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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Time Marches On

Long time no see. I have been following this blog for years now and I have been wondering if Sr. Mary Fiacre is still with us.


Yes, I'm happy to say she is! And when I say "with us", I mean with "us".  We almost lost her, not to Heaven, but from the house. Much more of our time is given to her care, but we have it down to a science, thanks to the critical organized thinking abilities of Sister St. Aloysius.

I never talked about our adventure here on the blog, because I felt it would just be upsetting, and upsetting people with our personal lives (besides sharing our yearly struggles with Halloween, etc. for your amusement) is not our goal. Our goal was to point out that the lives of religious are not all that different from yours. We just have the added onus to try and get everyone's souls into Heaven. You have that job, too, but our version is on steroids, as they say.

In any case, a while back, Sister Mary Fiacre had a heart attack. It wasn't a massive heart attack and because of her advanced age, there was really nothing to be done for her, healthwise. But then, near the end of her hospital stay, "they" started asking us where she was going to go.

"Why, back home...", we said.

"No, she has to be in a nursing home.  You won't be able care for her yourself."

Now, I will admit to you that I was very worried about taking her home. I had spent over a week witnessing all that had to be done for her, including turning her every two hours, day and night. It was daunting. But a nursing home had not occurred to me. Before I thought about it, I said,

"Of course we can care for her at home."

I don't know why I said that.

My response caused a meeting with the hospital staff and social workers. It was very grim and stern. The tone of the meeting was that these people would sit us down and explain to us, in no uncertain terms, that we didn't know what we were talking about and we were in over our heads. What was our plan?

I didn't have a plan. I just couldn't face dumping her off. There is no place she could go that is close by. There is a nursing home that takes old nuns down the coast. But is is waaaayyyy down the coast.  We wouldn't be able to see her for days at a time and I couldn't picture her, in her condition, in this strange new world full of unfamiliar faces.

Sister Mary Fiacre is all about the familiar.

I was just about to have to sit there and flap my jaw up and down with no sound coming out when Sister St. Aloysius pulled a folder out of nowhere. I had not noticed that she had a folder.

Boy, did she have a folder. She had covered every detail, from where to get a hospital bed, to swing people to cover any time either of us would be unavailable. She had a nutritional program and had figured out how we could get Sister Mary Fiacre out of bed and into her wheelchair using the slide board (just like there is a patron saint for everything, it turns out there are tool for everything, too!) and how much time she should spend in and out of bed and even outdoors for some sunshine generated vitamin D.

And here we are. It is labor intensive, but it's happy labor. And  Sister Mary Fiacre is actually thriving, in her own declining sort of way. We have what you would call a "new normal".  I was certain she was on her way out, because she wasn't eating much of anything in the hospital. They pretty much told us she had maybe six weeks.

Several months ago.  Her appetite returned, not to its former robustness, but to a new normal that includes three squares and a snack. She always did have a sweet tooth.

7 comments:

katney said...

I am glad someone asked as I had also wondered. The new normal seems to come upon us at various times of life and in various forms.


My Butler's Lives of the Saints lists Gaudentius of Brescia for today. Not sure how to decide which of several saints to choose for a day.

Marion Teague said...

Here in England, it's the opposite: the hospitals always want to send someone home if there is anyone there to care for them (however badly). You have to fight to get someone into a care home - unless they have lots of money of course.

Danielle said...

Oh wow, thanks for sharing. My dad's health has taken some bad turns recently, and he is 70. He was in the hospital with pneumonia, and he is home now. I kind of think he didn't want to recover, but he did. I was hoping he would stay in the hospital longer, because I felt like they would have gotten him some real help for other things he struggles with. My mom tends to patronize him and tell him to "get with it" and I notice what a 180 he makes when she's not around and it's just me and him. Environment makes a huge difference, and you all sound like you care for her very well.

Maureen said...

It's not an easy task at all, caring for an infirm and elderly person. But you are doing it with love, and that makes all the difference in the world.
I, too, have had to accept a "new normal", with the diagnosis of leukaemia in my son.
Somehow, day by day, we all seem to get through.

Anonymous said...

I am glad to her she is doing well and that you and your Sisters are doing what you think is best for her. Caring for someone who is dying is hard but such a blessing to you later in life. I will keep you all in my prayers!

Mary Bennett said...

God bless you and your son Maureen. I have a new normal too,

sam_acw said...

Inspirational stories are always worth telling. And serving others to let them live with dignity is certainly inspirational. Thank you for sharing.