Sunday, July 20, 2014

So Much Has Happened Since Last I Wrote...

My last post was April 30th, and since that time the following events have occurred:

  • Billy was moved from the Memory Unit into a regular room in the nursing home in May.
  • He has had another grand mal seizure and many small ones, but the last few weeks seem to have been better. 
  • Dear friends from Midland visited, and he recognized them and enjoyed their visit.  
  • He had a birthday!  
  • He has made several short sentences that made sense, including "I love you."
  • My dad seems a bit better - more alert at times and more pleasant in nature. 
  • He is terribly thin but does eat.
  • My mom stopped breathing on June 8th. She had been experiencing extreme swelling in her legs and feet, wheezing when she was in bed, and she had asked her doctor about it.  He told her to keep her feet up and that her lungs sounded clear.   On the night this happened, I had gone to Summer Spectacular at our church with my sister and her family.  When we got to the house, Mom was struggling to breathe and we could hear fluid rattling with each breath. We called an ambulance, and it arrived in 6 minutes - the longest 6 minutes of my life - and about a minute before they arrived, Mom lost consciousness. On the way to the hospital, she stopped breathing and was intubated. She was placed on a ventilator and admitted into ICU.  When she was given Lasix she started turning around and got off the vent in three days.  After a week in the hospital and numerous tests, we know that her kidneys are functioning at about 40-50%. She was so much better except for the extreme fatigue when she went home, but they gave her nothing to handle the fluids that were to come. Hmmmm. 
  • While Mom was in the hospital her younger sister was put on Hospice. 
  • I went with Mom to her oncology visit after her recent scan which showed a slight growth in her two tumors and two lymph nodes they are watching. He told her there is one more chemo drug they can try to slow the growth of the cancer. There is no cure, and he asked if we had begun talking about end of life issues. Mom told him she wanted to take a break from treatment and make the decision after we took a short trip to the beach.  He felt that was a great idea. 
  • My Aunt Patricia, my mom's sister, died on June 30th.  She was diagnosed with the same cancer (ovarian) as Mom about a year and a half after Mom was.  Her system was already weakened by Parkinson's Disease, and after being declared cancer-free for a few months, the cancer returned with a vengeance. 
  • Last Sunday Mom, my sister and her family and I traveled to Galveston. We rented a  condo on the beach outside of town and enjoyed a nice day on the beach on Monday. We got Mom to the beach (very slowly with many breaks!), and on Tuesday we went into town for great seafood. Mom didn't feel like going to the beach that afternoon, so she rested.  She and I shared a room with twin beds, and around 12:30 after I had gone to bed, Mom woke me up in the same distress with her breathing as before - gasping, rattling, and panic. I got my sister and brother in law, she called 911, and I prayed over Mom. When the paramedics arrived, Mom was still conscious, and they put her on a CPAP machine to help her breathe. They allowed me to ride in the front of the ambulance, and I was much more at east than the time before.  She was taken to UTMB, an excellent teaching hospital with lots of unusual people outside the ER at 1:30 in the morning!  Once again, Lasix was started, she was taken for tests and xrays, and she was admitted to a regular room around 5:30 that morning. We were so pleased with the doctors who knew immediately what happened, and she improved so much that she was discharged that night at 7:00 with prescriptions in hand for Lasix. We came home on Thursday.

When we were kids my dad would tickle us or do something equally irritating until we yelled, "Calf rope!" or "Uncle!"  The point was to see how much we could endure before giving up.  I feel the need to yell out "Calf rope!" I've reached my limit. We get past one hurdle and another appears in front of us. I've talked more about death, dying, and funerals in the last few months than all the previous years in my life. My disdain for Alzheimer's Disease and cancer remains strong.  My faith in Jesus'  runs deep, and my knowledge that He is in control is firm. 

I am scheduled to leave town on Saturday with a dear friend for a real beach in Florida!  (No offense, Galvestonians!) I am praying that my family will remain without incident while I am having another go at a vacation!  After no vacation for quite some time, I never imagined I would have two trips in one summer, but I've been blessed.  I appreciate your prayers and support for our family.