This week our fellow daughter, Sally Collins, a stay at home mom who lives in the Carribbean, tells her story about how virtual surveillance technology enabled her to remotely connect with her mom in Las Vegas following surgery for colorectal cancer. Amazing. Thanks, Sally for sharing your heart and experience!
Cancer is always a shocking news for everyone. When my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer, my first thought was how can I be there to help her when I am so far away? I live in the Caribbean while my mother and the rest of my siblings are in Vegas. She resided with my sister and her husband who both had full-time jobs. I, on the other hand, am a stay-at-home mom which would have given me enough flexibility to watch over my mother but, I cannot be there physically to attend to her needs. The answer in our case was virtual surveillance.
Colorectal cancer’s prognosis depends on several factors such as age and the stage of the disease, among others. In the case of my mother, she still had surgery at the age of 78. My sister who is in the field of medical health, wanted to make sure that we explore all possibilities for survival. After all, we all need our mothers or parent, no matter how old we get. Alas, surgery is even more hard on an older adult and she did not have an easy time recuperating. She also fell in the kitchen but, fortunately did not break her hip.
Setting Up Virtual Surveillance
Taking care of an ill senior is a difficult task, but there are ways to make it easier for caregivers. My mother does not like the idea of having someone outside the family checking up on her. She was even reluctant to do the physical therapy that was recommended to help regain functioning after the fall and surgery. We respected her wishes and brought up the idea of the surveillance camera as an alternative form of caregiving. Thankfully, she was amenable to it. In Vegas, they installed cameras in strategic places at home such as the kitchen which would capture the corridor and her bedroom. For privacy reasons, the bathroom in front of her sleeping room was omitted. I was the main person in-charge of surveillance taking up most of the slack periods due to the time difference between Barbados and Vegas. I can see on the screen if she could manage to prepare her meal or remind her to take her medications. In the evening, my sister took over and my brothers also took time to watch her on the screen.
Sure, it was heart-wrenching to see my Mom struggle getting up or going to the kitchen to get something to eat. And, I cannot erase from my mind the last time I saw her on the screen when she was preparing to be admitted to the hospital because she was not getting better or responding to medications. That week, I decided to fly with my family to see her for the last time. My mother passed away 3 years ago, but I can still remember the talks we had when I knew through surveillance that she was up and about. I would call her immediately. Nowadays, virtual caregiving technology is advanced for those who need to ensure their loved ones are looked after remotely. In my case, it allowed me to be a part of the last months of my mother’s life which albeit virtual was something I hold on to especially during days when I need Mom to be around. And when those days come, I think of the time we spent together virtually.