Getting Back To It

I knew it had been awhile but, I didn’t realize it had been this long, since I wrote.  A lot has gone on, since my last entries.  Life has been busy–Single mom, working two jobs, going through the divorce, moving, not to mention the regular daily responsibilities.  There just has not been time to do all the things I enjoy. Now that the dust has settled on a few things in my life — I am getting back to it.

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The Very Inspiring Bloggers Award

Well I do not know what to say. I’m still in shock. I know, this is not the Grammy awards, but to see that someone else, who is going through so much more than I am, recognize my blog  for being inspiring, takes my breath away.

It’s quite ironic I have been having a rough time these past few weeks. So I have not been able to write as much as I would like. In the free time I had I wanted to check and see what others have written, and then I saw that Painfully Waiting had added my blog to one of her 7 inspiring blogs in her award.

If you have time stop by Painfully Waiting’s blog. With brain tumors that are incurable, Painfully Waiting was only given two weeks to live—those two weeks have turned into 8 years. She is truly an inspiration in my books. For her to select my blog as one the 7 blogs she feels that are also inspirational knowing what she is going through; fills my heart with so much joy. My mother’s words come to mind. “Even though you might be going through a hard time in life always remember there are people out there going through a worse time than you.” I am so blessed that my mother kept me grounded. Painfully Waiting, I also want to thank you for sharing your life with the rest of us. You are the true inspiration.

So now I am supposed to share 7 interesting things about myself. This is actually very hard for me. OOOO think I just got one of the 7 interesting things for me.

–       I don’t like tooting my own horn. It’s just not my personality. I was raised that there is having confidence and then there is arrogance.  I know I am a good mom, wife or worker and person. I am not the best. I’d rather be the person still learning at 98 than think I know everything at 34. I have my opinions, thoughts and feelings just like everyone else. There is always room to grow.

–       I love music and I love to sing. I crank my music up, sing and do my housework.

–       I always root for the underdog.

–       Reusing items and making them useful in other ways. Example to some it was just a trunk of my mothers and was of no use. For me….I saw coffee table. I didn’t alter the appearance or even repaint the trunk to make it look new. I just put wheels on the bottom.  Voila instant awesome coffee table.

–       I’ve never had a speeding ticket. It’s not because I am female get out of tickets….I have never been pulled over because I either do the speed limit or do 5 miles over.

–       I love history, genealogy and research. All three go hand in hand.  With modern technology searching your family is at your fingers tips. It has made searching the family tree popular. Also with each generation that becomes an adult searching for your roots becomes important. Growing up it did not interest me. Come on how many teenagers want to spend their weekend in a archives scrolling through micro fiche trying to find a needle in a hay stack? It was something that my mother instilled that was important. Growing up on the Canadian/US border it was my mom that taught me knowing the American history is just as important as knowing your Canadian history. She encouraged World history.

–       I climbed Mt.Fuji….twice. My first time climbing Mt. Fuji was in August of 1998. Jack and I had only been in Japan since March of that year. It was a trip offered by MWR (it’s called something different now) and I just said “we are going on this trip” It was an absolute blast. We all had a blast. It was the first time we had gone on a vacation together (even though we had couples around us ) without our son (he was 8 months old). The bus took us to, I believe the Gotemba Station (5th Station) and we started our climb. It was not an easy climb. Hiking trails in local mountains is a lot different than hiking a 12,388 ft dormant volcano. The weather was beautiful when we started, the terrain at the beginning was more challenging than dealing with climb up and over and around the massive lava mounds towards the top. At the lower level it was almost like small glass beads of lava. We made jokes of 3 steps forward and 5 steps backwards. LOL the switch backs were the most mental part of the trip. Then at one point the clouds moved in. The rains were so cold and I’ve been in thunder and lightning storms before, but I cannot even tell you what it’s like to be in a thunder in lightening storm on the side of a mountain with no shelter. Ahhh it’s a little different when you are literally in the clouds along with the thunder and lightning. It was one of the greatest times of my life. Despite being soaked to the bone, cold, tired and hungry. While I remember the storm and what it felt like, I also remember seeing a beautiful rainbow after. I’ve seen rainbows before but I’ve never seen a rainbow basically right there in front of me. For me Mt. Fuji is a symbol of life. There will be times the climb of life is easy; there will be times the climb of life is downright hard as hell; but when you get to your destination and you SEE the hard work you have done to get to the top; the view is absolutely spectacular. Jack and I also climbed it again in August of 2000. The saying in Japan is “he who climbs Mt. Fuji once is wise; he who climbs Mt. Fuji twice is a fool.” I don’t consider myself a fool, I knew what to expect with the climb and was able to take in more of the view on the climb than I had done with the previous climb. However, the honest truth. I remember the second climb but not as well as the first climb.

So those are the 7 interesting things about me.

I want to take this time to thank a few people who have been a huge part of my life.

My Mom – You might be gone from this world but you are still here in my heart. We had 28 years together—the longest relationship I have ever been in with anyone. Thank you for showing me that relationships take work. Most of all thank you for your support in everything I did,  dreamed or talked about. Thank you for being honest with me (even though I didn’t always like hearing the truth). Thank you for even though you felt I was making a mistake (and your opinions were known )— you supported me. As much as you wanted to protect me, you still loved me, supported me even when I was making a huge mistake. Thank you for teaching me that when wrong to stand up and admit mistakes and take the consequences.  Thank you for being there for every single event in my life, even if you did not agree with it. Thank you for all the life lessons, memories, love, support, debates, hugs, kisses, snuggles, laughter, tears, questions and all the things you weren’t even aware of that you were teaching me. You are always in my heart and I miss you every day.

My children – You both inspire me every single day. Aside from your nana, you two will be the longest relationship I will ever be in. I have loved you both from the moment you were inside of me. Words cannot express what it feels like to know this kind of love. I have been there for every moment in your life cheering you on. Like any relationship we will have good times and bad times. Always know that no matter what, even if I am being hard on you; I always love you and that never changes. One day you will understand. And as lame as it sounds right now (just like it was lame when I heard it from my mother) when you become a parent you will understand. Thank you for being who you two are. Each of you have a different personality, goals, interests and dreams. And like I thanked nana for; Thank you for all the life lessons, memories, love, support, debates, hugs, kisses, snuggles, laughter, tears, questions and all the things you weren’t even aware of that you were teaching me.

My friends – I am so blessed to have true friends in my life. Whether we have been best friend since 1st Grade or have met each other long our travels of life, you are all special to me. Thank you for being there through the absolute happy times; but most of all thank you for being there through the absolute worst times. Miles and even countries may separate us but always know if you ever need me I am there for all of you, even if it’s just a phone call at 3 in the morning.

To the people who have let me down and put me down—THANK YOU! I am stronger than you will ever know, because of it.

Now comes the part where I must nominate 7 other bloggers. These are in no particular order so here it goes:

The Forgotten Wife – She takes us through her life during and after a divorce. I encourage you to read her perspective; not everyone’s journey through this is the same. However, there is a lot of self growth during this time regardless of what the journey entails. I enjoy reading her blogs; not because she and I are going through the same thing, but she gives me another view outside the box.

Better Than Yesterday – A guys perspective of what he is going through with life. His writing is absolutely fabulous. I have truly enjoyed reading about his journey and his perspective.

