Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mom Update: A Week Later

This is a pretty simple update, but I wanted to keep people in the loop.

Mom is currently in a nursing facility for rehab.  The nearly week-long stay in the hospital along with having a drain put in left her week and fairly immobile.  She tired quickly and her legs lost a lot of strength.  That combined with the amount of pain she was in made me realize that I just couldn't take care of her directly from the hospital. 

The good news is that rehab has been going VERY well.  I no longer worry if she just has to use the bathroom, and I've noticed a HUGE improvement in her walking.  She's getting occupational therapy, speech therapy (for memory), and physical therapy every day.  It's leaving her completely wiped, but it's good.

The other good news is that after the original draining and the one after it, they haven't gotten much fluid out.  The slower the fluid reproduces the better, so that's all great.

Mom and I are now having some harder discussions.  They're hard for two reasons: 1) They're kind of complicated and in-depth, and Mom's exhausted. 2) The subject matter.  We're talking about things like long-term care as we progress forward.  What do we do if she gets better?  What do we do if she gets worse?  And then we're talking about things in case she doesn't get better.  What happens with her dogs? (I'll keep them, of course.)  What paperwork is there to be done?

At this point, I'm just looking at the positive side of things.  It's all very hard.  Mom will be home soon, and I'm excited to have her back, but I'm also terrified.  It's hard living with my Mom, and this past year certainly hasn't been easy.  I want her to know I love her and care for her, but I'm also worried about my family and my sanity.  So, I have to stay positive.  Here's to staying sane!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Mom Update

Mom is still in the hospital.  It was just supposed to be a one night stay to ensure she got her tests and whatnot in a timely manner, but she was in so much pain after her drain was put in they decided to keep her another night.  She's most likely going to stay tonight as well since the pain hasn't diminished.  She's on three different pain meds and is still asking for more.  At this point, I'm working with the doctor and other hospital staff to figure out the next steps.  She's really not strong enough to come home, but we don't want her to stay in the hospital forever.  Ideally, I'd like to see her go to a rehab facility to regain some of her strength.  She was already having some issues with walking, and these past few days have caused her to greatly decline in that area.

Frankly, I'm not quite sure where we stand at this point.  One moment, I'll be fine thinking about how well Mom is doing given the situation, and the next moment I'll break down crying because I'm scared of losing her.  This round of things has all been so sudden and things have progressed so quickly.  Just a month ago there were just a few concerning spots, but Mom was acting and eating normally.  Now today, she's just getting some appetite back, but she's exhausted after a shuffle down the hall. 

Things to know medically: They removed 1300ccs of fluid from her left lung yesterday.  For comparison, most people normally have about 4 tsp.  The brain MRI came back, and that was clear, which is good, but her chest CT showed more activity (which is kind of a well-duh).  I can't help but wonder what another bone scan would show.

So, for now, I'm back off to the hospital.  I'm hoping I get to see the doctors again and maybe we can figure things out.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

I've had better days...

I'll keep this short, as I'm currently sitting in the waiting room at the hospital.  Mom is being admitted for the night.  Fluid in her lungs as increased causing,her significant pain and discomfort.  The doctors decided to admit her for scans and then for a drain to be placed.  Can I just say it's really hard to go through this?  It's not fair!  The end.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Mom Update

Mom had more scans a few weeks ago.  I'll just cut to the chase.  They weren't great.  Of course, we were hoping for completely clear scans like we'd seen before.  Heck, we were kind of expecting it.  Unfortunately, the scans showed a few new nodules and some "suspicious activity."  Everything is fairly small (the largest is only about 10 mm), but it's still not great news.  Our original reaction after hearing the news was to start chemo as soon as possible.  You know, let's kill this while it's small.  However, after chatting with a few different doctors we decided to wait.  The more we find out about how it's going to progress, the better we'll be able to treat it.  Plus, Mom's body kind of needs a rest from all we've put it through.

So, those are the facts that we know.  Where things get difficult is in all the unknown.  Mom hasn't been feeling well, but it's difficult to pinpoint why.  It could be due to the cancer, it could be depression, it could be the pain meds, it could be chemo/radiation, or it could be all of the above.  No matter what the cause, it's still horribly difficult to watch.  She's nauseous and lacking appetite, she's tired, she's hurting.  It's hard to watch this woman who once helped me move an entire apartment up 3 flights of stairs to now have difficulty getting up out of bed.

