Bad news. My mom was undergoing another round of treatment and she was not doing well. But we still had hope the new regimen could work. Even though she looked like she felt miserable. Her treatments were once a week 187 miles away in Utah at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. But she wanted to be home especially after being stuck in Utah all summer during her previous treatment. It was a dismal summer for her being away from her home it took her 47 years to create. So this time, we sent her to Utah once a week and let her be in her home as much as possible.
Last week, she was pretty out of it. We took her to the local emergency room Wednesday morning because there was no way we could get her to Utah in the car. Our hope was the ER would send her to the magical, wonderful, cure-all Huntsman Center. They did but it took all day. The attending doctor blamed the Huntsman Center for not corresponding with him. Mom’s doctor pointed the finger at the ER doctor. I didn’t really care whose fault it was. I just wanted someone to help my mom.
Mom traveled by ambulance to Utah Wednesday night. The plan we came up with was for dad to follow Thursday morning after a good night’s sleep. He was going to go alone and I was going to go to work. Thursday morning I was getting ready for work and I looked in the mirror. A voice seemed to say, “Corina, what are you doing? You need to go with dad.” I went into work and explained the situation to my boss. I had actually been off since early Tuesday morning due to a back spasm and concern for my mom. But I knew I had to take off the next two days also.
Dad and I headed to Salt Lake later that morning. There was a worry we were running out of options with mom but until the doctor confirmed it, we still had hope. I spent most of the day at the Huntsman Center in mom’s room. She was pretty out of it. But we still had hope. Fortunately, my sister lives in a suburb and we stayed there for the night.
Friday morning, dad and I were on our way back to the Huntsman when we received texts from mom. First, the text for dad, “You need to talk to the doctor but you need to be brave.” He cried out. Then my text, “I’ll probably need Hospice. You need to help Dad and NJ.” I knew I shouldn’t have read it while driving but since I already knew it was bad news, I read it anyway. The tears came suddenly. “No, no, no!” I said and slammed my hand on the steering wheel.
“What is it?” Dad asked though he knew.
I took some deep breaths. The hospital was just up the road but I knew he wanted it confirmed immediatley instead of waiting.
“Mom’s going to need Hospice,” I barely got the words out because they didn’t belong together in a sentence.
He nodded his head. The tears were in his eyes. We pulled into the parking garage and took a moment. Almost four years ago we were on the road to Laramie when we received bad news about mom’s diagnosis with CLL. Here we were again, just in opposite seats. But this time, hope slipped out the window like a wisp of smoke.
I received a text from my brother who asked how I was doing. He knew. I text back that I was handling the task at hand but I’m not a very brave person. He responded, “Yes, you are!”
We went to mom’s hospital room and settled into our new reality. Mom still wasn’t looking very good and we didn’t think she’d make it back home. The doctor asked if she wanted them to drain the liquid from her lung that was suffocating it. We agreed to the procedure so that we could get her home.
She stayed another night in the hospital and was to be discharged Saturday morning. However, Mother Nature threw a wrench in that plan and Salt Lake received its first major snowstorm of the season. I was concerned we’d get to Evanston and the roads would be closed – then what? We decided to stay another night. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise because another communication problem between Huntsman and the local Hospice ensued. Again, each blamed the other. And again, I didn’t care – I just wanted everything to be ready for mom’s arrival. Just get the job done.
We finally checked out on Sunday and due to the delay, Mom was able to ride in an ambulance to her home. I drove dad in the car. He put in a CD he and mom listened to while traveling in the car and the song, “Nearer My God to Thee” started playing. “Oh, no,” I said and pushed the track button. “I can’t listen to that song today.”
Hospice came in Sunday evening and went through procedure and paperwork. I wanted to slip away and have time to process but I had to stay and listen. Of all weekends, it happened when Daylight Savings Time ended so we gained an extra hour. Yeah, because this was the weekend we needed to last a little longer.
I’m not a patient person. When something is planned, I like to just get to the event. However, I’m learning not to speed up the day. Just to enjoy each day. It’s not my instinct so I have to remind myself to take some deep breaths and let the day happen.
Since the doctors at Huntsman drained the liquid from around mom’s lung, she’s been doing much better. She’s enjoying a season of peace. We just don’t know how long this season will last. Her left lung is pretty much not functioning. Tumors have formed in several systems. Basically, we’re just waiting for the tumors to squeeze out her right lung.
People have been supportive and offering what they think are helpful words of wisdom. A woman today who has turned her back on God during life let me know how wonderful heaven is. I’m not worried about mom. I know she will be at peace and pain free. We’ve even started a list of people she’s going to haunt. I was on the list briefly but I think I made my way off.
My problem isn’t that I’m worried about mom or the state of her soul. My pain sprouts from the fact I will miss her. She was the source of my first absolutes. In fact, a few years ago a coworker teased me because I asked mom to answer a question we had instead of turning to the internet. My mom may be an uneducated country bumpkin but she’s also the smartest person I know. So, yes, I’m hurting. But it’s a good kind of pain. It’s not filled with regret or anger. It’s only filled with the knowledge that I’m going to miss my mom and my friend. And for that, I’m thankful.