Saturday, June 20, 2015

It Is Over.

Mom passed away today.

I don't even know what to say.  I feel such a mixture of emotions.  There is the obvious one: grief.  God, I am going to miss my mom. Part of me wants to wail like I did as a little girl, "I want my MOMMY!"  And then there's relief.  Relief that the worst is over.  Relief that Mom is no longer in pain.  Relief that our family can now start to move forward.

There are a couple of things, a few miracles, that I would like to share.

First I am amazed at the love my mother felt for me.  Our relationship had suffered a lot in the past few months.  We had struggled living together, and there were many issues past and present that we were having a hard time getting through.  Still, she always loved me.  The last thing she said to me was, "I love you."  When she couldn't open her eyes anymore she still murmured, "I love you."  When she couldn't speak anymore, she still murmured.  When she couldn't murmur anymore, she still grunted.  And when she couldn't get any sound out anymore, when she couldn't move anymore, she would still change her breathing whenever I said, "I love you."  This only happened with me.  I really expected some reaction to Anna, but no.  I know she loved Anna, but it's amazing the love she felt for me.  I guess I shouldn't feel surprised, but I am amazed.

Second, I am amazed at the simple miracle of life and death.  I don't often talk about spiritual things on this blog, because my relationship with God is very personal to me, but this is such a wonder.  The last time Mom was really my mom was Tuesday morning.  Since then she's slowly deteriorated until there was little left.  This morning I thought there was nothing left of her.  My thought was that there was just a shell.  She was still breathing, but I couldn't really discern Mom.  And yet, when I walked in her room this afternoon, I could tell the difference immediately.  I knew that the life that had been in her was truly gone.  While before she was merely sleeping, this afternoon was completely different.  She was really gone.  You could feel it in the air.  To me, this is nothing short of miraculous.  I feel like that feeling alone is definitive proof that there is more to us than just skin and bones.  That's proof enough that there is God and life after death.  How amazing is that?

For all those wondering, we will wait a little while for a memorial service.  Mom had many friends far and wide, and we want to allow everyone a chance to travel.  Things will be simple and all things will have Mom in mind.  I'm lucky that she and I had discussed wishes at length long ago.  Otherwise, thank you to everyone.  Thank you to all those who sent well wishes or meals or who offered to help.  Thank you to all those who prayed for her.  Thank you to all who simply thought of us from time to time.  We love you all.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

What Can I Say?

What can I say except that Mom continues to decline.  Each day she reaches a point where I don't think she can possibly get any worse, and yet each day she does.  I'll be honest.  We're nearing the end.

Mom has completely stopped eating and she rarely will accept water.  As of Sunday she refuses to open her eyes on most occasions.  If you ask her a question, she will respond, but I'm not always certain she knows what she's answering.  Comprehension isn't 100%.  She says she's not in any pain, but any sort of movement has her crying, "No, no no."

At some point over the weekend, I started to cope a little better.  I started to come out of the depression phase of things and started to focus more on the 'what needs to be done' side of things.  I was able to talk about it without breaking down or even becoming weepy.  And then last night, just as I was about to head up to bed, I lost it.  I had one thought: I'm going to be motherless.  I ended up spending 45 minutes ugly-crying on the couch with Hans bringing me tissues and just holding me.  And of course, today I'm back to weepy

I cancelled her doctor appointment for today as I'm unable to transport her, and there's not much point in it.  That said, palliative care is sending out a nurse practitioner to meet with me and seriously talk about hospice.

I feel bad for all the people who have asked to visit Mom.  At this point, I'm allowing a few select people in if I'm with them.  Otherwise, please stay away.  She won't realize you're there anyway, and having so many people around is just overwhelming.

