Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Art as an antidote to nursing homes

Last week my 85-year old mother fell again, her third fall in four months. This time she fractured her pelvis, resulting in hospitalization and transfer to a rehab/nursing center yesterday. These rehab facilities are depressing as hell for so many reasons, on so many levels. So mom’s upset, I’m upset. She cries and asks me to get her out of there. I explain about the importance of physical therapy, how it will only be for four or five weeks. But four or five weeks feels like forever when one is the patient and not the visitor. She tells me she would prefer to go back where she was, the hospital with a private room and nurses who actually respond to call lights. She grips my hand and pleads with her eyes. I feel like crap and leave. It’s a complicated relationship, with edges shaped by compassion and love and disdain and neediness.

After visiting her yesterday, I tried to paint, but it was as if I had never picked up a paintbrush before.

Tomorrow it's back to contour drawings.

13 comments:

Cathy Gatland said...

You're going through a tough time - wish you strength and a reconnection with your paintbrush.

Robyn said...

Oh Sharon. I wish your poor mother quickly out of that place and for your muse to give you a hug and let you paint again.

paris parfait said...

Oh Sharon, I'm so sorry. What a difficult time for you, as well as for your mom. And I know what you mean about the mother-daughter relationship sometimes being fraught. Sending you a big virtual hug. Hoping your mom's health improves very soon. And keep painting! xo

A Brush with Color said...

Oh, I can so relate to that. I'm tearing up just reading this, Sharon. My mother had such a struggle at the end of her life, and when she at one point had to go to a "rehab center" that was really more of a dismal nursing home setting, I ached having to leave her there. She was scared and depressed, and it haunted me forever. I hope she can recuperate and get out soon!

Sandy said...

Oh how I feel your pain, it is so hard to be helpless on the side lines too - I have been there - All you can do is visit as often as possible and bring her any fun you can to keep her busy - I pray she makes a speedy recovery!

laura said...

Sharon, You have a way with words: this one paragraph contains so much ... it reverberates with all the difficulties you're facing. It must be hard to get in the mood to paint, let alone make the time. Resourceful as ever, though, I think your plan to do contour drawings is a good one--may that meandering line lead you to a more centered and restful place!

Pilgrim said...

My heart goes out to you. Recognize the difference between what you can change, and what you can't. (from a voice of experience).

Sharon said...

I feel weepy all over again, after reading your kind comments and suggestions for coping. Thank you so much.

Sherry said...

Sharon, I wish I could give you a real hug, but a virtual one will have to do for now. You sound like this is a dark time for you, and I hope you can be patient with yourself and take care of both your physical and emotional needs. It may not be a time when you can read or do much art, but if you can take a walk, talk to a friend, or laugh at a silly movie, that might be what you need now. You know best. And I hope that as her physical pain lessens your mom can become a bit less needy. You sound like you are doing everything you can.

janabouc said...

All I can say is I understand! I have a complicated relationship with my mother and expect to be in a similar situation in the not too distant future. She has osteoporosis, poor balance, and a house piled with clutter that despite my sister and I trying to help, always ends up just as cluttered within a short time.

Sharon said...

Thanks for the hug, Sherry!

Jana,
Your are so right, osteoporosis and bad balance is a deadly combination. Every time my mother falls, I suddenly remember how important it is to exercise.

Jennifer Lawson said...

Sharon, I am thinking of you. Though both my 80+parents are still alive and healthy, I often wonder about what lies ahead ahead.
Good idea to do some contour drawings. I find them to be very peaceful, meditative and with no pressure except the one you put on the pen as it wanders around the page. Take care.

Lynn Atwood said...

A suggestion that worked for me when my elderly father was in a re-hab...make friends - try to connect with the nurses and care givers that are in the facility. It will be a great comfort to you, to know about the people that are trying to help your mother.