My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Different Thanksgiving This Year

Tuesday, November 17th

It's been a long day but I'm feeling chatty and thought it might be a good time to share a bit of what my family is facing this holiday season.

My mom started having really bad "evil gut pain" in her upper abdomen sometime around November 7th. She has fortunately just changed from a poorly run medical office to my primary care dr who I love - Love with a capital L. She was able to see him on Monday, November 9th. He did some blood work, sent her for a CT scan and determined that she has pancreatitis. The CT scan showed a mass on her pancreas so he got her in to see a Gastroenterologist the next day (or maybe Wednesday... ?) who scheduled her to have an MRI to determine the position and nature of the mass to determine if they can do a needle aspiration biopsy or if they will have to do surgery. The Gastro Dr sent her to "the best MRI guy around" who was down in Gwinnett County (about an hour South of us).

Since my mom had carcinoid cancer in her colon a few years back, there is concern that this could be a recurrence of cancer, this time in her pancreas with other possible spots. The MRI was today and we will have an answer on when they will do the biopsy in 48 hours, plus information about any other sites of concern. No answers yet as to whether or not it is pancreatic cancer, just an answer to when the biopsy will be done. Am I making sense?

The first day or so after they found the mass was hard because I wanted my kids to all be "in the loop". Having to have the conversation with my sons that their Mawmaw was facing a real health crisis was hard (repetitive but "hard" is the best word I have for it). I wanted them to know but I didn't want them to have to carry the same worry that I was carrying. I also didn't want to form the words because that made it more real.

My mom has been more than a grandmother to my kids. When I went back to work after each baby, they went to "Mawmaw's Daycare" from six weeks old or so. She kept them and was heavily involved in their day to day lives until I quit work to be home with them just before Austin's third birthday.  She took them to preschool and school and to the doctor and... anywhere they needed to be while I worked. When I went back to work after I became a single mom, she jumped right back in to helping with the kids. We haven't always agreed on how to raise my kids but she is the one person on Earth who I trust loves them as much as I do and is, for all intents and purposes, more of a co-parent than their dad ever was and they all absolutely adore her.


Now we're a couple of days later and I want to add to this. I got a little ways with it and had to stop. I've always said that I will "talk" (blog) nonstop about things except for the things that hit closest to the heart. For those things I ponder endlessly but say very little. The things that run deepest are the things I rarely share. I'm not sure when I'll hit "publish" on this post but I want to record the Deepest Things when I can because articulating this subject is really hard.

So... it's now November 20th. On Tuesday (the 17th) mom went for the MRI. Yesterday we found out that they were going to do a EUS procedure - it's an endoscopic ultrasound - to determine the pathology of the mass. I consulted Dr. Google and determined that it's done a lot like a colonoscopy in that it's done under sedation and although invasive, it doesn't require cutting you open. I guess that's good. They will do that Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. We won't have results before Thanksgiving, which kind of sucks.

Here's the thing about facing the unknown: there's this cloud, like a dust cloud. It leaves a mark on everything else in your life. You can still breathe but it's harder. You can't ever really forget that it's there. You are grieving the possible outcome even before it's confirmed - not to be pessimistic but to prepare yourself.

And then...Thursday (the 19th)... for the second time this month... my Whine Cellar (basement apartment) flooded. I woke up at 6am to the sound of Little Kitty lapping water behind my recliner. Their water bowl is kept on the other side of the room so instantly it registered as "something... is not... quite... right...". It was the worst flood yet as far as the depth of the water. We knew we were expecting bad storms so we went ahead and moved the little craft shelf with all it's cubbies of stuff on Wednesday afternoon. In those early hours the main things that had to be moved were my recliner and the little end table for it... and my loveseat and big chair. I immediately started attempting to move those things and dragged the de-humidifier out of the storage closet.

The thing with my back is that I can do stuff... but it's instantly painful.. and then it goes into spasms and I'm just out of the game. There's no pushing past the pain. That stupid heavy furniture and sopping wet carpet took all the physical energy I had but it also took all the emotional energy I had been carefully controlling while pondering a potential cancer diagnosis for my mom. I had spent the night trying to find a position that didn't hurt so I started the game already in pain and there was no way for me to move that furniture completely out of the water on my own. I gave up and got in the shower and just let the water run over me while I cried everything out. And then I dried off, got dressed, put my hair in a wet bun and sounded the alarm to the rest of the house that we were once again under water down here. My mom and dad came down and started running the carpet shampooer and moved things the rest of the way out of the water and honestly, it was the fastest dry out we've had yet. #practicemakesperfect

