to your mother


Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

 Be watching over the next few days...gonna try to blog for each of the 12 days of Christmas...

Meanwhile, may your family & friends be showered with the blessings that come from the true meaning of Christmas. May there be laughter, peace and simple joy today and throughout the coming new year!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Who Are You Calling An Old Man?

Dad recently bought a Toyota Matrix. He and Mom have been tooling around town in a Prius for a few years and Dad wanted a second vehicle in which Mom could get in and out.  He had been hemmin' and hawin' for about a week, telling me he wanted to see if Mom could get into the car. I told him we would do I next time I came up.

 Next time I came up, Dad approached Mom, telling her he wanted to see if she could independently get in and out of the new car. Mom rolled her eyes and harumphed a little. "Come on Peggy, let's try it out. I feel like an old man driving that Prius around"...said the 77 year old man.

Well, Mom easily got in, her young groom drove her around the block, and when they returned I asked Mom to smile for a victory picture...

Nuff said.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Middle

The middle...I'll get to that in a minute.  First we need to catch up a bit...

Mom won the fight...with the eye surgeon...

Mom had minor eye surgery almost two weeks ago. The lower lid on her right eye was curling in and rubbing against her eyeball. You know how painfully annoying it is when you have an eyelash stuck in your eye? Imagine your whole lower lid constantly stroking your eyeball...there's Mom's life for the past I-don't-even-know-how-many-months. With a little yelling persuasive talk, Dad was able to get an earlier appointment for her surgery (2 months instead of 3 months). Mom came through the surgery with flying colors (note the gorgeous shade of purple below that right lid, just stunning). I slept in the bed with Mom that night to ensure she didn't need assistance while she used the bathroom FOUR TIMES DURING THE NIGHT. I awoke with gusto each time, anxious to make sure Mom wasn't going to fall on my watch...meanwhile she was able to do everything independently and I was just along for the show. The next morning? I went home. Dad kept the goop on her eye lid for a week, returned her for a follow up appointment and she is well on the road to pain-free blinking and, well, just existing with a regular eyeball experience. Bless.

Now let us jump to last Thursday 11/12/15. Mom had her routine blood work done and then I received the call from Dad. Mom's hemoglobin was down to 6.3 (or abouts there). Anything below an 8 is a concern. As my dear friend Don would say, "whoopsie". Mom was scheduled for a blood transfusion the following morning, Friday 11/13/15. I met Mom and Dad at the hospital for the outpatient transfusion event and returned her home 5 hours later. She got in her pajamas, ate a meal, and planned to go to bed early.

Fast forward to Saturday 11/14/15 in the afternoon. Mom had been vomiting and wasjust overall a sick mess. After a few phone calls between Dad, Paul and me a plan comes together. Dad called the ambulance and Paul met them at Waynesboro Hospital. It was determined that Mom's tongue was swollen and she was having some sort of allergic reaction to one of her medications that had built up in her system. She stayed overnight for observation and Paul and Dad brought her home Sunday afternoon 11/15/15, feeling much more like herself.

I went up to Mom and Dad's today (Monday 11/16/15) to check out the scene, see what has been going on in the hood. Mom...

...okay hold on...I just realized that I wanted a picture of the list Mom and I worked on today. I got the list then realized I had never used the camera on this laptop before so let's test it out, right?

Literally, here are my thoughts and the corresponding pictures:

what button do I click?

oh THAT one works!

I have NO IDEA where my six-year-old daughter gets her drama. No. Idea.

Onward, shall we?

I started making a list on a sticky note of things Mom and I wanted to get done while I was there today. I pretty much wrote what I thought should happen today and then Mom started gesturing as to what SHE wanted to get done. I gave her the paper and said "sure, YOU write what YOU want to get done today." (Sorry folks, I was feeling snarky today.) If you look at the bottom of the list, you can clearly see "GRPOP", stroke language for "take out the recycled newspapers, they keep sliding off the chair, oh and make sure you bring in an empty bag to put on the chair so I can start filling another one".
At some point, Mom took over crossing items off the list. See my nice check on her recycling item? See her scribble-scrabble all over the rest of it? And at some point I turned to Mom while I was doing the dishes and said, "Mom can you write ______ on the list so I don't forget?" (I've forgotten what _______was.) and she promptly went to the list and wrote the "TeuT" near the top of the list. She wheeled the list over to me, proudly putting it up towards my face. I replied "Oh, yeah, ________. Thanks for writing that down." She just cackled and hooted with pride.

