Monday, October 31, 2005

Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic

Just been doing busy stuff the past day and a half. Did a bunch of cooking yesterday, mindless work to occupy time. I went to work today, because it made more sense to do something, rather than sit around.

Stepdad seemed a little disappointed that husband, kids and I weren't over there yesterday. I'm keeping sis away from him-since he's annoyed at her. My aunt brought him a ham. Heck, that would've been good. I think she thought we'd be there, too. Not a problem, I think I'll be over there a lot over the next few months to help out.

Youngest's husband shamed my brother-he'll be flying in tomorrow morning. Ironically enough, it's the same flight my stepsister had booked.

Husband and kids went with his mom and sister to do some house hunting. They found a few that were promising and a few that had septic. Realtor apparently did *not* hear them when they said sewer systems only. They're going out with the realtor in the morning. Crossing my fingers.

Trick or treating was so funny tonight. Our neighborhood is new, only about a dozen of the houses had been moved in last halloween-we were the last completed. I've always loved Halloween, and it has been a nice break from everything else. We finished around 7:45, and we only got three or four kids around 8. About 9:30, we get a knock on the door. Older kids, maybe 15 or 16 and my husband gives them each a handful of reese's peanut butter cups and snickers. "Wow, dude...THANKS!" I think he resembled them when he was that age and that's why they got so much. After they left, he had a good laugh saying that he should've given them each a beer.

Long day tomorrow, should probably rest, but not the least bit tired.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

In Memoriam

My mom, a class act, tough lady, and beautiful person, passed into eternal rest at 10am this morning. Her smile, infectious laugh and cheery "hello" will be missed.

Brain is shot-can't think straight. Wake is Tuesday, funeral Wednesday.

After the song is over...

The dance goes on, so dance away...
After all has been said and done, remember what has been given, not taken away.
Echolyn, "Never the Same"/As the World

That song has been running through my head all day. It's an excellent song (by an excellent group) about death.

Mom has hung on far longer than the Hospice nurses had expected. They said to my sister that they think she's been waiting for my stepdad to say it's okay to die, he'll be alright. He did finally tell her this afternoon. She's been comatose (yes, I can tell the difference now) and he thought she wouldn't hear a word he said. However, when I told her it was okay to die-she needed to give the family ghost hell for hiding food products, I got an involuntary close the mouth and sigh.

My stepdad also bought the funeral plots and picked the casket. It is amazing, he's relaxed and opened up so much after taking care of these things. I got a mini lecture (in a kind way) that my husband and I need to make our plans known and buy plots NOW if we plan to be buried. Apparently, this is an expensive proposition in this state.

I picked up another sister from the airport tonight. Hadn't seen her in just over a year. She's had quite a few health issues, but I have to say she looks younger. Not healthy, though. We went and picked up wings (both siblings from NY lived in Buffalo for a while and are wing freaks) and brought them to Hospice. She got some time with Mom, and had a good cry, then talked to her about good memories from when we were kids.

We got her a hotel room over by Hospice for tonight, but tomorrow night, she'll be coming back over to my place.

I'm hoping one of these goodbyes is what she was waiting for. It's so hard to see her in this state...

Friday, October 28, 2005

Waiting...

The week has been a long, hard one. Mom is probably going to pass in the next 24 hours. Vitals are really weak, she's only had water since Monday afternoon. The hospice staff has been very good about helping us to understand what to expect. It must be rough for them to know that the majority of their patients will die while in their care.

Work has been very understanding about all that is happening, and I used all but two days of my remaining vacation time to spend time with Mom. I was being proactive and talked to my DM today about getting coverage for me next week-I wanted to call the stores that she felt could help and give them a heads up. She was surprised that I was even thinking that way.

The family dramas continue. I think I mentioned that my stepdad made the decision to have the funeral mass and burial here in Florida. It's a decision that I can understand and support. After all, Mom did say she wanted to be with him, where ever he was. He wants to be able to visit her grave every day.

That said, when I passed on this news to several siblings, two who have major health concerns immediately consulted with their doctors to see if they could fly down here. Neither was happy with it, but they accepted the reasoning behind it. Third sibling said he could not change his work schedule around-okay, that is a good enough reason in my book. Another sibling is looking into Amtrak because she's got extreme claustrophobia.