And then... my back was in spasms so tight that I couldn't even bend to put socks on. I had to have my mom put my socks on for me. I had been sort of mulling around the "what if's" for the past two weeks, just thinking about what life would be like without her. I felt so guilty that my initial thoughts were, "who will take care of me?" because for my whole life she's the one who has always taken care of me. No matter whether or not we were getting along at the time she has been the only person ever in my whole life who stayed in the game with me. Not to slight my dad because he is truly one hundred percent rock solid and we can always depend on him but with mom it is just different. She is the one who gets what it's like to live in pain. She is the one who loves my kids and grandkids the same way I do. She is not allowed to leave me here. Who will bring dinner down for me or go to doctor appointments with me or do my laundry or help me wring out my soppin' wet basement or put my FREAKING SOCKS ON when my back just won't let me? I have learned how to survive life as a woman without a man but I don't know how to survive life as a woman without a mother.

AND THEN I realized that grief is selfish by it's very nature - how much you miss someone is based on how big of a presence they held in your life. Whether it's from this illness or if she lives into her nineties, living without her will never be easy. There's no good time to lose someone you love. Honestly, she could be absolutely fine, this could just be a harmless cyst. Those can happen. It's just her health history makes us kind of prepare ourselves for whatever in as much as you can ever be prepared for something like this.


November 22nd

Another day.  I am going to hit "publish" this time. I made a massive Walmart run this morning with Austin and Tasha and (of course) Cosette. I have a hard and fast rule of never going to Walmart between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I can't handle the crowds and the stress. I'm helping my parents with their shopping and there were a few things that I didn't want to buy online and we needed stocking stuffers. Austin was off which meant he could tote the heavy stuff for me so... we went to Walmart. We came home and unloaded everything and ordered pizza for lunch. We had some good cuddle time with Cosy and discussed the itinerary for the next week. Monday mom goes for a pre-op visit at the Gastro Dr. Tuesday I'm claiming as my Introverting Day to recharge for the rest of the week. Wednesday mom has the biopsy. Tasha's going to come Wednesday and help me do some food prep and any last minute cleaning. My aunt and uncle will stay the night Wednesday and then Thursday, of course, is Thanksgiving.

It's just a different kind of Thanksgiving this year. All of the amazing things that have happened to our family this year with my two grandbabies and my brother's wedding - welcoming Helen into our family and the excitement about a new baby for them early next year... my disability being approved... Austin working and making the successful leap into much good stuff! I'm so thankful in a deeper way than ever before. And whether my mom has a lot more Thanksgivings ahead or not, I'm so thankful for who she has been in our family. I'm thankful that her life has so much impact on all of us. I'm not sure any of us are ready for the results of her biopsy but this week I'm just thankful.


slj said...

Please know that I am praying for the best test results!!


monique said...

I am on my way to bed but I'm glad I checked your blog.
I will certainly say a rosary for your mom tonight.
I can relate to this situation 100%.
I pray it is not the worst and is something that can be
easily corrected. Pancreatitis is supposedly very painful.
I really hope she can be as comfortable as possible while she
is waiting on the results. I'm sure this is also very hard on
your dad as well. I will keep you all in my prayers and thoughts.
Please let me know the results. Stay positive my friend.
xo m~

Gerry said...

I checked your blog and found what you wrote about your mom. Oh my. I am going back and read again what you said in the comment on my blog. I just put up another video which reminded me of Doc being gone, but I do feel his spirit and when Suzi was lying dead he came in very strong to me through his videos. His best friend on the street was one of her best friends, and Jeff died a year before Doc did this last March. I told Doc to take care of her and be good to her, him and Jeff. Your Mom must have not wanted to leave you and her grand children. I had a dream about my grandmother King after she died, my dad's mom, who never deserted him or me, and she came back and said, "I had to be in a hospital here for about 5 years, something like a mental hospital." I said, "why, Grandma?" And she said, "Because I did not understand why my sons were all dying." You will hear from your mom in spirt. In the meantime take care of you the best you can. And my best to your kids and your dad. Gerry

Anonymous said...

There really no words to say in a situation such as this. I know first hand how this feels, the emotional levels change in every direction in the blink of an eye. I pray for peace, guidance, understanding and acceptance for you and your family. May you all enjoy this holiday with love, laughter and beautiful memories made with your new additions to your family, very adorable additions at that.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving