Wow, it’s really been a hot minute huh?
Honestly, I never had much intention of coming back here, I’m not sure why, writing has always been one of my absolute favorite things to do, and blogging was always a good way to relax and unwind, and just have some fun! Maybe I’ll start back up again, maybe I won’t…not making any promises.
So, before we get too far into this, I should warn you, that at times this entry may seem, understandably, a little dark and depressing. I’ll explain what’s going on in my life momentarily, and I think it will make some sense why I am where I am in my life right now.
So where am I? I’m at a very strange impasse in my life. I’ve found myself standing on the edge of….well, I don’t want to call it depression, because I don’t think it’s that bad, and I can definitely see the light, it’s just a matter of getting there; but it’s definitely sadness. Sadness, at least long term sadness, is something I’ve (fortunately) never had to deal with. Sure, we all have moments of sadness and the feeling of hopelessness, but for the most part, it passes rather quickly for me. I’m happy with my life, and I’m good with where I am, despite the fact that I don’t have a whole lot to show for it!
2016 was supposed to be my year. At the beginning of the year, I was so excited because I just had a feeling that this year held so much potential. There were so many new opportunities put in front of me, and I couldn’t wait to jump on them. I was so eager, that I probably made some really poor choices, but even so, I don’t regret any of those choices. I see where they put me, and how it all fit into the puzzle, and I was, and still am (once I get out of this hole) excited about making the most of what has been laid out before me.
2016 was going to be a year of new adventures, new experiences, new stories to be told, and the truth is, that’s exactly what It’s turned out to be; just not exactly what I had expected.
At the beginning of the year, I was starting a new job, a good job, that I was super excited about and had a lot of potential. I also was in the process of getting a brand new house, which the story behind that is worth about 25 different blogs by itself. And after nearly 6 years, I was faced with the task of starting a new relationship. That’s right, “the boy” and I had finally gotten to a point where it was best that we thought to move on, apart.
It was a scary time for sure, but it was exciting at the same time. I love starting new chapters, and I had so much working in my favor, that I felt as though nothing could get in my way.
But everything came crashing down in April.
On the morning of April 22, my mom went to the Emergency Room, complaining of stomach, neck, back, and shoulder pain. She had all the symptoms of a heart attack. When she got there, they discovered that her heart was perfectly fine, but she was still in a great deal of pain. The dr there was so diligent, she was determined that she would get to the root of the problem, no matter what! Eventually, it was determined that she had a stomach ulcer that had perforated quite a while back, and it had been leaking into her abdominal cavity. She was rushed right then and there to have emergency surgery.
I’ll never forget that first night in ICU. As we waited for them to take her to surgery, the surgeon came in to talk to us about the risks, and she was extremely cold and candid. It was the first time I’ve ever been truly scared. The surgery lasted nearly 3 hours, and when it was over, the surgeon came out and said that everything went well, and that she expected mom to recover fairly well, though it was going to be a long recovery process.
Over the next few days, she started to do better, they took her out of ICU and put her in a normal room after about 3 or 4 days. Turns out, that was way too soon. The first night she was in a normal room, she crashed. They rushed her back down to ICU and put her on a ventilator to help stabilize her. She was on the ventilator for a couple days before they tried to take it out again. Again, she started recovering, so they moved her back to a normal room.
The next few days went pretty well. She was alert, happy (as happy as one can be in a hospital bed) and eager to get out of there. She was doing so well that the hospital eventually told us that we would have to move her to a rehab facility, better prepared to deal with her recovery. That was great news!
We moved her to the rehab facility, and I was feeling so confident that she was doing well, that I decided to go to the fireworks demonstration that the wholesaler we buy fireworks from was putting on. (I’ve told y’all before that my family runs a fireworks stand every 4th of July and New Year’s right? Well if not, we do!) The wholesaler is a good distance from where we live, probably a couple hours. Anyways, as soon as I got all the way there, I got a call from my step dad saying that the rehab facility had placed mom in their ICU because she had crashed once more.
This time it was internal bleeding. She was bleeding profusely, and they couldn’t figure out what the cause was.
After several tests and pokes and prods, they finally determined that it was her colon. So we had to take her back to the real hospital and have them figure that out. They did several colonoscopies, cat scans, blood work; you name it, they did it.
Now, let me back up a minute, because I forgot to tell you something very important. When they did the surgery on her stomach, the surgeon determined that her liver was in very poor shape. We never had any reason to suspect she had anything wrong with her liver. If you knew my mother, you would have paid $50 just to watch her drink one little wine cooler. She is the only person I know that could get flat out drunk off one little drink, and she was a VERY happy drunk when she drank! That being said, she almost NEVER drank. So we were pretty shocked to hear the diagnosis of cirrhosis of the liver.
Apparently your liver is pretty darn important. Obviously I knew that, to some extent, but I never really realized just HOW important it is. So because her liver was so badly damaged, the surgeon told us from the beginning that she would not survive another surgery.
Now we found ourselves at a very crucial point in her recovery. It was a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” type situation because the drs determined that he colon was so badly damaged, that the best thing to do for her, was have it removed. At the same time, knowing her condition, and knowing that she would have a very low success rate were she to undergo another surgery, we had to come up with some creative ways to get around having her colon removed.
