Sunday, August 30, 2009

Done with the Fight

If you are in a good mood, then don’t read this.

After being home now for just over 24 hours I can tell you that I am clearly embarking on what is going to be the hardest journey of my life so far.

As some may know my mom fell last weekend while visiting my dad in his nursing home. The door in the unit he is in has a 15 second timer and that was too short for my 79 year old mom to get through the door in time with her walker.

This put her in the hospital on Tuesday of this week. Things looked to be going well with no broken bones, a clean MRI and all other signs pointing towards her getting released by Friday. Seemed to be just another day at the hospital.

That was until we got her blood test results back. They came back with low red blood cells, low platelets and more importantly a fatally low white blood cell count. So low that her choice was to either die or get a transfusion right away. My mom refused the transfusion for a few days until the doctor, myself and my brother who lives here in WA talked her into it.

In addition to a transfusion on Friday they also decided to do a bone marrow biopsy to see why her marrow is not producing the white blood cells the way it ought to be. This requires a needle being injected all the way into the bone marrow in order to get a sample and to give you an idea of how much pain mom is already in (from what we think is caused by her Rheumatoid Arthritis) she said that the biopsy didn’t hurt a bit.

There could be many reasons her white blood cells are low, to include her Rheumatoid Arthritis to prescription pills she is taking to Leukemia. We are waiting for the results.

I am pretty sure though that the results don’t matter to her anymore. Mom has taken her own destiny into her own hands. She is ready to let go. The excruciating pain, the way of life and probably the fact that dad is in hospice are all wearing on her.

When I saw her yesterday afternoon for the first time in 6 months she looked like a skeleton at no more than 70 lbs. Her upper arm is as small as my wrist which took me aback on first glance. She is not eating due to many reasons right now. One, food seems to make her ill, two, she says it all tastes metallic, and three, it requires moving which because she is in so much pain she doesn’t want to do for a bunch of food that doesn’t taste good and will make her nauseous.

Makes sense to me and I am now ready to stop the nagging her to try and get her to eat. Why? Because I have done it for almost a year now from near and far and have gotten nowhere with it. Ok, maybe she actually took 3 tiny bites of a piece of toast instead of 2 because of me nagging but I am fighting her on it every step of the way. That vibe is good for neither her nor me.

But before I came up here to WA I came to terms with the fact that this (not eating) is her way of letting go of her life whether subconscious or conscious. As hard as that is for me, I am ready to be at peace with her decision and to accept it and to enjoy my final times with her vs. yipping the heck out of her all day. We can enjoy thoughts and memories together and maybe I can even get to know her a little better too while I am at it. That is way better than nagging her and trying to force an issue that she clearly does not want forced any more.

Yesterday in the hospital I asked her if she understood that by not eating she will not be here by Christmas time. My hunches were confirmed when she said yes and then went on to say that she is ready to start the journey of her next life.

Do you have any idea how hard that was to hear?! It was probably my saddest single moment in my lifetime. I asked her how I am supposed to do this and mom told me to just think of her happy that she is with her mom again in the heavens above. She is clearly ready to go and it makes me sick. I am so scared. More scared than I have ever been in my whole life.

As hard as that is, I am happy that she is clear headed enough to make these big decisions. She has a fully functioning brain and is very with it despite her rapidly deteriorating body. We know that she is speaking up about something she knows she wants.

She wants this and OMG it is so hard to accept but I will support her decision and enjoy what little time I have left with her at her hospital bedside. Could be days, could be months.

Got to admit though, knowing she will leave this world soon is unbelievable in the worst way of the word. I kind of wasn’t expecting it to go down like this in the end for her. Granted something great and crazy could happen to change things around but if it doesn’t, she will be gone extremely soon which is what she wants and is choosing.

I am going to respect the decision but it cuts like a knife if more ways than I have ever experienced. My emotions are out of control in every way.

Funny thing is mom has ALWAYS only thought of others her entire life and I am very proud of her for finally thinking of herself first. It is sad that she is choosing this for herself but she is done with the fight that it has been for almost a year now. She is weak, she is tired and she is ready to not be in any more pain.

I am SO frightened and scared out of my mind. I cannot imagine how much water loss out my eyes I have had yesterday, all night and already today. This is so hard.

I am now looking at loosing 2 parents at the same time!

I would love to hear from any of you out there - Please send your thoughts, comments, prayers galore, suggestions, ideas and experiences – I really do need to hear from you right now. I am so wrapped up in my emotions of all this that I feel so vulnerable.

The fear is overwhelming and the denial is even bigger.


Anonymous said...

You know how I feel about the situation. The reality is you have already lost your Dad...the one you knew and loved. That doesn't mean it won't be hard when he passes but less complicated than losing your mum.