Okay, still with me people? The middle.

The first thing on our list of things for Mom and I to do today was get her in the shower. I asked her if she wanted help washing her hair, she replied yes. I soaped up her hair, from her forehead to the back of her neck. I massaged her scalp, worked the suds through the length of her hair. I sprayed the water, starting at her forehead and working my way back, combing my fingers through the length of her hair, rinsing out the soap and feeling how smooth and silky her clean hair had become. I helped my mom wash her hair.

Fast forward to this evening. I arrived home in time for the kids to get off the bus. So many decisions, questions, whining, near-fits, reminders, food, candy, more food, drink something, cut this foam out to make this gift for your teacher, yadda yadda yadda until it was time for Julie to take her weekly shower (don't judge). Julie has grown her hair long and gets frustrated washing it herself.

"Mama, will you wash my hair for me?" 

 I soaped up her hair, from her forehead to the back of her neck. I massaged her scalp, worked the suds through the length of her hair. I sprayed the water, starting at her forehead and working my way back, combing my fingers through the length of her hair, rinsing out the soap and feeling how smooth and silky her clean hair had become. I helped my daughter wash her hair.

The middle. That is exactly where I am. Mom was in her 30's when she had me, I was in my 30's when I had my kids...Mom, at 80 years old, is significantly older than most of my friend's parents. Most friends my age have kids who are much older than mine. I'm not sure how many people are actually so close to this middle, where I still have a daughter who wants my help washing her hair and I have a mother who benefits from the same gift in which I can lovingly give.

Frankly, the middle feels like poop a lot of the time, being pulled between the needs of my young kids and the longing to care for my parents. But the middle can also be a blessing, helps me to realize that I give love and receive love across such a wide spectrum of this life.

The middle. It is what it is. I'm looking at the gratitude in it today.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Post Inspired By Juanita


I think Dad had emailed me about two months ago to say that Juanita was asking for an update on Mom...Dad, so sorry it has taken me this long. Juanita?  This one's for you.

Over the summer Mom's cancer numbers went up and her hemoglobin continued to go down. Mom's oncologist recommended a different chemo, one that she would have to come in for an iv treatment rather than a pill. This onchologist is an expert in Mom's care at this point. He suggested that they administer a half dose of chemo every week rather than a full dose every other week. This half-dose strategy is something Dad has come up with over the years. Mom's body is very sensitive to medications and Dad has found that she tolerates less over a longer peiord of time better than a full blast all at once. Dad is a thinker and problem solver, proof right here.

 So far side effects have been minimal and Mom's hemoglobin has fluctuated some but in her most recent blood work her was hemo at 10.something, the highest we have seen in months. This hemoglobin stuff really affects the lady. To put it simply, when hemo is low she is low, when it's high she's high. When Mom is low it takes her longer to do, well anything. She tends to be more weepy during low hemo times and is quick to get angry. Visiting time needs to be limited during low times as she tires easily and needs more rest. With her hemo being up recently, Mom has been in good spirits, a blessing for her and Dad.

Mom continues her self care, exercise, laughter, quilt planning and old movie watching. Dad knew when football season was starting because there was significantly more yelling coming from Mom in front of the tv. That lady loves to yell at football players (better them than us, right?).

Mom appreciates all the notes, cards, flowers, good wishes and visits. The lady thrives on getting outside of herself and feeling the love from others.

Juanita? I'll try to be better about updates on Mom...and I've got some funny stories from the kids that I plan to share her as well.