Almost Spring – Yet another very inspiring blog of what she is going through in her life in the transforming from as she says “we to me.”

A Place For Me and My Thoughts – This blog is about a mother of an “adult” son who is not ready to grow up yet. While she will take some heat for speaking her mind—she is honest.

Margaret & Helen – I stumbled upon this blog and these two ladies say it like it is. I absolutely love their take on current events. Sometimes you just gotta laugh.

The Simple of a Country’s Man Wife – I enjoy this blog because it brings me back home. You can take the girl out of the country; but you can’t take the country out of the girl.

Live. Explore. Learn. Remember – For me this is the latest blog I have been following. While only having time to read just a couple of their posts they too inspire me.

Part 3: Watching Your Mother Slowly Die

Yes, I received yet another phone call. It was another aunt. “you need to stop whatever it is you are planning on packing, and you need to get into your car and drive tonight. She’s calling for you. I need you to sit down and listen to what I have to warn you about.” I did as she requested, both Jack and his mother looked at me. I just looked at Jack “get you and the kids packed up.” then I listened to what my aunt said, “sweetie, there’s a very high chance you aren’t going to make it home in time.” My aunt knew this was a huge fear of mine, I had confessed this to her. I was afraid mom was going to push us away, or push me away until the very last minute and we would be jumping through hoops to get home to her.

Despite the fact Jack kept telling me over the course of these past few months that I was overreacting. Sometimes you say things, or feel things that you don’t totally understand yourself. There have been several times in my life that I had wished my intuition was wrong; this was one of those moments.

This was Friday. Hurricane Eduardo was going up the eastern seaboard and it was the beginning of Labor Day weekend. Jack started the leg of the drive. In the passenger side, I buried my head in the pillow so the kids and Jack wouldn’t hear me cry. I prayed, I told God if he had to take her before I got home, that I would be ok. I asked him to not let her suffer or be in pain. She had enough pain in her life; let her die peacefully. I also asked for strength in myself, because God knew from the time I was five my biggest fear was losing mom. It’s a fear most kids have at that age. I think it’s sometimes worse for kids who have a single parent.

We hit all the traffic in every city up I-95. Oh and we caught up with Eduardo in Connecticut. Jack kept us plugging along at 30 mph on the interstate. The stressful part for me, was mom was wondering what was taking me so long. Family told her I was on my way, but she didn’t believe them. So every two hours I called someone and told them where we were at. We actually got out a head of the storm.

Sunday morning, I got us to 2 miles from the border and asked him to switch with me. I had plenty of time to cry on the way up and get it out. “I need you to drive us across the border and talk to customs. You have more patience when it comes to this. As soon as we get through customs and you get us into the parking lot of the hospital, I am running to the hospital, you bring the kids.”

Jack didn’t even get the car stopped and I had taken off running. An aunt was waiting for me at the doors to the hospital and we just ran to the elevator and once the elevator got to mom’s floor I ran to her room.

It had just a  month since I had left her and she had lost so much weight. Her glasses were off (they had gotten heavy on her face, even though they were light as feathers). She was sleeping and I didn’t want to scare her but I also knew without her glasses unless I got right up in her face she wouldn’t have recognized me. “mama. Mama. I am here.” I whispered. I brushed my hand through her hair, the hair stayed with my fingers due to the chemo. I kissed her gently on the forehead, and then she stirred. “How far away is she now? She’s not coming. You guys keep telling me she’s coming but she’s not.” I smiled, “I’m here mama.” She realized, her baby girl made it. She started to cry.

Then she heard Jack and the kids come in. “I must be dying everyone is here.”

Jack didn’t want me to tell our son his nana was dying on the ride up. I didn’t think that was fair to our son. Our son had a better relationship with his nana than any other grandparent, despite the distance. My son stood frozen in the doorway by his father. I regretted not telling him because I could tell he was scared.

Mom saw him immediately and started to cry. He was a trooper though; he wanted to sit up next to his nana. I explained to him while I was helping him up to her bed, that she might look scary but it’s still the same nana he has always known. She’s on medications so she might do things that seem a little weird. “oh nana.” He said as he crawled up next to her, he kissed her on her cheek, wiped the hair from her eyes. She pulled him close to her. He looked a little scared, “it’s ok, nana just wants to hug you.”

The room was full of family. Later in the day she was showing signs we might lose her. She began to do the deep breaths in. Everyone knew what she wanted. She did not want to be kept alive artificially. The medications and oxygen were to keep her comfortable only.

I sat up on the bed with her as well. I had to be very careful. From the moment I stepped in that hospital there were no tears. I had months of crying. It’s amazing how when put into a situation we just do what needs to be done. I remember thinking as I sat beside her, she didn’t deserve to die like this. It was wrong. The hard life she had was enough, couldn’t the woman die without it being so hard? Hell 28 years prior when it was her and I and, I was coming into the world, she almost died. I had watched this woman for 28 years go through hell and back and this is how it all ends. She had hell before I was born. My mother deserved to die better. Honestly, watching my mother go through this and knowing other families go through this as well, I would have preferred her todie in a car accident, or suddenly in her sleep than this. The slow death takes a toll.

That evening when things looked rough I remember hearing a blood curdling cry come from the corner. It was my son. “noooo, I don’t want my nana to die.” It was then my tears started, I hated my son being in so much pain. We all held him close and explained to him.  The tears only lasted awhile.

Jack hardly said anything to me during the time we had gotten to the hospital. I’m not sure if I would have broken down if he had tried to hold me, or shown me some emotion. I was in a zone. He never tried. Honestly, I don’t think he thought it was as bad as what I had been telling him. I think he too was shocked when he saw her. Mom loved Jack (once she got to know him) like he was the son she never had. He sat next to her and held her hand. Her and him had some good memories over the years. He had taken her fishing, on motorcycle rides. Every important event we had in our lives, mom had been there physically for us.  She had been there more for us, than his parents ever were.. Jack had always made reference; he had always had to go see them; very seldom did his parents come visit him.

Jack took the kids to mom’s house and I stayed at the hospital. I was exhausted. I sleep through almost anything, including last rights. My aunts were laughing because as the minster was giving my mom last rights he had to do it through my snores.

In the middle of the night I got awoken by my aunt. I looked over and there she was wrestling with a 70 lb woman. “What the hell?” I looked at my aunt who was trying to contain her, but not break her. “I don’t know how she got of the bed with the rails up, but she doesn’t need to be walking around coming off these meds. Go get a nurse.” I ran down the corridor in my sock feet. “Mom’s getting out of bed, we need your help down here.” I ran back to go help my aunt. “mama what in the world do you think you are doing?’ She looked at me, “getting the fuck out of here.” I laughed; mom very rarely dropped the f bomb. It was everything my aunt and I could do to hold this 70 lb woman back. Being an older hospital they had window AC units and she was literally trying to CLAW the unit out. “Mom what are you doing, stop this please.” She kept clawing, “I need to fly.”

It was honestly amazing and sad watching the death process. I knew what she meant when she said she needed to fly. Time was approaching. Then she looked at me, the most sane and non loopy I had seen her in hours. “you’re coming with me. I can’t fly by myself.” It sunk to my core and gave me chills. “Mama I can’t go with you. I can go part of the way, but I have to stay here for Jack and the kids.

