The photo shows a swirl of leaves, grass, a stick, all blurred by the phone moving as the photo was being taken.
Our son moves the phone as he takes pictures while I attend to goats that just kidded. Life does not stop when is someone is sick.

Appendicitis, Horse Stabbings, Popcorn Shrimp, You Talkin’ to Me, and Grapes: Life Don’t Stop

Cirrhosis Diaries, Post 4.

Since the out-of-nowhere diagnosis of my 84 year-old mother with end stage cirrhosis from undiagnosed fatty liver disease, until today, every day of the last five weeks I have spent time at the nursing home where she is supposedly “rehabbing” enough to go to an assisted living facility.

Today’s post was supposed to be about how the assisted living facility called me Friday refusing to accept her due to wounds on her legs caused by massive swelling when she did not get given her diuretic four weekends ago. They let me know these were not healed yet enough for their facility to attend to, and they voiced concerns about her eating enough protein to help them heal.

I had also considered a post where it is somehow squarely in my mother’s life narrative that the remaining fights in her life have to be about food and getting enough of it, where most of her life has been a childhood trauma-induced battle with eating too much, or too much of the wrong things.

I will get around to writing those two. But for now, here I am — sitting in our house by myself, my mom in the nursing home, my husband in the hospital, our son with his grandparents.

Life does not wait when anyone is sick.

Instead, though the rest of my life has taken some punches since I took my mother to the ER five weeks ago, these hits grasped hands and danced a circle around me today.

I have pondered some on how to list out the elements of the waves that crashed today. I have contemplated a kind of prose poem:

The chickens peck in their yard, fed them and the pigs on our farm. Check on the newborn goats. The last of five pregnant mamas has not yet kidded.

My husband comes down for breakfast. He totes a glass jar full of brown liquid, claims blood in his urine. He warms up his truck and rides to an urgent care.

My son and I pack the van with trash, bags and bags of cat litter than need to go. Out here in the country, there is no garbage pick up. We have to take our refuse to the dump.

Then, here comes a phone call from a man with a radio announcer voice and an Upstate New York number. He has seen our missing dog, Keme, in his yard. His yard is ten miles away from where the tracker we hired tracked our dog a week ago, and then exclaimed the trail ended there. A former cop, we had trounced through the woods as he baited me on politics, then, phished about my ability to deflect harassment. You now, veiled come-on’s like: Boy, oh, boy, I am glad your husband is not the jealous type with you out here in the woods with me. A few of my select retorts: I am pretty sure I could outrun you. I have always carried a knife.

I am 48 and have enjoyed my new mostly oblivion among chronic harassers, but I guess I still got it with the 70 year-old and over creepy guy set.

I hope this phone call is NOT from one of the creepy ones the cop promised me I’d receive with my phone number plastered all over our area on posters announcing our lost dog.

My son and I hop in the Honda minivan. Twenty minutes away, we amble past single wides and double wides, most with dogs, either in the back lot or on the front porch. It’s been two days since Keme was in this man’s speck of a yard. Nice people. I am so grateful they took the time. Got the number off one of the posters I hung yesterday. I stuff the mailboxes on their road with lost dog flyers.

I knock on doors where our dog Keme had been seen. At one trailer, I can tell an older woman lives there, probably by herself: plaster little Dutch figures kiss in the yard, the deck needs rebuilt.

I knock, and the door opens hesitantly. I try to beam safety and not crazy. I explain about looking for our dog. She grasps at her housecoat. Yes, she says, I have a horse in the back. I brought him up here as there has been someone going around stabbing horses. I had heard of this, and yes, killing horses, too.

I promise to get a flyer from the car with my number in case she sees our dog.

We head back to the van. I wonder how a horse fits in her back yard.

It is way past lunch. I was going to finally do the massive amounts of dishes, that I let pile up this week while I made Lost Dog posters. Then I was going to make lunch and then cook dinner for my mom: a salmon cake with oats rather than breadcrumbs, a sweet potato, a low sugar gluten free apple pie.

To solve lunch at least, my five year old son and I stop in Union Grove at a local little family restaurant. He is fascinated by the television show featuring anglers and chats with me about how he would like to go fishing like those guys. So, fish it is! A year ago he would have fake-gagged at our meal, but this time he wolfs down his half of the fish platter, exclaiming how much he likes the popcorn shrimp!

We walk through the door of our house. Ah, finally I can cook. Get to those dishes. Then, my husband texts me he is now the ER, and they are prepping him for removing his appendix.

I grab clothes off the massive pile of unfolded laundered ones and we get into the van again and I drop off our son at his grandparents, then I head to the hospital.

In the waiting room for people having surgery “today,” I fiddle with my phone; I scan the online cirrhosis groups. Someone is keeping things light by having us guess quotes from movies. Back and forth in the forum, I keep up with this thread and others. Is there anything I can do to stop my alcohol cravings? You talkin’ to me? I am 30 years old and obese my whole life and I now have cirrhosis. I can’t clip my toenails because I can’t bend in the middle and because of the pain that I am having. I’ll have what she’s having. I wonder what it might feel like to have one day without pain? Three, four, better lock the door.

After his surgery for appendicitis, upstairs in the hospital room my husband has been assigned, my friend who took over for me on Mom duty today, she texts:

She won’t eat anything I brought.

I respond: She always says that. Offer it to her anyway. Just set her up like she is going to eat it anyway.

(I know this is a lot to expect anyone else not a relative to do. I doubt my friend can really do this to my mom).

She won’t drink her protein drink. I respond again: Offer it to her anyway. Just set her up like she is going to eat it anyway.

She just wants to eat grapes. Can she have grapes? She just wants that and to have her back rubbed.

Yes. She can have grapes.

I think — should I go there? Do I need to go there to make her eat?

I feel guilty. It is nearly 7PM. I have to get up early to go track our dog. I have to feed the chickens and pigs before I go. I have to get all the bags out of the truck my husband drives part of his week — and I guess I will pile it on top of the cat litter bags I did not make it to the dump to get rid of before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday started. Then, I have to come back, feed the goats, then go into town to the hospital, then the nursing home.

The woman’s voice from assisted living echoes in my head — she can’t come here unless her legs heal and she eats more protein.

I will go to the nursing home in the morning and get her to drink her protein drink.

Farmer, writer, STS researcher, social entrepreneur, systems rethinker