Eldest sister (a/k/a "Legacy") got all bent out of shape at this news, sarcastically says "That's just *wonderful*" and gave every reason why SHE felt it was wrong. She says she's not coming-and it's because she's pissed. She complained that she doesn't have a place to say. Yep, that's true-the two sisters with health issues are both staying with me (and they're not speaking to each other, which should be interesting) because they're both in financial straits. I'm not exactly enamored of eldest sister, and her current behavior disgusts me even more than her normal behavior. I don't want her lousy attitude, excessive alcohol consumption and smelly cigarettes in my home.

There is far more to this story, but it's best not to bore you all with the particulars. Anyway, I'm saving it all for my best selling novel! :)

There will be a memorial service in New York, which I probably won't be able to attend. It all depends on the timing of it. If it's mid week, I can possibly fly up the night before and fly back after the service.

I wish this wasn't such a stupid headache, but it is. Thankfully, stepdad hasn't had to deal with these issues-he's aware, but he hasn't had to talk to any of them. Thank God.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Long day

I spent twelve hours at work today. We have bigwigs visiting tomorrow, and I had requested the day off-so guilt won out and I offered to stay. Guilt is a big thing right now. Either I feel it for working, and not helping out my sister with Mom or I feel it for not being at work for a visit.

Mom's condition hasn't changed. Sis says her face lit up when she was told that stepdad had arrived. I'll head over in the morning, bearing new movies for sis to watch.

Getting the cell phone was a good idea. We were able to touch base a couple of times through the day.

Tuesday's update

I walked in today and found that my sister got a good night's sleep in the recliner in Mom's room. Mom had not been conscious since 10:30 last night, and as a result, had not had any food or drink. Finally got some water into her around 8pm, thanks to a nurse (thanks, Deanna) showing me how to get it to her with a straw and then syringe. Mom doesn't even have enough strength to sip from the straw.

My sis has been here with a dead cell phone. Her phone won't charge, so she'd been charging the battery in her husband's phone. Well, that's up in NY. Today, I was smart-I went to the cell phone provider and got a third phone. She can use it for now, and then I can pass it on to my husband's sister when they're all moved in. First order of business was changing it off that damn Nokia tune!

Speaking of which, they flew into MCO today for their two week stay at WDW. They're going house hunting closer to us than that, but wanted to have a nice base to stay each night. The menfolk went to join them for dinner tonight. Wish I could've been with them.

My stepdad has made his decision. He wants Mom to be buried here so that he can visit her grave every day. Guess that means he's not moving back to New York. This is a good thing-the boys really like him and it would be a double blow to lose Mom and "Grandpa Bill" at the same time.

Sleep beckons. I have to work in the morning, we'll see how that goes. I'm hoping for a long laundry list of things to do to keep me occupied.

Update as time allows.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Storms and such

Wilma bothered Floridians to the south of us. The most she inflicted locally was some 50mph gusts, power outages, some tornados and some cooler weather. The hospital lost power last night about a half dozen times. By 10am, however, it just looked like a breezy fall day.

Around 11, Mom said "Take a Walk." Since she'd had several hallucinations, my sister asked who she was talking to. "I said, take a walk". Sis asked if she meant us, and again she told us to take a walk. So we went down to the hospital cafeteria and hung out down there for about 45 minutes. I made coffee in one of those industrial size pots, since I wasn't into drinking decaf. About 5 minutes later, I had a hard time not spewing a mouthful across the floor at my sister's regaling of a story. I will never hear the name Spongebob without it being followed by the thought of Ketchup pants. The weird things that stick with you.

We figured that Mom was tired of people being around and wanted to pass on without anyone there. Nope, but when we got back to the room, she did say "Damn, I didn't get enough time". The tendency definitely has been the pleas for death to come during the night, and during the day, she'll be lucid.

Around 12:30 this afternoon, the Hospice nurse came in and told us that there now was a bed available for mom and she'd be transported within the hour. More like ten minutes later, the ambulance had arrived and off she went. The facility is very nice, and her room has a VCR/DVD combo. I should have brought some movies for her to watch. My sister ended up going to Best Buy and buying a few classics for them to watch tonight.

