I am back at home after having spent 5 days visiting with my dying mother. I am exhausted, emotionally and physically wiped out. I feel like crawling in bed and telling everyone to wake me when it is over.
We had a bit of a family reunion. Most of the immediate family was there. Amazing how we can all make time to see one another when the Grim Reaper is coming down the road. Life always seems to get in the way of making time, but death does not. It is the biggest oxymoron I have ever encountered, and we are all guilty of it. I will get there tomorrow, until there may not be a tomorrow.
Lung cancer is grisly, swift and vulgar. The oncologist gave my mother two months, even that is a stretch as we do not know where else in her body the beast is hiding. The hospice nurse was brutally honest when my Mom suggested she may have longer than the two month diagnosis, she said it was highly doubtful. That was two weeks ago.
During our 5 day stay, we ended up spending most of the day Friday in the hospital. Mom was short of breath, and had to have fluid removed from her lungs. This was the second time they have done a lung tap to remove the fluid. The first time they removed 600 ml, 2 cups of fluid. That gave her 14 days of good walking and breathing. 850 ml of fluid was taken out of her right lung on Friday, that is over 3 cups. By Saturday evening, she could not catch her breath after walking 10 steps.
My younger brother took her to the hospital again today. They have decided to do a procedure called a pleurocentesis. She will be in the hospital for 4 days. Her oncologist discouraged this procedure when she gave us her diagnosis, as it can be extremely painful. The pulmonologist is like a crack dealer, he keeps pushing it. He finally got her to consent when he offered up this tidbit, “It will give you two to three months of good breathing.” I question the validity of this statement, but all she heard was TWO OR THREE MONTHS.
Saying that to my mother was like throwing a silver lure out into a bunker of blue fish, she bit. He had her at hello.
My brothers and I are trying to allow my mother to map out this journey for herself. The problem we are having is she changes her mind like the wind changes direction. We have a family meeting and agree on a medical course of care, and then suddenly a shiny diamond is presented, and we have changed direction again.
I am to far away from the situation now to be directly involved. I do the thing that feeds my need to control and feel involved, I make telephone calls. I call the doctors for more information. I called the oncologist and asked her opinion on having the procedure done. She was not of the same mind as the pulmonologist. The pulmonologist called me to answer my questions also. As he was speaking, I could understand why a dying woman would grasp the life line he is throwing her.
I have my reservations. It is difficult to reconcile when trusted doctors blatantly disagree.
I called my mother last night to just give her the facts of what both doctor’s said. It is her journey, her decision to make. The only advice I gave was that she should take a little more time to make up her mind. She did not have to rush in to the hospital at 8:30 this morning just because the doctor was available then. I urged her to think about it.
I called her at 8 am this morning. She told me she was ready to go, her bag was packed. Her reasoning is that she feels the pulmonologist has more experience than the oncologist. The same oncologist she was going to trust to restart her chemotherapy two weeks ago.
I am scared to death. I hope she has made the right choice. I hope the outcome is positive. I hope I don’t have to live the rest of my life with the regret of letting her make her own decision. I hope she makes it through this procedure, the anesthesia, the recovery, and gets back home. I pray there are no side effects. I pray this is not the thing that kills her.
The procedure is tomorrow.
P.S. I did say to my son that I would like a Vicodin, to make this all a little softer around the edges. Not wine, vicodin, a very strange craving. Much harder to come by as well, so I have that going for me.