The other day something my sister said made me think about why we have spent so much time up at the hospital. As I’ve posted before, most nights when Mom is there one of us sleeps in her room. When Mom is just coming out of surgery she needs someone there to give her ice chips, help her get comfortable in bed, and to keep track of all the information the nurses and doctors are giving her while she is semiconscious. Also, since she has had four abdominal surgeries, she needs help doing things like lifting her legs back into bed for the first few days.
I’ve written before about how sweet this time has been and I am so glad we have been there but I have just been thinking about how we decided that this would be our routine during this time. While pondering that I remembered the feeling I had when I heard that Mom had ovarian cancer and would be having surgery the week that school started and one week after we moved into a new house. I felt so utterly overwhelmed and afraid that ‘I DO NOT HAVE WHAT IT TAKES’ to do this well. For a couple of hours panic took turns with denial thoughts like ‘it won’t be that bad’ and ‘I can do this’ but I was really scared.
Then my sister called.
That sentence deserves its own paragraph. She called and said “how are WE going to do this?” My sisters live fourteen hours away. It hadn’t really crossed my mind that I would be able to truly share this load with them in any way other than occasional weekend visits and lots of phone calls and emotional support. But one of my sisters is a ‘stay at home minnie’ and she has left her life for weeks at a time to come help Mom and Dad – and therefore to help me. The other sister has taken time off from work to come give us a break when she could. Together we have made it through a very difficult year.
Mom has one more surgery, Lord willing, and this one will be small compared to the other four. I wouldn’t trade the time I have had with her for all of the gold in the world. And the reason I have had that time is that my sister called. She wouldn’t let me do this by myself and I wouldn’t let her sacrifice so much to help me without giving my all in return. Because of that we can finish this year of hospital visits with a sense of having done well and having been pleasing in God’s sight. Without her, I couldn’t have dared to give this much. Together we have climbed a difficult mountain and as I look out over the view, I feel peace and gratitude for the sister who said “we”.
First you go to pioneerwoman.com and look at the sites she loves. Then you start going to those sites. Start with Aiming Low where you will read a discussion of making eggs in the microwave. Yawn, but somewhat fun to read. At that site you can also click on an ad for Mabel’s Labels and consider spending $50 on labels for everything your kids have ever lost at friends’ houses. Then you realize that your kids are not kids any more and probably would neither put the labels on their stuff nor allow you to do so.
Go back to the aim lower blog and read some comments, which will lead you to a blog post that is entitled (excuse me but it’s just what it’s called. I didn’t name it. I just read it. And posted it on my blog.) “the suckiest suck that ever sucked” because you just have to read about the suckiest suck that ever sucked. There you will find that your life was very easy last week even though your mom went into the hospital for unrelenting vomiting that led to emergency surgery that now has everyone waiting on pins and needles for her digestive system to come back on-line. But even that week was not the suckiest suck that ever sucked and the Domestic Goddess may actually have won the prize for that with the events that inspired her blog.
Hit back on your browser and you will come to Boo Mama where she will link to Conversion Diary and a great blog about autonomy not being all it’s cracked up to be. This will lead you to “do you want more children?” which might lead you to a great article by Chuck Colson that you might also post on your facebook. Then you can go back to the conversion diary and consider the “openness to life” viewpoint and grieve a little (again) that you and your husband so quickly got the “snip-snip” when your second was a baby without fully considering whether or not you wanted to be finished having children.
Then, you write a little about the whole experience on your blog, wish you knew how to do those neat little links that don’t have all the punctuation garbage in them (which I discovered and fixed!), and tie it off and move on so you can get your to do list done for the day.
It’s Thanksgiving! Our tummies are full and the first load of dishes is in the washer. More family will be here soon for the leftovers meal and the BIG GAME! And I have time to update my blog.
The big news today was that Mom was able to come to Thanksgiving! She has had a rough month. The chemo treatments have been hard on her. The stories we hear about people working full-time during their chemo worry us a little because she DEFINITELY COULD NOT work right now. She is exhausted. Her blood counts have been seriously low and she just feels cruddy most of the time. We had been concerned about whether or not she could come to dinner because her white count was down too low to be around people. Her platelets and hemoglobin were also really low so she had a transfusion two days ago and we were waiting on a call during the meal to know whether or not she had to go inpatient for a platelet transfusion. Thank the Lord she was able to be with us and didn’t have to go into the hospital today. She will have another blood test tomorrow but it looks like her numbers are coming back up. The doctor said they will decrease her meds some for the next chemo treatment because apparently, although this was the normal dosage for her weight, it was too much for her.
The reason it’s been so long since I posted is that I have tried to return to my normal work schedule. Dad has been such a blessing and a wonderful caregiver for Mom. It’s what she was “thankful for” during our meal today and I am truly grateful as well. My dad has always been a great man – an Air Force pilot, a leader in every church we attended even though we moved every two years, a college professor and dean, my husband’s mentor and my son’s hero. Now he is showing us all how a man loves his wife “in sickness and in health”. As their daughter, I have been given a gift that I must attempt to repay – both to them and to the Lord.
