Hello, everyone! Sorry I’ve been M..I.A. these past few weeks (again). I’ve had a lot going on which I will let you know soon in a new post.
Below, you will find the last installment in the series “A Daughter’s Journey with Her Mother”. Again I’d like to thank Maria E. Montes for sharing this journey with us. I know it isn’t easy but it has helped her to tell her story. Please enjoy.
It’s Tuesday, July 11th and we’re at the doctor’s office waiting for our turn to see the doctor. My mom and I are both silently waiting because I think we were both thinking the same thing, if we don’t break the silence, we won’t get any bad news. They call us in and we both take deep breaths.
The first thing they do is take her to get weighed. We look at each other and I’m just praying that she didn’t lose too much weight from her weigh in last Thursday at 102.25 lbs. We hear an amount and we both stare at each other wondering if we heard correctly. I asked the assistant, “How much did you say she weighed?” He says 106 lbs. Yes!! She gained 4 lbs!! My mom is happy and I’m happy and we start heading to the exam room. I can see the assistant is probably wondering what is wrong with us!
We’re in the room and I hug my mom. I tell her, “You fight me all the time about making you eat but look at the results. You need to keep your weight up so that you are strong enough to keep fighting.” A nurse comes in to draw her blood and then the doctor comes in to speak with us. We went over how she has been doing since her first round of chemo and I let her know that she has been handling it pretty well. She had a bad day yesterday but that today she was feeling a little better. She asks some questions regarding any reactions towards the chemo. The doctor tells us that usually, the first 5 days are the worst and if she could handle it during that time, then she should be okay until her next round of chemo which is scheduled for July 27th. The doctor checks to see if the blood results are ready so we can go over them. She comes back with more good news! Her white blood cell count is just a little off but it is understandable since she just had her first round of chemo 5 days ago. The doctor lets us know that some pain in her belly is normal and that she shouldn’t wait until the pain is so bad to take her pain meds. All in all, her follow up appointment went great today. We head on home so I can head leave for work.
Wednesday went well but she had a little pain, which is normal due to the chemo doing its job. I noticed her face and I could tell she was in some pain. As I’m going to get some water for her to take her pill, my husband tells me that he asked her 3 or 4 times if she was in pain so he could give her the pain pill. Every time she said she was okay and didn’t need it. My mom can be stubborn at times. Wednesday night into Thursday morning was not good. Her pain seemed to start intensifying and she waited too long to take her pain pill. Once she took her pill, she relaxed some. My sister was coming over that day to be with her and help her with whatever she needed. I checked in on her during the day and she was barely eating due to her pain. Mom also stayed in bed all day. By the time I got home from work, I could see the pain on her face even though she was trying to hide it. I tried to get her to eat some soup and she took a few sips of it but really didn’t want any. She watched her “novella” and afterward I tucked her in and she went to sleep.
Now, I am a deep sleeper. A bomb could go off and I wouldn’t hear it. For some reason, I got up at 4 am that Friday morning just sensing something was wrong. I go to check in on my mom and she is awake. By the look on her face, I can tell she is in a lot of pain but I ask her just the same and at least she tells me the truth, yes she is in pain. I get her pill and she takes it. I stay with her until she calms down and nods out. It’s time for me to get ready for work so I leave her to continue to sleep while I get ready and leave for work. My sister was planning on taking my mom for the weekend to her place but I let her know that she had a bad night and she would just be staying home. My sister came over to spend some time with her during the day and tried to get her to eat also. She blended up a smoothie for her which my mom liked and drank about half of it. She watched some TV and my sister entertained her with her iPad. By the afternoon, my sister and husband both noticed that she was hiding her pain. At this point, they just gave her the pain pill because she was in pain and she was just being stubborn about waiting to take it. They tried to explain to her that the longer she waited to take the pill, the longer it would take for the pill to be effective. When I got home I checked in on her and I could see how weak she was and how much pain she was in. I gave her some of the smoothie my sister left and she had about a quarter of it. In total, she just had 3 quarters of the smoothie all day. Mom didn’t want to eat. It was about 6 hours since her last pain pill so I gave her another one.
I decided to call her doctor to let him know what was going on. It is about 7:30 pm now and I got his answering service. They told me they sent him a message and that he would be calling me back. A few minutes later his office called and I gave them all the information of what was going on with my mom for the past 2 days. They told me to get her to the hospital so they can take care of her. I go to tell her that we’re going to the hospital and what does she say? “Okay, when my novella finishes”. The novella won. At 9 pm we head to the hospital. They take her in right away and draw blood, take a chest x-ray and hook her up to an IV. They wanted to give her a shot of morphine but she didn’t want it. She wasn’t feeling pain. I explained to the nurse that I had just given her a pain pill at 7 pm and that’s probably why she was okay. After a while, they moved her to a private area due to her white blood cell count being very low and she was going to be admitted. They gave us masks to put on and we waited until they had her bed ready on the Oncology floor where she would be moved to. The nurse explained to me that her white blood cell level was at .2 and they had to get it up.
It was 2 am by the time she was in her room and in bed. She was tired and wanted to get some sleep. My husband and I left once she was okay. It was a very long Friday indeed.
