Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Pendulum Swings

So I've been pretty upbeat. But yesterday and today, the flood gates have opened. But not for what you'd think.

My mother, who lives with us, has been losing her energy and appetite for the last few months. It has become very bad over the last few weeks; ironically REALLY bad since my diagnosis. It reached the tipping point on Labor Day. She wasn't able to climb the stairs and was eating less than 800 calories a day. We insisted that she let us take her to the ER. It was an absolute battle to convince her to let us take her, but we left her no choice. See, she does not have insurance and is just 3 weeks shy of her 65th birthday at which time she will get Medicare. I didn't think it was wise to wait. I was right.

Two weeks and one day after my diagnosis with breast cancer, my mother was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. This is no joke. But I'm convinced it is some sort of surrealistic nightmare. I never hated being a nurse until last night in the ER when she showed me the gaping wound on her chest and under her armpit. I knew what it meant before she ever opened her mouth to tell me. She was admitted to the hospital for tests. Today she had a CT scan of her torso, a bone scan, and they drained nearly a liter of fluid off of her right lung. She had what we call in the medical universe "bilateral pleural effusions." They didn't even touch her left lung because her skin is so swollen and tight, they felt it best not to puncture it.

The good news; she is home in her bed which is what she wanted most. She has her two "grand-dogs" as she calls them. Her bed has an amazing view of the Chesapeake and she watches the sun rise every morning. She now has oxygen 24/7. I thank God, but she has not and still does not have any pain. And she is resting comfortably. I, on the other hand, am wondering if I'll ever sleep again.

My head aches and my eyes are still burning from all the tears shed over the last day. I was ready to face this disease head on; no problemo! But damn it, I feel like I've now been punched in the gut. It wasn't supposed to get her too! I find myself wondering how I'm going to take care of both of us. One decision I have made today; I will be withdrawing from school this semester. There just too many other things that are higher priorities. I can re-enroll next term, but I just have to do this right now. I need to be with her as much as I'm able. Although I'm in agony over this, my mom and I had a discussion. Seeing her decline was a nightmare and knowing what she has now is not much better. But I find that it is easier to deal with the devil you know more so than the devil you don't!

2 comments:

dpapathakis said...

Stephanie,

My heart goes out to your and your family. They say that God will not give you what you can't handle, and all I can think of is that your energy is so bright and positive, that you can make just about anybody feel better. Please know that I am praying for you and your sweet mother. If you ever need a hug, I got you covered.

Hugs,
Denise

Polly said...

Stephanie,
I'm so sorry to hear about your little mom. This is just too much for you all. I wish I could make it better. Thank God Gary is there for you both.
Now, you must let that bright and beautiful soul of yours shine as you do so well. We are all praying for you back in Charleston.
Love you,
Polly