I have been sick A LOT this month. Nothing ever really serious but some fever and just crud that keeps me from being able to see Mom. It’s been pretty frustrating. And why have I been sick, you ask? Ummm, let’s just call it stress. I started taking vitamins today and I am trying very hard to remember that everything I say “yes” to that I really want to say “no” to requires me to say “no” to something I really want to say “yes” to. Did that make any sense? Read it again if you need to. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
I think the most important lesson I’m trying to learn right now is to say “no” to people. Especially people I love. We have had two divorces in our family this year and they have resulted in some really serious needs that we want to meet but can’t always. It is really hard for us to see someone we love in a hard situation and not try to help. It is definitely our first inclination. But we are learning that if we use all of our resources helping in “emergencies” we will miss out on the things that are truly our responsibilities and the things that bring us joy. Wade and I are just trying to be led by the Holy Spirit and keep our priorities straight. Not easy.
SO . . . today I am truly thankful for another day with my Mom and Dad. I’m thankful for a husband who is my partner in this life. I’m thankful for a job that brings me satisfaction as well as income. I’m thankful for two teenagers who are growing in grace. I’m thankful for little doggies that cleaned up my meal prep mess from the floor as I was cooking. And I’m thankful for quiet moments in between family times. Life is good. God is better.
Back at Mom and Dad’s. Dad and hubby had breakfast this morning and then Dad is running errands and this is day 4 after chemo round 2. For those of you who are cancer illiterate, that means today is NO FUN. Mom is in bed after waking up nauseous. Thank God for anti-nausea medicine. As Mom said a couple of days ago “you do this or you die”, so it’s worth it.
In happier news, I finished a project! Okay, for those of you who know me, are you okay? Did it hurt when you just fell over? I hope you didn’t actually pass out from the shock of that announcement. Here is my first chemo hat.
My first chemo hat
I finished it while watching “Invictus” with my 17 year old last night. Good movie. Great kid. I kind of love him. He killed a gopher at Mom and Dad’s yesterday. It was part of an ongoing saga that included the gopher making holes and mounds all over their yard, an attempt at a humane trap that was merely a snack shop, and my dad sitting on the deck with a bb gun. My non-hunting dad. My college professor, nature loving dad.
My son was over helping fix some sprinkler heads that were hard for Dad to reach 3 months after hip replacement surgery when the gopher showed his face – actually I think it was his rear end that was sticking up. I won’t give more details for those of you who are ASPCA inclined, but suffice it to say, they got the job done. It needed to be done. And now my son has a story to tell at school today.
Today my daughter was in the Homecoming Parade! That was fun. My kids go to rival high schools in our medium size bedroom community. Here’s the best picture I could get of her float. I have this new phone see . . . and I can’t figure it out. I pointed the camera STRAIGHT AT HER and pushed a button and the screen went BLACK! I had to chase that float around a corner to get this:
Yesterday was my “big” work day. I got home at 9 and started again at 8 this morning. Tomorrow I will head out around 8 and get home around 6. But Friday I get to spend the day with Mom at the infusion clinic (since Dad has a cold) and thats totally worth working for. She had her blood work done today and if her blood levels are good, she can have chemo. If not, she has to wait. So we are praying . . .
I made this homemade chicken pot pie with pie crust maple leaves on it for dinner tonight. It was YUMMY! and PRETTY! and hubby and I ate almost all of it by ourselves.
We cut Mom’s hair (off) last night. She is still so pretty! She went right in and put on a beautiful, brightly colored scarf and looked great. It’s a new look for my conservative, elegant mother but it’s a good one.
Then I came home and ate the most amazing candy covered apples from another wordpress blog. You gotta read that recipe! I’m pretty sure it’s a few hundered calories of reading pleasure but it’s SO WORTH IT!
Earlier in the day I took a day “off” and cleaned my windows, did laundry, read some required reading for work, and BAKED. It was heavenly and ended perfectly by sharing a yummy apple with my hubby! Sigh . . .
Back to work today!
Today has been a bad day for Mom. It’s day 14 after chemo round 1. She said her hair is starting to fall out but she’s not ready to cut it yet. She wasn’t feeling great this morning and when I called tonight, Dad said she has had a rough day and was in bed. I am worried about her and trying to tell myself that this is just what cancer is like.
I went over early this morning and she was up eating oatmeal (with raisins, just like I make it) and offered me some. We sat and ate and I showed her some bargains I found this week (which she admired). A few minutes later she told me she had just thrown up, took some anti nausea medicine, and went back to bed for a while. I slept too. When I woke up and checked on her she had also just awakened so we watched the PBS shows that we both love the most (America’s Test Kitchen and Oklahoma Gardening) and talked about how much we use the information from those two shows. Then we went out on the deck and sorted daffodil bulbs, dipped them in fungicide and she sent them home with me. I left around lunch time with some delicious roast, potatoes, carrots, and bread (extra food that people had brought to them) as well as a bag of daffodil bulbs for my garden.
How did she do that? How did I end up just talking to my Mom about my life like nothing was different and leaving with food and flowers when she is so sick? I know that the answer is “because she’s your Mom” but that answer doesn’t change the feeling I have that I have been in the presence of Great Love today.
I just feel really sad tonight that there’s nothing I can do to make her better. And nothing I can do to make her live forever.
“Her children rise up and call her blessed” Proverbs 31:28