Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Changing rapidly now...

It hurts.  It hurts my head and my heart and my eyes and my ears.  To hear the updates, to know that things are not well.  It's not enjoyable.  When my phone rings and "hospice" comes up on the caller i.d., I instinctively hold my breathe, pray for the best, and prepare for the worst.  Amber doesn't call me when there is no reason to call.  She always makes sure I am up to date on any changes, gives me her opinion on whether or not she thinks things are worth worrying about.  Today the changes are worth worrying about.

My mom is retaining a LOT of fluid in her abdomen.  They had been doing measurements to gauge any changes in her abdominal size, and for three weeks, no change.  Today they didn't even have to get the tape measure out.  The signs of swelling were visible with the eye.  Hospice knew the swelling was there without even having to touch her abdomen...I am trying for the life of me to remember how hospice tried to describe it to me, but I think after I heard 'dramatic increase in abdomen size', my mind shut down for a bit.  Just for a few seconds.  I quickly returned to the 'game' and listened intently and with purpose.  We all know what's coming.  For goodness sakes, we have known for close to three years.  Three glorious, terrifying, cherishable, painful years knowing that pancreatic cancer will ultimately be her demise.  BUT I now know I have been in sort of a denial phase.  She really has surpassed the traditional statistics.  By all measures she is a FIGHTER by nature.  Nothing that she has gone through has knocked her down and out.  NOTHING.  I long for her to pass on that trait to me.  This stage that she is in is NOT a good place to be.  I'm not sure if any blog readers out there know what Ascites really means.  I have read such terms as imminent death, transitioning to end stages, morbidity rates.  It's devastating and probably the worst news we could have gotten.

There are some treatment options for the fluid buildup, but unfortunately these 'fixes' are temporary.  She could go into the hospital and have the fluid drained with a gigantic needle, only to have the fluid return in approximately one weeks' time.  She also runs the risk of infection at the puncture site, possible 'poking' of something internally while draining the fluid, and also coming into contact with any 'sick germs' that would be floating about the hospital.  At this point, a cold could be devastating and Influenza would be almost deadly to her.  There are so many risks.  She is unsure of what she wants to do.  Unsure of the procedure and if the risks outweigh the benefits or vise versa.  She's not ready to say 'yes' to the procedure, but not saying no either.  We discussed it tonight via telephone, and she discussed it with her husband as well.  Doing anything for her health has got to be on HER terms and no one elses.  My opinion does not matter.  I will support her in whatever decision she makes.  She is leaning towards no.  All along she has said no more hospital intervention, no doctors appointments, nothing.  That's her call and I stand by her 100%.  But I know the fluid will soon cause her major discomfort in the simple things...breathing, laying down, sneezing.  It will become unbearable.  Under that stress she may make different decisions.  Once again....her call.

So for now she is still showing that fighting spirit.  She puts up a good front, giggles to me on the phone about the impending snow storm, and makes sure I am recovered from the flu.  I am Blessed.  Blessed to be her daughter, to have travelled on this journey of life with her.  Instilling in me her values and her strength.  There's no way I would be where I am at without her.  I am no millionaire working the perfect job with the perfect house in the perfect neighborhood with perfect kids.  What I am is honest, nurturing, forgiving, and motherly.  All learned from the greatest woman on earth....my mom.

So there's where we are at today.  Preparing for her hubby to take his leave from work sooner than later.  Trying to stay faithful in a world felt hopeless.  Somehow, someway, this will all make sense as to why its' happening.  Just not now.  I long for Christmas Eve...the one day that has ALWAYS been reserved for our Christmas at Maga Moon's.  This Christmas will be special.  This Christmas will be ours.  I will not worry about how well I wrapped the gifts, or what dress the girls are wearing.  Everything has changed this year.  The petty and invaluable are so apparent and clear to me.  More clear than ever.  I have cancer to thank for that.  Asking of course for all of you to lift my mother up in prayer and bless her with the ability to be as comfortable and pain free as possible.  This is ultimately the start of an incredibly bumpy road.  Wearing my seatbelt and helmet.....

Sunday, December 2, 2012

All signs say we are approaching the end stages...

I am not ready to believe the signs.  I am certain she is not going to pass away tomorrow.  But the uncertainty is killing me.  It's ripping my insides apart and playing games with my mind.  One day I think it's alright to e happy, and she's doing fantastic.  The next day, she's vomiting and nauseated.  Pain sneaks up on her when she least expects it and it comes on strong and sudden.  Enough to throw even the strongest into a full blown panic.  The newest symptom is Ascites.  This means there is an excessive amount of fluid building up in her abdomen causing swelling.  It also will cause swelling in the ankles and legs.  Ascites is particularly common in the end stages of Pancreatic Cancer. NOT.what.I.wanted.to.read.  Screw Google search.  I know better than that.  I have been down that road reading far too much on the internet and learning things I wish I had never learned.  I guess we need to know the truth.  I know the outcome.  I know she will never be cured.  But again, the uncertainty of when and if she will suffer and how long she will live, it's almost too much to bear.  She has been so blessed with 2 plus years of surviving already.  When is her luck going to run out?

I find the thoughts that are monopolizing my everyday thoughts, are quite selfish in my opinion.  There are days where I am disgusted by some of the things that fly through my tortured brain.  I am not even courageous enough to put them on paper.  Some of these thoughts I would never ever expect to cross my mind.  I don't get it.  I am NOT a selfish person.  I live and breathe for family.  I will immediately drop everything to be there for a friend, but in this time of  trial, I find that the ugly side of me is making its' presence known.  :(  My question is this...HOW do I get back to being thankful?  For being grateful to God for letting us spend this extra time with my Mother?  Why do I feel this way?  Will this torture every go away?  I have so many questions and so little answers.  Frustration.  That would be the key word here.  Disgusted.  Dismayed.  Hurt.

In a grand summary, we are thinking the beast within is starting to close in on my Mom.  It has been sneaking up more and more lately, tightening the grip on her life.  Stifling her energy, trying to crush her spirit.  That's not happening.  No way.  She still smiles all the time and loves her grandkids more every second.  She still cooks her hubby supper and decorates for Christmas.  She loves her obnoxiously loud puppy and hugs me when I need it most.  Cancer may have a grip on my Mom, but it will never take away her spirit.