to your mother


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.