It has been six months since my 89-year-old father became ill with Herpes Zoster that nearly cost his life. We endured the week of imminent death, the coma and the gradual road back through a surprising recovery – bed rest, wheel chair, walker, cane – and now the ability to walk a mile a day.
But despite the miraculous recovery, my mother and I have had to find our “new normal.” My father’s brain took a little hit with this illness and the dementia that he so artfully hid from people is now a little easier to see. During most of this episode, while the siblings cried and legal forms got processed, my mother stayed the pillar of strength for everyone.
But now the adult children have gone back to work. My siblings and I are all cried out. We know dad’s wishes and have every contingency plan in place. We have grieved and talked and processed until there is nothing left to say.
Which is why, for the first time in her life, my 85-year-old mother asked to see a psychologist. She knows that the love of her life is slipping away and she hasn’t had a moment to cry or grieve and she hasn’t had another job to go back to. She is living within my father’s new normal every day and that can be a lonely place.
So as smart and strong as she is, this time she needed one other person in her life – even if only for a session or two – just to keep her balance.
Nancy L. Snyderman, MD
(but please call me Nancy)