Cancer sucks; K update

I don’t even know what to say, so stream-of-consciousness time I guess.

My mother continues to decline. She is down to 70 pounds, more or less, and my Dad said for a few days last week she was losing a pound a day. She will probably be going in to Hospice this week so their nutritionists can work on a diet for her, because she hasn’t been eating enough to keep her strength up. She is still trying to walk around on her own, which is scary because she is very unsteady on her feet, and sometimes her hips give out on her. She’s very lucky she hasn’t fallen yet. My ex-to-be said she seems to be getting around okay, and I said yes, she gets around just fine right up until she doesn’t. She needs to start using the walker…the Hospice nurse didn’t order that in just to serve as a decorative element in the corner of the living room.

Daddy sent around an email a few days ago–Friday–saying she’d been spitting up blood that morning. My Aunt (Mama’s sister, a retired nurse) and I both responded asking if they’d called anyone to report this, and his answer was, “No, we just figure it’s par for the course.” I’m wondering if he’s thinking clearly.

I talked to her this morning, and she said Daddy had come back from exercise (he goes every day since open-heart surgery three years ago) feeling dizzy, so they’d had “a bite to eat” which for her was probably literal, and now he’s napping. Apparently he’s been forgetting a medication he’s supposed to be taking. She said she isn’t feeling well, that she is very tired and has very little appetite. I think at this point it would be good for her to spend a few days at Hospice, although I worry about my Dad being by himself, because she does help him with remembering things.

I spent a little time talking with the Hospice nurse, and she offered to go see Mama tomorrow rather than later in the week. My aunt will be there, which is good, because I’d like them to meet.

While all this is going on, we did get a bright spot of new “stuff” happening for K. She is going to be starting on some new medications, which should initiate further physical change and development to move her further along in her transition. I’m pretty excited for her because of that, but also because of this:

http://www.hrc.org/blog/entry/federal-employee-health-plans-will-no-longer-exclude-transition-related-hea

…which means surgery will be covered! SO thankful for this!

“Busyness”

I have a busy period coming up at work, which is good. The way my home life is, I generally prefer being at work. It keeps me busy and keeps my mind off my own stuff.

I spent yesterday with my mother, helping her pack for the trip to visit my brother and his family. My parents have three grandchildren and four and a half great-grandchildren there; the newest one is due in November. I’m glad they’re going, although I always worry when I know they’re on the road. They spend a night in a motel, so the trip’s a little easier on them. It’s a nine-hour drive, and they like to do more than half the first day, so they can arrive by lunchtime the second day. They’re good about calling from the motel and then calling from my brother’s, so I know when to stop worrying. 🙂

Mama’s gotten some nifty things from Hospice, including a chair for the shower and a cane. She walks fine, but sometimes she can be a little wobbly. She hasn’t started using the cane yet, though. The best thing she got is some really good pain medication; she’s been feeling better in the last few days than she has in quite a while.

I met the Hospice nurse. My mother was in the bathroom as the nurse was leaving, so my Dad and I saw her to the door. She had familiarised herself with Mama’s chart before her visit, and expressed surprise that she was still mobile. My mother is strong and strong-willed, and even though she’s slipped below 80 pounds, and is finding it harder to move around, she still does as much for herself as she can. She just isn’t quite ready to give up her independence…but she’s getting there. I mean, she let me pack her suitcase, which was definitely a first. I love being able to do things for her. As I’ve told her, many times, I’ll never be able to repay her for everything she’s done for me.

Slight detour

Today I was planning to get into a little background on myself, but it turns out today isn’t about me. I figured I need to be flexible and go where I’m led sometimes.

My mother, as mentioned yesterday, was diagnosed recently–two weeks ago tomorrow–with terminal cancer. Today I, along with several other family members, received an email from my dad that detailed what they learned in their first visit with the oncologist, and what they’re planning to do in light of that info. The news, I think, was a little harsher than they were expecting. Mama will begin to decline pretty rapidly (in fact, I’ve already noticed I can see changes in her basically every time I see her); she’ll experience a marked increase in pain in as soon as a month, but most certainly within the next six months. Radiation is not an option, and while chemotherapy can help lessen or delay some of the pain, it would also weaken her further and would likely make her very sick, so she has opted not to have it. She asked about taking a trip to visit her son, grandkids and great grandkids, along with her one remaining uncle and aunt who live nearby, and was advised to go as soon as possible.

As I said, today isn’t about me. But as we humans are wont to do, I have been struggling all evening against the tendency to make it so. I asked Mama on the phone today if she and Daddy would want me to look into getting time off from work to make the trip with them, and she, in her usual loving and tactful way, said she thought it would be best if they went alone. She said she’d have plenty of time with me when they return. Now, while that makes perfect sense, because there will be a lot of family up there (and I’d be one less person demanding her attention), I’m a bit sad/hurt at the thought of being left out of their last visit with my brother. I’m doing that mantra over and over in my head, though: “It’s not all about you, it’s about her right now,” and that helps.