It's also hard not knowing what comes next.  What will the next scans say?  Will there be more chemo?  More radiation?  Mom is so happy that her hair is starting to come back.  Will she end up losing it again?  If there is more chemo, will it work?  I have moments where I think, "If this is what does her in, then let it be swift", and then I feel instantly guilty because I want to spend as much time with her as possible.  So then I think, "Let us just be over and done with this quickly and hope for the absolute best."

To add to all the stress, Anna's 1st birthday is at the end of the month.  I'm thrilled and excited about it, but it often leaves me feeling like two different people.  When I'm focusing on Anna I'm the happy mom, but then I'll be hit with this overwhelming wave of sadness.  I'm never quite sure how to feel.

I won't ramble on any longer.  I'm utterly exhausted, but I thought y'all should know what's happening right now.

Thanks for listening.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Dear Anna

Dear Anna,

You are now 10 1/2 months old.  I can't believe how fast these few months have passed.  As we sat on the porch swing this evening waiting for Daddy to come home, it seemed like only yesterday that I had you wrapped up, sound asleep, on that same swing, able to hold you in one arm.  You slept most of the time then, but only if I was holding you.  You liked to move!

Now, you still like to move, but generally your moving is of your own doing.  You've really developed your own personality, and it is so interesting to see our similarities and differences.  Maybe I'm projecting a lot, but we do seem to be quite similar.

You love being snuggled and carried around, but you kind of hate being around lots of other people.
You're perfectly happy just playing in a corner by yourself.
You have strong opinions and you're not afraid to voice them.
You love the dogs.
You love being outside and playing in the grass.

You've been through so much already, and your first year has, unfortunately, been a stressful one, but we've just about made it through.  You've been a champ through everything, and I am so extraordinarily proud of you.

You're helping me to learn patience and acceptance for the way things are (you'll crawl and walk and talk on your own schedule and not on what someone says you should be doing).  And at the same time, you've given me so many bragging rights.  I mean, you're adorable and SMART!

You make me smile every time you blow kisses, or wave bye-bye, or suddenly mimic something Daddy or I do.  It really is amazing to watch you learn.

I want you to know how much I love you.  I want you to know that, even when life is crazy, and I don't have a spare minute, and I'm tired and frustrated, and I hand you off to Daddy or daycare, I love you and you are always on my mind.  When I'm training a dog or cleaning the house you're on my mind.  When I'm put you to bed and breath a sigh of relief because I have a free moment in the evening my heart is swelling with love for you.  When I'm climbing into bed and looking at you on the monitor I can't take a normal breath until I've made certain you are safe and well.  I hope this is something you never have to question.  I hope you feel this love forever. 



Thursday, April 2, 2015

Why I Didn't Cheer

As I mentioned in my last blog post, Hans, Mom and I all did the Monument Avenue 10k this year.  We all had great results, and we had a really good time.  One thing you may or may not have noticed, though, was that I didn't go to cheer Mom on.  A large part of me has wondered why I didn't make a big deal out of this year.  I mean, I cheered for her when she did her 1st 10k.  Heck, I even drove as fast as I could to meet her at the half way point after I'd finished (kind of a tradition for us).  Last year, I was pregnant, so timing didn't really allow me to cheer, and I was the one who really needed the cheering anyway.  This year, though, I should have been cheering.  The race is to raise money for Massey Cancer Institute after all.  How could I not cheer her on?  I've thought about it a lot, and I have a few explanations.

I had to work.
This is true.  While this was supposed to be my weekend off (the only one all month) I did have a lesson, and meeting Mom would have messed up my plans.  That said, I could have easily scheduled my lesson for different time or day.

Mom's and my relationship isn't what it used to be.
 This one is a little harder to go into without revealing some things that shouldn't be shared to the mass public.  The reality is, though, that mom and I don't have the same relationship we once did.  We have a lot to work through, and even admitting that is hard.  In addition to some of our baggage, we also have to deal with how cancer changed our relationship.  How, I was thrust into the role of caregiver and had to manage food intake and doctors appointments and chemo schedule and bills, all in addition to being a new mom.  Now, Mom is trying to take those things back, but it's hard to let go when you're so used to holding on.  Our relationship is definitely different.

I wanted to be selfish.
I already mentioned this was my one day off all month.  I wanted it to be all about me.  It may sound awful, but I wanted to be selfish.  Heck, I even thought about not running just so I could lie in bed all day.  I'm glad I did run, of course, but I almost didn't.  The reality is, I barely had enough energy to worry about myself.  I couldn't even fathom thinking about someone else.