I have been working on gratitude recently; keeping my eye on the good, rather than perseverating on the bad. Well hey, if this lady can laugh...


...we should all be able to crack a smile every once and awhile.

Much love to you all
Peggy Anne

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Cycle

Mom has been on a certain cycle of life that I'll share with you now.

After Mom got her blood transfusion at the hospital, she returned home and rested.  She continued her daily/weekly routines of exercise, self-care, pestering Dad and doing Mom-like things.
Once her hemoglobin was up to an acceptable level, she began another round of chemo...same drug, reducing the dose.

So here comes the cyclical part...
chemo - wait two weeks - blood work to check hemoglobin - wait two weeks - blood work - hemoglobin is too low - out patient blood transfusion - wait two weeks - hemoglobin better - wait two weeks - blood work - hemoglobin acceptable - chemo - wait two weeks...
I know, I hear you, exciting way to live.  The weeks during chemo and following are challenging for Mom.
She puts on a good show, but she is tired, achy, weary and worn out.
After the blood transfusions she seems a little perkier.
But as the blood transfusions wear on, her bounce back perkiness seems lessened a little with each one.
We continue to gather, to be supportive, to cry, but mostly we laugh.
I mean really, who can't crack a smile with this one in your life?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Mom's Most Recent Adventures

Mom was diagnosed with anemia about a month ago. The multiple myeloma, chemo and Mom's kidney issues all contribute to lowering her hemoglobin level. Over the past month she has been receiving shots to boost her hemoglobin (normal is over 12, her level was dipping below). On Friday, March 6th Mom got herself dressed, prepped and ate some breakfast then Dad took her to get blood work done to check her hemoglobin level.  A short time after getting home, while Mom was rolling around the house doing her thing, Dad received a call stating that Mom's hemoglobin was 5.3 and he needed to take Mom to the ER. Dad loaded Mom into the car and took her to Waynesboro Hospitial ER. Doctors were amazed with this woman...most people with a hemoglobin level of 5.3 are unresponsive in a bed with concerns of heart failure...Mom was going about her day, then laughing and carrying on with hospital staff. This woman? She is on ox.

Mom spent three days in the hospital, visiting with nurses, doctors and staff...bringing smiles to even the most stoic of people...while she received 3 units of blood. I describe it as a wilted flower that finally received the water desperately needed to fully bloom. By Monday morning Mom was raring to go home.  During her final bedside visit from her hospital doctor, as he removed the oxygen tube up her nose he replied "Why do you still have this? This makes you look sick. Let's get rid of this." Mom triumphantly raised her hand,  laughed, cried out for joy, danced in the bed, as if this moment meant she would be going home soon. Her doctor laughed and asked " Are you ON something? Because if so, I WANT some."

After some discussion and trepidation of whether Mom would continue to be independent at home, we decided to take her home with consults for home health care, specific nursing care, and home physical and occupational therapy scheduled for the next day.  We brought Mom home and I hovered over her like a mother hen while she transferred from chair to toilet to bed and such. She seemed to be functioning with strength and confidence. We all went to bed.

The next morning I came downstairs to find crumbs on the counter next to an opened bag of sliced bread, a buttery knife and a margarine container turned on it's side. Mom sat at the kitchen table with half a cup of coffee, toasty crumbs on her plate and a cup of fresh water with ice. She greeted me with a "Ahhh!" and a sunny smile. "Feeling better Mom?" "YES!" Mom was joyously back to her old routine.

Later, as Dad and I sat at the kitchen table, Mom wheeled herself into the bedroom. Dad asked that I talk with the home healthcare people when they called to coordinate the various consults for the day and I agreed. Minutes later I heard a swift "shhhhingggggg" of metal rolling across metal.

PA: Did you hear that?
Dad:What was that?
PA:  The shower curtain...Mom is in the shower.
Dad: (shaking his lowered head) Call the Lutherns (home health care). Tell them we don't need them today.

Once again, Mom has persevered...defied medical knowledge and any of our expectations.

