Sunday, November 14, 2010


Summer is long over;  we are moving into Thanksgiving now. The last few months have brought big changes in our family. My mom is 86 and suffering from a variety of illnesses. The most life-threatening is a fatty liposarcoma in her abdomen. It has recurred after 5 years, the first time growing to 10 pounds and taking a kidney and part of her colon with it on removal. No one knows how long it will be before it interferes with her ability to digest food or does other damage. She never recovered her strength after the first surgery. She has gotten progressively weaker over the last few years, using a cane, then a walker, and finally in August lost the ability to even do that.

The culprit that may have hastened that is the same one that causes her to say, "Happy birthday!" when I walk in on an ordinary Thursday after work to help her with her dinner. Her dementia had been slowly getting worse, but something happened and her grip on what you and I call reality loosened all at once.  Maybe in some strange way it's a gift. She doesn't remember now that she has a tumor and as far as we know it will be the end of her.

My poor dad has it the worst. He is doing amazingly well, trying to figure out how to live in their house without her. He is learning that no matter how upset she might get with him, she won't remember in ten minutes.

Hospice took her off their services last month. It's not because she's getting better; she is getting worse slowly.  Her caregivers are wonderful and help keep her comfortable and well cared for. Her world is one hospital bed and a recliner chair because she can't sit up in a wheelchair anymore. The other sweet ladies at the foster home ask about her.

What keeps this from being absolute hell is the fact that she has medication to keep her relatively pain-free, she is a happy person, and we have a lot of support from friends and family. Also, she says some really funny things.  Last time I saw her, we greeted each other and I asked her how she was. She said she was fine. "I'm training for a new job". Ok, I'm game, so I asked her what it was. She said, "Data entry".  She had been a social worker from her 40s on. Go figure.

The really great thing is that she still remembers us.

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