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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Final Four

Monday morning was really tough. Mom was so tired of hurting, totally exhausted and discouraged. She was angry and fed-up. Before Monday, she was pretty much checked out due to the pain medication. This weekend she kept asking why she was in OKC. She's been in another world for the last week maybe longer which was hard because I really missed her.

On Monday, she was coherent but in the darkest place that I'd seen yet with no spark of hope. The doctor came in at 6:00am, we'd been up for almost an hour. Anxiety and pain levels were high. The doctor told Mom that all the blood, urine, and stool tests were coming back good, no infection. However, blood taken from the PICC line on Sunday showed an infection so he ordered the PICC to be taken out. Since last Wednesday, her fever continued to fluctuate between 100 - 103.

After the doctor left, I tried to encourage Mom by telling her that the doctor is not finding any serious complications. There is unbelievable pain, suffering, and anxiety from the treatment and it hurts, really bad but it's not terminal. My intention was to give her hope but instead she took it as I was discounting her pain.

We just sat on the bed both in tears (first time I allowed myself to cry in front of her). She did not want me to comfort her so I stepped into the hallway. After a weekend full of not so good nurses and technicians, a wonderful nurse offered me a Kleenex. She has been Mom's nurse all this week. You can tell when someone gets it and when they don't, she not only gets it but connected with Mom and I from the get go.

Although I did not realize it, a change was occurring. Cancer is a very real physical battle but maybe even more a mental/spiritual one. Mom said that morning that maybe going to see Nana wouldn't be so bad (her mom who died of cancer in her early 50's). A week ago Sunday, Mom had a really bad night, the worse pain I had ever seen or even imagined. Driving in the storm at 5am to get something the nurse said might help, I cried realizing what it means to love someone so much that you'd let them go so that the pain would stop. I told myself not to put that in writing, it sounds so bad.

Little by little things started happening showing me that God had not forsaken us like it felt. He showed up at first in little ways; wonderful nurse offering me tissue in the hallway and Mom pain meds on the fly, the Hispanic technician who told Mom in broken English, "I take care of you" as she ministered to Mom through a bath and massage, physical therapists that made us laugh (one pt that said she doesn't usually ask, but could she pray with us), the kind custodian that told Mom it's job security when she apologized for the accidents on way to the bathroom, sincere, caring doctors working to take care of Mom, and of course the Ya Ya Sisterhood that has not only bonded together together now but for life.

Monday afternoon, a friend (as Mom put it from a galaxy far, far away) happened to hear Mom was sick. She did not have Mom's phone number so she just started calling hospitals in the city. After a few misses, she hit the right hospital and the room's phone was ringing. I answered and within minutes she was praying with me and then I held the phone to Mom's ear and she prayed with her. Mom went to radiation late that afternoon where we met with the radiologist. I asked her to examine mom b/c there was like a knot in the fold of her woo ha (as Ginger aka Nurse Melissa calls it) The radiologist said that it's where the skin has peeled leaving raw skin that oozes blood and fluids that are sticky. The moist fold stuck together and then cemented when dried. She gave me ky jelly and told me to gently work at separating the folds when pain medicine has her at the highest point. Basically, it would tear apart ripping top layer. It really hurts Mom and I feel needlessly. Someone should have not only told us but shown us how to keep this from happening. It is very preventable if someone knows what to do.

Tuesday morning, Mom woke up feeling better but then went to the bathroom and realized she couldn't pee. I looked her over and found another area stuck together just like the fold had been the day before. She began to have extreme pain about the time the doctor arrived for his rounds at 6am. I showed him what I had found and he immediately called a gynecologist. About this same time, mom's iv vein collapsed or rolled so they had to shut off the meds and fluids until they could tap into another vein. Wonderful nurse stuck Mom twice with no luck hitting a vein, second nurse gave 2 stabs, still no luck. Mom's pain is increasing as pain meds are wearing off and the urge to pee is becoming stronger by the minute. She can't get more pain meds b/c iv line is not open.

I called Mom's friend who called the night before, briefly explained Mom's immediate need, and she began praying that God would bring the right doctor and nurses who will have the wisdom to know exactly what to do to take care of Mom. As soon as we hung up the phone, she started calling others to pray and the gynecologist walked into the room. Wonderful nurse said after the fact that she saw this doctor walking down the hallway. She hadn't seen this doctor on their floor in a long time. She asked him what patient he was going to see hoping it was Mom. Sure enough, he walked into the room and quickly proceeded to help Mom. He told Mom that the nurse could bring a shot of morphine as he gobbed ky on his glove. She told him to go ahead without pain meds, she braced as he ripped her open experiencing the highest level of pain to date. He told me what to do to keep her open. Again, if told beforehand, it could have been prevented. ggrrrr Immediately following, a friendly nurse that I had seen several times in the hallway, came to try and find a vein for the iv. She got it on her first attempt.

