This weekend my mum flew out to Pakistan to spend five weeks with her family and to get some sunshine. So we spent the weekend running around trying to make sure she has everything she needs – vaccinations, medicines, packing, gifts and whatever else we could think of.
My mum has always been very hard working and physically very strong, but in the last few months I have seen a change in her that was painful to watch. Her knees have been so painful that she can’t sleep and is in pain after a short walk. This week her doctor diagnosed osteoarthritis in her knees – a discomfort that we have a long and illustrious family history of. My family seem to live into their 90’s, but with knee pain from their 50’s so that their general moodiness and habit of getting in a huff with people are accompanied with years of grumbling and moaning.
I had a long conversation with the Dr which started with knee replacement (that made me jump as it sounded like a bit of an extreme measure at this stage) and opened out into x-rays, MRI’s, scans, exercise and physiotherapy, every time I challenged him or asked for more information, he would re-think and offer something different. In the end we left with a referral to a specialist and some stronger pain management meds.
Mum is convinced that some time in the sun would do her knees good, so she asked my dad to take her to Pakistan. He wasn’t keen, because he always gets bored in my grandparents village, but she insisted. So on her insistence he booked tickets to Pakistan – for a flight three days later! Mum is obviously used to him, because she immediately led me to her bedroom and pulled out two suitcases full of stuff from under her bed, which she asked me to re-pack for her properly (i.e. squash even more stuff into). Then after spending all weekend hosting family, fielding calls from friends and cooking lots of food for dad, she was off before we barely got to spend some time with her or say good bye properly.
Harlequin Sister helping with the packing - starting with all this make-up my mum had stockpiled.
I am glad she is getting a change and spending time with her siblings. I am glad she is getting a break from her usual routine, the kitchen and the cold. I know her brothers will look after her. But seeing her unwell in recent days has created a deep unease in me. She has always been strong and independent and seeing her falter in this way, with the pain etched on her face and making her quiet and tired all of the time, has made me desperate to find some way to help her find ease.
It has made me anxious about the future and reminded me how much we take for granted: the welcoming embrace into her home, to be cared for when you are busy caring for everyone else, her amazing food that is just pure soul food for us siblings, someone that cares about you and is deeply concerned for you, the person that is always on your side, the blessing of a mothers dua’s.
It has made me feel very protective of her. As always my reaction to anxiety is action: do something, whatever little or much you can. I will be encouraging her to lose weight and do the exercise the Dr recommended, we siblings can agree to accompany her to Dr’s appointments. I have been intending to learn about how diet and lifestyle affect arthritis and joint health as this is a family issue, so need to make an effort to do this. I will make lots of dua. Most of all I need to remember to be grateful for her insh’Allah.
Baby helping with the packing too