Since being in the hospital Mom has seen her primary care physician and oncologist. She goes for blood work next Monday to check blood levels. These levels will determine the course future chemo will take. Mom has been complaining of body aches and pains for awhile so we are pursing some pain management options.

Meanwhile, we keep on truckin'.  Thanks for your outpouring of love and support!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Update On Mom

It's been long awaited by some, this update on Mom.  It never seems the right time to blog about it...I want to be present for my family, I'm at work, laundry, floors, bathroom, get the picture.  I can make up any excuse, really, keeping upbeat can be hard.

Here she is, one of the most upbeat women I know.

Mom had a stroke in September 2006, 8.5 years ago. The stroke affected her right side and her speech. The stroke did NOT affect her perseverance, her humor, her strength, her spirit.

In May of 2012, Mom was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma. You can read here to get the background about Mom's diagnosis and more info about multiple myeloma.

At that time we were told that a typical prognosis for multiple myeloma at Mom's stage of diagnosis is 2-3 years.  You all are intelligent people, you can do the math. This woman, who deals with the challenges of a major stroke on a daily basis, sometimes each 15 minutes at a time, has been battling a cancer that attacks her bones (the foundation building block of our bodies) for close to three years. Getting old isn't for sissies and she's ain't no sissy.

(Yes, Brandi, below is the birthday card you sent Mom. I was there when she received it and when she read it, she laughed so hard. She got a kick out of getting a card from a friend of mine whom she doesn't know.  Thank you!)

How is Mom doing today? Here goes...

1. Mom continues to independently care for herself: showering, cooking breakfast (cracked egg shells left on the stove is evidence to that), transferring to her glider to surf the tv channels (Dad had a young German Baptist man put a brake on it so it wouldn't rock and swivel when she gets in and out. All the therapists were greatly impressed), getting in and out of bed and the get the picture.

2. Mom has sewed countless quilts since her stroke. She no longer does the actual sewing, but her dear friend Jean comes on Tuesdays to assist Mom with the sewing part, Mom continues to design the placement of the scrap squares.

3. Mom is well loved no matter where she goes. Her upbeat attitude, regardless if she is sitting at the kitchen table, the dentist chair or the oncologists office, is infectious. Wherever she goes she is greeted with "Hello Sunshine!" "Hey Peggy!" "Great to see you!". People love this woman.

4. Mom continues to workout twice a week. Her dear friend Joyce comes on Mondays and Thursdays to assist Mom with a walk across the house, muscle strengthening, balance and stretching exercises to keep herself in good physical shape. Aside from walking with Joyce, Mom uses her wheelchair exclusively to get around.

5. Chemo has helped to keep the cancer from progressing quickly, but has certainly taken a toll on Mom's health in other ways. When a chemo stops working, another one is tried. Side affects from the various treatments have been weakness, fatigue, loss of teeth, rashes, body aches, a grand mal seizure, falls...perhaps more. Recently Mom's numbers have gradually been going up, a sign that the cancer is progressing. Another chemo is being tried. Mom and Dad both agree that Mom will continue chemo as long as the benefits outweigh the negatives. Dad recently said "We are damned if we do and damned if we don't". True statement from a wise man.

6. Mom has complained of body pains for months. It specifically seems to bother her back and hips but at times she just seems weary all over. Mom pushes on regardless, she puts on a good show for people.

7. Everyday isn't full of rainbows, unicorns and sunshine. At times Mom weeps, gets incredibly frustrated, is in major pain, yells, beats her fist on the table or bawls uncontrollably. Completely understandable, still it's heart wrenching.

8. Mom loooooooves to get cards and notes. Hearing news from friends gets her out of her head and reminds her that other people are out there thinking of her. For the past 8 years Mom's dear friend Leslie has consistently sent Mom little notes of what birds are at her feeder, what bulbs are shooting up in the spring, what the snow looks like across their yard. Mom reads and rereads these...a window to the outside world. Thank you Leslie.

9. Mom recently turned 80. That's a body that has seen a lot. Coupled with a major stroke and blood cancer, this woman is a walking rolling miracle if you ask me.

