to your mother


Sunday, April 2, 2017

This is What We Have Been Waiting For, People

All of the following pictures are from our beginning of February birthday gathering...and have absolutely nothing to do with this post. Just trying to bring some lightness to such a heavy subject.

Okay. I'm just going to dive right in. Get the tissues. As Mom's oncologist told me Thursday, this is what we have all been waiting for...(and it ain't the circus, People).

Brief review:

Mom had a stroke over 11 years ago. Read HERE to read a little about that.
Mom was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma 5 years ago. Read HERE for background on that.

Now we are ready for the here and now...

Two weeks ago Mom was in the hospital with coughing, hacking, gasping stuff. She had a touch of pneumonia, five days in the hospital with iv antibiotics and breathing treatments and she was sent back to the Manor last Thursday, March 23rd.

Tuesday, March 28th Mom woke up puffy, vomited and had a bloody nose. After she facilitated moving all of her belongings from her two room suite to a larger, sunny room near the front door and dining room, Mom asked the staff to call an ambulance. Low and behold the woman was in renal failure with a creation level of 8.6 (should be around 1 or under) but bless be all her crap was where she wanted it in her new room. Mom has not changed a bit, she's still got her priorities.

Now, People, I'm not going to give you the nitty gritty. Here's the highlights: (after proofreading this, I think I gave you the nitty gritty, but whatever)

Chambersburg Hospital ER found two main issues going on: trouble breathing and kidneys that were struggling to filter toxins from her blood. X-rays from Tuesday show nodules in her lungs (pneumonia? cancer? flip a coin) so more iv antibiotics and breathing treatments were administered. Mom received a slow drip of iv fluids to help with fluid retention and creatin level as well as medication to bring down her toxic level of potassium, all due to the kidneys saying "We're done".

Now, it took me a few days, but when I spoke to Mom's oncologist Dr. Cashdollar on Thursday March 30th, he confirmed what my internet searches had determined. Mom's health concerns seem to be a direct result of the Multiple Myeloma that Mom has been fighting for the past 5 years. Dr. Cashdollar said he never expected Mom to last this long. She has been on numerous rounds of various chemotherapies throughout the 5 years and it seems as if this last round, on which she has successfully been on for awhile, is not working anymore. All of Mom's various bloodwork levels have been gently going up or down, all in the direction we don't want them to go. That said, Dr. Cashdollar quietly told me that Mom is not a candidate to try a more aggressive chemo. Her 82 year old, stroke-mangled body is too fragile for such powerful drugs.

So. Mom was still in the hospital and we decided to get her feeling as best we could, under the circumstances, so she could return to the Manor in the best shape her body could be, so she could, well, live out the remainder of her life. We expected Mom to remain in the hospital over the weekend. Another iv bag of fluids, reintroducing solid foods, and some breathing treatments resulted in Mom being able to get her creatin level down to 6.something and get off the oxygen. She impressed physical therapy when she transferred from a chair to a wheelchair with little assistance and wheeled down the hallway to look at the artwork on the walls. Saturday at 10:45 a.m., in walks the palliative care doctor.

Let us take a break here and morph back 11 years. After the stroke, Mom was on the 4th floor rehab facility at Chambersburg Hospital. From there she went to Quincy Village (nursing home) to receive intensive physical and occupational therapy. Those therapists did amazing work with Mom. When Mom returned home, she continued OT and PT in the basement level out patient rehab facility at Chambersburg Hospital. It is there that Mom and Dad met Becca West. I could create a completely new blog about their adventures with Becca. In short, even after she was finished with PT in the basement, Mom and Dad continued their close friendship with Becca. Most recently Becca has taken her entourage of biological, adopted and foster children up to the Manor to visit Mom. Mom can remember when she and Dad visited Becca's sister Anna's house for Becca's baby shower, what, 8 years ago? Anna, beloved Becca's sister, is who you need to remember here.

The palliative care doctor who was on-call Saturday, April 1st. The doctor who walked into Mom's room. Was Dr. Anna Kent. Anna, beloved Becca's sister. No. Lie. People. Mom whooped and hollered as only Mom can when recognized Anna, pure relief and joy.

As Mom sat in the hospital recliner next to the sunny window of room 2238 Chambersburg Hospital, it was Becca's sister, Anna, and her trainee Hans who guided Mom and I through the paperwork/questions/tears/handholding/hugs of learning about end-of-life-care. Anna.

We decided there was no reason to wait out the weekend for Mom to return to the Manor. She had been off iv fluids for 24 hours and her kidney function bloodwork continued to gently improve. Mom seemed more like herself, although still tired and, well, tired. Anna said she would give the hospitalist doctor her recommendations for medications and we could get the discharge process started. I determined that Mom was strong enough to transfer from the wheelchair into my car, I called the Manor, Dad, Mike and Paul with the news and Mom settled into her last meal in the hospital.

After lunch, our drive from the hospital to the Manor was uneventful. When we drove up to the front door, we were greeted by two personal care angels, smiling from ear to ear, so happy to see Mom. By the time I parked the car, Dad was pulling up in the lot. By the time we got in to her room, friends where already sitting with her; the word had spread that the queen of the Manor was returning and her friends were anxiously awaiting her arrival. All told, including Mike and the kids, Mom had 10 people hanging out in her room, laughing telling Mom gossip about what she missed while she was away, what was for dinner that night and other such important stuff.

After a quick 15 minutes, everyone dispersed. These folks know how exhausting a hospital stay can be and showed tremendous respect by leaving quickly so Mom could get some rest before supper.

People? As the mosquito control guys used to tell me, you can put lipstick on a pig but it's still a pig. Joy, marigolds, and sunshine Mom is back at the Manor. That's great, we are all happy she is able to return.

Truth be told? Mom is sick. She will get sicker each day. We, with the super hero strength of the loving staff at the Manor and the grace and knowledge of Dr. Anna Kent (Becca's SISTER, bless be!), will do our best to treat her symptoms to keep her as comfortable as possible. Although Mom has surprised me over and over again with her bull-headedness strength, I believe this may actually go quicker that I'd like to imagine. I pray to be proven wrong, just one more time please Lord, on this one but in my gut I don't believe there is much time left. What else can I say? I think I've said enough.

In lighter news, these are a few of the public school four year olds I teach. (What? You didn't know I went back to teaching? Well, where have you all been? You don't even KNOW me anymore.) I'm looking forward to getting back into the classroom tomorrow a.m. where the problems traditionally are not mine and I can usually solve them with a cold drink of water, a band-aid (one and done), or a big squeeze (bigger! one lil fella likes to tell me as he chokes my neck). A big squeeze.


  1. God Bless you all! think of you often hope your mom's days are filled with sunshine!

  2. Thanks very much for the update. You are in our thoughts and prayers. Your mom is blessed to have you for a daughter.

  3. I have always, since my first meeting with them many years ago, been very very fond of your parents. I wish much luck and love to every one of you and yours. Know that we are thinking of you and are here for all of you.