Saturday morning, I get a call from the hospital letting me know that her doctor had seen her. She had blood drawn that morning and her cell count had gone up to .6 which was a good start. It had more than doubled. We’re back on track. When I got there, she looked a lot better. I see the tray of food and I see they gave her solids. She is on a liquid diet, so I know she didn’t eat any of her food. I go to the nurses’ station and ask if I could speak to her nurse. They tell me she’s doing rounds but they will let her know that I wanted to speak with her. A few minutes later Courtney (her nurse) comes in and gives me an update on my mom. She explains that when she was admitted her cell count was .2 and that it would have to go up to 2.0 before they consider releasing her. They would be giving her meds to help increase the cell count and she had to do her part by eating and staying hydrated (which meant she had to drink water, which meant this was a challenge). I explained to the nurse that they brought her solid foods and she couldn’t eat any of it. She was on a liquid diet and could not eat any dairy. She checked her information and this information was stated on her paperwork. She was going to contact nutrition to make sure they were aware of it and make the necessary changes. She also let me know that the doctor wanted PT and OT come and see about therapy to get her a little stronger. I told her okay that would be a good thing for her.
Richie and Tasha (my son and daughter-in-law) came by to visit with her which was a good thing since I had a meeting I had to head off to that afternoon. They also noticed she didn’t eat much. I let them know they had corrected what she was able and not able to eat and that it should be okay now. They also said they would stay with her until I came back. My mom was in a talkative mood and was making us laugh at some of the things she was saying. We also turned on the TV and found her Spanish channel. I then left for my meeting.
I came back and found my mom resting. They were bringing in her dinner and Richie was sitting next to her, making sure she ate her soup. Every time he reminded her to continue eating, she would look at him and me and say, “You’re just like your mother!” We just had to laugh at that one. Se did pretty good and ate a good portion of the food they bought her. Mom’s nurse also came in and gave her a shot to help boost her white cells. She said that mom would get this shot in the evenings and they would be drawing the blood at 5 am the next day. I explained that to my mom and she said, “Yes, I want to destroy this monster that is in me.” So now we knew that she named it her “monster”.
The kids left and I stayed with my mom a little longer. My mom’s favorite food is pizza. She said that when this was all over and she got rid of her “monster”, the first thing she wanted was a pizza. I told her after this is all over with, I would be more than happy to get her however many pizzas she wanted! It’s Saturday and her novella isn’t on today but she watches her “Cantinflas” movies every Saturday night. She says she wants to see what’s on the Food Network channel. I find the channel and “Diners, Drive-ins & Dives” is starting. It is one of her favorite programs. What is this episode about? You guessed it: “pizzas”! She was happy. We watched a few episodes and it was time for me to leave. She wanted me to leave the TV on but I knew she would be asleep soon. I left and let the nurses know that she would probably be asleep soon and someone had to go and turn off her TV. They said they would check in on her in a few minutes and turn off her TV. I went home tired. It was another long day.
Sunday morning came and I headed over to the hospital since I hadn’t heard from the nurse this morning. When I got there, I saw that look on my mom’s face. She was in pain. I asked her how she was feeling and she said not too good. While I was helping her sit up, her nurse came in. I let her know that my mom was in pain. She said they were in here a little while ago to check in on her and they asked her about the pain and she said she was okay. I told her that’s because she always says she’s okay and waits until the last minute. The nurse let us know that PT and OT were going to come by today to evaluate her and see what therapy she would be needing. She also said that when she is finally discharged, they will be able to continue her therapy at home. This was a good thing. I was afraid of her just wanting to stay in bed once she got home. They did come that afternoon and showed her the correct way to walk with a walker and how to sit and stand with it. She seemed to adapt to it well. Things were going well. Richie came by again for a little bit just to check in on her. I stayed a little while longer until her dinner came and she seemed to be eating a lot better. She was ready for a little more TV and then getting some sleep since the night before she really didn’t get much. I left hoping that tomorrow would be a better day, that her white cell count would be higher, and that she would be able to come home.
Monday morning and I headed off to work. My husband was going to drop by this morning to check in on her and keep her company for a little bit. He called me when he got there and said she was looking good. She seemed to have gotten some sleep last night and had eaten her breakfast. They talked for a while and then her nurse came in and my husband asked her more questions about the meds they were giving her and her status. Things were certainly looking up. Lunch time came and she was brought her soup which she was eating now without having to argue with her to eat it. Mom was also drinking more water since they put Crystal Light Fruit Punch in it! My sister came by in the afternoon and spent some time with her. I headed over there after work. She looked a whole lot better and I was so happy. She was in the middle of eating and I didn’t have to tell her to keep eating before it gets cold. Her nurse came in and I asked her about her cell count. The nurse said it was up to 1.86that was the best news I could have heard! She said her doctor wanted to keep her one more night and if all was okay tomorrow morning, she would be discharged after he saw her.
Until tomorrow came, I would hold my breath. Anything can happen between now and then. My husband and sister went to get her on Tuesday morning. My husband texted me when he got there and said she looked good. Her nurse came in and confirmed that she was being released today. I would be able to set up home care for her and she would also be able to continue with her therapy at home. My mom was finishing up with some physical therapy and then my sister took care of getting her ready to take her home. She was set. My mom was coming home.
Mom’s next scheduled round of chemo is not until July 27th. I don’t know what will happen between now and then. We take it one day at a time and continue praying and keeping a hold of our faith. It has gotten us through this so far.
Thank you for reading about my journey. I hope it has given hope to others who are in the same situation as me with a loved one.
Be strong, stay positive and surround yourself with love,