10. Mom and Dad celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary yesterday. Dad has spent the past 8.5 years being an incredible advocate for Mom. Imagine your loved one having various health issues (from hair to teeth to eyes to arms to legs to belly to feet all the way down the toenails) and that person not being able to care for these issues herself nor verbalize her thoughts. Nightmare. Dad has stepped up to the plate and hit a home run when it comes to Mom's daily care. He deserves a few medals and a few days off.

We all try to stay positive. We try to keep life in perspective. We push on regardless. We get out in the sunshine. We feed the birds. We hold each other up. We smile. We cry. We belly laugh.

A big thank you goes out to all of you, who support Mom, Dad and our family. We certainly don't want to do this alone. It's nice to have some good friends and family along for the ride...just try to keep the backseat clean, I have this thing about crushed up cheese-its in the carpet.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Mom Turns 80, Yup You Heard it Right

Mom was born January 13, 1935...80 years ago today.  At some point I'd like to blog about Mom's life but tonight, just a small tribute.
Mike, the kids and I celebrated with Mom and Dad last Saturday.  We had a seafood feast...including a crab cake decked out with a candle.
It was a relaxing day filled with good food and some lovin'.

Today, Mom and Dad's house was filled with the smells of good food and the laughter of a gaggle of German Baptist women who have become dear friends with Mom over the past 8 years. Those ladies, who cook, grocery shop, share recipes and home canned goods, clean, facilitate physical therapy, pay bills, sew, pick Mom up off the floor, get birds out of the house, do stand up comedy, and truly love Mom and Dad, are a true blessing to our family.

I called Mom today mid morning to wish her a Happy Birthday.  She got on the phone, I sang to her (as she did every year to me after I had moved away from I call her on my birthday and get her started on the song and she belts it out on her own) and her response was this...

Dead silence. No typical giggle or gut wrenching laughter or "I know!". Nothing.

I said, "Mom are you mad that I reminded you that it's your birthday?" (She has never cared for the day)

She replied with a short, snarky "yes".

I said, "Whoopsie Mom, I emailed over 50 people to remind them that today is your 80th birthday...better prepare yourself for a day of disappointment."

This got the gut wrenching laughter and an "Oh My!"

Today, thanks to a lot of you, Mom celebrated her 80th birthday with phone calls, pictures, gifts, flowers, cards, laughter, and fond memories of friends and family from over the years. Thank you for reaching out and lovin' my mama on her special day (even if she hated it :)

And hey, no worries if you haven't gotten round to sending your love yet, it's better to spread out her birthday disappointment anyway.

STAY TUNED: Update on Mom's health coming soon

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Yesterday Was A


There was much joy to be had at our household yesterday.
Luckily Santa had brought some actual sleds this year so the minions didn't have to use aluminum roasting pans or old cardboard boxes (true story). 

Some other joy was Mike, after long hours of research, bidding, delivering and attaching, being able to use his tricked out John Deere.  
 After plowing five rural driveways, Mike settled into his barkalounger with some hot cocoa and was amazed at the time...only one hour had passed since he had gone out to plow.  Used to take him an hour just to do our drive with the front end loader.
Of course Julie had to stop him on his way back up the drive to let him know Joe was doing something he wasn't suppose to...story of our lives.

Nice rig, huh?

While out for their third time yesterday, Julie honed her skills in belly sledding...
1. Get that sled steady.

2. Caaaaarefully position yourself over the center of the sled.

3. Plop down and let 'er rip.
I must say I've never really leaned one way or another about whether I like cold or hot weather...I just kind of go with the flow cause there is not much I can do about it.  Don't get me wrong, I complain, but in my mind I haven't really leaned one way or the other...except this morning...when the wind chill was 9 degrees F...good googamooga this Mama like warm sunny days.  You know it's bad when 2 lil minions are whining to go out sledding until they crack open the front door to say "Let's just watch a movie instead." It's bad, people, BAD.
Stayed tuned for the next post: Mom Will Turn 80!