The only bump we experienced is that she would have had morphine at the hospital at around 1pm, but she was already en route to Hospice. As a result, the pain meds weren't given again until 4:30. These are new ones, and today's hallucinations included an applesauce spill on her bed. She called my aunt by another name, so my cousin now is calling her mom "Anita". The chaplain came in to talk to mom, and mom exclaimed "Look, Anita's husband's here, too".

I left around 6, thinking that rush hour would be over. I didn't think about the fact that just about the whole gulf coast had closed in anticipation of Wilma, so there wasn't any traffic on the drive home. I got home to find my husband had burned avi's of one of my favorite tv show's first season-woohoo. Anything to get a smile out of me right now and he succeeded.

Half expecting a 3am phone call, but also hoping that it doesn't come.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Tricks the mind plays

Events from the past 24 hours...

My sisters:
Mom: "The lettuce is on fire!"
Sis: "Okay Mom, I'll put it out for you"

Mine:
Mom: "I need to take you girls shopping."
Me: "No, Mom, you've already bought us plenty...buy something for you"
Mom: "Oh, okay, if you're sure"

This is among quite a few other non sequitirs. I think the morphine is making her life pass before her eyes.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Friends and Tunes

So, my friend Joe has a Live365 channel. Has for quite some time. He's the guy who had a radio station broadcasting from his house when I was a teen. Joe has made a career of working in the radio industry.

I finally got around to going to his website and I'm enjoying listening to the tunes. If you're a fan of 80's/new wave, take a listen. http://www.joefm.com/listen.asp

Why didn't I think of doing this when I got the spiffy laptop back in February?

Gotta go, kid #2 is complaining that there's nothing fun to do. I gave a list of things he *could* do, he tells me he did two simultaneously (running with legos). Ventured into the cleaning room and taking a bath realm and was informed that those are NOT fun, Mom. :)

Suzanne

ARGGGGHHHHH!

I signed up to get gold membership from Classmates three months ago to reconnect with a couple of friends. It worked-back in touch with a very good friend from up north.

When I signed up, all the literature said three months, I paid for three months. I should have figured that somewhere, somehow, they'd do *something* to get me to stay in. I ignored their renewal things, I just wanted to get in contact with the one person. Mission accomplished, no need for gold membership anymore.

My online bank statement showed a 15.00 fee for Classmates yesterday. I went to their site and see that I was switched to automatic renewal-I never selected it. As recently as Monday, they sent me an email telling me it was time to renew-no mention that they'd do this automatically.

Soooooo, if you join Classmates, make sure you check that box and switch to manual renewal. The damage has been done to me, let it not happen to you.

BTW, they don't have any 'contact us' buttons, either!

Friday, October 21, 2005

How to be the Dalai Llama

Repeat with me now...

You can't change the past, you can only fix today and tomorrow.
When you wake up in the morning, you should ask yourself "what can I do right today?"
Don't ask yourself "What would Jesus Do?" ask yourself "What would MOM do?"

I swear I've spouted more common sense 101 in the past five days than in the last five years...

Wilma, go away. Let my Mom be!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Friggin doctors!

So, I left the hospital for a while, because to get my kids report cards, we had to go to parent-teacher conferences. (They both did extremely well, btw. Youngest got three awards)

The oncologist decided to take it upon himself to try to change my mom's mind about her DNR, Living Will and request to be transferred to the Hospice facility. He kept on and on about it was the wrong thing to do. Apparently, this caused mom to hallucinate that my sister was putting stuff in her IV to do her in.

I'd been told this oncology practice really doesn't like Hospice. You'd think that the way cancer progresses, that they'd work with them. Apparently not.

Sis got things calmed down, and told me to stay home, be with my family and get some rest. Tomorrow is going to be another busy day.

When you've got small cell lung cancer, that is not contained, tumors on the lungs, pulmonary embolisms, pneumonia, an intestinal blockage and nodes in the esophogus and you make the decision that enough's enough, who the hell is the doctor to tell you that you can't die with dignity and peace? ESPECIALLY when you came to that decision on your own?

Making plans, keeping comfort

Spent the night overnight at the hospital with my sister and Mom last night. The spells of conciousness are growing shorter and shorter, and Mom is sleeping far longer. She's gotten to the point where she really can't move without assistance, and getting two or three bites of a meal. My sister's really showing her calling-she's applied to nursing school and she's slept at Mom's bedside for two nights now.