Yesterday, I sat with Mom for a while.  I sang songs to her.  I sang the most soothing things I could think of...lullabies.  I had Anna with me, and I snuggled / nursed Anna and sang lullabies to both my child and my mom.  God, that sounds even more depressing when I write about it!  Anna has been a trooper.  She's normally good for a 30 minute visit or so, but I can tell it takes its toll on her.  After each visit, as I take her from her stroller to put her in the car seat, she reaches up and gives me the most wonderful hug.  Maybe she's just tired, maybe she's just grateful to be out of her stroller, but I truly believe that she's hugging me because she's upset to see her grandmama so ill and her mommy so upset.  Most visits now are when Hans can be home to watch Anna.

At this point, I'm just making sure Mom knows how much we love her.  I tell her I will always love her.  I tell her that Anna and I are OK, and we'll be OK.  Yesterday, I thanked her for teaching me how to be such an amazing mom.

And now I wait.  I hold my breath every time a nurse calls.  I get angry when they call me with trivial news.  "Mrs. P, I just wanted to let you know your mom hasn't been eating."  Do they not see me there every single day?  Do they think I don't already know that?  One of these days I'll receive a final phone call from them, and I won't have to hold my breath anymore.  Why must they call over such simple matters?

I know I'm rambling.  It's just how my thoughts are working right now.  Keep us in your thoughts.  Thank you for all the love and support so many people have shown.  If you see me, and I'm smiling, be happy for me.  If you see me and I'm crying, I'm sorry.  Don't run away.  It will pass and I'll smile again soon.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

We're Not Doing So Well

First of all, let me apologize to all you wonderful people who have been calling and sending messages.  I'm sorry I have not answered or responded.  It's just to hard to tell each person individually what's going on.  This is my best place for updates.  Know, though, that all those calls and messages are noted and appreciated.

Second, let me apologize for all the depressing posts.  The reality is that I just haven't been able to muster the time or the energy to post everything.  Certain things have been good, great even.  Hans' family came for a visit, Anna had her 1st birthday, and Hans' old roommate and dear friend came to visit.  Things with Mom, however, tend to overshadow everything.  It's all-encompassing and if I'm going to write a blog post at this point, it's most likely going to be about her.

Now, on to point of this post.

Mom isn't doing well.  She has continued to decline over the past week.  She's not eating and she's dropping weight.  Her last weigh in was 128 at the previous doctor appointment (down 14 pounds since her scans).  Now she's too weak to stand on her own, so weighing her is difficult.  She's on a good deal of morphine and often isn't 100% aware of her surroundings.  On Monday, though, we got the worst news of all.

Mom was supposed to start chemo on Monday, but the doctor told us they couldn't do it.  She's too weak.  Chemo would cause more harm than good.  So, at this point, unless there's some miracle, we're really just wondering about time.  We're trying our best to manage the pain and yesterday we gave her IV fluids to see if that would help anything (it didn't).  Mom doesn't really understand.  The doctors tried to bring up Hospice to her yesterday, but she just said she was too tired and didn't want to talk (we'll try again next week).  She told me she was happy that the doctors thought she was doing so well.

How am I doing?  Well, frankly I'm an emotional mess.  When I posted my last post, I got a lot of responses as to how I can get more support, and I feel I need to explain a few things.  First, the closest family Mom has is her half-sister in Arizona.  She's always had a lot of friends, but never a bosom-buddy, so that's out too.  As for the kennel, I'm making changes to make it easier for me and the rest of the staff, and in the mean time I have some really great employees.  Still, though, I miss being there.  When it comes to Anna, she's in part time daycare.  We've talked about moving her to full time, and we have a lot of family encouraging us to do so.  Keeping her home with me a little, though, while sometimes harder, also forces me to take a moment and enjoy life.  I love being with her.  My only regret is that I don't always have the energy to do the things I want to do with her.  But I do try to interact and let her know that I'm always here for her and she comes above anyone else's needs.

So, the emotional mess part?  Yeah, there's a lot factoring in to that.  Hormones and sleep deprivation are two factors (yay baby!).  Of course it's hard watching Mom go through all this too.  And then there's the guilt factor.  I often find myself just wishing it to be done.  A month ago I was praying that she would get better faster.  Now I just want her out of pain, however that may happen.  It's kind of hard to admit that, but I know she's miserable, and it's certainly no walk in the park for anyone else. 

