothing could ever fill that void. I am just now realizing how different our pain is. My pain is created from losing my mother-the woman who gave me life and the one constant aspect of the craziness that is everyday. I also mourn the loss of my family as a whole- mom, dad, brother, sister- my family is now broken and going home to a whole one is no longer an option. I had to come back into work last night to do reboots-it is the one time every two weeks that I walk by the first room mom occupied here at the home-the last room she was in where she could actually have a conversation, and I remember her as she was. When I walk by that room, I get an overwhelming sense of sadness-I just want her to be in there, sitting in her recliner smiling at me, just patiently waiting for me to stop by and see her as she always did. But she's not...and I can't...and it kills me. I thought the other night-wouldn't it be nice if you could reboot a person like you reboot a computer? Just start them over from a time in their life when they weren't sick, and were again the person you loved and remembered? I would take my mom back to the days when she was still working- full of life and energy.

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Life is different no matter what age you lose them or how old they are. I remember people telling me it gets easier and time passes. To be honest it doesn't. Each one of us grieves in our own way. I too wish I could take my mom back when she was working and not in pain. Death is one of the hardest things we have to go through. Knowing or not knowing that someone you care about and love is gone is not easy. If you ever need to talk, I don't mind listening. I found it difficult and continue to find it difficult to talk to people about it when they don't get it or understand. I lost my mom at a young age. I was 27 when I lost her. She was the only parent I had. I don't have any sibling or grandparents. One of the things I found some comfort in was going to regular support groups. I'm not sure where your from has a place called Gilda's club but it was somewhat helpful for me. 

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