FINALLY, the nurses came running into the room. The doctor had ordered morphine every four hours; we were at hour two and the nurses couldn’t do anything else. “You can’t call the doctor? She doesn’t need to be doing this. The morphine is obviously not lasting as long as he originally thought it would. She’s going to end up hurting herself.” It was the longest two hours I had ever been in. I am sure for my aunts as well.

Let’s just say it was a long damn night. At one point my mother asked me to lean in and she said, “just put the pillow over my face, no one will know.” She was serious despite her coming off morphine. I still remained strong. I knew everything was happening; I think I was in shock. There’s no time to think when your mother is trying to crawl out a window, or struggling to get the hell out of there. You know some of it’s the meds, but you wonder how much is truly the meds.  No one deserves to die like I watched my mother die. Yet so many do.

I had seen this before, when my grandfather was sick. Yes for those of you, I was by my grandfather’s, the one who molested me, side for the most part when he was sick and dying. Funny how it turns out that the ones that you hurt the most end up taking care of your ass. I don’t mean that to be cruel, because if I hadn’t of helped my mother; she would have done it alone and I wasn’t about to let my mother deal with taking care of her father by herself. She and I did it together. Anyway, by seeing this before, I mean, it could take a long damn time for mom’s body to shut down. Where she had worked in a nursing home I had heard over the years the signs of death. She wasn’t displaying many. You knew her body could not go on this way; but as long as her heart was going and her organs were still operating she could literally go on like this for a long time.

That was the part that worried me; she could go on like this for a long time and I didn’t want to see her like that. Looking at her though, you knew her body would not be able to go on like that for long.

Morning finally came, and more waiting ensued. I had been waiting since the nurses told me they couldn’t do anything for my mother that it had to be doctor ordered. The dumb ass stand in doctor and I (the one that said in his professional opinion a few days before said she wasn’t in the palliative state) were going to have some words. I don’t give a rats behind if this is not how people do things around here. It takes a lot to piss me off. I don’t like confrontation but when I have reached that point where it’s a bunch of BS; I will confront and I will make a HUGE stink about it. However, anyone who knows me; knows it’s because what people or a person are doing is wrong.

The doctor finally showed up and I went out the hallway and waited for him. I had the power of attorney in my hands; along with her living will. He knew exactly who I was. I smiled, introduced myself;  I always give a firm handshake. “We talked on the phone 4 days ago. The hospital all ready has a copy of the power of attorney and mom’s living will and I am going to sound rude and not like I am from around here with my southern accent. The 4 hour dose of morphine you ordered….wore off in 2 hours and her last dose wore off within an hour. I’m telling you I am evoking my power of attorney right now; even though I should have been given the information as soon as this power of attorney was presented to me. However, I wanted to respect my mother’s wishes and do it her way. Doctor, she is unable to make the decision she needs to and I am stepping in to make those decisions for her. Last night was unacceptable. There is no reason that my mother should have gone for two hours in the condition she was in. I don’t care what you have to do, from here on out you are going to make her comfortable.” He hummed and hawed and stuttered. Then said he would put an order in for every two hours if she needed it. I chimed in, “and you are going to call the nurses or you are going to have them call you if that doesn’t work.” I walked away.  I DO NOT like being like that. When I have to be, I will and don’t think I will give up either.

After he accessed her and talked with the nurses he did come up to me and say he would make her as comfortable as possible.

Death is damn weird. I saw this when my grandfather died and I the rest of this day, I saw it while my mother was dying. C-R-E-E-P-Y shit takes place. I don’t care if you are a non believer in the God Almighty. The shit that I saw take, place over this next day sent CHILLS up my spine. For some you might think my thoughts were highly disrespectful. Ask me if I care. I don’t. Some will argue it’s the morphine that made her do this or see stuff. Ahhh you have your beliefs I have mine. My grandfather I don’t recall on any medication and he was seeing stuff….dead people. I can’t say what happens to a person at the end of life because I have never physically been there yet. I wanted to record my mother; that’s how freaky it was. Some of the freaky shit didn’t happen until she died and I talked to people; because I didn’t even know what the hell she was talking about.

At one point my sister and I were in with her. When my mom started to do the stuff she did, we just looked at each other like we had gotten in some time warp. My sister as well had taken care of the elderly and had seen death before; and even she looked at me with a “what the hell” look. Mom began rocking in the chair; that was completely still. She began talking to the “person” next to her. Mom could hear the rocking chairs and she described a setting I had never seen before in my life. It was my sister (who is older than me) that realized “she’s talking about her grandfather.” Mom asked my sister and me to rock on the porch with her. Of course we did as she asked.

From the moment Jack and I arrived mom couldn’t be left alone. Actually, it happened before then. Now I am sure some of you will say “nah uh”. Stuff it. That night I had the melt down, that came on suddenly? Turns out one of the nurses told my aunt (the one I had been on the phone with that night when this occurred) and I, mom woke up in a panic. A friend had to be called because “he” was coming after her. She refused to go to sleep without someone in the room with her in case “he” came back. My aunt and I got chills when the nurse told us the time this occurred. About the same time I went into hysterics. Some people have made fun of me over the years because of this. I can’t explain it; I have never been able to explain it; and it doesn’t occur all the time.  Sometimes people are just connected.

More weird shit took place the entire day. There were times she was doing the “weird” stuff and then she was CLEAR as a damn bell. I saw this also take place with my grandfather in his final hours.

I also noticed that lumps were (large lumps) showing up on her body; one was on the side of her neck. I don’t know if it’s true, but someone said it was the cancer travelling. It wasn’t there the day we arrived.

My mother was a fighter, regardless of how she handled or didn’t handle the cancer. As weak and frail as she was; she still demanded that she go to the bathroom; rather than a bed pan. My sister and I rang for a nurse….it took forever. “Come on mom we’ll help you.” Now I know nurses are busy but I had a problem with the nursing care. 3 nurses for 1 floor. It might be a small hospital but damn it.  There may have been more pressing things going on, however, when the only dignity and independence this woman has is to still be able to get up and go to the bathroom…..damn well help her. We had all ready been told the rules that we shouldn’t help (liability I am sure…blah blah blah). So we helped her. I actually called Jack in to help us. My sister on one side, me on the other side and Jack behind her. In all the years I watched my mother help with the elderly, I had never really took to it like she did. I felt awkward. There was also sadness there as well. No one likes seeing their parent or loved one in this condition. All those years she battled with her weight and now she was skinny as a rail. She had lost the weight so fast; the skin was literally just hanging off her bones. You are also trying to give her respect of privacy by making sure her gown is covering her stuff. Lol When we finally made it to the bathroom I asked her if she wanted me to stay in the bathroom with her. She looked at me, “No, I got enough of that when you were little.” I busted out laughing, “ok mom, I am right outside the door.” Smart ass. My sister and I got in trouble for helping her to the bathroom. Guess what we didn’t care. 45 minutes it took for a nurse to show up finally.

