What to say?

9 Apr

I found, when I sat down this morning, that I needed to tell the story.

My mother was only 19 when she had me. She was married to the asshole sperm donor and that didn’t last too long after my birth. After we moved back from Florida, we moved in with my gram and stayed for a very long time. My gram became more like my mother, and my mother more like my big sister.

Last fall we found out that my grandmother had a tumor in her bladder. The doctors removed the tumor and she was forced to live with a urostomy bag, which she really didn’t mind. They almost lost her a number of times the first night after the surgery, but she was such a tough woman that she fought on.

During the surgery they took a section of the lymph nodes nearest the bladder to check for more cancer. It came back positive. My grandmother had cancer in her bones – mainly on her ribs and her lower back. She chose to undergo chemo and did so for three months. They did the testing all over again after the three months and discovered that while the chemo was slowing the cancer, it was not enough to stop it.

Six weeks ago she was given three weeks to decide if she wanted to continue chemo for comfort sake or to forgo it. She chose to continue. “What else am I going to do, just lay down and die?” She said. The doctor gave her three more weeks due to how tired and run-down she looked.

She started vomiting a little more than a week and a half ago. She couldn’t keep hardly anything down on one day, and then on the next day she’d be okay. She was in a lot of lower back pain and none of the medications seemed to be helping it. She was still living on her own with family members dropping in to help when it was necessary.

Last Thursday the doctors ordered some more x-rays to try to figure out why the pain medication wasn’t helping, and why she was vomiting. After the tests the radiology technicians ordered her to go to the E.R. to get some fluids because she looked so beat up. My mother and I were very happy because we knew she needed fluids. My mom called me that evening and told me that they wanted her to stay the night so that they could better control her pain and get her rehydrated.

I called the nurses office early the next morning and the nurse was very friendly and told me that she had rested well during the night. Then she said that they had hooked gram up to a PCA machine. This is one of those machines where you get a certain amount of pain medication regularly and there’s a little button that you can push to get a little bit more every so often. Mom called an hour or so later and told me that the doctors had discovered that there was a blockage in her stomach that was causing the nausea and vomiting. They gave her days or weeks to live.

A wonderful Aunt of mine (on my sperm-donor’s side) works at the hospital. Her job is to set up outpatient care for those who cannot care for themselves. Everything was getting set up – the hospital bed, the nurses, and when my uncle arrived on Easter weekend we were going to set up the care schedule for us family members.

I was taking care of my cousins’s 8 year old and Scott was home. We had both the rugrats and took them to Wendy’s for lunch, where I ran into my mother and step-dad. I told my mom that I had to work at 6 p.m. but that I would be heading over to the hospital around 4 so that I could spend a few hours with gram. We had lunch, spent about 30 minutes grocery shopping, and headed home.

I had not been in the door ten minutes when the phone rang. It was my mother. “She’s gone.” was all she had to say.

I still don’t understand exactly what happened, save for the fact that my gram had it her way. She never wanted anyone to take care of her, and she wouldn’t have wanted anyone to have to see her die. The nurse checked on her at 1 p.m. and she was joking and laughing with them, and at 1:15 she was gone.

The most wonderful matraich any family has ever had, had the last words after all.

I’m glad she’s in no more pain, but I find myself just wanting to curl up in bed and stay there. It’s easier to be at her house, for some reason. I don’t want to have anything to do with the kids, and for someone that’s suffered depression before, I know I’m on the downhill slide.

I just want her back, and I know it’s not possible. She was one of the only people in my family that understood and accepted me for who I am (which is a loud-mouthed, opinionated woman). She was also one of the few who “got”, and approved of why we do foster care.

I am in a haze right now and I don’t know how I am going to come out of it. At this point in time – I don’t even want to try to.


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