New Way to be Human

Nov. 18 2004, my Mom was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer. I started this blog to chronicle her journey. July 19, 2005 she gave her life in the battle. This blog is my place to process through the journey I walked along with her, and now my journey through grief. It's also a place to discuss the effects cancer has on the lives it touches--survivors and caregivers alike. I'm a Navy wife, a Mom, and my mother's daughter now and forever.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Just Tear Me in Two...

So I go back to Washington on Monday...... I think.

I so badly want to see Andy, and he needs so badly to see his baby girl. We will be packing up the apartment and putting it into storage as well, and I don't want to leave that all on Andy who will, of course, also be working.

But things just feel tentative and crappy here. Mom is in the midst of some really lousy days. She's in pain ALL the time and she's dealing with some nausea as well. The pain meds she's on don't seem to be knocking it down to the degree that she seems to need. She just hasn't felt well at all these last few days.

And then there's Dad.... He went to the doctor yesterday and he needs a colonoscopy, a mammogram (of all things), and they've run some tests due to a tingling sensation and numbness in his legs (they think that is due to his cholesteral medicine). What's going on with my Dad? The thought that he could be sick too just terrifies me. He needs all these tests. I want to be here for him. Some of the tests will wait until I get back...

Mom will start radiation again in a week and a half or so to hopefully again reduce the pain she is feeling in her shoulder. But again there is more busyness.

And then there's just the fact that, though Daddy is trying really hard... He's so scared and angry right now that his tactic is to stay busy. It works for him, but Mom needs someone to just sit with her and talk sometimes.... about scary stuff, and fun stuff, and normal stuff. Daddy seems to be so afraid of stopping his activity that he isn't doing that. I wonder who will tuck the covers in around Mom and sit with her and hold her hand on the nights that the pain is bad while I'm gone...

It's only 2 weeks... but if time is limited, how can I NOT be here?

And yet... I know I need to go. I guess that tells me what to do. The "voice" says 'you need to let your husband see Carolyn once more before the long months without him begin.'

It's just very, very hard. I used to find it comforting that I could only be 1 place at a time. That freed me to stay in the now. But things are so pressing in two parts of the country... If only I could leave part of me here and take the rest to see Andy.

In happier news... Carolyn is trying SO hard to turn over on her own. She's done it once with only a little bit of help. She is also jabbering up a blue streak. I love her little sounds. They sound like bell-songs in the morning.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Bad Day

I thought about calling this post 'stormy day,' but I decided I like storms too much to connect the two things.

It was a rotten day for everyone today. Mom had to go in to get 3 units of blood. She and Dad went in mid-morning and Carolyn and I went in early afternoonish. Things were going ok at first. Mom was even starting to feel perkier with all that new good blood in her. We were playing trivial pursuit and Carolyn was turning on the charm.

Then Mom started getting chills. That's pretty normal so we just kind of went on. Right before I was getting ready to leave to go visit some friends, somehow or another Mom pulled the line out of her Port. Blood was dripping all over and I think Mom was scared she'd messed up the port. The nurses came in and fixed her up. That hurt. And then she fell apart feeling awful about all that she is having to go through and feeling like she'd really messed up, and then feeling bad for feeling bad in front of me. I held her hand and told her it was an honor to be able to support her and Carolyn and I are so glad we can just be with her to love her... And she cried and said, "I need it so badly right now."

Once things were settled again, Carolyn and I went ahead and left to see our friends who are expecting their first son in September. They were going ot meet Carolyn and I was going to see how cute my friend was pregnant. About halfway there, Carolyn started whimpering. By the time we got to their house she WAS NOT Happy. She looked around like, "Um... Mom... This isn't home. I'm done. I don't want to play anymore." Well, this only escalated. She added some spit-up and some choking and sputtering and was basically the definition of inconsolable crying. My friends tried to help. They even put together their future son's bouncy seat to try to help Carolyn settle down, but it just wasn't happening. Just as we were getting ready to head home, Carolyn scratched the inside of her mouth or something and a small little drool puddle with blood mixed into it landed on her shirt. Well, I stayed calm but blood coming out of your kid's mouth is pretty scary. We looked her over (expecting Dad friend is a paramedic, so I was watching to see if he looked like he thought I should be worried) and couldn't find anything wrong with her. I came up with the mouth scratch hypothesis and got us headed for home.

Well, I still WAS worried and was trying to figure out what to do so I called my dad for advice... And he was headed up to the hospital because Mom's fever had spiked and they'd stopped doing the transfusion until it went down. Well, about this time I lost it. (I think I'm more than entitled).... Dad said to take C home and check her temp and go from there and that he'd keep me posted on Mom's situation.