Ok so my aunts and I are all sleep deprived. We start getting damn giddy while all hanging out in mom’s room. Laughing, joking, and just reminiscing about memories we had. We included mom. Even though by this point she was in bed and not talking much, she would smile or make eye contact. That’s how fast this went. That day she was going to the bathroom that night when it turned it turned quickly. We’ve got the entire wing to ourselves and the door is open, the laughter, cackling, literally laughing so hard at all these memories that mom was a part of.  The head nurse came down and we turned when we saw her in the doorway. She was smiling. This nurse was AWESOME. We all turned around at her, laughing with tears in our eyes, about to piss ourselves laughing. “Are we in trouble?” She shook he head and just smiled, “no I am just standing here enjoying this. Not many families do this and this is good for her. It great to see all of you, even in this bad time turn it around and make it full of laughter.” That made me feel good. It was what mom would have wanted us to do. Yes we were sad, we hated that we were losing her. I actually said “mom would whoop our ass if we were standing over her crying and boo hooing. Hell mom whooped all of our asses a time or two.” We then included the head nurse. She had come in to check on mom’s dressing and she also checked what looked to be signs of the end coming. Even in 2012 I remember her name.  I had only met her a couple times but when she was on shift she gave my mother the best care. She treated mom like she was her mother. We told her this funny story of mom or of something that mom did. We had the nurse laughing right along with us. I am sure the pious people in our family would have disapproved. Oh well…lol mom would have been doing the same shit if it were one of us.

Then it started to happen; the signs of death were approaching. I looked at her and her dentures because her face was starting to do something, made her look creepy. I looked at one of my aunts. “For the love of God take her teeth out; she hated the dentures anyway”My aunt looked me “I’m not taking them out. You take them out.” I shook my head “oh hell no, those damn things scared the shit out of me every time I went into the bathroom. I ain’t touching them.” Snicker my aunt did it. She and I were laughing so hard. We told mom we were going to take out her dentures. Honestly, it was a safety issue as well. She nodded with her eyes and once they were taken out we asked if she was more comfortable without them in, she nodded her eyes “yes.” Of course I got the jokes in, I made the teeth chomping motion with my hands, my aunt “stop it.” and was laughing the whole time.

The ending was slow and yet fast all at the same time, if that makes any sense. Her eyes stayed open the whole time. The hardest part was seeing tears roll down her eyes as I fully believe she knew exactly what was happening.  She refused to close her eyes. I too began to panic, even though my aunts never saw it. I kept trying to call Jack, he wasn’t answering his phone. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen once she took her last breath. I didn’t know if I was going to break down and cry (I am tearing up right now just remembering that horrible feeling I had). I just wanted Jack beside me. I had been strong for so long. And like always I couldn’t get in touch with him. It hurt. He had all ready made the excuse when I asked him to stay at the hospital with me; “wouldn’t it make more sense for me to take care of the kids so you can be with your family.” I just said “you’re right; whatever.” And walked away. Again you learn to go numb. It hurt like hell. You learn to put on your poker face and just carry on. Another excuse was “the kids don’t need to be around this.” We had all ready had people say that they would watch the kids; the nurses had set up a place away from the area and people offered to watch the kids. Whatever, I got this.

Is it so wrong to want your husband; the one you love and have loved to just be there for you? Is it so wrong to want to feel his arms wrap around you.  Why was love, compassion, tenderness, and just that reaching out for someone when you know they are hurting….so hard for him? I have always tried to be tougher than I really am. It’s not that I am NOT afraid of that emotion; Lord knows people have seen me cry (I hate it). He hated when I got emotional about things. Whether he realizes it or not, he put me down when I did cry. “You’re crying over that?” You learn to be tough! At what cost?  I didn’t cry from the moment we arrived at the hospital and I continued not to cry.

I was used to him not being there when I needed him the most. I look back now and feel he was never there. In the hind sight of things; by him not being able to give that to me, it emotionally drained me. Show some tenderness, compassion, support, love. SHOW SOME EMOTION. What kind of man can’t hold his wife, or reach out to her. Does a man really need a crystal ball, when his wife’s mother is dying to know she needs him? While I had my aunts, friends and other family members around me; I was going through this alone. Yes we all consoled one another. It wasn’t the same. That’s not what I needed. I needed him. I needed my husband. Why is that so wrong?

The hours moved on; then the minutes turned into hours. The last 10-15 minutes were horrible. She would take a deep breath in and 2 minutes later, she would gasp again for a breath. In between that first labored breath we thought she had gone and then that large gasp happened again. At this point you’re willing her to stop breathing, so it will be over for her. She still had her eyes open and she looked straight at you. Does she know what is going on? There’s tears coming from her eyes as she gasps. Is she aware? Or has that part of her body shut down and it’s just her body doing this? It felt like we all held our breath as her body gasped for air. The gasps then got further apart and you wondered is that the last one. You couldn’t really tell because her eyes were open.  Then…..there were no more gasps for air. Mom was gone. While my aunts cried; I wanted to cry but I couldn’t. How can you be surrounded by people in a room and still feel alone? I had just lost my rock, my friend, the pain in my ass, the comfort, and partner in crime. My body began to convulse (you know where you cry so much you can’t get a breath), but I still didn’t break down; no tears no crying. Two hours after mom was gone; Jack showed up with the kids. I was the one that told the kids “nana is gone.” Yes tears came when I told my son and he began to cry. They quickly stopped when Jack spoke and there was no emotion, consoling in his voice at all. It was literally like he drove up onto a scene being dispatched to a call. I had seen in car video of almost every stop he did, it was the same. A wife doesn’t deserve that.

There was still more to be done. A nurse asked if I wanted to donate mom’s corneas and I immediately said yes. Mom would have wanted that not only because I worked in optometry but she also loved helping other people.

We also had to clean out her room and make all preparations. Jack didn’t go with me even though I asked him to. He did go with me to meet the minister for the memorial arrangements. I still hadn’t cried. There was no time for me to break down.

That Friday was the memorial. I didn’t break down during the service, or when I stood in line for people to give condolences to the family. At one point during the service Jack did put his hand on the top of my leg, but that was all.  If I recall the family and I, estimated about 250 people in the church.

This is how much Jack thought I was overreacting with things. He didn’t bother to bring anything dress up for the funeral. Before the service he told me that and I asked him, “you didn’t bring a set of nice clothes? I told you pack something for a funeral.” His response to me was, “I didn’t think there would be one.” You just drop it and move on because there is more shit going on in your world to bitch about it. Looking back now on this; I see how little he cared about me or even respected me.

Surrounded by hundreds of people, standing in line with the family as people gave their condolences; I felt alone. The only time I never felt alone was when my children were around. I was so thankful that I still had Jack and the kids. Mom was gone.

Part 2: Watching Your Mother Slowly Die

July 16th, 2006:

11 a.m. the phone rang, it was a number from back home. I answered. It was my aunt from home, she had been crying. “You need to come home now,” she was trying to be strong but she broke down in tears. “My God your mother is going to kill me if she finds out I called you. Sweetie she made me promise, not to call you or tell you what has been really going on. I told her this was not right what she was doing to you. She’s sicker than she has let on. Sweetie your mom was rushed to the hospital last night and no one is telling me anything. She doesn’t want me to call you. You need to come home.” I was speechless.

While she was telling me this I had all ready dashed down to the garage to get the suitcase. Threw it on my bed where Jack was sleeping. He gave me a look of disgust. I was used to his look of disgust. He still wasn’t privy to the conversation I was having. “When did she get rushed to the hospital?” His disgust went away when I said that. “I’m packing up right now, I will be on the road in 2-3 hours.” I was upset, I was pissed; then Jack opened his mouth. “If you are going home, then you need to take lil miss with you.” I stopped dead in my tracks. “You want me to take our two year old?  I am rushing home because my mother who is on the palliative care of the hospital, which means END OF LIFE. I have no idea what I am walking into, and you are telling me I need to take our two year old with me?”  He could tell I was pissed; again it got turned around on me, “See you get pissed over every little thing. Not everything revolves around you. I can’t just call up my boss and say I need to switch to days. Me doing that, affects everyone on shift. It makes sense that you take her; doesn’t it?” I had all ready exited and returned to the room with another suitcase, throwing my daughters stuff into it. “Nope doesn’t make sense to me, but what the fuck ever. Last time I checked the police department had 200 employees I am sure that during the years the police department has been in existence, family emergencies come up.” I was in tears. I was so hurt. He was still talking. “you’ll go home, find out she is fine and then you will be on vacation the rest of your time there.” He drove the knife in deeper. I stopped talking. I made a phone calls to my boss, then made the phone call to my sister who was staying in NC at my nieces’ house.

My daughter and I pulled out of the driveway and once on the road with lil miss, I cried as I drove. Not because of my mother; because of Jack. I wiped the tears away; I had things to take care of. I was on the phone with my sister; my niece had been home briefly from her tour in Iraq. The relationship between my mother and sister had never been good. “Listen I don’t know what I am walking into up there. It’s on you if you do not come home to see her.” I also talked to my niece and prepared her. “I know you have to head back to Iraq in a few days. What you do is also your choice. I just want you to know when you come back from Iraq nana might not be here.”

By the time I got to my nieces’ house they had all decided what they were going to do. My niece and her son would ride up to Canada with me. My sister would take my nieces vehicle, stop to get the other niece and great niece and be there a day behind us. My niece who was driving with me, could only spend 1 day with her nana and then she would have to beat feet back to catch her plane for Iraq.

That night I hardly slept a wink. I was still hurt at what Jack had said and done. I was worried about what I was going to be walking into back home.

The next day with only a couple hours of sleep around 10 or 11 am , we caravanned up I-95 until my car continued up I-95 and my sister veered off to go pick up her other daughter. My niece and I didn’t roll into the hospital parking lot until Tuesday mid-morning. Her and I drove 28 straight hours.

I knew what floor and room. As I stood at the room door that was open, I looked at my niece, “they said this number right?” She nodded and I turned. “I think they gave us the wrong room.” As I turned to go the nursing station, I heard mom’s voice and my heart sunk. It wasn’t the wrong room. That frail body in the room….was my mothers. The voice sounded just like it always had; strong. I looked at my niece, “if you and I get upset, we leave the room; we are not going to let her see us upset.” My niece agreed.

The last time I saw my mom was May 2005, she had come down for Jack’s retirement from the military; she was 160 lbs. The woman in that hospital bed before me, just over a year later; was 80 lbs if she was lucky. I was careful to hug her like I normally did when I saw her; I was scarred she might break. In my smile and good cheer, I was noting around the room of the machines (though not many) that were attached to my mother. Her oxygen mask that she could use…if she so desired. The flowers family and friends had sent the ones I had sent her closest to her. You suck it up, even though on the inside you are crying and wondering about the bandages that you see under her grown are for.  How the hell did this happen?

The children are antsy; they’ve been in a car for 28 hours. The adults are exhausted. I grabbed the key to the house from mom, gave her a kiss and then drove my niece to her sisters dads’ house and then drove my daughter and I to my childhood home.

As I turned into the laneway from the road, I again cried. The area was all grown up, the grass around the house as high as my daughter. I parked the car, breathed in and then went into the house. OMG! You look around and you see exactly what you feared the most. Mom had been sick for a long time. In true mother fashion, I scooped up my daughter, refusing to let her down. Not until I know she is safe and can’t get into anything. This wasn’t how I left the house 10 years ago. There were now trails throughout the house. I ran to the bathroom and threw up, crying.

Before my daughter and I could even rest I spent 8 hours cleaning my mother’s house. There were times I cried. There were times I got so PISSED that I allowed this to happen. How did I allow it to happen? In the 9-10 years our family started, we only went to my home as a family once; 2001 after we got back from Japan. In 2002, I flew back home by myself to attend my best friends’ wedding. How many times did mom come see us? How many times did Jack and I go on vacation to where his family was? How many times did I request we go on a family vacation to my hometown? How many times did that notion get knocked down?

As soon as I walked into the door, I was also greeted with The Will and the Power of Attorney. I refused to open it. I felt it was bad ju-ju to look until I needed it.

My daughter and I stayed for 2 weeks. In the two weeks, I was running around all over the place. Going to banks to get my name added to the accounts so if she did die the accounts wouldn’t be frozen and I could continue to pay her bills. All her utility bills, and other monthly bills I had to put my name on, so once I got back to Georgia; I would be able to contact these people and not get the bullshit line of “you’re not on the account.” It wasn’t without a fight either. My mother didn’t want me to do it. And I had to get tough on her. She had it all figured out. Her friend brought her a laptop so she could use it in the hospital. She didn’t need anyone’s help. She was even talking about the doctors releasing her to go home. She and I came to blows on that one.

“Mom I know you are not going to like what I say. Do you really think the doctor is just going to release you without inspecting your home to make sure you are safe?” I got the dumbfound look of “what do you mean.? There’s nothing wrong with my house.” I shut the door to the hospital room and calmly pulled my chair up next to her. “Mom it’s not a matter of you going home. I want you to listen and listen carefully to what I say to you, without feeling like I am backing you into a corner. I want you to listen without the notion that I am trying to keep you from something you want or need to do.” She nodded. “You’re house in the condition it is in right now, if not safe for you. I don’t know how this all works, but I would suspect if you want to go home, the doctor is going to request your house be inspected to ensure your house is safe for you. You’re talking about getting oxygen in there. If it’s anything like my friend’s dad had, they will put a centralized unit into the house. He could go from one end of the house to the other, and there was tubing all over the house so he could. Guess what mom if that tubing gets snagged on something in the trail in your house, you will not get oxygen. A portable unit only lasts for so long. I want you to come home. I don’t want to stop you from coming home. You think about how that house was left, do you really think the doctor is going to approve you living in there the way it was when you left it?” She was getting a little pissed. I was pointing out the obvious. “I will move heaven and earth for you so you can come home. If you need help to get up to go to the bathroom in the hospital you are going to need help at home. It’s not a matter of just going home. I’m watching and my untrained eye says that doctor is probably going to request a full time nurse in your house. If you want to come home, I will make it happen. I will look into full time nursing care. I will get that house in tip top shape so you can come home. Mom you can’t do this by yourself. I know you think you can, but this time you can’t get through this by yourself. You can’t shut out the world. In order for me to make this possible for you; I can’t do this on my own as well. I can’t get that house the way you need it without help. I can’t even find out how to help you and what you need because you won’t let me talk to your doctors.” It was a tough conversation. I just gave her the facts. I wasn’t pulling the stuff out of my ass.

You go to all of these places with the two year in tow. While the individuals at the places are giving you important information about what you need to take care of before things might take a turn for the worse, you are distracted by the two year old. You have a LIST a mile long just on everything you need to make sure is done so that when you get back home, you can still take care of your mother so she has less to worry about. Then Jack calls bitching that the financing company for the car has been “blowing up” his phone. You don’t get a how is your mom doing, or a sympathetic shoulder to cry on miles away you get “I can’t have them blowing up my phone, take care of it.” I look back after all these years after this happened. I learned to go numb from the pain. I learned to just take care of it myself and just keep going despite the pain.

