The Retrospectroscope


Mom was admitted to hospital last weekend. She was ill for a couple of days, and we thought she was getting better. But she got worse all of a sudden, and we admitted her to hospital.

In hospital, tests were done, and urgent treatment instituted. She made improvements – not as quickly as we expected, but nonetheless… again, we thought she was getting better. We were wrong. This weekend, she got worse “all of a sudden”, and now she is in ICU.

They say hindsight is 20-20. And it’s true! It is so clear the clues were all there, how could we have missed them. They were so obvious!

Part of the answer must be wishful thinking. We paid attention to the signs of improvement, and denied the danger signs hinting that things were worse than expected. We told everyone and ourselves that mom was improving, and promised her she would be home soon.

Only now, when we apply the retrospectroscope, we realise how wrong we had been.

And isn’t that how we live out our lives? We move forward, and suddenly something happens and our world view is shattered. What happened? Were there warning signs? Why did we miss them? If we were honest, we might see that we had ignored twinges of discomfort, preferring the illusion that all was fine.

That is how it is with me, anyway. I prefer to err on the side of being positive. Look on the bright side, things aren’t so bad, count your blessing etc. But I’m trying to change this, and to learn to face reality in all it’s dimensions. I’m learning to be still, to centre myself… to observe, and to accept. Life is real, it can be painful and unpleasant, and to be truly alive is to know that such feelings exist and face them.

And the reality is – over the last week while mom was in hospital “getting better”, I had not been able to relax or sleep well. Some deep part of me must have recognised the unspoken reality that she was more ill than we all acknowledged. But now she is in ICU, and definitive treatment has been undertaken. She is stable for the moment. More importantly, we have really done all we could. I think I will sleep well tonight.

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7 thoughts on “The Retrospectroscope”

  1. Been there done that. I understand the beating yourself up for not seeing the warning signs and we just can’t do that, it doesn’t do any good. Glad though that you feel you will get some sleep. Take care of yourself so you can take care of others. I hope mom gets better soon.

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  2. I remember taking training on this phenomena of little things not being tended to, and then everything going very wrong, seemingly, all of a sudden.

    It’s very normal for us to see all of the little signs individually and not give them much too much weight. You were just being human. (:

    I think it’s great, though, that she did get the attention she needed in the end, and now you know to keep your eyes out for little signs, and to investigate them further. No one expects you to be perfect, just to do the best you can with what you know in the amount of time you have.

    Thanks for the great post!

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    1. Thank you for your support. My relationship with mom is a little complicated I think, and I need to reflect and work through some of the emotions triggered by her illness and dependency on me. But things are improving now, and I understand myself a little better. 🙂

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