Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Anniversaries and Time

Three years ago today, it was a Friday...and it was the day my mom died. Each year I remember this day, obviously. This year though, I'm in such a different place that reflecting on the changes in the past three years is pretty intense. Zachary has started classifying some things in his life as "before Nana died" and "after Nana died" in terms of memories. It's obviously a big marker in time for him as well.

I had to take Zachary to the pediatrician that morning three years ago. And I had to take him to North Shore Children's Hospital after that to get blood work done. While we sat there waiting, I called mom's ICU nurse to check and see how she had done that night. The nurse wasn't able to talk to me then, and they suggested I call back in half an hour. I did just that, and found out why she hadn't been able to talk to me earlier. Mom hadn't had a particularly good night, and they had her on BI-PAP which helped. Then, they tried to take her off that, and her blood pressure and pulse oxygen plummeted, so they put her back on BI-PAP, to no avail. They moved on to C-PAP. She did better. At that point, I asked that her pulmonologist give me a call so I could get a better idea of her condition, prognosis, etc. Since mom had been in the hospital since Wednesday (and this was now Friday morning), I hadn't yet talked to any of her doctors, only her nurse.

Around lunch time, I called and checked my voice mail at home, and there was a message from the doctor there...I have no idea why as I had given both my work and cell phone numbers. But I called back and left a message for the doctor to return my call at work. About an hour later (just about 1 p.m.), the doctor called and instead of a progress report, I was beckoned to the hospital immediately. Mom had apparently taken a turn for the worse and had been intubated and we needed to get there now. I asked what had happened, since all that I knew was that she had pneumonia. They believed she had a massive blood clot that traveled to her lungs. I began sobbing as I made my way to my boss's office to let him know I had to leave. I couldn't even catch my breath, I was so taken off-guard. I called my brother's cell, got voice mail. So I called my sister-in-law's cell and told her to find him, reach him, and for them to meet me at the hospital.

When I arrived there, the chaplain was there. Never a good sign. They explained what all had happened, and that basically the next 12 hours would really be a good indication of how things would go. At about 5 p.m. they suggested we get some food while they changed her bedding. At about 6:15, as we choked down food at McDonald's, my cell phone rang and we were told to get back to the hospital ASAP. Mom had crashed several times and they were doing everything they could, but didn't think they could sustain her even at that level for much longer. They told us that even if by some miracle she came through it, her quality of life would be negligible. My brother and I made the decision for them to stop trying. And so, the medical personnel left the room, turned off the alarms, and monitored our mom from outside of the room while we stayed with her, talking to her, holding her hand. She wasn't conscious and hadn't been since they sedated her around lunch time to intubate her. At best, it was 15 minutes before the doctor came back in and let us know she was gone.

I made arrangements for Zachary to sleep at a friend's house that night and he was with his dad the next day. That gave me the evening to sort of regroup. His dad and I would tell him the next day when he came home. He was sad. I don't think he really understood what it meant. It was a solid 6 months before he broke down sobbing out of the blue one night in the car saying "I miss my Nana."

I think about the sports he's playing this spring, how he's doing in school, the kind of child he is, and I wonder how thrilled my mom would be to attend every game, practice, etc. that he plays in. She would surely be at every musical event at school, art show, open house, she would take any volunteer opportunity if it meant spending more time with Zachary. I know she would love doing homework with him, playing with him. She would have a much greater appreciation for his limited time as a small child than I feel like I'm having these days. I feel so caught up in a rat race that it is taking concerted effort to remember what is truly important in life.

Life feels very overwhelming right now to me. I've had a sinus headache/issue for over 4 weeks now. It's wearing me down physically and mentally. It's keeping me from working out as regularly and intensely as I would both like and need to. I'm eating more than I should. As a result, I'm seeing changes in my body and in the scale that I really don't like and want. And it has me feeling mildly panicked. Every day, I start new and remind myself that it is NEVER over, and I don't EVER have to give up this battle with food. I just need to keep doing my best. Right now, it feels kind of like my best isn't good enough in any area.

This too shall pass.


Laurie (GastricGirl.com) said...

Although I haven't gone through the death of a parent, I am sure it is one of the hardest things you will ever have to deal with. Thank you for reflecting back, and I hope you and your son can celebrate her life today.

Anonymous said...

HI Amy,
I hav enot visited your blog before today, but wanted to tell you how very sorry I was to read this entry about your mom. It made me cry for your loss knowing how important it is to have and love your mom. Please accept my sympathies and know that I will enjoy reading the remainder of your blog as it is an inspiration to me.