Friday, June 27, 2014

The battle is over

I wanted to let all of you know that Mom passed away last night, Thursday, June 26. She is finally at peace and I am happy with that. I will miss her every day of the rest of my life.

I will be back later to let you know more but I did want to thank each of you who left commments. I will never be able to tell you how much that meant to me and how much it helped during this time. I send my love to each of you.

Hugs,
Sharon

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Update

Just dropping by to update you on Mom. She is declining and getting weaker each day. She is now on oxygen and last night agreed to a hospital bed. Bless her sweet heart, she has been trying to avoid both of these as I know she views them as letting go of independence. My Mom has always been very independent and has not wanted others to do for her. I know that having to give in to these things was a hard decision for her but I hope that by doing so, she will rest better.

After the bed was brought in and set up and we got her back into it, she did go to sleep and slept for about an hour really well. That has become the routine, sleep an hour, wake up, use the bathroom, go back to sleep, etc.

Last night she was annoyed with her TV remote. It is getting hard for her to push the buttons; she doesn't have a lot of strength left and she kept turning the volume WAY up and then back down and occasionally change the channel. I asked if I could help her and she told me no, that she could do it. I leave her be when she's trying to do stuff because I know she needs to do as much for herself as she can but sometimes it does get comical. When I looked up again, she had the remote turned over and was trying to take the battery cover off. I reminded her that we had put a new battery in it on Monday and she said that she knew that, she just wanted to make sure it was still in there. If you don't laugh, you cry.

Before I left last night, she was looking for something beside the bed. I got up and asked her what she was looking for. She told me she wanted that thing with the leg brace. Now this is a new one on me since we have nothing there with a leg brace. I went to get my Aunt and told her what was going on. We both went back and asked her again what she wanted. I gave her the remote for the bed and after raising and lowering the foot part a couple of times, she said that wasn't what she was looking for. She said, "I want that thing that has one button on it for the leg brace!". Then she laid back down and said, "I'll show you tomorrow."

The frustration is evident in everything she tries and she is confused a lot now. It is really hard watching her go from the vital, in control woman she has always been to this weak, confused little woman who needs to be helped with almost everything. However, I have a sense of calm about me. I have accepted that the end is near and in doing so, I am at peace. There has been such a feeling of peace and calmness this week. I am so very thankful that she isn't in any pain and that for the most part, she is still lucid and knows who everyone is and what is going on.

Thank you, all my bloggy friends, for all your kinds thoughts and words during this time. They have been a comfort to me. I'll be back when I can. I am working on some cross stitch and reading a lot while sitting with Mom.

Hugs,
Sharon

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Things that go whirrrrr in the night

I've not been sleeping well lately. It's hard to turn my mind off at night and for some reason, when it's dark all I can do is stare at the ceiling and think. I have no problem sleeping during the day so after a sleepless Friday night, I decided to turn on the light in the bedroom and see if I could simulate daylight. It worked! I fell asleep and was sleeping so well when something woke me up around 1 AM.

I listened and I could hear something clattering. I couldn't tell exactly where it was coming from but I knew it was in the house. So I got up and listened again. I turned off the light, thinking maybe the fan was making a noise. The clattering continued. I opened the door and the clattering was louder. Since the Hubbs sleeps in another room, I thought maybe it was him snoring. Nope, he's sleeping peacefully and quietly.

I stepped into the hall and again, the clattering got louder. So I slowly walked down the hallway trying to find the source of this noise. It was driving me crazy and I knew I wouldn't be going back to sleep as long as I didn't know what was causing it.

It seemed to be loudest in the hall bath so I stepped inside and turn the light switch on and off. No difference. I unplugged my toothbrush. No difference. I opened the upper cabinet door and bingo, loud clattering. I listened and listened and couldn't find the source. The clattering would get quieter and then louder.  I thought maybe something was between the walls. Maybe a woodpecker?????

I decided I needed help so I woke the Hubbs and told him I needed him to listen to something. Now waking the Hubbs usually results in grumbling and growling but this time, he got up and came to the bathroom without a word. He stood with his head tilted to one side and then asked me what was that noise. I told him, "I don't know, that's why I got you up". So he went and put on his pants and shoes and went to the basement and looked around. Nothing down there.

Meanwhile, I'm still standing in the hallway afraid the house is going to blow up or fall down or something is going to suddenly appear from between the walls. The Hubbs went to get his glasses and repeated everything I had done in the bathroom, light switch, toothbrush, cabinet door. By this time, I had moved closer to the front door ready to run. He reached into the cabinet and handed me my Hummingbird flosser. It's a small electric thingy that can be used with the U-shaped flossers to floss your teeth. It's not suppose to work unless you press the button. But it was running and as it was sitting on the shelf, it was turning around and around and each time it turned toward the back of the cabinet, it would knock against it and be really loud. Then when it would turn toward the front, it would quieten down.