In addition, I was surprised when I realized the other day just how lonely I've been the past year.  Hans is wonderful, and he's always there to support me, but he spends his days at work and often times we're both busy at the kennel in the evening.  He also isn't going through the same things I am. He isn't the sole care taker of his mom and she isn't gravely ill.  He isn't the head decision maker at the kennel (although he is a very important adviser and he often does make decisions).  He doesn't hear all the complaints unless they've been filtered through me.  It's very isolating.  When it comes to friends, my new mom friends aren't dealing with the same trials, and let's be honest.  Even if they were, I don't think I'd see it that way.  My childless friends, well, they don't quite understand some of the difficulties in parenthood or the fact that I actually enjoy spending time with my child.  No, I don't want to hire a sitter and go to a party or a club or out for drinks.  Those never really were fun things for me anyway, and now I'd much rather spend it with Anna.

I came to this realization while Hans' old roommate was here.  I've known him for all of 2 days less than I've known Hans (12 years), and  many college days (and nights) were spent with Hans, my old roommate, and his old roommate.  There's a bond there.  I found I felt comfortable talking with him the same way I do with Hans- free of judgement and open to almost any topic- and he was a HUGE help when it came to running quick errands or visiting Mom.  He was a second set of hands for Anna.  (Quick note just in case some of you have bad thoughts: Hans has NOTHING to worry about).  I just came to the stark realization that I really miss having that trusted confidant who's not my husband.  I miss just being able to kick back and remove myself from life a bit.  So, now I'm working on fostering friendships and relationships.  I have plenty of friends, but too often I ignore those friends to focus on other things (kennel, Mom, baby, etc).  So, while I don't always want to go to a party, I will hire a sitter because my friend wants me there.  And while I sometimes just want to stay home and hibernate, it may be better to call a friend for a brief outing.  And then, when I just can't do it anymore on my own I know I'll have friends nearby to call on.  And for the dear, dear friends I do have, whether you're near or far, know how much I appreciate you.  Even though I'm not great at calling or hanging out, your friendship is precious to me.  And someday, when you're in need, I hope you feel comfortable calling on me, and I hope I can take a moment to focus on you the way you have on me.

Alright folks, that's all I have today.  I have a tired baby who wants to nap, and I'm going to take that opportunity to get a little more rest as well!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Mom Update

In short, things have not been going well.  After my last post, Mom had a fall.  I'm not entirely clear what happened, but she'd had a long, exhausting day, and I think she just lost her balance.  The fall combined with the long days left her in A LOT of pain.  She didn't want to do therapy, and the pain often left her befuddled and confused.  There has been more than one time where I've left her in tears simply because it's been difficult to watch her decline.

To put it simply, THIS SUCKS.

The worst part is that I have no idea what to expect.  Will she start to get better, or will she only continue to decline?  This morning she was actually doing a little better, but I can't tell if that's more of a permanent thing or just a brief window of clarity.  Also, how long will everything take? Chemo starts on Monday.  Will she improve like she did last year, or will she merely be additionally weakened from chemo?  I don't know if I should even get my hopes raised.  I'm trying not to, but hope seems to be the only thing I have.

In addition to all that, I'm trying to figure out her financial situation and make sure she has decent care no matter what.  Can I just put out there that long term care insurance would be really helpful right about now?

Yeah, it's been hard.  I could probably handle things if all I had to worry about was Mom, but then I also have Anna and the business.  Thank God things are running fairly smoothly with them!  My point is that I have these terrible emotional tugs.  Anna celebrated her 1st birthday.  YAY!  Mom wasn't feeling well enough to go.  Not yay.  We took the party to Mom and she actually ate quite a bit.  YAY!  Yesterday Mom didn't want to even look at food.  Not yay.  Anna has been really loveable and giving lots of hugs.  YAY!  Taking Anna to even visit Mom is difficult, because Anna wants to crawl, and there's no place for me to set her down.  Not yay.

So, it hasn't been easy.  We're getting through, but it hasn't been easy.