Hospice came in today and we made our arrangements with them. Mom will be released from the hospital and into a hospice care facility. However, hurricane Wilma has forced Hospice to evacuate another facility in flood zone A to the facility Mom has been approved to go to, so the earliest they expect they'll be taking her is Monday. I'm the patient surrogate, so I had to sign a lot of papers. Mom was able to sign her own DNR and Living Will. It's the hardest thing anyone has to do, and Mom has handled this with grace and dignity.

Family drama has been an issue, and I had to call a spade a spade yesterday. What would you think if you heard someone's parent was dying, but the person was talking about a house being their 'legacy', and the various items the parent had collected their whole life were supposed to go to them? What was your answer? You think they sound very greedy? I thought so-I told the person off without having to raise my voice. Basically, my mom had a very private conversation meant to give that person some solace about the loss of a property that was in our family for a couple of generations (lost to last year's hurricanes in a roundabout way). The party involved instead told anyone who would listen that Mom told her this.

Of course, this means that I'm a mean person, because I said something to the party who was spouting this crap. However, I've made it a point to call my siblings and keep them posted on the progression of events. I guess that makes me a horrible person.

Anyway, I'm only home for a short time. Around here, the kids only get their report cards when the parents go to a teacher conference. So, here I am for a brief update.

Please think about anyone in the path of Wilma. I'm sure hoping she decides to weaken and head out with minimal damage.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Riding the waves

It has been a very emotional and exhausting two days.

When we got to the hospital yesterday morning, Mom was in horrible shape. One of the nurses got her up in a chair and she was in pain and looked so frail and confused. If you'd told me that she wouldn't make it through the day, I would have believed you. As the day went on, she improved and by 6pm, she was happy and chipper.

Today, we got there, and while she hadn't slipped as far back as where she was yesterday morning, she never perked up to the level she was at Monday night. She's fading in and out of consciousness more and is becoming less coherent. My sister and I made the decision that one of us will stay with her at all times, because she'll ring for a nurse and once they get there, forget why she called. My sister took the night shift, and I'll go back over as soon as I get the kids off to school and send her to get some rest.

The good news that we did receive today was that there is no tumor and no blood clots in her brain. They've begun treatment with blood thinners for the pulmonary embolism she does have. I'm well acquainted with blood thinners, so I'll be able to keep an eye on that situation. However, that doesn't explain the confusion that she has been having-she didn't have a stroke.

These types of situations bring out the best or the worst in people. I'm seeing the worst from my eldest sister. She's on a power trip, lording information over other siblings and telling them my Mom doesn't want to see them.

One sister was told Mom doesn't want to talk to her (not true), and she called all the hospitals in Mom's city to track her down-spent an hour on the phone trying. I hadn't talked to her since New Year's '99, and don't have any bad blood with her. We've had a couple of good, long conversations, and the upshot of all of that is that I will NOT keep anyone out of the loop on Mom's situation and prognosis. By doing this, my eldest sister can't spin her lies and manipulate the situation. There is far more to this story, but I'd need about ten hours to write it all down.

The life lessons mom gave her kids every day: your life can really be miserable, you can be dealt a rotten hand, people can treat you like dirt, but you can't dwell on the bad stuff. You can't change the past, so don't wallow in it. And above all else, no matter how bad you may think you've got things, there's someone out there who's in worse shape than you are.

When my dad passed away fourteen years ago, the lesson I learned is that money and objects don't make you happy, spending the time with the ones you love while they are alive does. I really wished a couple of my siblings could comprehend this. Unfortunately, they're more concerned with who gets what object. My younger sister and I just want time.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

From Bad to Worse

Here's the latest:

Clots in the lung, aorta and brain. Mom got a transfusion today, to help the severe anemia. Her doctor told my cousin to round up all the relatives from out of state that we can. My younger sister will be on a plane the first thing in the morning.

Now, to get my stepdad to understand that she has said many times that she didn't want extraordinary measures. She was saying that last night at the hospital, and stepdad scoffed at the remark and told her to stop talking like that. This is probably going to be the hardest thing I will do in my life.

