Saturday, May 25, 2013

What A Difference A Year Makes

As I was looking at my blog, for a specific card, I realized I have not updated in almost a year exactly. Unfortunately the last couple of years have been plagued by multiple medical issues, and there have been many new ones to add to the list. Jake, the kids, and I are healthy, but there have been multiple doctors appointments and hospital trips between our two families. I would like to share about my mother. If you have visited my blog before you may remember that in February 2012, my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. She had an upper right lobectomy March 5, 2012 in which they removed the cancer, a few surrounding lymph nodes,and by summer we were given the most amazing news. No evidence of disease. Although we knew that there was a chance of recurrence, we did everything the doctors told us, never missed an appointment or scan. I guess you could say we were blissfully ignorant. On October 27, 2012, my mother was having a baby shower for my brother and his wife in her home. She was overly excited that we would soon have a new addition to our family, especially since my oldest was getting ready to turn 8. That day, we were at a pee wee football game about 30 minutes away. During Chisum's 5 minute halftime, I did something I never do and something that I can only attribute to God's urging. I walked out of the field to call my mother. I was excited that we would be done earlier with the playoff games than we originally thought, so the girls and I would be able to attend the shower. When I called, she sounded very off and asked me the most terrifying question I believe I have ever been asked. She asked me, "Why are there all of these decorations, drinks, and food here?" I knew right away that something was not right so I continued talking to her for a few minutes before I had her take the phone to my dad who was napping. I told him to talk with her, and if he noticed what I did to call 911. Within 15 minutes, paramedics were there (while we were closer to the hospital, so we just stayed put) and found nothing abnormal with her vitals, she was answering questions correctly, and as they were disconnecting her to leave, she said she didn't feel well and collapsed. She flat lined at their house, so my mother in law, Callie and I headed to the hospital as they decided to care flight her. We live about 45 minutes away from the nearest hospital, but that day we were only about 15 minutes away because the location of the football game was just outside the city where the hospital is. Care flight was mid transport of another patient, and my mother was so critical that the ambulance took off with her. About 20 miles away, she flat lined again and they had to intubate her and the ambulance stopped so care flight could get her and get her to the hospital quicker. My dad beat the care flight there, and we had already been there for about 30 minutes. We learned later that she had flat lined a third time, so until she was stable the care flight could not take off. When she finally arrived at the hospital, she was not conscious due to heavy sedation they had her under. The ER Doctors were originally under the impression that it was her heart that had created the problems. About 5 hours later, they performed a CT Scan on her brain, and came back and said they wanted to take her for an MRI because they noticed an abnormality in the brain. The MRI confirmed that she had a 15 mm frontal lobe metastasis, and this was creating seizures that caused her to flatline. We were shocked, upset, and in complete disbelief as she had been to the oncologist only a week earlier with the same NED diagnosis. We met with the neurosurgeon who said it had to be removed, and if it was not removed her prognosis was 1-4 months. After 36 hours, they finally started to wake my mother. She underwent a craniotomy on November 1, 2012 and the subsequent MRI revealed that they had removed it all. She came home on November 3 and she had some short term memory loss, but we praised God for His Mercy and for allowing us to keep my mother. On November 26, she began 13 days of Whole Brain Radiation (to kill off any microscopic disease), and was discharged from the Radiation Oncologist on December 12 after he last treatment. Then it was a sit and wait for 3 months until we could have an MRI to make sure that everything they had done was working. We had an amazing Christmas, and she was back to herself. But, by mid January she began to have headaches, and I felt as if I was always on the phone with either the oncologist or the neurosurgeon. By the end of February, we were trying to get them to move up the MRI. On March 1, my mom, my dad, and I went to her oncologist appointment, with a stop at the American Cancer Society to pick out a new human hair wig for her that Pantene had so generously donated. I cried because about her 9th day in to the WBR, clumps of hair began to come out so she asked me to shave it off. It was truly one of the amazing, inspiring, emotional, and humbling experiences of my life. So, when she put on that wig, I cried because of the journey we had been on, and where we were at. We got a thumbs up from the oncologist. March 2, a Saturday (again), we were in a different town (again) watching Callie at a power lifting meet when my dad called and said that my mom had went to use the restroom and when she came out she told him that she didn't know what happened but she had woke up on the cold tile and had no idea how she got there. I told him we had to get her to the hospital. The ER did a CT scan and although it was clear, we knew something was not right. That Monday, I called the neurosurgeon who scheduled her for an immediate MRI. Wednesday, March 5, we learned that the tumor was not only back, but the same size. The next day we met with the neurosurgeon who said our only option was one round of Stereotactic Radio Surgery. It is high dose of radiation directed at one spot. So, on March 27, she underwent the SRS. Her headaches disappeared, but everything else seemed to be going downhill. I called the oncologist on April 15 because she had developed a severe cough, and the next morning we took my mother in. The oncologist was off that duty, but her PA saw my mom. My mom could barely keep her eyes open, and I had to answer every question. The PA and the nurse took me into their office, and said something I had prayed I never had to hear. It was time for hospice. In that moment, filled with so many emotions, questions, and heart break, my world stopped. Since she could not stay awake, and she was dehydrated, they wanted to give her IV fluids. During that couple of hours, her oncologist came in, hugged me, and said it was time. She decided that we would bring my mother back on Friday, April 19, and she would approach the subject with my mother. So, we did. My mother agreed, and on that day, we stopped fighting the cancer. The next day, hospice came out and did her admission. At that point, she was still mobile, coherent, and her faith was inspirational and unwavering. The kids and I stayed at my parents house each day until 8 or 9 each night, but on May 3, I started staying at nights. It is still difficult to talk about, but God called my mother home on May 10 at 12:40 am with me, my dad, my grandmother, Jake, Callie (our oldest), and Callie's boyfriend of almost 2 years, all by my mother's side. I was blessed that the last hour of her life, I had the privilege (everyone was trying to get some rest) of laying beside my precious momma, holding her hand, kissing her, and telling her that no daughter had ever loved a mother so much. I finally had Jake get my dad, and we were all standing or sitting on the hospital bed when she drew her last breath. I miss her so much, and there are times when it is completely unbearable. I miss her touch, I miss her voice, and I miss her. The last 16 months, my time has been dedicated to my momma whether it was making her appointments, going with them to the doctors, or just listening to her when she wanted to talk. I have been so fortunate to be able to be there. I was able to be with her every day. We laughed, we cried, we prayed, and we grew closer to each other and God. I didn't just lose my mother, I lost my best friend. But, she is with our Heavenly Father, she is happy, she is healthy, and she is healed. I just need my head and my heart to get on the same page. We are beginning down the long road of healing, and I have been told that scrapbooking and crafting are very therapeutic healing techniques. So, I have been making some cards, and other things. But, today I won't post them. Today, I wanted to share where my heart and I have been the last 16 months. Please remember my family in your prayers. She was our rock, the wife to my father, the mother of 2 (but she considered it 4 because of my husband and my brother's wife), the greatest Nana to 7 grandchildren, a testimony to Grace, and a wonderful example of His Love. I look forward to getting back into card making, and this time I want to see where God leads me with it. Today, I leave you with this.


