by Reshonda Tate, reporter, Houston Defender for Word In Black
November is National Caregivers Month and the Defender is shining a light on Caregivers, who spend so much time taking care of others, that it’s easy to lose sight of taking care of themselves.
Defender Managing Editor ReShonda Tate shares the personal story of life as a caregiver for her and her sister.
Our New Normal
It was August, 2013. I had just wrapped a wonderful booksigning for my latest novel in Southwest Houston. As usual, my vibrant, independent mother was in attendance. As the signing wrapped, she complained of a headache and said she was heading home.
Fifteen minutes later, a reader ran back inside and yelled, “I think something happened to your mother!”
I raced outside and found my mother passed out in the parking lot. Thank God she had on white because it was dark and a passer-by just happened to see the white clothing. My mother was rushed to the hospital where she was told those incessant headaches (for which she swallowed Aleve like candy) was actually a grapefruit-sized brain tumor and she would have to undergo surgery asap. After fighting my sister and I (she had a trip to Arkansas the next day that she didn’t want to cancel), she was taken into surgery.
Those were the longest hours of our lives. The Aleve had thinned her blood tremendously (read those side effects warning labels, people). Fourteen hours later, we got word that my mother had suffered a stroke during surgery. Her skull had to be removed and her prognosis was bleak. She couldn’t talk or walk. We hid the mirrors because my Diva mother would’ve never been able to handle seeing herself without a skull. As she lay intubated and close to a vegetable, I remember a doctor telling me clearly, “This is as good as it’s going to get.”
But seven surgeries and six hospitals/rehab facilities later (thank you, TIRR), my mother was released home.