It didn’t matter to Jack; I didn’t matter to Jack. It was easier for him to put me down and to tell me all the ways I was inadequate. I don’t know how many times I told him, “I am only one person I can only do so much.” His response to that was, he could do it all better than me. Go numb and you won’t feel the pain.

I had busted my ass for two weeks. Friends, who knew I was in town; came to see me in the hospital to give me a break. Family who came into town, our visiting was done either in the hospital or on our way to get a bite to eat.

Mom, Jack and the family had no idea what I was going through. I couldn’t talk to mom this time about what was troubling me; even though I was honest with her about how she was doing all of this, was bothering me. The other person who I tried to come to, had proven time and time again that my feelings, thoughts, concerns were not his concern.

I was dealing with a friend who was not looking into the best interests of my mother and was starting drama left and right. Not just with my mom, but me and the family. She had my mother all spun up about who she saw at the house. My mother had laid down the law, there were only 3 people allowed to come into the house. I got a phone call after one of those people had left, “who was in the house?” It had been a couple hours since this person came and I said “no one” then I got the 3rd degree from my mother. “A little bird told me there was a blue minivan at the house and your aunt from out of town has a blue minivan. I told you I don’t want them in my house.” I rolled my eyes. “The little bird needs to get her vision checked cause it was a GRAY van and who do you know that has a gray van mother.” Stuttering occurred. “Tell your bird the next time she wants to start shit to get her facts straight.” She was also pulling me in.

While mom wasn’t telling anyone or allowing anyone in the family to talk to doctors, this lil bird was trying to start the drama with me. She told me how she was able to talk to all the doctors and get all the information and she got me all spun up. I have a stupid power of attorney and still can’t get them to talk, yet she traps one in an elevator and the doctor divulges person patient information?  While she was talking to me about all this stuff, she was telling my mother lies about what I was doing. I don’t have time for this drama. I nipped that in the bud real quick!

Then you go to visit your mother with your daughter. You mother looks at you and says, “you need to go home. I love my granddaughter, but I can’t handle it when she visits here. We can’t talk about anything. We can’t visit. Why did you bring her? Tell me he isn’t that selfish.” I sat there and cried. I didn’t respond.

Two days later my daughter and I headed home. It was late at night; Jack was all ready at work. I was looking forward to coming home. My daughter was excited to see the cats and dog, her brother, her daddy. We missed our home. I wanted and needed some kind of normal. When I got home; the cats were gone. I called him, “Where are the cats?” I was in tears over stupid cats. “You told me to take care of them, so I took care of them. They’re gone.” The dagger went a little deeper. I knew what Jack did to cats. “What the hell did you do with the cats? Did you kill them? Did you give them to a shelter? What the hell did you do with the cats?” He paused, “you don’t need to know what happened with the cats. You just need to know they are gone.” I cried. We got into an argument. I was yelling and screaming at him. He was calm cool and rational. “They are just cats. Get over it.” Fire breathing dragon is an understatement of what I became when he said that to me. As much as I pointed out how insensitive, uncaring and inconsiderate he was of what I was dealing with, it once again got turned around onto me. Whatever the fuck ever! Raise your hands if you don’t require a crystal ball, to get it wasn’t about the cats.

I had managed to get home in time for my son to start his first day of school. I actually went back to work almost as soon as I got home. The next month was HELL!

Within a week of my being home in Georgia, mom started to go downhill. She wasn’t answering the phone in her room, she wasn’t even responding to emails. Everyone had noticed it. My biggest worry she wasn’t going to call me when it got bad. I would be rushing home because she waited too long. I didn’t want my mother to die alone. It got to the point I was calling the nursing station. They would not tell me anything. “You guys have my power of attorney on file.” It didn’t matter as long as she was able to speak and tell them no, they refused to disclose any information to me.

It kept getting worse. Her regular doctor was going back to her home because a friend of hers going through breast cancer as well. A stand in doctor would be taking care of her. I called this doctor because I was concerned for my mother. His response, “I don’t even know why she is in palliative care. She’s not giving any indications that she has taken a turn for the worst. In my professional opinion she’s got a year.” I listened, “you’re shitting me right? Have you been to her room? Have you talked with her? Have you not seen her deteriorate in the past few weeks? Funny doctor, the people who are visiting her, tell me she has lost about 10 lbs since I left. And you are telling me you do not feel she should be in palliative state?”

That night something happened that I cannot explain. I went ballistic and I had no idea why. My guts were screaming. I was on the phone with my aunt and I could not explain what was happening. I was crying, my chest was heavy; my aunt encouraged me to call Jack. I did, and all I could get out was a cry. And then I heard, “What do I have to come home and take care of you because you can’t handle this? Do I have to stop what I am doing, tell my boss I have to come home because my wife can’t stop crying?” I wiped the tears from my face. “No” and hung up. I thought I was having a heart attack. One hour of sleep the alarm went off and all I could do was, call my boss. When she answered I started crying. I told her what happened and I told her I was going to the doctor.

I drove myself to the doctor. The chest pains were horrible. When the doctor came in, all I could do was cry. I told her what was going on. I told her I was having chest pains, I told her I was scared I was having a heart attack. She accessed me and she was pretty sure I was experiencing a panic attack. She looked at me and said “I think the best thing for you regardless of what your mother says is for you to be home near her.”

My aunt back home was going to have a coming to Jesus moment with my mother. My aunt sat down and told my mother what had transpired with me the night before. She told my mother I was at the doctor right now while the two of them were talking. I called my aunt once I got was done and told her what the doctor had said. It was then that my mother realized the stress I was under and that she felt I should come home.

I told mom I was going to hold off until Tuesday (September 5th) so I wouldn’t have to drive with the Labor Day traffic. I was coming home to be there until the end. I talked with my husband and told him what was going to happen. I would go home, get a part time job or a full time job so it would not put us in a hardship. My boss had given me a letter of recommendation to present to employers back home. Jack despite not wanting to, had called in his mother to help with the kids.

Friday Jack’s mother was coming up. I was still getting things ready for my trip on Tuesday. His mother had only been in the house 1 hour when I got the phone call.

Part 1: Watching Your Mother Slowly Die

May 2006:

The phone call was not out of the ordinary. Mom and I talked a bunch of times throughout the day, emailed one another. This day she dropped the bomb, “if something happens to me it’s not a sudden thing; something is wrong.” I stumbled on the words “What are you talking about?” Mom sounded fine on the phone; mom had sounded fine on the phone. It was then she confessed that recently with walking she was becoming winded; and it took more energy.

Obviously that leads me to more questioning. How so? That’s when she said “taking the trash out, going from the bedroom to kitchen.” I knew the length of the lane way, from the house to the edge of the road, that didn’t concern me. It was the going from the bedroom to the kitchen (20-30 feet) that drew my concern.

“What do you think is going on mom?” She laughed “Oh hell I probably have lung cancer.” Her saying that touched a nerve with me “don’t say that.” When I was 5 she stopped smoking (cold turkey) and she never picked up one again. That doesn’t mean someone will not get lung cancer. Her to put laughter behind it, made me uneasy.

