It seems like forever since my fingers tapped a keyboard for something besides work. The last few months have been busy and for the most part, agonizing. With my mother’s breast cancer diagnosis, my weeks consisted of appointments helping my mom and dad prepare for surgery. I was the ears since dad doesn’t’ hear very well and support to keep my mom calm. Her cognitive issues became increasingly worse, the more anxious she became. So I helped to keep her calm as well as handle anything else thrown at me.
Against our gut feeling, we went with what the experts recommended, a lumpectomy. Having extreme COPD, we had to get clearance from her Pulmonary doctor as well as primary care. They all concurred that the surgery was necessary for her to maintain a quality of life. So in July, she underwent surgery. After surgery, she was exhausted and quite frankly, never fully recovered. She would sleep all day and day after day; she grew more and weaker.
Then on August 4th, I received a call from my dad. He was having a hard time waking her. She had pulled her oxygen off during the night and was very disoriented. This would later be called a Hypoxic Event by doctors. I rushed over to find he had gotten her to the kitchen table where her oxygen saturated in the high 90’s. Mom needed to use the restroom, so we carefully took her in there. I don’t know how, but I believe she tried to get up on her own; we’ll never know. She fell.
At the hospital, we had another turn of events. Mom had fractured her sacrum as well as her T12 vertebrae. If I say this was the least of it, it would be hard to believe. While the hospital we took a turn, our lives turned upside down in a moment. Mom’s breathing became more and more complicated and intense. Her whole body was working on pushing air in and out of her lungs. I have never been so scared of losing her. They ran her Carbon Dioxide levels and discovered she was at 95% CO2. Ordinary people in Colorado with proper lung function are walking around at 30%. She was basically dry drowning. They transported my mom into ICU, where she spent the next few days on a BiPap machine. Forcing oxygen in and drawing carbon dioxide out. When she stabilized, she moved out of ICU and by weeks end into a rehabilitation home.
It was in the home that we discovered the real morbidity state she was in. What a word that is. I hate it. For lack of a better way, it’s a morbid word. My dad and I were in a meeting with staff to determine her health and outcome and get an update on how they felt things were going. As we sat there, we learned that their only recommendation was to put my mother in Hospice Care. To say I lost it at this point is an understatement. My only knowledge of Hospice was my grandpa; they brought in Hospice in his last week. I had no clue what Hospice meant except that in a short time I’d be saying goodbye to the woman who has been way more than a mother. She’s been my best friend. How can this be happening?