2014 – A Review

In a nut shell, here is what happened in 2014;  I moved back to Atlanta to care for my dying mom.  We both accomplished our purpose.

For the expanded version – it’s been a year of ups and downs, like any life.  I can see my life making the difficult uphill haul, but it is oh, so slow!  My “ideal” life, is pretty simple and carefree.  I go to work, hang out with friends & loved ones, and go to sleep.   I don’t see that happening any more in my life – and that’s OK.  I am completely OVER the phrase “new normal” – but it is so appropriate.

2014, over all was pretty OK until the end…..then it totally sucked.  It started off with mom being so sick with the super cold months, so my one week Christmas visit ended up being three weeks long.  February & March were trying to get her renter out of the house and determining what we were facing. April I moved back to Atlanta full time.  We started working on the Hoarder House (you can see & read about that over at http://www.farmhouseupgrade.wordpress.com ).  Somewhere about June-ish I moved into the house with only an air-mattress and cold running water.  No A/C (and if you live in the south, that’s unheard of!), no hot water, no kitchen – not much of anything except me and my dog!!!!  (note, my dog came to live with me December 23, 2013).  Several of us worked our buns off at the house and now it is quite amazing!!!! I love this little place. In August I hosted my Annual Summer Celebration at my bungalow.  It was a huge success.  I had folks from all over come!  Local peeps, friends from Alabama and family from Florida.  We had a great time.  Mom manned the grill, as usual. September & October seemed relatively uneventful.

Throughout the course of the year, I went with mom to her doctor visits.  One thing that was note-worthy was that she was complaining of difficulty swallowing.  There was pain as food went down – same spots.  Her oncologist did not seem too concerned until it was much too late.  She had a tumor in her thoracic region that was pressing on her esophagus.  It grew until she could no longer eat any solid food and had to crush her pills.  Even crushed, she discontinued all her meds except her chemo pill.  She had a follow up with her Oncologist on Monday, November 24, 2014.  He wanted to put her immediately into the hospital.  Of course, she couldn’t do that – she had stuff to do and details to handle.  It was one of the very few appointments I did not go with her.  So, Tuesday morning, bright and early we faced rush-hour traffic and headed to Kennestone hospital.  Little did we know a month later she’d be dead.

She had a very successful surgery, Tuesday November 25.  The thoracic surgeon put a feeding tube into her stomach and a stent in her esophagus.  She had reached a point of dehydration and malnutrition that caused her body to struggle.  Until Sunday November 30, she was out of it….sick, sedated, and sleeping most of the time.  Then she started to get better, but it seemed as her body recovered from her nutritional deficits, her cancer did too. Better in a bad way.  It became a dance between the cardiologist (heart), pulmonologist (lung) and nephrologist (kidney) doctors.  She needed fluids – too many taxed her lungs, heart & kidneys….too little taxed her lungs, heart & kidneys.  Her potassium was too high, too low, too high, too low.  She was developing metastatic pleural effusion.  What?  I called it Cancer Juice.  It was pleurisy caused by the cancer.  Very painful, very stubborn, and very bad.  Not wanting to “go there” (calling it cancer), the doctors tried antibiotics of all sorts, diuretics, and even draining it.  But, we all knew what it was.  Her nights were getting worse:  confusion, agitation, frustration, fidgeting, restless.  We had to have someone stay with her to ensure her safety.  One night, the evening nurse came in and we (me, mom & her) had “The Talk” – are you ready to quit fighting? Are you ready to quit being poked, prodded and disturbed?  Are you ready to be finished?  Mom said yes.  We made arrangements to go home.

Mom came home December 9, 2014.  Upon arrival, she immediately perked up – she wanted to see her dogs and smoke a cigar.  Funny how  your environment contributes to your mental welfare.  She perked up for a week or so, but the cancer caught up with her at the speed of, uh, untreated cancer.   During these days at home, she smoked, she cuddled with her dogs, she watched Ellen & Dr. Phil, she ate anything she wanted.  Hospice came in & was very kind and helpful.  She had a fabulous nurse who understood it was all about her comfort.   Her last week, she fell a couple of times (fortunately not injuring herself), she decided to sit or slide onto the floor – her strength was obviously waning.  She weighed next to nothing, but picking her up did a number on my back.

Friday, December 19, her friend Suzy Schmidt stayed the night so I could get some rest.  I stayed at the house, in case I was needed, but I slept good.  It was the last good sleep for a while.  Saturday morning, on her way home, my sweet little Princess Buttercup ran out under Suzy’s car and was killed.  Suzy was inconsolable.  I didn’t have time to grieve at the moment.  I made it through Saturday December 20 with much effort – only to be required to find so much more the next day.

Saturday/Sunday night was a tough one.  I could not get mom to settle down.  The meds were not working.  She was up, she was down, she was up, she was down – for hours!!!!!  This chair, that chair, the bed. This chair, that chair, the bed.  Eventually, finally in the wee hours of the night, I got her settled down in the bed.

Sunday morning I woke early – 7:00 a.m ish.  I couldn’t go back to sleep.  So, I pulled the red chair over next to mom’s bed and I held her hand and watched her sleep.  Her breathing was labored, her congestion increasing.  Then there was no more breath.  She just didn’t breathe again.  It was over.  She died in her sleep.  She chose hospice when the fight was a TKO.  She did it on her terms.

I went to Alabama for Christmas so I could surround myself with those who love me – they are in a higher concentration there.  I put one foot in front of the other.  I think about my brother – but he will handle things in his own way.   Her funeral is scheduled for January 2.

But wait, there’s more….. I lose my dog & mom in one weekend….and on December 31, 2014, I lost my FWB.  He decided he was going to look elsewhere.  I was sad – for about 5 minutes.  But, damn!  Really?  2014, I am so ready to put you behind me.  Over all, the last month made the other 11 irrelevant. I don’t like you.  We are not friends.  Good riddance!


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mirannanda
    Jan 03, 2015 @ 06:42:07

    I wish I could give you big hugs. I know there are no words kind enough to fix what you must be experiencing right now. “I’m sorry for your loss” seems meaningless even if it’s true. I could send you evidence of the grief I feel in my heart, but I doubt you’d appreciate my snot covered tissues as a memento and I’m sure you have enough of your own. I can, however stand in agreement that this year has to be better, and send some extra love your way.

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