“Have you made a doctors appointment yet?” I asked her. Then the defensiveness came out. “Can’t get one. You know how it is up here. You seem to have forgotten in your years of living in the states that you don’t just go to the doctor up here.” It was true, for years growing up it was hard to get into a doctor; the wait sometimes took 2 weeks. When I was sick we never went to the doctor. By the time we would get an appointment, the cold, flu, whatever had been gone. My chronic ear infections I had as a child, we would go to outpatients (ER) and wait 8-10 hours for a doctor to see me. I didn’t have a family doctor growing up.

I also knew my mother very well. Despite being a strong, independent woman; she had a tendency to bury her head in the sand. Something in my gut told me, she had been burying her head in the sand for awhile and this wasn’t going away and now she was concerned.

Over the next few days I did some investigating on my own. It’s amazing what the internet brings up for you; doctors in your hometown 1500 miles away. The first one I came to was a female doctor (we NEVER had a female doctor before in our hometown). I called up the doctors office in-between working up my patients and found out this doctor was taking new patients. I then called mom, “Here’s the name, the number and she is taking new patients.” Mom has always praised me for my tenacity, questioning and sheer will…accept when it pertained to her. “You can’t just demand things. That’s not how we do it here.” She also knew I didn’t like it when she told me what I can and can’t do. “Something is wrong mom, quit burying your head in the sand and go see about it. Call this doctor, they have openings. You have until the end of the week to call me back with an appointment time and date.” She paused, “Or you are going to do what if I don’t. You can’t just make people do what they don’t want to do. You can’t just come in and take charge.” I tapped my pen on the office desk, “Young lady you are not too old for me to turn over my knee and spank you.” I said with a laugh because even as an adult she would tell me that. She kind of chuckled, “If you don’t make the appointment mom, I will drive up there and drag your ass to the doctor myself while you are kicking and screaming.” She paused, “you can’t do that, you have your work, school, the kids and you don’t have the money to come up here.” Mom knew everything because we talked. “It’s amazing how our parents teach us all those years of kindness, compassion, helping others, caring for others, but yet when it comes to children doing it for our parents, apparently there is some unwritten law that children cannot be concerned for their parents, like we witnessed all those years our parents showing that concern for us.” She also taught me how to argue. “How the hell did you get so smart?” She asked. “Meh, I had this great woman who raised me.” I said.

Within hours, through email she gave me the appointment day and time. I wasn’t happy with the way I had to do this. It certainly didn’t make me feel good, to talk that way, to be that way to my own mother.

My gut on this was screaming. I had learned to listen to my gut years ago as a young child. When I would try to talk to Jack about it; he would shut me down. I was over reacting, I was a hypochondriac, it wasn’t my problem. “You mean to tell me if this was your parents you wouldn’t be doing the same thing?” No was his response. It wasn’t his problem.

I had a lot on my plate before mom announced this. I was working full time 40-50 hours, I had just started full time school in March, a dream of mine that I had put on the back burner for my family.  Taking care of two children, a husband working nights, trying to keep up with the housework, outside work, bills, finances; I had no support from Jack on any of this.

My days consisted of getting up at 5 or 6 am, getting two kids ready for school or daycare, getting myself ready for work, getting my son on the bus, driving my daughter to the daycare (a day care that was out of the way but was worth it to know my daughter was in good hands), then work from 830 to 6 most days, sometimes until 630 if it was my turn to close. Jack would drop off our son around 4:00 to my work (which luckily my boss was ok with, but still it’s MY work), gather up my son, go get my daughter before the daycare closed, sometimes have to run back to the grocery store to get groceries because that was the only time I had to do it, then finally get home. On just a regular day of pick up with the kids and no grocery store stop, my son and I would pick up lil miss by 630, and it would be 7 by the time we got home.

Once home, it was discovered my son hadn’t done his home work. I am trying to get supper cooked, while the battles of homework ensued (my son hated doing his homework) and the two year old is climbing my leg or demanding something of me, or getting into something she shouldn’t. By the time supper was done, it was 730-745 depending on what I cooked. Shit I still have to get two kids bathed and ready for bed before I even hit the books. Once I would run lil misses bath water, I would look at my son “go to mom and dad’s shower.” My son was quick in the shower, my daughter would just mosey in the tub. My son knew the routine, so by 830 he was in bed. My daughter a lil more headstrong, it would be 9 before I wrestled her to the bed. Shut the door slightly, breathe a sigh of relief. Mom dashes downstairs because the live online class is about to start (it wasn’t mandatory we attend the live sessions but it was an opportunity to ask your questions directly to the professor, and to classmates etc.) Oh you managed to put a load of clothes in the washing machine (Despite there are about 10 more loads to do). Five minutes into the class, lil miss peers around the door, with blankey bear in tow. “I gotta potty.” Or “I’m thirsty” or “I’m scared.” She won’t stay in her bed, she hasn’t stayed in her bed since she moved into it, hell she didn’t even stay in the crib once she figured out she could scale it at 7 months. You do 30 minutes of the up/down, and finally you have enough and just put her into your bed. She goes to sleep within seconds and stays there. You dash back down to the computer room/laundry room and get the tail end of the class, which you have to review the assignments. You see your other tabs on the internet, Online banking, your Quicken program opened, and also your schooling stuff opened. You are also working at home to make yourself better at your job by learning all the terms, how to make the office run better, ideas that swirl around your head that we can do. This was before my mother got sick. Add an extra tab of research once your mother does get sick. Oh and that load of laundry in the washer, you wake up in the middle of your 4 hours of sleep “CRAP!” Run down quick and put it in the dryer

Before I had started school, the advisor I was assigned to stated, you need the support of your family. I lied to her. I told her I had the full support of my husband.

When mom announced something was wrong. I knew it was big. As much as I tried to talk and express my feelings to Jack on it, they got tossed aside. What was I stressing about?

Over the next course of weeks, she went to her doctors appointment. The information she provided was vague. From her doctors appointment she was set up with an oncologist. Listen the Canadian health care is crap; when they move and your mother is visiting that oncologist within weeks, you know it’s not routine. It takes MONTHS in our area to see an oncologist. It takes MONTHS to see an OB/GYN to get your pap done. Don’t tell me I am stupid, and overreacting when my mother is being seen within WEEKS.

The end of May was when she announced something was wrong. She had seen a regular doctor, and was seen by the oncologist where they did a biopsy. July 4th as I was watching my two children play in the yard and I heard the phone ring…and it took several minutes for Jack to give me the phone. My mother announced, “it’s breast cancer.” And the phone clicks. I dialed her number back. “Oh hell no you did not just hang up on me, after announcing that!” What the hell do you mean it’s breast cancer, no one in our family has a history of it. What stage did they say? I knew I came at her with a bunch of questions she wasn’t ready to answer. It was apparent by the dial tone I got after the announcement. In a frustrated voice she said “I don’t know, the last one.” My mouth dropped, “the last one as in fourth stage breast cancer?” I guess so if that is the last one, was her response. “Mother, fourth stage breast cancer just doesn’t happen overnight, it doesn’t happen in the time frame that you announced this even with the most vigorous form of cancers. How long has this been going on? You are not telling me everything.” I got it was none of my business, it was private personal information. She didn’t want to talk about it. “Get your head out of your ass mom. I know I am probably coming at you too strong and you need time to absorb this. You cannot drop a bomb of fourth stage breast cancer and not expect me to be concerned or to ask questions mom. We NEED to talk about this.” She didn’t want to do it right now. I dropped it even though I didn’t want to. Mom needed time to process the news. As soon as I hung up the phone. My phone was blowing up, a couple of her sisters called me. She was pushing all of us away. Sometimes that is a protection for the person going through it either for themselves or to protect the ones who care.

