Monday, January 21, 2013


A long time ago, when Mom was still living independently at home and she was still driving her car. A long time before I was Mom's health care proxy or her active power of attorney. Long before I went with her to every doctor's visit. Long before we realized that dementia had started taking root.

I got an early morning call from Mom, she was in a panic!
"You have to drive me to the hospital today!" She had an appointment very soon. I couldn't get any information out of her on the phone.
I dropped everything and drove an hour to her house. I would have just enough time to pick her up and drive her the half-hour to the hospital.

I get there, she's very, very anxious, she is flustered and agitated.
She couldn't tell me who she was seeing for this appointment.
She seemed like she just didn't know.
It wasn't her primary care physician.
She said, the hospital just called to tell her to come in.

She had stuffed a roll of paper towels and a bra into her purse.

On the ride to the hospital, I keep trying to find out what was going on.
"Oh here." she said, she had written something down on a scrap of paper, it says "radiology 10:20".

So, I'm wondering: why the crisis, why the worry, why the demand for the car ride? 
"Mom, radiology is just taking pictures, did Dr.M want you to have x-rays for something?"
I'm confused, my Mother knows what the word radiology means.
"They are going to cut off my breasts", she blurts out matter-of-factly.  "The paper towel will soak up the blood. And a clean bra too."
What is she talking about?!
"Mom, radiology is just taking pictures" I repeat. "No one is going to cut your breast off."  Not today anyway, I hope never, but what do I know, I have no idea what is going on.
"Are you going for a mammogram today?"
"I had one last week." she slams back at me like I should have known it.
"I can put the paper towel in my bra to soak up the blood." she says.
I repeat the only comforting thing I can say "Radiology is just pictures."

The woman in radiology sheds a little more light on this confusing visit, "we just need to take a few more pictures."  Mom leaves me in the waiting room and follows the woman to mammography.

Mom comes back calm and smiling, as if she's been out having coffee with friends. "Of course, the pictures are fine. All those moles on my skin, today they put stickers on all my moles, they keep showing up in the pictures."
"Yeah, me too Mom, they put stickers all over me too. I've inherited your moley skin."
"NO you didn't!! YOU don't know!!" she's screaming at me.
Well, yes I did, but I'm not going to argue with her here.
"I'm glad your ok." I say, backing away.

"I don't know what you were so worried about." she says with a glance over her shoulder at me, as she marches out of the hospital.
She still has the roll of paper towel and a bra hanging out of her purse.
What just happened?

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