Cheering this year was too hard.
Let me explain.  When mom first walked the 10k, it was this huge accomplishment where we had a lot in common.  She'd always wanted to do it.  She'd trained hard.  She had a big time goal in mind.  This year, though, cheering meant facing the reality of the situation.  This wasn't just a race that she'd thought of doing for a while.  This was a post-chemo, post-radiation race.  Cheering meant acknowledging all the pain and struggle of this past year, and I'm not certain I'm ready to do that.  It's so much easier to put everything in the past and move on, and yet I also feel that I'm just burying my head in the sand and avoiding.  Call me cowardly, but I just didn't feel up to bringing everything to the forefront this year.

Well, there are my reasons.  They may not be great, but they're mine.  Thoughts?  Insights?

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Great Weekend

This past weekend was a good one. It was filled with wonderful moments, each one better than the one before.

So, let's start with Saturday.  Saturday was Hans' and my first day off in 3 weeks.  THREE WEEKS!  That alone is cause for celebration.  Did we sleep in and lounge about, though?  Nope!  We had a race to run.  This weekend was the annual Monument Avenue 10k.

Monument Ave was my first 10k back in 2012.  It was a grey, rainy day, and I remember being so excited and nervous.  I was so overcome with emotions that day that I teared up by the 1/2 mile mark.  I also remember both Dad and Hans were at the finish line, and Mom, my best friend, and Hans and I all went out for a celebratory meal afterwards.  I was sore and tired but oh so pleased.  In fact, I was so pleased with myself from my results that day (1:04:18).

Boy was this year different!  This year, I treated this race as just another training run.  It was cold, and I was tired.  I really didn't want to be there, and I wasn't even enjoying the fun costumes or the party atmosphere.  I was excited for Hans who was running it for the second time, and I was nervous for Mom who was walking it (for the 3rd time), but really I just wanted to be at home with Anna.  Anna was at home with Jess who was kind enough to babysit early in the morning.

So, I started the race.  I was layered up, and my race watch was covered, so I didn't take the time to check my pace.  I just listened to my body and hoped I had a pace that was better than that first year. (Note: Due to injuries and pregnancy in previous years, this was the first year I actually had a chance at setting a PR).  I didn't think much of my overall goal of under an hour since training runs hadn't been near that pace.  I just wanted to get it over with.  Imagine my surprise then when, at the end of the race, I checked my watch and saw 1:00:02.  What was my official time!?  When I checked the final results, the race clock read my time at 0:59:57!  That means I finally ran a 10k in under an hour!  This has been a goal for 3 years!  I did and had no clue I was going to do it!  Great surprise!

Hans finished shortly thereafter (can I mention how proud I am of him), and we went home to warm up and shower.  As I mentioned, Mom was walking the 10k.  This wasn't her first time walking it, but it was definitely her first time post chemo and radiation.  Here's the thing.  Chemo and radiation are hard.  For many of her training days, Mom ended up just curled up in bed, either shivering from cold or trying not to be sick.  Her longest walk prior to this was 4 miles, and afterwards she had to sleep in her car for an hour.  So, I was worried.  I had to head on to work, but I was anxious for news of how she did.  Hans picked her up, and gave me the report.  She finished!  She finished with a friend and with one of her coaches.  She was at home sleeping, she was exhausted, but she had finished.  She was ushered in by a police vehicle, but she had finished.  I was so, so proud of her!
Mom (in the floppy hat) with her coach and her walking buddy
 If that had been all there was to the great weekend that would have been fine, but there was still more to come.  I mean, all that happened in just the first 3 hours!  Saturday, Hans and I spent the afternoon together (after my quick moment in work) while Anna spent most of the time napping.  When we got home, I set Anna on the floor to play.  We've been waiting for Anna to crawl for a while now, so tummy time has been important.  Well, not wanting to be outdone by the achievements from earlier in the day, Anna crawled!  Cheers all around!
How could you not cheer this adorable face?
Sunday was a relaxing day.  We went to Romp 'n Roll, followed by church, followed by lunch out with the grandparents.  After that, we came home to a quiet house to rest and recharge for Monday.  Hans grilled burgers, we snuggled, and we simply enjoyed each others' company.  How could it get any better than that?

So, what did I say?  Is that a great weekend or what?  I wish they could all be that wonderful!