While the person going through the cancer has a lot on their plate, they do not realize what their family and friends are going through as well. I took it upon myself to get the information my family and I needed to be there for her. I found a site breastcancer.org that provided a wealth of information. It had a chat area, where I was welcome with open arms even though I was not going through cancer myself. I asked questions; the women going through cancer gave me tips on how to help my mother.  Talking to them, getting an outside perspective was like a breath of fresh air. I knew mom, the more I pushed, or her family pushed, the more she would hold back. Being 1500 miles away and not knowing what was truly going on stressed me out. I knew my mother better than anyone.

While talking to mom, I was finding pieces of information out. I just listening to her talk, I found out about things. It was talking with her and not even realizing she was spilling the beans, that I found out she had been using a walker for months. She said that when she got pissed about a friend callin her up and said “so and so said you’ve been using a walker.” When she said that, my ears perked up, “why the hell would someone spread a rumor of you using a walker?” Silence on the other end, busted. “Mom….tell me you are not using a walker to get around. Why is this coming out now and why didn’t you tell me?” She told on herself and I was just listening. It was then she had to tell me, she was using a walker. You wonder if she isn’t telling you about using a stupid walker, what else of more importance she isn’t saying. You learn to keep your ears open in the conversation.

July 13th, 2006 was when the oncologist had her first chemo treatment set up. You ask even though you know the answer, “would you like me to come home so I can drive you to the appointment.” That morning you call her just before you go to work, wishing her all the best, and that you will not call her until tomorrow. If she wants to call after the treatment it was fine, but you knew she would be exhausted. It would be an all day trip for her.

You go to work, you do all the same things you have been doing for a long time. The day creeps on; you look at the time, and wonder if she is getting the treatment now. You wonder if she is ok, you wonder if she has asked questions. Even though it’s on the back of your mind, you get through the day; you do all the routine stuff you are used to doing. The next morning you call and the answering machine picks up, you laugh, “Tell me a day after chemo my mother is not out interviewing someone for the next front page in the paper. Call me when you get a chance. Love you.”

You laugh after you hang up because that is exactly what you thought took place. She woke up after chemo felt great, she went to work on an article and talk to people, she went out to go capture the morning light for an awesome photograph. You don’t think anything else about it. You work on your class assignments; take care of your children.

Sunday morning at 11 am; you get the call.

Day 1: Hours after my Nova Sure and Essure Procedures

All right ladies….and gentlemen. In a previous post I told you I had decided to get the Nova Sure and Essure procedures done.  Bye Bye Aunt Flo

Today, I had the procedure done. I am sure the guys are wondering and maybe some ladies are wondering “why is she talking about the monthly?” We need to talk about it. The topic of a period/menstruation cycle is no longer taboo.  It’s 2012.

I want to give you my experience of the procedure. It’s only a day (hours after the procedures I had). If you are in and around the Athens, GA area, here is the center I went to The Ashford Center 

First let me say, Dr. Clinton Ashford and the ENTIRE staff have been wonderful from the moment I came to the office just a few short weeks ago to find out if this was something I would be a candidate for. My doctor referred me to him. However, it wasn’t until I was talking with a co worker about her procedure that I found out, he did hers as well. She had nothing but good words to say about the entire staff and her procedure. In talking with friends about the procedure and the question always arises of who is doing the procedure I told them. Even if they never stepped foot in the office they have heard good things from other people about the entire office.

While this atmosphere is important; the most important thing to me as a patient is the knowledge and experience. I felt I was in good hands the entire time. Even after the procedure I feel I am in good hands. In some offices if any complications should arise past experience has been the doctors have you call the office phone and then you talk to an answering service. That is NOT the case with this doctor. I have the office number, his cell phone number AND his home number.

I went in this morning at the scheduled time. The procedure is only minutes, the paperwork took longer than the procedure. The office has their own anesthesiologist on staff. Within 2 minutes I was out. I did not realize this at the time. When the nurse came back in, I thought I was just waiting on the meds to put me to sleep, but the procedure was all ready done. If I recall I was in that room at 10:30 and my friend said they called her at 10:40-10:50 to say I was done and in recovery.

After the procedure I had cramping and I knew this was normal. The cramping was no different than the first day I would start my period. Ladies if you suffer from these cramps during your period then you know the type of cramping I am talking about. Once home I still had cramping and I felt a little nauseous but I think that was due to the anesthesia. I took my pain meds and went for a nap and just 8-9 hours after surgery NO CRAMPING and no feeling sick anymore. I feel like I did just before I went into the room.

Once awake from the procedure the doctor came in and talked with me a bit. Everything went great. He showed me the results, before and after (I am assuming the photos were done via scope). Untrained eye of a patient obviously I had no idea what I was looking at, but he did.

In the consultation visit a couple weeks ago, he asked questions about what my periods were like. You don’t realize it until it is right there on paper for you, with the PMS, then the actual period itself I was suffering from the symptoms (moods, emotions, irritability, cravings, bloating, severe lower back pain, diarrhea and the actual for 1-1.5 weeks out of the month. At the consultation a few weeks ago, he showed me his own patients surveys

He also showed today me more surveys just done today. 3 of the women with the year after having their procedures went off of their depression medications. For me birth control (something I will now no longer have to have) increased the depression; I had been on birth control pills before, right after my son was born and was on them for 4 years before I went off of them so we could have another baby. Jack had a vasectomy after our second one I didn’t need to worry about birth control. When my daughter was around a year and a half old I went on the pill to not have periods. I was noticing I was more irritable being on the pills. It was then I read the entire information sheet and saw that if I had these symptoms to contact my doctor as it might be a sign of depression. It was then; the doctor took me off birth control and put me on a depression medication. Do I know if I will be able to come off of my depression meds? No not yet, it is too soon to tell. Seeing those 3 surveys today by those women gave me hope. Most women, no longer have the symptoms that go along with the woman’s menstruation cycle. On many of the surveys women have stated that getting these procedures done is the best thing they have done.

Obviously this procedure is NOT for women who plan on having children. I thought long and hard for two years. Despite complaining to my doctor it would be nice to get rid of my period all together, she showed me the brochure for the Nova Sure, and told me, I would not be able to have children again. I was the one that said, “even though I don’t plan on having children, I will read it and think about it, because I am still young enough that if did remarry, that a future partner and I could still have children.” She thought that was very responsible of me. So I thought a long time on this, even though I knew I didn’t want to go through the baby stage again, sometimes we do want to have children. After two years of feeling the exact same way, I knew having the procedure was right for me personally. I have two beautiful children almost 15 and 9; I am 34 years old. I am at a different stage in my life; I still have children to raise, but I don’t want to start all over again with the child rearing at this point in my life.

Anyway, so far only hours after the procedure I am very happy with the outcome. I will keep all you ladies posted as to what transpires over the next while.