I looked at the flosser then at the Hubbs and burst into laughter. He and I had a good laugh and I put it down on the counter and went back to bed. This morning, I found it lying on a catalogue in the bathroom buzzing like crazy. Maybe it's trying to tell me something????

Hugs,
Sharon


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Looking on the bright side

I cannot begin to tell you how much your comments have meant to me. Uplifting, caring, sweet wonderful people that you are. I am so very thankful for each one of you and happy to call you friend whether you are near or far.

Life has settled into a pattern of sorts. Mom started radiation last week and has now had 6 of 10 treatments. She also started chemotherapy today in pill form which she will do for 2 weeks. There are brights spots. Mom is eating and staying up more now. She was sleeping quite a bit and had very little energy but she seems to be getting some of that energy back. She is eating well each day which was not the case a few weeks ago. We are even finding humor in little things. Monday she decided to go to the kitchen on her own. She uses a walker to get around because she wants the stability it provides. The space going into the kitchen is quite close and she got herself blocked into a corner. My aunt turned around and there was Mom, standing against the pantry cabinet behind her walker blocked by the dryer. My mental image of that is hilarious and I think they both had a good laugh about it.

Mom's spirits are definitely up compared to the past few weeks and seeing her smile and laugh helps me. Of course, there are the talks about how to handle things and getting everything taken care of but that is a fact of the process and we are handling it well. I have even taken a day each week to stay home and do what I need to catch up on. While a major part of me wants to be with her each minute of each day, I know that my body won't handle that so I rest when I can and take advantage of the wonderful family and friends we have to help with the trips to radiation and staying when my aunt needs a break.

She has been having company but surprisingly, it has not been bunches of people at one time. They have been spaced out very well and I am grateful for that. Two weekends ago, my son and DIL came up with their 3 kids for a visit which Mom thoroughly enjoyed although it did wear her out. Three kids 5 and under are a little overwhelming in their energy and activeness. Mom had to go lie down on Sunday of that weekend because she was just worn out. But she was very glad to see them. She had worried how they would react to the patch she has over her right eye but only Lilly, the 3 year old, asked about it. Mom told her she had a boo-boo and Lilly told her Gibson (her cousin) had a boo-boo on his eye. And that was that! Children are amazing.

Last weekend, my daughter Abby, SIL and James came for a visit and again, Mom was happy to see them. James is use to the patch because he saw her so much when we were in Nashville. We have joked that he doesn't know why we aren't in a hotel room. :)  He gives Mom open mouth kisses which she loves.

So we are moving forward, taking each day for the gift that it is and happy in it.

Thank you for stopping by and for your comments. They mean so very much to me.

Hugs,
Sharon

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Bump became a Mountain

Hello, bloggie people. It has been a good while. Our lives have been turned completely upside down and it is taking a while to get adjusted.

As I said  in the last post, the surgery was cancelled because the cancer has grown too quickly and was too close to some areas the surgeons didn't want to mess with. At the time of the surgery, the cancer still had not been typed and the doctors did not know exactly what they were dealing with.

On Monday, 4/21, I received a call from the chemo oncologist at Nashville. She wanted to see Mom in her office on Tuesday morning instead of sending her to the oncologist in Knoxville. So again, we made another trip to Nashville and another visit to Vanderbilt Hospital. The oncologist felt that Mom needed to start chemo as soon as possible so she was admitted to the hospital to start chemo that evening. In the meantime, the ENT, who first saw Mom, came by to do another biopsy. Apparently, the tissue he had been getting was from a part of the tumor that was not living so he did an incision above her right eye to get viable cells for pathology. We waited and waited for those results. In the meantime, Mom had another PET scan which found spots in her chest, lungs and bones. Finally on Wednesday night, we found out the tumor was melanoma and that the best course of action to treat it was radiation. Last Wednesday night, an MRI was done which luckily showed no metastasis into her brain. On Thursday morning, she was taken down to see the radiation oncologist who explained what would be done. They wanted to start the radiation that night and it would continue for 5 days then stop for 2. She would have six weeks of this.

Mom decided she didn't want to start the radiation in Nashville. She has become weaker with each trip we make and she was afraid if they started the radiation, she wouldn't be able to make the trip home. She decided to come home to be with her family and do the radiation at the local Cancer Center. So late Thursday afternoon, my sister came back to Nashville and brought us home. Normally the trip takes between 3 and 4 hours, but Thursday it took 5 hours. There was a lot of traffic and there were several places where road construction was a problem.

