When it rains, it pours…

Stefano and I returned to Italy a couple of days ago. Those ten days we spent in the U.S.A. might well have been the worst days of my life thus far…worse even than when I received my cancer diagnosis…I mean, it was simply awful awful awful, every day, every minute of every day…

The “good” thing is that Stefano and I did get to Cape Cod in time to say goodbye to Mom, and in fact she is still alive. But I don’t think she will last very much longer. She is amazingly weak…The nurse practitioner, whom Stefano and I went to see shortly after we arrived, told us that “there is no going back.”

She’s dying. She isn’t eating enough to keep herself alive…

The “funny” thing is that she is drinking colas (sweetened, carbonated soft drinks) every day. This started back in February, when she began experiencing a lot of nausea after her second hip operation. She now drinks two or three colas a day, at least. My mother wouldn’t have touched a cola with a ten-foot pole a few months ago. But now she finds them “refreshing.” Under other circumstances, that would have been very amusing…very amusing indeed.

She is also drinking small shakes containing Ensure (yes, yes, yes, I know that this stuff is crap, mainly water and sweeteners and chemicals…But she likes the taste, so…whatever…).

The entire time I was there, the only solid food I saw her eat was a small slice of quiche…oh and a tiny bowl of jello. She waves food away. She doesn’t want any. My sister has tried bringing her all sorts of goodies. Nothing has worked.

And now it’s too late.

Stefano and I went to say our final goodbye to Mom on Monday morning, before leaving for Boston Logan airport. She was turned on her side, fast asleep.

I began saying, more loudly each time, “Mom…Mooom…MOM…MOOOOOM!!!!!,” but she didn’t wake up. I began gently shaking her shoulder, then a bit more forcefully, still calling her. No reaction. The thought that she might have slipped into a coma crossed my mind, so I ran to the nurses’ station for help. A nurse rushed in and did what I had done, talking to Mom and shaking her shoulder.

Mom finally opened her eyes. And so we had a little more time together. I pretended to have an allergy when I felt tears welling up in my eyes as I told her that we are all okay (and similar “goodbye” sentences)…But she seemed not to notice…The tiny little creature in that bed really isn’t my Mom anymore…

Later on that day, I thought that going into a coma wouldn’t be such a bad way to go. No pain, just…sleep. I hope that will be the way she will slip away from us…

But let’s get to the title of my post. When it rains, it pours.

Exactly a week ago, on Thursday evening, my Dad said he didn’t feel too well and wanted to go to bed before dinner. My sister and I tucked him in, and he reassured us that he would be okay. After dinner, I went upstairs to check on him, and he looked and felt awful. He had a fit of the chills, so I took his temperature, which turned out to be rather high. I went downstairs to tell my sister and get him a glass of water and some Tylenol. The two of us decided to take him to see the doctor in the morning if he wasn’t feeling much better.

When I got back upstairs, I saw Dad staggering toward the bathroom, moaning and groaning, all bent over. I rushed to him and grabbed him just in time, before he fell down, I mean. He’s a tall guy, too heavy for me, so I yelled for help. Stefano and my nephew came running and gently lowered Dad to the bathroom floor. My sister called an ambulance, while I asked Dad some questions to make sure he hadn’t suffered a stroke. He was a bit confused but answered the basic questions…

The long and short of it is that Dad spent three days in the hospital. Diagnosis: pneumonia. He is now out of the hospital and, get this!, he is in the same clinic where Mom is, except Dad is in the rehab part…

So right now, Mom and Dad are under the same roof, and he can visit her for longer periods of time. That is not a bad thing, all things considered. They have been happily married for 61 years…

It was hard for me to get on that plane bound for Italy on Monday. I broke down at the airport when I realized that I probably won’t see my Mom alive again. But Stefano and I had to get home. And it’s just as well we did…

IMG_6311My cat sitter called us as soon as we landed to let me know that she’d found quite a bit of blood on the bathroom floor the previous evening. She had examined all the cats but hadn’t been able to figure out which one had been bleeding…

So Stefano and I went looking for Puzzola, our eldest cat, the only one who hadn’t greeted us at the door. We finally found her all scrunched up a corner of the bathroom. She wasn’t moving, and she didn’t react to our calling her name and petting her. When we spotted the blood underneath her, we rushed her immediately to the vet clinic.

Thank goodness it turned out not to be a hemorrhage of any sort but “only” a very bad bladder infection. So now she is on antibiotics…and she is going to be fine.

Welcome home.

P.S. Incidentally, Priscilla, the cat who had convulsions before we left for the U.S.A., is fine. The vets couldn’t find anything wrong with her…nothing in her X-rays or in her blood tests. We’ll just keep a close eye on her and hope it was a one-time, weird thingy.