After today's radiation, I asked mom how she was doing. She just said 4 more left. Pain is getting more and more intense with every hit so she's just trying to focus on the countdown. She'll go tomorrow, Friday, Monday and Tuesday for radiation. Tuesday will be the last day, 33 radiation treatments completed. Please pray that the radiation will totally destroy the tumor but the other areas will be protected so that healing can start sooner rather than later.

On a sweet note: Monday night I went home to take a shower. Little Man was by my side from the moment I hit the door. He sat on the toilet talking while I took a shower and got ready to go back to the hospital. I asked him if he'd pray at bedtime that Nana would continue to get better and that I'd have the energy to take care of her. He looked up at me and said, "Well, I can pray Now." So we dropped to our knees and prayed for strength and healing. On Tuesday night, the kids were swimming and Ginger said she'd get in the pool if they'd stop all the splashing and carrying on because she has a fear of the water. Little Man said, "That's okay, we just have to encourage each other like Mom's encouraging Nana." He's such a sweet, sensitive soul!

On a funny note: A recreational therapist came on Tuesday. She wants Mom to play cards and dominoes. Mom told her that she typically liked playing but that the pain meds leave her unable to focus and the burns unable to sit. This therapist like all the others had a list of questions she had to ask. Mom was pretty high on drugs during the inquisition. She asked how long she'd been married. Mom said 200 years. She asked if Mom could do anything, what would it be? Mom said, "Dolly Parton's make-up." It was like a comedy routine. We were all cracking up - She was the one who prayed for Mom.

Even funnier note: Tuesday night, the Texas Psychiatrist stayed with Mom. I went home to sleep with hubby. Sometime in the night, he got up to go to the bathroom. He said I got up following him and was going between the bathroom and bedroom saying, "I can't find the squirt bottle."


SuperMom said...

My friend, my heart breaks for your beautiful, courageous mother and her beautiful, courageous daughter. I love you.

Barbara's blog said...

Your blog is so encouraging. I don't know how you ever see all the humor in what is happening. Your mom has always been a funny lady, and that's showing even while she's in all this pain. I know God is taking care of all of you. We pray for you all the time. Your son is an amazing kid. God certainly has His hand on that boy.

Texas Psych said...

Talked to the Dynamic daughter tonight and she shared her and Carols' "secret recipe" for getting Carol home. Carol now wants to go home and face the world through non-rose-colored glasses and wake up in her bed every day as she heals a little at a time....saying "The wonder working power of the Holy spirit is working in me 24 hours a day!!!"
The sisterhood will remind her daily to call those things that be not as though they were. God is on her side (always has been) and she recognizes that what the devil meant for evil, God is using for her good. She is a changed woman inside. She has learned one of life's most important lessons; learning to let others completely and totally take care of her. She has learned how to be physically and emotionally vulnerable to loving others and allowing them to love and serve her. She has seen the rewards of that. Many of us know how to serve others, but have not learned to let others serve us. She has grown so much in this ordeal and it's a beautiful thing to have been an eye witness to the cocoon breaking open and see that beautiful butterfly emerge with all those wonderful colors and new characteristics. I suspect she has truly never been a butterfly before. She has been wrapped in her own chosen cocoon and the cancer only seemingly served to envelope her more with plans to separate her from her freedom and the will of God in her life. Carol watched as LOVE helped her break through that cocoon.....LOVE made a way. LOVE is stronger than hate or evil and there was much love given to Carol from the website friends, those email friends who helped lead and guide Michelle, the "angels" that showed up at the hospital as doctors, nurses, and technicians (not all of them:( ) Family members, Michelle's husband who set her free without restriction to care for her mom while he played single parent to their children, her children who made good use of daddy in her absence, and of course, the Ya Ya sisterhood who found the bright sides of this segue to the other side and nourished her with positive, upbeat environments (shifts). Of course Carol, herself, made choices to live and not die. Carol's humor came alive and gave her strength, just as scripture says: "A merry heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones." And Prov. 4:20 which says...."...give attention to my words, incline your ear to my sayings, do not let (let=a choice)them depart from your eyes, keep them in the midst of your heart (where faith is) for they are LIFE to those who find them and HEALTH to all their flesh. keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it flow the issues of LIFE........" by Carol CHOOSING to be vulnerable to love,
(she could have refused), her spiritual eyes now see a much deeper and greater vision than before. She had the Word in her heart and God supplied everything she needed when she needed it, just as He will for all of us when we keep our hearts set on Him. Carol's life is changed, and Carol's changed life changed all those who were honored to serve her. I know mine has.