On Friday morning, 4/25, we saw the radiation oncologist here at home and he explained that this is was best option for slowing down the tumor. This is the only way to, hopefully, stop it from invading her left eye and breaking through the skin around her right eye. They did the radiation mask and got the markers set on Friday and told us they would call with her first appointment the next week. In the meantime, we saw a chemo oncologist to get Mom started on chemo to help the radiation.

Mom started radiation yesterday, 4/27, and will have 10 treatments on the next couple of weeks. We are still waiting to get the chemo drug which will be in pill form. The treatments are suppose to last 15 minutes but the first one was 30 or 35 minutes. She said they had to do more ex rays and more markers before they could start the treatment. Apparently, this is a lot like having an MRI and Mom is claustrophobic so she had a problem. She was agitated when she came back so I gave her a sedative when we got back home and she went to bed. I told my aunt that we needed to give her the sedative before the treatment from now on and that's what she and my sister did today. It helped and Mom was able to eat and stay up after the treatment. Hopefully, she will start feeling better and be able to stay up longer.

Mom is on hospice care. We started that this week also. We all know that the end is coming and none of the treatments she is having are for cure. They are palliative, or pain management, only. We don't know how much longer Mom has to be with us but she is at home where she wanted to be and we are spending time with her as she can tolerate it. She isn't talking much but she does love having everyone close. My son brought his 3 children up last weekend to visit. She hadn't seen them since Christmas. Abby is bringing James in this weekend.

It has been really difficult this week to watch my active, vibrant Mom withdraw from us. She has always loved being with people and would be the last one to leave if she was having a good time (which she almost always did). She loved talking and traveling. She has been able to travel quite a bit. She's been in 45 states of the United States, including Hawaii. She has been on a cruise, done line dancing, and worked at Dollywood (an amusement park in the Smokies). She has done anything she has set her mind to and enjoyed her life as well as anyone could possibly have done. She has always had a ready smile and enjoyed a good joke. Seeing her not talking or not watching TV (which she so enjoyed) has been really hard. I'm not ready for this. I haven't had all the time I want with her yet.

I may not been back here for a while. I need to concentrate on Mom and spend as much time as I can with her. Thank you, everyone, for all your words of encouragement and love. Please continue to remember us as we go through this difficult time.

Hugs,
Sharon

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A bump in the road

Thank you so much for your wonderful comments.

This week managed to throw us a curve. My sister, Mom and I went to Nashville on Wednesday to be rested before the all day long surgery. We had to be at the hospital at 8 AM and we had a 2-1/2 wait before they called Mom. My sister went up with her as they would only allow one person to be with her in pre-op and that person had to stay until she went into surgery. I got a text from my sister telling me they were taking her to get a CT scan to see exactly where the tumor was now. A little while later, I got another text that they weren't going to do the surgery. It seems the tumor has grown too large and was too close to some vital areas to safely do the surgery.  They would be taking her back to Dr. Mannion's office, the ENT surgeon, to do a biopsy to see exactly what they were dealing with. Apparently, our local hospital, pathology, whatever, never sent any slides to them from the original biopsy.

Stacey came back downstairs and we went to the doctor's office. I sent Stacey back to be with Mom. I was so disappointed and scared and angry and everything else, I just couldn't see Mom at that point. I had a cry, talked with my husband and waited on my daughter and James. When the nurse brought her out, they told us to go home. The plan is to do chemo to hopefuly shrink the tumor to a more manageable size for surgery and we can do that closer to home.

My aunt and cousin had come down to be with us during the surgery. My Mom lives with this aunt and they are really close. They had gotten a room for the night because my aunt did not want to leave until she was able to see Mom so they asked Mom and I to stay with them and then go home on Friday. Mom was totally worn out and very disappointed so we said okay. My sister had planned to go home Thursday night anyway so she went ahead.

I know this reads like a jumble of words but right now I'm not thinking very clearly. I'm very worried that they have left it too late and there won't be anything they can do. I told my Mom at the very beginning that I would accept any decision she made and that the decisions were hers. I am so afraid I'm going to lose my Mom to this and that she will be in pain. I don't want to lose her but I really don't want her to be in pain.

I have slept off and on all day but now I'm working through my emotions so I don't know if I'll sleep tonight. Please keep remembering us. As my sister said, we are in for a long haul. We are lucky to have each other and the family support. My daughter has been wonderful through all of this and so has her husband. My son is staying in touch and talking to me and Mom. Mom has 3 sisters who will do anything for her. Family is so important at a time like this and I am so thankful for the family we have.

