Monday, October 19, 2009

The Breakdown World Tour

My mom scheduled her psychotic break for this weekend. Not her usual psychotic breaks, you know the casual ones. This is a real one. I noticed it on Saturday, I woke up with a few sick kids, and realized I was getting sick too. Heavy chest. Runny nose. Still, we decided to hang out over at Moose's house. I could sew some Halloween costumes (I scored at the thrift store, a king outfit and a princess outfit, and a bunny outfit) I just needed to add a few homemade touches to make it feel more substantial.

I noticed my mom would not stop talking. Not in her normal way. She seemed, um, nuts. I felt that annoying mom feeling coming on and just let it fill me up like usual. But by the end of the day, I noticed she was not sleeping. She was slurring her speech a little bit. Did she have a stroke? She was taking these hardcore antibiotics to fight a bad chest cold, maybe pneumonia. A father at our school had died of pneumonia/swine flu a few weeks ago. So the antibiotics were good.

But they were not good. She was completely confused. Speaking but not stringing her sentences together, stumbling for words. Like my gramma after her stroke. I kept calling the doctor. Finally got to him Sunday night. Speakerphone. He tells me he thinks my mom need a psych evaluation.

My mom has needed a psych evaluation for decades. But no, this is a real, scary, possibly manic depressive psychotic break. The doctor says calmly. In his thin, gentle way. Like she's twisted a pinky finger. Except much worse.

So we get her some medicine so she can sleep, but we don't tell her it's antipsychotic. The word itself freaks me out. You don't want your mom and psychotic to be in the same sentence. I feed her the little pill every half hour like he says. I put the baby to bed and go over to her room and she's half on the bed, legs hanging off, asleep. I put her in bed. She wakes up and I make her eat some chicken and drink some lemonade. She talks with her eyes closed, or open but she's not really seeing me. If she saw me, she'd see I was crying. She talks about alcoholism. About her mother. About the kids. About how much she loves me.

I don't understand why we get involved with people, with love, like this. Why do people have to care about other people? It's a trap, you're stuck, you love people, it hurts. To see your mom lost, fragile, vulnerable, it's awful. There's no words.

I see why I'm home with the kids. A mother matters more than anyone in the whole world. I'm old, and my mother matters to me. Her being well, and functioning, and being back the way she was, ordering stuff off of QVC and being annoying, I want it all back.

I am lucky enough, depressingly enough, to have been there for all of her breakdowns. We're on the world tour. It's been a long time between stops. This poor woman - and yet I see all the things I love about her. Things only I would care about. The shape of her face. Her fingers in my hair, scratching my head. Her crazy laugh. The way she has kept going in spite of feeling crippling loss inside. She is my mother. These are things that can't be replaced by anyone else.

We're going to the doctor in the morning. I whispered to him on the phone, "Do people come back from this?" afraid of his answer. "They do," he said.

She's laying over there, frail as broken crackers. Her brain all in tatters. I hope there's a chance.