We're pretty sure Mom wants to be cremated and buried with my grandparents, up in New York. The question is, will my stepdad go for that? How do I even begin that conversation with mom? I thought that we'd be having a rambling conversation over the next five days, because I would be sitting there with her in chemo. I also thought I'd be getting some of her reminiscing about her life this week-laptop was going to be there with me.

The plan is to play off that my sister wanted to surprise her for her birthday, since she had the voucher to fly. A very dear family friend panicked a few years ago when I showed up in the hospital to see her the day before she died. My sister doesn't want a repeat of that with Mom.

I need sleep, but I know it won't happen tonight.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Long day

It started WAY too early. In my tired state, I woke to the alarm buzzing at 5:50am, thought I'd set it wrong, and reset it for 6:50am. OOPS. I woke at 6:15 and realized that I needed to be out the door with the kids ready in 5 minutes.

Got to work on time, and it was busy today. Good deal because it makes my day go so much faster.

At 3:45, I get out and call my mom's for the daily check in. I'd called yesterday around 5ish, and got the machine. I figured they'd been out and didn't think much of it. Well, I should have-today's call got my stepdad on the phone with the news that Mom was in the hospital.

Her home health aide had come yesterday while stepdad was out running errands. Mom complained of tingling in her arms (as soon as he said that, I knew what it meant). The aide called the doctor's office, doctors office says "Hospital, ASAP" What does this mean, you ask? Blood clots. Now, those of you who know me well know I've had a round and a bout with them. I was VERY lucky the first time (DVT), and the second time, I knew what it was and caught it early. I'm extremely relieved that Mom said something to the aide as soon as she experienced the tingling, instead of toughing it out.

The bad part is that they know there's a clot in her chest-Ultrasound has been ordered. They've also ordered an MRI-suspecting that she's had a small stroke. After two hours with her, I can say that she's had a minor stroke. She's lost some words, derailed more than is normal in general conversation and when asked questions, answers perfectly logically with a different answer. For example, a nurse asked her if she liked chocolate, and she answered by telling a story about Joe Namath, as if that was what was asked of her. She got annoyed that the nurse didn't stay to hear about Broadway Joe.

Chemo's on hold, treatment at this point is uncertain-the chemo complicates the normal protocols. They'd insert a screen to prevent her throwing a clot to the lungs or heart, but can't. They can't give heparin, due to the chemo.

She doesn't know, but she's lost considerable amounts of hair (no access to a mirror is a *good* thing). She asked me to brush her hair, and it was coming out in clumps. Stepdad started to say something, but I shot him a look and mouthed "DON'T YOU DARE SAY ANYTHING" as I was grabbing the hair out of the comb, out of her sight.

I think the hardest part of this today was seeing how scared she is, and hearing my stepdad choke up on the phone when he was telling me what was going on. This is a strong, resilient lady, and to see her scared is something I have never experienced before.

Now, to figure out how I can make the best of her birthday, which will now be spent in the hospital. Ideas?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Don't mess around with Sue (with apologies to Jim Croce)

Here's the deal:
When we were moving here to Florida, the game plan was to rent a place, then build.

We found a builder we really liked, and then found that they were building a neighborhood in the general area we wanted. I must have really paid the karma bill, because we got the last lot in said development.

Okay, builder tells us 6 months from closing date to move in, so I found a house to rent. Paid first, last and security. I used a realty to do this, as I wanted a middleman.

Long story short: I'm still waiting for my security deposit back-from April! The don't mess around with me part-I have a lawyer, and we're going to court. I sent a letter to her w/copies of all my cancelled checks, lawyer sent her a letter, now lawyer sends *another* letter with a copy of the forms for small claims filing that we complete.

What could have been a simple pay back the tenant her security deposit will cost her triple because she's either denied I paid a security, told me I forgot to pay the last months rent, or that the realty was holding on to it.

She made the mistake in thinking because I was a 'nice' person, I would forget about my thousand bucks. Not a chance! Nice does not equal stupid.

Keep you posted on this-looks like court in November.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Life isn't fair :)

Last night, I was tucking youngest child into bed. Husband and I had been enjoying a nightcap of Golden Tango Cream (think Bailey's, but much better). I give my son the usual hug and kiss goodnight. The conversation that transpires:

Son: "I smell something nice"
Me: "My hair? (I spray cologne in my hair)
Son: "No, something yummy"
Me: "Oh, I think it was my drink. This it?" (I breathe on him)
Son: "Yeah...Is that a kid drink or a big people drink?"
Me: "It's a big people drink"
Son: "NO FAIR!!!"