Jen Benoit said...

I came by this blog by chance; I just wanted to say I'm sorry about your mother.
I understand the pain first hand of what you've gone through. I almost could have written this post myself. My mother was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer (large cell) in 2009. She was told she would not survive the treatments. But she did. In 2010, she had headaches. She demanded a head scan. While waiting for the scan to come back, she had a tooth removed. Headaches went away. She thought her scan was going to come back clear. It didn't. She had surgery a couple weeks later. The tumour grew back. She had gammaknife treatment. It came back. She had a second surgery. It came back. She had whole brain radiation in January. Currently we're watching her slowly lose her battle with this horrible disease. We're at the point of just trying to keep her as comfortable as possible. There's nothing more her doctors can do for her. Seeing how she was told she would die from the lung cancer she conquered, I consider these past 4 years to have been a blessing. The past few months have been stressful though.

Thank you for sharing your mother's story.

Rhonda Merry said...

We have missed you Danielle, so sorry for your loss. I pray that those memories stay strong and your sadness softens.

TeenaBugg38 said...

tears are streaming down my face right now. I hope that by writing this you have felt some of the weight come off of your shoulders. In times of of incredible stress I have let go of crafting myself and always, ALWAYS came back to it because it is my therapy. In time you will feel the same way. As busy as our lives get we often forget it can all change in the blink of an eye....we should all be thankful for whatever time we have with our loved ones and and let them know how special they are. God bless you and i will keep you and your family in my prayers

Helen Dooley said...

Wow that was the most intense story i have heard lately. Im so sorry for the loss of your mom. Both of mine are gone so I can relate. Its a good thing you have faith and family to help you through the hard times. Hugs to you, glad youre here and hope to see you more. Let the wonderful memories of your mom keep you going through the rough times. Laugh out Loud when you remember some of the funny ones. Know shes with you always.

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fragrant breeze said...

In the name of Allah,the Most Compassionate the Most Merciful.

Say, "O People of the Scripture, come to a word that is equitable between us and you - that we will not worship except Allah and not associate anything with Him and not take one another as lords instead of Allah." But if they turn away, then say, "Bear witness that we are Muslims [submitting to Him]."
O People of the Scripture, why do you argue about Abraham while the Torah and the Gospel were not revealed until after him? Then will you not reason?
Here you are - those who have argued about that of which you have [some] knowledge, but why do you argue about that of which you have no knowledge? And Allah knows, while you know not.
Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was one inclining toward truth, a Muslim [submitting to Allah]. And he was not of the polytheists.
Indeed, the most worthy of Abraham among the people are those who followed him [in submission to Allah] and this prophet, and those who believe [in his message]. And Allah is the ally of the believers.
A faction of the people of the Scripture wish they could mislead you. But they do not mislead except themselves, and they perceive [it] not.
O People of the Scripture, why do you disbelieve in the verses of Allah while you witness [to their truth]?

Holy Quran 3:64-70