Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Unexpected

I felt as if I needed to write down what has happened over the last year, just to tell my mom's story or to make her story known. I am not sure, but it is rather long just to prepare any of you who decide to read it.

My mom was diagnosed with uterine cancer late last summer into early fall. They did all sorts of stuff to determine the stage and she was suppose to have a hysterectomy but her platelet count was too low. The doctors instead said they would do 6 weeks of external and internal radiation and that would be the end of it. She went through the 6 weeks great and seemed to be perfectly fine on a healthy recovery through the winter. She started feeling tired again around xmas and into the beginning of the year and then started having some complications with fluid building up around her abdomen. The doctors ran all sorts of tests and found nothing until they biopsied 3 lymph nodes around her liver and abdomen and found cancer in all of them. This was in the middle of March.

The doctors all had a plan, my mom was to undergo 6 rounds of chemo, one every 3 weeks for 18 weeks. But then my mom had some problems in her colon. Fluid was still building up around her abdomen a lot and she was getting it drained. She had some intestinal blockage they needed to get at but she ended up contracting an intestinal infection called c-diff which is quite serious. So two weeks on antibiotics were in store before they could do anything. She finished her antibiotics on April 7th, had an appointment with the doctor and all was good, had some other things scheduled and was suppose to being chemo Friday April 16th.

But on Friday April 9th she was not doing well, went back into the hospital and basically her body starting shutting down. Her kidneys and liver had shut down and weren't functioning properly. The doctors tried some treatments to kickstart them back up but nothing worked. By Monday April 12th the doctors said there was nothing they could do, the cancer had advanced that quickly and that there would be days or weeks left.

After some phone calls with my family and getting everything settled here at home, EZ and I drove up Wednesday April 14th. My mom came home from the hospital that day too and was going to be under hospice care from here on out. I talked to my mom that night when I got in and she was still responsive but tired. I talked to her for a few minutes and told her the name of baby Zack (it is a secret) and she told me that it was a very pretty name, that was all she could say and this was our last physical conversation.

Thursday and Friday were a bit crazy in our house. Lots of visitors to see my mom and spend time with her. Thursday she didn't say all that much and what she did say didn't make all that much sense in response to questions and by Friday wasn't talking at all but just nodding and slept most of the day. We all were able to spend lots of time with her still during these days talking with her and just helping her be more comfortable. Saturday morning my mom was a bit more alert, had her eyes open quite a bit and responded to me with lots of nods.

Saturday afternoon was actually more mellow. And my sister and I (and Ethan) were in the room with her talking and noticed mom was only taking a couple breaths each minute. My sister and I said that maybe we needed to get everyone together, so my grandparents, dad, EZ, Amelia, Krista, Ethan and I all got around her bed and said a few things to her. It couldn't have been more than a few minutes with all of us there and as we were all together with her, we saw her take her last breath.

I can't describe the emotions that we all went through during those few moments, but I can say that it was perfect that we were all there with her as she left this world. The past few weeks have been extremely emotional. Some days I am fine, and then on other days I break down crying uncontrollably and can't stop. We held her memorial service this past weekend and it was very beautiful and emotional at the same time. My mom was loved by many people and it was wonderful to see and hear so many people tell me stories about how wonderful she was.

I have been told by others who have lost loved ones that I will probably continue to have extremely emotional days where I can't stop crying and that it is ok. I have a feeling that crying lets out the emotion that I am holding back on the days that I don't cry. I have had some wonderful friends through all of this-neighbors who brought us dinner, and friends who graded final exams for me, coworkers gave me two lilac bushes to plant in honor of my mom (it is her favorite flower) and my neighborhood gave me a japanese maple to plant too, not to mention two of my great friends deciding to come visit me for a weekend in June.

It is amazing how losing someone can change your outlook on life. I was lucky enough to have spent that time with my mom before she passed, even more grateful that I flew up for Easter the week before she got sick just to spend time with her while she was still mostly healthy to have conversations and laugh and talk with her before it was too late. You really have to make time and take opportunities to see those that you love because you never know when it might be too late. My mom and I had our differences because we are both very stubborn but we were like best friends. I talked to her a few times a week and that is hard to think that there won't be those conversations again.

I have a feeling that giving birth to BZ will be somewhat more emotional that was expecting. We had joked at Easter about hiding the fact of when I went into labor from my mom otherwise she would drive immediately down from MI once she knew I was in the hospital. And my mom has always been somewhat crazy in that aspect and now I think how crazy it is of me to not have wanted her there. My friend Matt told me something that will always stay with me, that to honor my mom, I can focus on being the best mother possible to baby Zack, and that will always be a reminder to me that I am thinking of her. I will always remember her. Love you always mom.


runningyankee said...

beautifully written. very sorry for your loss. you are already on the right track to honor her memory. make sure BZ knows what a wonderful grandmother is out there :)

Tyler Jorgenson said...

My deepest condolences to you and your family. I can't imagine the emotions you must be feeling. I think the idea of honoring your Mother by being a remarkable Mother is fantastic, and you will do it!

Becka K said...

Thank you for sharing this story. I am so sorry for what you are going through. You have and will continue to be in my thoughts. You have reminded me to value the time I have with my loved ones and to be sure to tell them how much they mean to me. Thank you for that.
I am sure that much of your Mother will live on in how you raise and love BZ.

Beth said...

What a beautiful story. And I'm so very glad you were able to spend your mom's last waking hours with her, in the comfort of your home and with other family members. So sorry for your loss Laurie. I'm sure you will honor your mom by being THE best mom that you can be!

Alicia Parr said...

Thanks for sharing your story. That is a wonderful suggestion on how to honor your mother. I remember how some things that wouldn't typically bother me were very emotional for me when I was pregnant, and here you are dealing with something that would be tremendously emotional no matter what.

Rebecca DeWire said...

Thanks for sharing your mother's story. I am in disbelief in how fast those events happened. And I second what Alicia said about dealing with this loss while pregnant.