So that's what we did. Carolyn did some more crying when we got home, but nursed her way to pretty peaceful sleep, and she didn't have a fever.

Andy called and he had had an awful day was well. It just seems to be a theme. Neither of us really wanted to talk about our awful days and so that made for an awkward upsetting conversation too.

But in the long run.... I think everyone is ok. I am ok. Just worn out. Carolyn seems fine (and believe me I keep going in to make sure her little chest is still rising up and down). I think she was just overwhelmed with the day and needed to be in the familiar again. Mom's fever is down and she is ok, but not home yet. And Andy is alright too.

But for all of our relative okness, it was a pretty crappy day.

But back to the 'storm' issue. On the way home there was a brilliant electrical storm. Great streaks and bolts of lighting kept arcing through the sky so bright that the single bolts alone made it seem like daylight when it flashed. It was absolutely breath-takingly beautiful.

It made me think that in general, life hurts. But all in all it is as beautiful as that electical storm.

I hope tomorrow is better.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

So Hard...

I'm feeling really down today. Mom has been feeling really down as well. I'm afraid that she is losing her resolve to fight the beast. I can't blame her... She just wants a few good days, and some good news. Last night, she was whimpering as she was getting ready for bed. I went in and tucked her in, and she was crying. Dad is having a hard time, and so he is short with her, and she was feeling really hurt about that, and I think that is as corrosive to her as anything right now.

She's turned into my Grandmother... She's said it a couple of times, but I'm starting to see it. She walks the same frail walk that my Grandmother did when she was getting weaker... hunched over, clutching at her nightgown, struggling for the breath to keep going.

I'm so angry today that this is hurting her so badly... and that my mother has gotten so old at such a young age.

This is just so hard.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


I should probably explain something.

It occurs to me that the posts here sound very 'down and dismal.' Perhaps, those who may float in here on their own would think I am a very 'down and dismal' person. I don't think I am though.

This is my place to talk about the hard stuff. I write in another blog about the more palatable portions of my life. Oddly that's the one I send people who 'know me in real life' to. I've not talked about LC stuff there as much because at one time, my folks read there a lot and they know lots of people we know do as well. I thought Mom wouldn't feel so 'on display' if I wrote in a more anonymous venue.

So... this has become my dumping ground. I have slowly tried to write a bit more transparently in the other blog, but I haven't integrated the 'lighter side' of things here as much as I should.

So let me say... While it is true that at the moment I am struggling with the difficulties inherent with my mother being sick, and my husband being away, I am also relishing in the joy of my precious baby girl. She is so beautiful, and when she smiles.... Well suddenly I know I can keep pressing on, and keep choosing life.

I am... amazingly content in the now. I'm not sure if it is denial, or my attempts to just be ok or what. But... I haven't gotten stuck in down-hearted too often. I worry sometimes that I'm not feeling things like I should, but at the same time I don't feel as if I have skirted away from the reality of things.

I miss my husband, and I anticipate that ache to grow a bit and be stronger some days than others, but I'm secure in his love. The hardest part of being away from him right now is knowing how much he wants to be wiht us--especially our precious baby girl.

So... forgive my dumpiness, and thank you to those of you who plow through anyway. I will try to post more about the joys of life at present here.

Like... my first taste of Steak-n-Shake in months yesterday... Vanilla Coke... Ooooo!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

We're Here

Well, we're at my folk's house. So far, it's really hard. Mom isn't doing well. She is very discouraged. She hurts all the time, is having new sorts of pain, she's very shaky, and sometimes it's all she can do to get out of bed. I have tried to do a good job of taking care of her in big and little ways.

Carolyn has been very demanding since we got here. I know she is trying to regulate herself and I'm also pretty sure she's in the middle of a growth spurt. All I know is, between Carolyn and Mom I feel like I'm ALWAYS going.

I'm still very scared. I hate that Mom isn't doing well, and I hate seeing her so discouraged. I'm afraid she is going to want to stop fighting soon. Truth is, I couldn't blame her if she did. But.... it scares me to think of that and what that means.

It's very hard to see her hurt. And at the same time, it's really peculiar how quickly I've gotten used to her groans and wimpers because of the pain. I know she doesn't want me to respond to them, so I try to just accept them.

Mom LOVES Carolyn.... I think it does help to have her here, but even that is hard because Mom so wants to hold Carolyn and she just isn't strong enough to.

This stuff sucks.