Thursday, December 28, 2017

How did we get here?

People have asked how my mom is doing. She's keeping up with her PT, has a visiting nurse, and has graduated to walking with a cane when she gets out into the world, which is good. My husband told her that it would take 8-10 weeks before she felt "normal," and I think she's on track for the further end of that prediction. If not even further beyond that. She tells me she is in pain a lot. I keep encouraging her to keep moving, keep moving, and keep talking to her osteopath.

So this is good news.


My dad ended up in the hospital. Over the summer he developed a cough, and it persisted and worsened. When I came to visit during mom's hospitalization, it was obvious he needed medical help but he pooh poohed us when we suggested.

Coughing fits were common, and would turn into inability to breathe. He was winded after very short walks, like from the car to the postal drop at the community office, or the car to the restaurant. Talking was an issue, because breathing and talking go hand in hand so he opted to just be quiet, or expressive with his eyes and gestures.

Mom called me on a Tuesday afternoon to let me know that he'd woken up, had a coughing fit, and then coughed up blood.

He said "I think it is time for an ambulance." So she called one.

Diagnosis at this point is pneumonia, and an abscess in his upper node on one of his lungs. The doctor put him on antibiotics to clear the infection, and after the course is run he wants a CT scan to see if anything is "still there." Meaning a mass, tumor, whatever. Mid January is when he'll have the next round of tests to see what's happening, but the "mass" is getting smaller, and hopefully will be gone by the end of the antibiotic run later this week.

The doctor didn't want dad to have a needle biopsy, didn't want to "put him through that yet," if all it is is an infection. But he'll need follow up care for sure.

Our good friend Chris Kelly, columnist at the Scranton Times Tribune, recently wrote about his mom, and some medical scares she's gone through.

The assessment in the article is "how did we get here?" His point is more along the lines of "we didn't plan for this" is how we got here. But when I mentioned it to my mom she was more metaphysical about it. "How did we get here to this point in our lives." Chris even intimated that to me saying we were supposed to be long dead before we had to deal with all this grown up stuff.

My mom's sister is having all kinds of issues with her memory, and will soon have an MRI to look for dementia. Her husband, my uncle Ken, has stage 4 liver cancer.

My mom said to her sister the other day "we don't have a lot of time left, Bea." And sadly this is true. And for whatever time there is left - we can only hope it is fairly calm, or goes quickly without suffering and incident.

You know? Let there be mercy.

On November 11th, my aunt Esther passed away. She was 84. She was active, and driving, and getting around and doing all kinds of things before she passed. In fact, she was sitting in her chair, with her iPad, on Facebook, when she died.

Auntie loved to stalk us kids (kidding, she wasn't a stalker) on Facebook. She'd put comments on all our posts, and get in the middle of the ribbing/arguing/joking throwing in her two cents, and always some little "sticker" of an animal with big eye hearts or jumping up and down, or rolling around laughing.

Those drove me nuts. "Oh, here goes Auntie with her heart eyed doggie and her praise of my beautiful niece! so lovely and funny!" kinds of comments.  She would comment all the time on pictures I posted.

I didn't realize how deeply sad I'd be not seeing those. And here a month and a half out, after Christmas, looking at all my cousins' posts on Facebook of how they miss their mom, I'm sure they are asking themselves "how did we get here?"

I kind of have a feeling that I know where I'm getting in this next year, and I will be amazed if I am sitting here this time next year with both parents still breathing. It is a sad feeling. But I'm feeling more prepared, maybe.