Then he asks if he can have some when he's in second grade. When I say no, he asks "Third grade?"

Gotta love kids!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Stalkers

Okay, so I frequent a (rather large) discussion board. I have a signature picture that I change to reflect the current antenna topper in my cars. Yes, I have an obsession with antenna toppers.

Someone else posted that their ex had sent an email (abusive relationship) and she asks for advice. Okay, fair enough.

One poster went so far as to say because I've posted the pictures of the toppers in my car, where (approximately) I live and what I do for a living, I'm probably ripe for being stalked. Mind you, I hadn't even replied to the thread in question.

Really scratching my head on that one...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Never a dull moment..the reader's digest condensed version!

We had an adventure Friday. The chain of events:

1. Ed calls me at 4pm-brakes aren't working. He's on the other side of the county, and won't get to the day care in time.

2. I call the manager scheduled for 6, and she graciously comes in early so I can go get the kids before day care closes at 6:30 (got there at 6:10)

3. Now, scramble to get the bag of quarters at home. My car is on E, and I didn't think I'd be going anywhere until after Ed got home with paycheck.

4. Then we take the hour to get to his job, he gave me the wrong intersection for his office, so I pass by and call him when I'm at the end of Ehrlich road. That part of the road I'm very familiar with, the mall I used to work at is two blocks away! "Didn't I tell you Turner Road?" Nope, Hunter Road-no such place.

5. Get him, and go to Circle K to cash his check, then to walmart for brake fluid. It takes a half hour at Circle K to get this done. Reason for doing this is that our bank took NINE days to clear his last paycheck. Treated it as an out of state check, instead of a federal check.

6. back to his office w/the brake fluid-cross our fingers. Fortunately, that that's all the jeep needs

7. It works! We drive home to change shirts (his sweaty, me still in work clothes) and get dinner (at 9:45pm!)

8. Traveling to the restaurant, got a call from work-deposit off by A LOT. We happen to be going to a restaurant close to store, so we decide to go over and I'll help her out.

9. Ed and kids sit in car, I spend an hour and a half finding and fixing problem. It ends up two transactions were never voided. Once fixed, we could make the deposit and go.

10. Ended up getting McD's on the way home (12midnight). They forget our fries-no wonder why she looked at me funny when I asked for BBQ sauce for the fries (I hate ketchup). Call back and they tell me to come back for them-nope. Now I've got two orders of Large Fries whenever I decide to go back. I was just too darn tired to check the bags, so stupid me.

Yep, life is never boring for us.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Moms...gotta love them.

Back from Mom's. The parade of visitors annoyed the heck out of my stepdad, TFB. She had visits from a social worker, a nurse, the home health aide, a good friend and me. I was joking (as I was slathering shea butter on her feet) that today was a 'spa day'.

Mom is always picking up little gifts for people as she finds them-any occasion will do. In honor of my husband's return to the workforce, she got him a piggy bank that is a pig in leathers-with "Harley Fund" emblazoned on either side. This after getting him a Harley phone for Christmas, that she just had to give him a couple of months ago. It cracks me up that my mom is encouraging my husband to get a motorcycle.

UGH

Feeling rather blah today.

1. Overdrew the checking account. Sucks royally, and payday for hubby isn't til Friday. Worst part is that, in the past, the credit union would decline purchases with the debit card if you were overdrawn. Now, they collect their overdraft fee for each purchase. Argh. I need to call them, I went to take out cash-saw the usury fee that Bank of America was going to charge, and cancelled the transaction. However, my credit union saw fit to charge an overdraft fee for a transaction that wasn't completed.

2. Mom's got nausea pretty bad. The anti nausea meds are expensive (900 bucks a script) and the pharmacies really don't like to fill them. If she goes to the oncologist's office, however, they can put her on a drip that will knock out the nausea for two days-and medicaid will pay 100% of it. It lasts for two days, today she'll be needing it.

