Tuesday, May 08, 2007

If it's Not One Thing...

... it's six. That's what my great-aunt used to say.

A lot has happened. The Tuesday before my mom's appointment for the liver transplant doc, my dad went in for a routine colonoscopy. They found a mass near the sigmoid, which pathology showed to be cancerous. They felt they caught it early and scheduled surgery for the following Thursday. My mom mentioned they were thinking of having my sister in law come up to help. Immediately I felt the crush of guilt and sadness at not being the one to help. I had always promised that I would be the one to change my mom's diapers when she needed it and now here I was, postpartum and nearly 1000 miles away. And my mom does need someone to do this, as one of her meds makes her incontinent. I cried on the phone to my mom and my brother about my inability to go up to Michigan and be with them. That Thursday, while teaching my classes, my brother called and left a message to call him. My dad had called and said he wanted both my brother and I to come up there and was buying me a plane ticket.

So, last week Monday, my mom and dad went to Ann Arbor, MI to consult with the hepatologist about the liver transplant. She turned them down at least for now. She said they need more information about my mom's Lewy Body dementia and whether or not the Lewy Body is causing her sypmtoms, or if it is the liver. They were completely crushed. My mom and dad were both hoping that they would hear that the transplant was a go and that it would fix my mom. I had suspected this might happen, but it never even occurred to my parents that they would be turned down. They felt their only hope had been taken away for my mom to ever get any better.

The next day, my dad went for a CAT scan. The day after that, last Wednesday, Spielberg drove the whole family over to the airport (PreacherMan took the day off work) and Cotton Ball and I got on a plane to Michigan. My dad met me at the airport. He said the CAT scan had shown no other masses, although they saw something on the kidneys, they felt it was cysts. We went to a local hotel and I got to visit with my mom and dad for a while. Then my brother and sister-in-law arrived and we all went to dinner together (my dad, of course couldn't eat since he was having bowel surgery the next day)

The day of the surgery, last Thursday, we all went to the hospital together. My aunt and one of my uncles came also to sit with us. CottonBall was a perfect angel, calm and happy. I had been very nervous how she would respond to all this and I was worried she was going to cry a lot. The surgery went well. They were able to resect the bowel laparoscopically and the surgeon felt optimistic that he had been able to get all the cancer. He said one lymph node felt slightly enlarged, and pathology would tell the whole story, but it could just be inflammation.

That night I slept in my mom's hotel room. She loved waking during the night and seeing the baby sleeping between us. It was a great comfort to her to have us there and I am SO GLAD that I was able to be there. The morning after the surgery, my mom had a medical appointment near their home, an hour away, so we all went back to my mom and dad's house. The next few days we went to the hospital twice a day, an hour drive each way. Again, CottonBall was perfect and happy.

My dad was discharged on Sunday and we were able to have dinner all together that night, and I cooked something really nice for them. My dad was in excellent spirits and moving around really well. He had little to no pain except when laughing or coughing.

I flew home again on Monday.

I called my dad yesterday to ask about the path report. They had not heard anything yet. While my brother and I were there, we really put the thumbscrews to my parents trying to convince them to move south to be near one of us at least (my brother lives 3 hours from me) so we could help. They kept giving lame-o excuses "We like our house. We have a nice church. All our doctors are here." Yeah, well, when Dad is sick and Mom can't take care of herself, her house and church and doctors aren't going to come and change her diapers! And we have doctors in the south, too, ya know.

This morning I got a call from my dad. He sounded calm, but I know he has to be falling apart in side. The cancer is in the lymph nodes as well. I haven't gotten the whole story yet, as he told me one thing and my brother something different. It sounds like they are recommending chemotherapy and that he has a 50-50 chance of survival without it. I am not sure I believe in chemo at all, I think many times it's what kills people, actually. I know it permanently reduced my mom's quality of life when she did it for her hepatitis C.

Of course, if he is undergoing chemo there is NO WAY he can take care of Mom. I told him they had to move down here. He finally said, "Well, we have to think about those things now." Yeah. You do.

I am in total shock. We were all so optimistic. We were all so sure that the surgery got it all. I was so sure my parents were going to live forever. Facing their mortality in such a slap in the face way is giving me whiplash. I can't even fathom my future without my mom and dad in it. We've always been a close family, and the children are so close to them as well. I can't even think about it without my eyes feeling hot and my nose starting to burn with the tears.

This afternoon PreacherMan is out of town taking his Senior Bible Exam. By Friday, he has to have everything turned in and he will be done, done, done with school. So, as I sat down to pray for his exam, I wanted to also pray for my parents. I couldn't think of anything to say, so I just sat weeping with my face in my hands saying, "I don't know what to pray. I don't know what to pray. Thy will be done."


Louisa said...

Praying right along with you Mama.
Keeping your Ma and Pa (and your whole family in my thoughts)
xx Louisa

Anonymous said...

Oh hun... I am so sorry. That is a LOT to be going through all at once. I am praying for you and your family, through this difficult time.

Jen aka Evilynmo said...

I am thinking of all 14 of you everyday. ((BigHugs))

Ashley said...

Our prayers are with you and your family.

Psyche said...

Usually I'm a lurker, but I've come out of hiding to let you know that you and your family are in my prayers. My mom needed a transplant too, but she died of another illness before she was all the way through the process of signing up.

Midwifery is catching said...

Sweet hugs and strong thoughts from this side of the world to you.