Momma and I took an ambulance ride to the hospital on April 30. Momma was in a lot of pain. A LOT of pain. She had a fever and she could not support her weight on her legs. In retrospect, there were a few signs I should have paid closer attention to, but the acute pain came on suddenly. She went from being able to use her walker, to needing assistance to get out of bed, to not being able to get out of her chair (or “off the throne”) in the course of just a few hours.
I must confess that there was a twinge of relief when I was told she was going to be admitted. It meant that someone else was going to help me care for her during this medical crisis. It meant that someone was going to help me make decisions.
It also meant four nights of sleeping in a recliner next to her hospital bed. Each time she would awaken, she experienced an incredible amount of fear because she had no idea where she was. She’d throw her legs over the edge of the bed to search out where a bathroom might be only to set off a blaring bed alarm. The daughter in me could not bear to go home and leave my confused mother there. The lovely nurse told Momma to “push the call button” if you need help. The minute the nurse left the room, Momma had no clue. No amount of repetition would help her learn that new skill. Not with Alzheimer’s.
Each new person who came into her room would ask Momma strikingly similar questions. All of which Momma could not answer. Each medical professional was just doing their job, but they did not seem to understand that an Alzheimer’s patient has no idea why she’s here, how she got here, what was wrong, what drugs she was taking, what her medical history is, or where she lives. She could not articulate how she was feeling by rating her pain on a scale of 1 to 10. Even though she asked many of the same questions in her own career as a nurse, she could not fathom what answers to give anymore.
Momma wasn’t eating. She lost about 9 lbs in her four days in the hospital. Each day a dietary aide would come to her room and try to get her to name what she would like to eat. Momma would tell them she isn’t picky and that she likes everything. The truth is, she has trouble eating red meat and eggs (so do I), is not a milk drinker, does not enjoy apples, enjoys raw cauliflower but turns her nose up at raw broccoli, loves raw carrots but can’t stand them cooked. In her first 24 hours in the hospital, she received all of the things she does not care for. She needed me to advocate for her.
What is an advocate?
An advocate is someone who can help you speak up so that your needs are heard, your rights are understood and your problems are resolved.
As my mom’s caregiver, I often take upon myself the role of her advocate. To speak for her when she cannot. To make sure her views and wishes are known and respected. To help her access the resources she needs and handle confusing insurance matters. To intercede for her when she is experiencing pain, but is unable to communicate. To act on her behalf in matters involving a decision.
My Momma places her trust in me to do what is best for her. She simply trusts.
Today I was thinking about how my role as an advocate for my mother reminds me of Christ’s role as my Advocate before the Father. While my mother’s mind is jumbled up in the tangled web of Alzheimer’s, apart from Christ my Advocate, my soul is entangled in Satan’s web of sin and death. Without Christ, I cannot approach the Father; the stench of my sin stands in my way of approaching a holy God. But, Christ my Advocate pleads before the Father on my behalf, not based upon who I am or what I have done, but who He is and what He accomplished on my behalf on the cross. He took my place. He paid for my sin.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. 1 John 2:1-2
I simply trust Him.
May I encourage you to trust Jesus to be your Advocate? Simply trust Him.