3. Utility woes. See 1 above-gotta call and make payment arrangements!

So here's the deal with my mom's treatment. She gets three rounds of chemo, then another PET scan. If the scan shows improvement and shrinking of the cancer, she gets another three rounds. If not, they stop the chemo and send her home. I'm hoping for the former, but preparing for the latter. Not a fun position to be in.

My stepdad, never the most patient and compassionate of individuals, is having a hard time with this. He feels all doctors are thieves, that the physical therapist is a joke because she did a two hour medical profile and is mad that they've allowed mom a home health aide twice a week. He feels it's an affront to his masculinity that someone's gotta come in and do the basic things for mom and help her shower. My sister, typically his favorite, is now on his shit list because she cooked, cleaned and invaded HIS territory and did things he feels HE should be doing.

I should be in the clear-I live fairly close, so I'm not there for extended stays. I'll probably be cooking stuff at my house and bringing it over, preventing the freakout that I'm using HIS kitchen. I've been on his shit list before-he didn't like my first husband, so he didn't talk to me for the nine years I was with that man, and for a couple of years afterwards. I can deal with him being pissed at me-but I won't deal with him complaining about the help mom is getting!

Bright news, a house around the corner is listed (and will sell) at double what it was purchased for last year! Yea, exciting to be house rich and cash poor. At least it's a temporary thing.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Internet woes

I tried to get online all day yesterday, the blasted Roadrunner must have been caught by Wile E Coyote!

I've been volunteered to drive my sister to the airport this morning. It was a good thing I called to do my daily check in, otherwise, she'd have been sitting at mom's waiting for me! This will be good, we've been talking daily about Mom's progress, now I'll get the complete picture without having to talk in hushed tones.

Back later tonight. Hoping the Roadrunner has gotten away for good...meep meep.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Ramifications of smoking and denial

Okay, this blog will be heavy on the crap associated with smoking and what it does to people.

Here's why: On July 16, 2005, my husband's sister lost her battle with lung cancer. She had been a lifelong smoker and had only quit the year before when hospitalized for esophogeal cancer. She'd been given the all clear on her esophogus in February, only to discover in early June that she had multiple lesions on her bones and then they discovered the lung cancer.

Currently, my mom is battling small cell lung cancer AND several large, cancerous tumors in her abdomen. She's been in denial about it-and probably will be until the end. She does not want to believe that all those cigarettes she didn't inhale could pockmark her lungs and make her life miserable. She didn't think it could happen to her, even when my dad (her ex) had cancer and had first his thyroid, then his voice box removed as a direct result of smoking. After all, he smoked two packs of unfiltered Camels a day and she only smoked a pack of Marlboros.

Based on what the doctors told my eldest sister, we'll be lucky if she makes it until Christmas.

A little over a year ago, my family made the move to Florida. Many factors were involved in the decision, but I think the reason why we hadn't moved years earlier is because I had to accept that I'd be the primary caretaker for several of our loved ones on both sides of the family if we did this. I'm okay with that-I just didn't expect it to happen so soon.

I'm already a casualty of the smoking that occurred in my house when I was a kid-seven smokers, one house=asthma for me. I was diagnosed at seven years old, but only discovered this last year. In using my inhalers when staying with Mom, she commented that the doctor told her that I had asthma, but didn't believe him. I suffered through bronchitis all winter, every winter as a kid until I sought out an ENT and an allergist as an adult with new health insurance of my own. I can surmise that the pediatrician told her that she (and everyone else) had to quit smoking, and that was the end of that.

Whenever the topic of smoking came up, my mom was convinced that her smoking wouldn't kill her. I think the denial she's got right now is from discovering that the cancer she is afflicted with happens ONLY to smokers.

It's hard to not be angry at the tobacco companies and their marketing departments for making it look so cool to smoke back in the 40's, 50's and 60's. It is hard to fathom, for a non smoker, why someone would want to inhale something that smells so nasty. It doesn't appear that it causes the user to get happy, euphoric or feel good like other drugs or alcohol.

My sons both, at the tender ages of 6 and 9, have seen the end results of cancer-they went to New York to be with their aunt for the last two weeks of her life. They know that cancer took both grandfathers. My mom wants them around-and I do, too. It's made a lifelong impression-and I'm sure my rather vocal younger son will not hesitate to tell his peers when they offer him a cigarette someday "Hey, I lost three grandparents to smoking, no way will I take that".