Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ok, I'll Tell You

Do you ever feel like jumping out a window you should always keep your blog full of pretty and interesting things and funny stories? Yup, I do. If you don't then I admire you. I have waited to share a few things on my blog because I don't want it to be sad, or a bummer for anyone who may happen to read it. I've been struggling with this for a long time, and thinking about what I should do when life's "less than cheerful and optimistic" things show up. I've finally decided that since the whole reason I started this blog in the first place, was to record my life... it would be against that ideal, NOT to spill what's going on. So, this is a hard post to write, but it's real and it's my life. SOOOO, warning if you don't want to read things that aren't cheerful (and good for you if you don't)... ya might want to move onto other posts, etc.

My Mom is sweet and quiet and 74. She has lived with us for over 6 years. We had a house built with an apartment for her on the ground (walk-out) level. My husband designed and Mom decorated her own little place and it is very cute! She has a bright and sweet one bedroom with living/dining/kitchen great room, her own laundry room and 2 (YES, two) bathrooms. (Small place, 2 bathrooms... I didn't get it, but that's what she wanted and that's what she got). We moved her here from Denver and it has been nice to have her here, and nice for her to have her own place. We can enter her place from ours via inside stairs, or she has a carport/patio where she can walk right out and get into the car (which is great because she has a walker and can't do stairs).

My Mom has never pushed her ideas or advice on me (can you imagine)?? and I'm sure my sons wish I was the same in that respect! Oh yeah and her quietness... and the part that she espouses the idea that "you don't say anything at all if you don't have something nice to say." (I missed that boat by a long shot, I know). She hasn't had an easy life, and she raised four of us by herself with no child support. Don't get me wrong, she can be stubborn when she wants to be, she just does rarely, and in a quiet (some would say passive) way. No matter. Some days she can drive a person nuts, but mostly she is just sweet and quiet and loves to laugh (thankfully for her, I provide her with plenty of material)...

She has stage 3 colo-rectal cancer that has metastisized to (and throughout) her liver. It's been very hard lately. She doesn't want any surgery, chemo or radiation, and she has always felt this way if she should ever get cancer. The tumor in her colon is very large, and couldn't be removed when they did the colonoscopy. They thought it may be possible to remove the tumor with surgery (which as I mentioned she didn't want anyway), but then they did some scans and determined that since it had spread to the liver, it would be a dis-service to her to do the colon surgery since it could not be curative. It would have been very hard on her anyway even at age 74. She has some other medical problems, uses a walker, and is heavy, so an abdominal incision would be very hard to heal.

She spent last April/May in the hospital/rehab center because she nearly died from a pulmonary embolism (very scary), and she had to have a surgery on her hand at the time as well, because the IV and blood pressure cuff caused a huge hematoma on her hand. They did a risky and experimental drug procedure on her, which I consented to (I'm her medical power of attorney). With it she could have died, but without it she surely would have. The blood clot was in her lung and it was the size of her entire lung. Fortunately, the procedure worked and the blood clot dissolved. They put a filter in her groin in case she had another blood clot, which would keep it from going any farther than a leg. She has recovered very well from that, but it took a long time for her to heal. She has been on Coumadin (blood thinner) ever since so she won't create clots.

Well unfortunately, colon tumors bleed, so there you have it. Remarkably the bleeding stopped with the colonoscopy. It may have "cauterized" the area that was bleeding at the time. WHEW! We've gone back and forth with what to do about the bleeding once it starts again (and it will) but we (Mom, the doctors, my husband and I)all decided that we don't want the bleeding to start again so we have taken her off the Coumadin. Our lives have been full of medical appointments, as I'm sure you can imagine and they take a lot out of her (well, all of us). She had a PET scan last week in Portland (absolutely amazing science if you've never heard of it). When it was "just" the colon cancer, she may have been able to live up to six months, but since it has spread quite a bit into the liver (8 spots, and 2 are extremely large) the prognosis isn't as good (or as long). So, I've kind of let family know that if they want to visit her, they should come and do it soon while she can still enjoy them.

The surgery for my torn rotator cuff? I am trying to put it off until September so I can help Mom along her "journey" and attend our Son's wedding in August in Colorado without an arm sling or a lot of pain. (I certainly , I don't want to be a spectacle at the wedding). :) My surgeon says it can wait as long as the range of motion is good and the pain level remains low. I had a cortisone shot a few weeks ago and it has really helped.

I know that I am very blessed to be able to have the time to be able to say goodbye to a loved one before they pass away, and to be there to help make her comfortable, take her to appointments, and just be with her. I am thankful for that. It's been a wild ride though, and it's hard to read her sometimes. Other times though, she says the kookiest sounding things that she wants to do, or have me do for her, that it can make me a little... hmmm... crazy impatient and perplexed.  I just have wanted to spend a quiet day at home for once with all of this craziness going on.  Today I am doing just that.  I'm a little ashamed to tell you that I am still in my jammies!  I'm feeling sorry for myself today and I'm going to make myself a nice salad, turn on the tv and continue my day of vegetation.  There now, I've told you.  Thanks for "listening."

OH... my happy news is that tomorrow we are going to go pick up our Grandson (a few hours from here) and we will spend the whole weekend playing, visiting, "arting" (as he calls it) and just being silly.  What good medicine THAT will be!  


