Mount Auburn Hospital sign with hospital in back

2015-01/11 –

I would like to think what happened next was a surprise but some of it truly wasn’t. On the afternoon of  January 11, 2015 I received a phone call from my stepdad’s daughter-in-law. I will never forget that call, never forget the tears flowing freely from my eyes as she told me that my mother was in the hospital.

She went on to explain that they had gone in to check on my mom and stepdad on the 9th. When they got there, my mother was frantic, running around the house delirious, telling them she had to time for them, that her mother and grandmother (she called her Yiayia) were there and she couldn’t deal with them right now. She had to deal with “her” not wanting to get up off the floor. They looked over to see who “her” was and saw my stepdad, on the floor, barely breathing. 

My fears and worries of the past few months had all come true. They somehow got my mother and stepdad to the hospital by ambulance to be looked at. My stepdad was in really bad shape. His organs had started failing. the was severely dehydrated, his stats were really bad.

My mother was dehydrated as well but was still not herself, still in this other world of delirium. The hospital would not let me see her since visiting hours were over for the day so I had to wait till the next morning to see her. I wasn’t prepared. How could anyone be prepared. 






Mount Auburn Hospital with river in front




Mount Auburn Hospital sign with hospital in back

The next morning came and I left my peaceful home by the sea in Rockport to drive into what would become my new life. I don’t remember much of that drive. I do remember driving into the city of Cambridge, where my grandparents had lived, where I had spent so much of my early childhood. I remember driving into the parking lot of Mount Auburn Hospital. I remember sitting in my car shaking and crying. I remember having to work really hard to calm down, to take the keys out of the ignition, get out of the car and go into the hospital. I was like a zombie. I remember asking directions at the front desk. The faceless person behind the desk told me where to go in a seemingly faraway voice. I followed the directions, got in an elevator, pressed the button I was told to press and walked to the part of the hospital I was told to go to, telling myself to just put one foot in front of the other. 

When I got there, my stepdad’s daughter-in-law met me in the waiting area. The doctor came to talk to us and explained that we needed to decide what we wanted to do at this point. I told him I needed to see her before I could possibly be prepared to make any decisions.

I walked into the room and she looked at me with hatred and disgust in her eyes. She said “What are you doing here? You don’t belong here. I don’t want you here. Just go home.” I held back the pain, I heard back the tears and I managed to dredge up some inner calm when I answered. “I’m here for you. I wanted to make sure you are all right.” She responded something along the lines of “Of course I’m all right, if they let me go home. I can’t get anything done if I am stuck in this room. And you need to get out of here.”

I left the room, making an excuse I cannot remember at this point. My stepdad’s daughter-in-law came with me. I sat heavily down on one of the chairs in the waiting room. I listened to the medical people talking to me but I’m not sure I actually heard everything they were saying. My mother had some sort of psychological break. She didn’t know where she was, didn’t know much of her real life at this point. However, physically she was not that damaged.

They told me their best guess is that it had been many days that they both had been without food, water or medication. They told me my stepdad was not going to be able to leave the hospital and would ultimately not survive this. They told me they had tested my mother for a urinary tract infection but the test came back negative. They could see no physical reason for her delirium and all the tests they had done had led to a diagnosis of vascular dementia. 

I sat there in a stupor, part of me not wanting to believe it and the other part of me knowing that this had been coming a long time. I had lived through my grandmother’s dementia. I had lived through my great grandmother’s dementia. I knew the signs. I knew I had been seeing them in my mother. 

I saw her again, more anger ensued, but I persisted. I brought her coffee. I tried to communicate as best I could. I tried to shut off the part of me that was emotionally destroyed over her mother treating her this way. She was my mother, I loved her, and I would take care of her. There was no question about that in my mind. 

The hospital was pushing for a decision but I needed time. I told them I would be back the following day and we could figure it out at that time. I needed to process all of this, needed to come to terms with the fact that I would be responsible for her. My step dad’s daughter-in-law explained that she was just not comfortable making these decisions for my mother. She felt that I needed to be the one to make these important decisions and understood my need for time at this point to gather my wits about me and make some decisions. We agreed to meet the following morning to talk some more.

Some Books You Might Want to Read

Suggestions of books you might like to look at if you are going through this.


2 thoughts on “Diagnosis

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