I don't really know why, but losing Mum was much harder than Dad. I only regret I didn't spend more time with her the summer before she passed away. Perhaps it was lack of courage on my part when I didn't choose to see her on her deathbead. I didn't want that memory of her to be my last.

You have a special chance. Do the harder thing now so the regrets don't follow you later.

Call if you need an ear. I'm always happy to sit and listen to a friend. All my support,

Heather Williams said...


I know you are scared, but one thing you should be happy for is the day your parents can be at peace and in no more pain. Another way to look at it is that they are going close together so they do not have to figure out life without the other. My grandpa could not handle life without my grandma so a year later he took his own life. Try to look at the blessings of the situation, even though that might seem hard, but it could be much worse. My grandma tried to hold on to see me graduate college and every week she would get her lungs drained, then one day she told me she was ready to go home. I was sad, cried, but told her I knew she would still be there for graduation in spirit and that I just didn't want to see her go throught this anymore. I don't know if this helps but know that prayers are with you and the lord will guide you if you ask him to.


Anonymous said...

Kathy, I can't even imagine what you are going through but my thoughts and prayers are with you. I hope that you are able to find some peace with your mom's decision so that you are able to truly enjoy the time you have with her and are able to remember all the good throughout your life.
jenn wilson

Genericyclist said...

I have no sage wisdom to send...just my heartfelt sympathies. Dealing with your fears this honestly and openly, while painful, will hopefully give you the clarity you will need to navigate this situation. My best wishes...


Danielle said...

Hello Teammate. I don't know what to say except I am really sorry. I have a few friends who have lost their parents suddenly, and I know that their biggest wish was that they could have had "one more day" to spend time with them before they passed away. I'm glad that you are with your mom now and able to be with her.

Take care!!!

Pedal Circles said...

Hi Kathy,

I'm so sorry to read about everything that has been happening. I wish I had some advice or knowledge to impart, but have never had to face anything like that. I do wish you the best, and hope that things work out okay in the end. You and your family will be in my thoughts.

I can't imagine how difficult it must be. Try to remain strong and enjoy the time you have and have had.


Ari said...

Hi Kathy - I know you don't know me and I only know of you through your blog (which was introduced to me via Jennie Wade) but I am so sorry you have to deal with such a hard task right now. I had a similar experience with my maternal grandmother, who raised me when my parents divorced and who I took care of the last few years of her life. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, but she made me realise so much about her and about myself in that time as well as the time afterward. She made the decision to forgoe treatment of her leukemia and she made the decision to start her next journey as well. As much as I wish she was still around, I know it was all too hard for her and that she needed to be at peace. It sounds like your mother is in that same place. Please just try and spend as much time with her as you can now. Listen to her stories, record them if you can, write them down, memorise them, have her tell you about her past, her happiest moments, her saddest moments, all of it. These things will go far later and most likely, as they do for me now, bring a smile when times are tough. It is hard, but it's her decision. I am so sorry you have to go through this, but it will be ok. My thoughts are with you and be as strong as you can be, but also realise it's ok to cry. It will be ok.


g.g. said...

Oh Kathy. I am so sorry.
I have been following your blog ever since last May when I broke my wrist (on a bike), and somehow stumbled on you writing about your broken thumb. Our lives have parallelled somewhat with my parents being in and out of the hospital this past year too. Every time i would read about your parents i felt a twinge of pain because i really knew what you were going through. I have always found inspiration in your ability to keep going and training through the though times. I havent been as successful! My mother took a terrible fall about 3 weeks ago and I have been going through the same things...finding out she has cancer with multiple masses was the one thing we never expected. we opted to not go through all of the poking and proding to find out where it started, because what is the point? make her more miserable?
My mother has made a recovery short of miraculous, but i know that at some point i will be facing what you are now. I can only imagine the heartache and incredible sadness you are feeling now. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

LyndaW said...

So sorry to hear that even tho I have never met your mom. She sounds like she has a lot of grace.

Be tough and be gentle.

Good luck.

Holdenator said...

Don't know if you remember me I was on the Velobella cross team with you. I can't imagine what you are going through. It must be tough. My prays and thoughts are with you and your family.

Shannon Holden

nathan said...

Dear Kathy, I am deeply sorry for what you are going through right now, and i know that it is extremely hard to accept the fact that your parents are passing away, and in pain at that. I to am in the process of losing my father to cancer and he is only 58. I have done a lot of research into why we are in so much pain and how we can live healthier lives, here is what i have found, and now is the time for us to act if we are not to follow in our parents shoes. please watch this you tube of this Dr. and give me a call and i can get you more details. Until then god bless and my name is Nate and my # 208-317-6261 and the you tube is