Thank you for stopping by.

Hugs,
Sharon

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The surgery is scheduled.

Hello, my dear, dear bloggy friends. I cannot begin to tell you how much your comments and your thoughts have touched me. All we hear about when we turn on the news or talk with others, is how bad people are. The school shootings, the stabbings, the bombings, it all begins to feel like this world has turned totally bad and there's no hope for it. Then I get your comments and they are so powerful and kind and loving and I cry and smile and thank my lucky stars that I decided to join this wonderful community.

The past few weeks have been hectic. We have been getting things together, communicating with the doctors in Nashville and trying to be sure all things are lining up. We made another trip to Nashville last Friday for an appointment with the neurosurgeon, one with patient teachings and one for the pre-op process. The neurosurgeon determined that Mom could not wait until May for her surgery so that has been scheduled for Thursday, April 17. He explained, at the appointment, the process that will be done to remove the tumor. Instead of making an incision beside her nose, he will be doing a crainiotomy and working from above it. He feels that this is the best way to make sure he gets all the tumor. We have to be at the hospital at 8 AM with the surgery scheduled for 11 AM.  It will be an 8 hour surgery + or - depending on how things go after they get started.

Mom will be in ICU for 5-7 days and if all goes well, she will be allowed to come home then. The ICU room has a sofa that makes a bed and one of us can stay with her at night. I am staying Thursday night and Friday night so my sister can go home to be with her kids and then she is coming back on Saturday so I can come home and rest. Thank goodness for little sisters and for family. I don't know how anyone manages without having family around them. My daughter has been such a help and having her close to Nashville makes it nice. We get to see them each time we go down and James is such a delight. He is definitely a mood lifter.

I have found myself, over the past couple of days, staring into space and having trouble concentrating on anything. Maybe this is my coping mechanism. I am glad the surgery is going forward sooner than we had been told but the thoughts of my 82 year old mother having to endure this lenghthy procedure scares me. She told the neurosurgeon she was bringing her own Surgeon and he told her they would be sure to have gloves to fit Him. Mom's faith is firm and I know she will be in good hands and I know there will prayers and thoughts surrounding her, but there is a part of me that is so worried, so scared and Mom won't be there to comfort me. She has been my rock through all my procedures and now it's my turn to be hers. This reversal is unnerving.

Now to things that have put a smile on my face this week.

I bought myself a bracelet this week. It is from bravelets.com and $10 of the price goes to research for your designated cause. I chose the Head&Neck Cancer one for obvious reasons.


1

Photo from bravelets.com website.

It says "be brave" and it is the sentiment I need right now.

While in Nashville awaiting the doctor's appointment, I received an email from Meredith telling me I had won her April Chocolate yarn giveaway. Happy, happy, happy. Four skeins of Manos del Uruguay, Pure Peruvian Cotton Kettle Dyed yarn and a beautiful Brittany birch wood crochet hook in size J.




These pictures don't do the yarn or the other items justice.

The package came today while I was out getting some papers signed and running other errands. It was a comedy of errors! I had scheduled a package to be picked up for my Georgia grandbabies which was inside
the mailbox. UPS had left this package wrapped in plastic on one of the flowers pots beside the mailbox. Before I could get my things inside and get back out to get the package, the mail ran. Yep, you guessed it.....she picked up both the package inside the mailbox and the one beside the mailbox. I had no idea who the package was from as the Hubbs had an order he was expecting also. So I got online, got the number for our local post office (For some strange reason, the number for the local office is not listed?????) and gave them a call. I explained what had happened and asked her where I could get the package. She laughed and said she would contact the carrier and have her bring it back, which she did. She kept apologizing, but I told her it wasn't a problem. When I got the plastic off and realized it was my package from Meredith, I let out a whoop!!! See that beautiful yarn and look! Flamingo suckers! Aren't they cute!?!?! She also included a KeyLime chocolate bar! One of those suckers and that chocolate bar is going to Nashville with me. THANK YOU SO MUCH, MEREDITH!

We are going down Wednesday to spend the night since the trip so hard on both Mom and I. I need to get things done such as packing, paying bills, gathering crochet and cross stitch projects to keep me busy and other various items as the pop in my head. I have a list and I'm slowly marking things off.

So I will be back after the surgery to let you know how things went. I've not decided yet whether I'm taking my laptop with me or not. If I don't, I will be by to visit when I'm back home. Thank you all again for your comments. Please remember us on Thursday.

Hugs,
Sharon