Denial at it’s Best

“Even as your body betrays you, your mind denies it. “ Sara Gruen

The unsettled feeling started on Sunday night, we picked Gramma up to enjoy my daughter’s 16th birthday dinner. Mom was awfully white and rather distracted through the course of dinner. She wasn’t up for her usual banter, looked almost zoned out and barely ate a thing.

I watched her on the way home when we were alone.

“Are you sure you are feeling okay?”

“I am just tired, I am an old woman you know”

Something didn’t feel right, so I walked her into her place. She plopped into her chair, looking exhausted.

“Why don’t you just pack it in early tonight?

“Yes, I think I will dear”

“If you are sure that nothing is wrong, then I think I will head out”.

“Nothing is wrong, I am fine”

“Okay, then I am off”, I kissed her forehead and let myself out.

I had a funny feeling the next day and stopped by after work to see her. She still looked very pale, I needed to use her bathroom and found a lot of blood on the side of the toilet bowl.

“Mom, why is all of this blood on the side of your toilet bowl?”

“Oh, phooey, I just had a nose bleed. I was going to band practice. Agnes picked me up, and I felt light-headed and my nose started to bleed so she took me home. It’s nothing.”

“How long did your nose bleed?”

“Half an hour”

“Are you taking your blood pressure pills?”

“No, my blood was getting low.”

“You’re a Doctor now? I assume then you checked your blood pressure?

“Oh phooey, who needs a damn doctor?”

I picked up the phone and called Health link.

“What are you doing?”

“Hello, yes I am calling about my Mother. She has taken herself off of her blood pressure medication, and had a nose bleed this afternoon that lasted about a half hour”.

“Why did she stop her blood pressure medications?”

“Apparently, she believes she is a Doctor”, I responded.

“Oh phooey, damn you.” Mom mumbles but I can hear her and smile in her direction.

“Is she there, can I talk to her?”

I pass the phone to Mom as she is flailing her arms waving me off. “Here she is.”

She makes a face at me, and in her most cheerful voice says “Yes, oh it was nothing, she is just making a big deal out of nothing. You know your kids, always thinking they are the parents. It was just a little nosebleed after all” “Okay, sure yes we can do that”.

She smiles that damn Cheshire cat grin of hers, and hands me the phone, I groan and shake my head at her.

“Damn actress!”.

“She seems pretty well” the nurse says as I grin at Mom. “I think you should take her in to her family doctor in the morning and have her blood pressure checked though”.

“Thank you, yes I will tell her and we are sure to do that.”

“Nice job Mom, you managed to convince her that it was just a little nose bleed. She wants me to take you in to see Dr. Elaine in the morning, so I will call and make an appointment. Do you want me to stay here tonight, and make sure you are okay”?

“No, it is just a nose bleed, and I don’t need to see the Doctor”.

“Oh yes you do, people don’t just take themselves off their medications you know. That kind of defeats the purpose. “

“Are you sure you are okay until the morning? “

“I am going to call first thing and make an appointment.”

“I’m fine.”

I kiss her on the forehead and head home. First thing the next morning, I call and they managed to fit us in for 10:00. I pick her up and she still looked very pale to me. She was unsteady on her feet heading out to the car, as well. Sitting in the waiting room, I see her every so often holding her abdomen. When she went into the Doctor’s office, I noticed a bloody Kleenex under the chair she had been sitting in.

I picked it up. She emerged from the Doctor’s office with a prescription for blood pressure medication which she waved at me.

“So proud of yourself for winning, aren’t you?

“I told you so”, she said in her sing-song voice.

“Well I found this nice bloody Kleenex under your chair in the waiting room.”

“It’s not mine”, she said.

Was that alarm I saw in her eyes? Or did I just imagine that?

We got to the car and got her settled.

“Why were you holding your abdomen? Is it sore?”

“I am not.” She lifted her shirt to expose her stomach to show me everything was okay.

“You know you are a lunatic, don’t you?”

I stop at the drug store, get the prescription filled and take her home and got her some lunch.

“How about you take a pill, and have a lie down?”

I called her a few times that day, and she sounded okay just tired. I stopped by every night after work that week and by Thursday evening when there still wasn’t a great deal of improvement, I was nervous. I had planned to take my Daughter and some friends away overnight for a birthday celebration on the weekend. I was reluctant to go with worry over Mom.

“Mom I don’t think that I should take the girls to Edmonton this weekend. Perhaps we should just postpone until you are feeling a little better? I am sure they will understand. “

“Oh Phooey, don’t be ridiculous. Take my Granddaughter and her friends on their trip. I will be fine, stop your damn worrying all the time.”

Saturday morning, we head up to Edmonton, the energy of the girls was intoxicating. Four sixteen-year old’s can be pretty hilarious. They took in the water park at West Edmonton Mall, shopped until I was ready to drop and we went to the Olive Grove for dinner.

Back at the hotel that night, the girls had their own room so I called Mom. I had obviously just woken her from a dead sleep, and it was only 9:00 PM. This was extremely unusual, she usually wasn’t one to pack it in until 11:00 or midnight.

I tossed and turned all night and called Mom again first thing in the morning. This nagging feeling that something was wrong, was really hard to shake. She didn’t seem very coherent to me, so I decided to call my brother and see if he would check in on her.

“Mom has been having nose bleeds and I took her into the Doctor a few days ago and they put her back on her blood pressure meds. She really did not seem well all week. I am in Edmonton with the kids and wonder if you can go check on her. She does not sound very coherent this morning.”

“Sure, I will go see what’s up.”

The girls came over to my room, all excited to start their day.

“We are ready to shop until we drop.”

‘Well grab your things and we will check out and get you girls to the mall.”

Panic was embracing me, but I didn’t want the girls to know so tried my best attempt at making things light. Why wasn’t he calling?

We headed back to the mall, and the girls went into a few of their favorite stores. Their chatter was cheering me a little, as I waited for the call.

The phone rang, “I will just be outside for a minute”, I told the girls.

“She doesn’t look well, and I told her that we should go into Emergency to see what is going on.” “She refuses to go, she insists that she will wait until you get home.”

“But I am not going to be home for hours, do you think she should go in?”

“Yes, but there is no talking her into it.”

“I am phoning Bruce; will you wait there until he gets there?”

As Panic rose in me, I called my husband.

“Honey, Mom is not well. Can you please go over and check on her, to see what is going on?

“Yes, I will go talk some sense into her. Don’t worry I will call and let you know?”

The girls came out of the store giggling and chimed “we need to go to Hollister now. “

“Sounds like a plan” I said as I traipsed after them. At least they were having fun. Every moment as I waited to hear back felt like an eternity.

We hit a few more of their favorite shops, as I waited as patiently as I could for the verdict. What was taking them so long?

The phone rang as the girls headed into Abercrombie. “We are taking her in, there is something seriously wrong with her, and you better start to head home.” “Oh, and Jack, drive carefully, I love you”.

I gathered the girls together and cut our visit short. We started on our way home. I made the drive-in record time, nothing but adrenalin coursing through my veins. Dropped the girls off and headed to the hospital.

And this is where I found myself now, wondering why on earth she had worked so hard to keep this from me? I looked over at her looking so frail, and anger started to rise in me. Conflicting feelings of anger, guilt and defeat washed over me.

Love and Light




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