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  1. Your mother is very lucky to have you with her during this time. I can't imagine the daily struggles you face.

    You see, I am the selfish daughter that did not take my own dad in when he needed a place, that fell on my sister and her family. I didn't want to deal with all the crap.

    This is truly an unselfish thing you are doing for your mom!!!!!!

  2. Dear truly are an angel and don't feel bad about venting on your blog!! Your blog is yours and yours alone ~ I know your mother must be so thankful she has you. This will be a difficult journey and as our parents get older I worry about this happening in our family as well. I pray it will be a sweet journey though and easy on you, the caregiver and your mom as well ~ And you're so right, to have your grandchild over will be such wonderful therapy! And I say, stay in your pjs all day long if you want!! Wish I could give you a big ol' hug, xxoo, Dawn

  3. This is *your* life...keep it real...I am so sorry you are dealing with this...must be very difficult. blessings to you as you serve your mother.

  4. Sheila, I know how difficult it was for you to write this post. It's a window to your beautiful soul. I'm so glad you were able to share all of this information with all of your blog friends. We both know the power of prayer, you now have more friends praying for you and your Mom. I hope that by writing this, it brings you peace. I used to write letters to myself when Jason was ill and more recently, before my surgery. It really did help me see things differently and also helped ease my fears. You know that I'm a phone call away.....and you don't have to be 'up'! Remember, we'll cry then we'll laugh. I love you, my friend.


  5. Blessings to you and your Mom and the rest of your family. I can only imagine how hard this is.
    Enjoy arting with your Grandson.

  6. Sheila,
    (I'm a Sheila too spelled Shellagh!) I just found your blog & just read about your mom...oh sadness. You are truly an angel though~ This is one of hardest times we all face in life. I lost my mom about 10 years ago, and she went very suddenly after surgery of nothing other than a pulmonary embolism. It is just never easy to say goodbye. But I do believe that our loved ones become guardian angels for their families after they have passed. I love imagining that & imagining my mom watching over our girls~ Take care sweetie.

  7. Oh Sheila, I'm so sorry you are going through this. There is no easy way to deal with it but I'm SO glad you shared with us. I am praying for your mother and for you and your family. You DO need to take care of yourself so you can have the most time with her as long as you have her. You are on my heart and in my prayers, sweet friend. Let the Father's arms hold you close - lean hard on them - they are strong!

  8. Honey, you have every right to say exactly what is on your mind. And you're right. Anyone who only wants to read happy happy should just click onto another blog. Sometimes we just have to get it off our chest! It's so hard, what you're going through, and so depressing. I heard a great saying just yesterday. We will all have to walk through the fire at some time or another during our lives. No matter how it happens, your walk that you are taking is always the worst. Whether it's your mother dropping dead like mine did, or your mother's slow decline, our own individual walk is the absolute worst. After five months, I still find each day a struggle. Sometimes life just sucks and only time will heal the wounds. You will get through this. For the rest of your family and that precious grandson of yours. And I know from experience, sometimes crying like a baby feels really really good! My prayers and thoughts are with you Sheila. I wish that there was something that would make this easier for you. Take care of yourself the best that you can.
    Love and prayers to you and your family

  9. Glad you told us. Taking care of yourself, expressing your feelings, and sharing your story are very important. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.


  10. Oh Sheila, i am so very sad to hear aobut your Mom...She is lucky to have had you so nearby the last 6 years, and especially now. And you too, are lucky to have had her near... As much as our Mothers can annoy us sometimes:) they are so very special. THinking of you sweetie! xoxo Natalie

  11. Sheila, I am so glad your wrote what you did. My thoughts are with you through this trying time. I'm dealing with my aging mom right now too, so I know what you are feeling. Sometimes you just have to have a "chilling out" day so you can cope! Take care dear friend. Laurie

  12. Thank you for sharing your story...

  13. Sheila, just remember to take those days off when you need them. If you do not take care of yourself, then you will not be able to take care of anyone else. I will keep you and your mother in my prayers.

  14. Oh Sheila, I'm so sorry that you are going through this tough time. You truly are an angel. Please remember to take some time for yourself though because you want to stay healthy. I hope you had fun with your grandson this weekend.

    Take care,


  15. So sorry that you have to go through this, seems like a long lonely journey sometimes. It is good to share the burden and we all love you so much we would gladly do any thing we could to lighten the load.
    Take care my friend, I am thinking of you!

  16. Oh, Sheila ... Just sending you a hug ... Sometimes jammies/book/bath/fire ... and sharing our hurts and thoughts are the best things to do. Take care of yourself, sweetie.
    Betty :)

  17. Your mom is very fortunate to have you for a daughter, along with the rest of her supportive, loving family. Stay strong.

  18. Hello Sheila...This is my first time here..but no mistake I'm sure. The Lord works in mysterious ways...
    I read your post about you mom...for whom I shall be praying for daily.
    I loved your post and I think keeping it real is just fine.
    Please stop over when time permits...I'd love to have you visit too...
    My Love has just been diagnosed with stage 4 colon/ liver cancer...
    Love to you and your Mother...
    xoxo~Kathy@ Sweet Up-North Mornings...


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