For two weeks, they treated her colon with medication. For two weeks, she would get better and be almost back to normal, then crash the next day. For two weeks, I never knew if I was going to come in and actually have a mother to talk to. It was a rough time in my life, but I did my best to stay strong.
Finally, after we had tried everything under the sun, including radiation, there was nothing to do but either have her colon removed, or just wait.
What a decision to be faced with. The surgeon’s exact words to us were “you have two choices, either do the surgery, and give her a fighting chance, or go ahead and call hospice and just wait.”
What do you do in a situation like that? Why is there not a rule book or something that gives you direction to make the right decision? Do you just let nature take its course, or do you intervene and try to prolong a life, not knowing what the quality of that life may be?
Maybe we made a selfish decision, but it was a decision that I and my step dad both came to together. Do the surgery, give her a fighting chance, because neither of us was ready to give up on her just yet.
The surgery actually went well. She did fine, no issues, despite her pesky liver that was always causing reason for concern. She started to stabilize a little, but her mind never really came back.
On the morning of June 8, I was the first one there. I came in the room and her eyes were open, which was a relief, because she had been sleeping pretty much the entire week after the second surgery. There were times in between, that you could get her to wake up and ask her to squeeze your hand or nod to answer questions. She had a ventilator in still, so she couldn’t talk, but she was at least alert.
However, up until this point, you always had to wake her up to get her to respond to you. So it was refreshing to see her with her eyes open, it gave me hope that she was starting to turn back in the direction we wanted her to go.
My hope faded quickly.
After I put my stuff in a chair and walked over to say hi, I realized something wasn’t right. Yes, her eyes were open, but I stood there for a moment and never saw her blink. I grabbed her hand and asked her to squeeze it and got no response. I took a good look at those wide open eyes, and realized they were glassed over. I even went so far as to close her eye lids, and as soon as I released my hold, they popped back open.
It was at this point that I knew, June 8, 2016 would be a day that will NEVER leave my mind.
After talking to several drs we finally got a full prognosis; her failing liver had caused everything else to follow suit-her kidneys were failing, she was now on dialysis, her lungs were failing, the ventilator was breathing for her, her colon was gone, she had an ileostomy bag, and she had apparently developed bleeding on the brain.
The brain bleed was completely new. We knew about all the other stuff, but for me, this was God’s way of saying “I’m not giving this one back, so you might as well just give up now, I want this one in Heaven with me, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” So we finally decided to give in.
We took her off life support at 4pm that afternoon.
At 4:10, I stood in a room, surrounded by amazing friends and family and desperately counted the seconds between each breath she took. It had been 30 seconds since her last breath when the nurse came in and told us she was gone.
I’ve only experienced loss once before in my life. When my grandpa passed away. Up until this point, those who I’m closest to, have managed to stick around. But this was a HUGE loss for me. Anyone that knew the relationship I had with my mother, knew that it was a VERY special one. One that I’ve been told many times that most people are jealous of. She was truly my best friend. We did everything together, where you saw one, you always saw the other, and we were CONSTANTLY going. Our weekends were always so full, that I found myself praying for a day of nothing to do. And when those nothing days came, I was so ridiculously bored, that I would find something to do and drag her along with me.
She was the first call I made any time I found myself in some sort of trouble. She was the first person I called with a question. She loved my silly “domestic” questions, things like “how do you boil eggs? Can you put mayonnaise in the microwave? How long does it take chicken to cook?”, obviously I have never been very good at domestic life.
She was only person who ever really saw me cry. I’m guarded in my emotions, and I’m not one to show them openly, but I always allowed her to see my true colors. And she always knew when something wasn’t right, sometimes before I realized it myself. She could hear it in my voice when we talked on the phone. She just knew me, unlike anyone else in the world ever has.
She was my best friend.
It’s taken me some time to really deal with all of this, and even longer for everything to really hit. I never really grieved. I didn’t cry much at the funeral, and I bounced back pretty quickly afterwards and did all the things that needed to be done. I went to west Texas to run the family fireworks stand, had a few minor moments that I just needed to be alone, but for the most part, never really broke down.
I had an incident yesterday though, when I went to the grocery store. Mom worked in the pharmacy of our grocery store, she had a lot of friends there, and she was so popular with the client base there that several of them actually came to her funeral. So I found it really difficult to buy groceries there. I walked around the store, blubbering most of the time, sometimes so bad that I could see mothers grabbing their children and shooing them away from the “crazy lady”.
Everyone keeps telling me things like “your strength is empowering! You are so strong and brave!” but I don’t really see myself as being all that strong. It’s taking everything that I have to not crawl in a hole and beg God to give me my mom back.
I wish it worked like that.
Anyways….I know it will all get better with time, I just wish time would hurry up already. They keep saying that life will get back to normal. I’ve found myself stricken with a sort of “loneliness” which is so weird for me because, for the most part, I’m a loner. I value my “me” time, my time to myself. But I’ve found myself just wanting to be with people, and trying to find things to get in to.
So for now, I guess I just stay in this dark place, and let time tell where I will end up.