Another round…

Mom sat in the chair holding her cane with both hands.  As if she needed it for support, even while seated.  Shoulders slumped.  Droopy eyelids completely closed.

Dr. M* looked up from the computer screen, where she was taking electronic notes while doing the quarterly medical assessment.

Dr. M:  Other than the pain in your leg, how are you feeling?

Mom:  My heart… My heart just feels heavy.  The pacemaker keeps it going, but sometimes I just wish it would stop.  I’m so tired…

We’d been focusing on the lung cancer treatment for the first part of the year.  When i took Mom out-of-town on our whirlwind adventure last week, my niece had warned me that Mom had trouble walking, and was having pain in her right leg.  And Mom struggled during our trip.

Pain in her shin has been the consistent indicator that Mom has a blockage in the iliac artery – successfully treated with angioplasty and a stent twice before.  The procedure is only mildly invasive, and has worked wonders.

In addition to that, she had a follow-up visit last week with the pulmonary specialist, looking over the results of her CT scan taken after the radiation treatments, targeted on the cancer nugget in her lung.

Dr. M was pretty sure that the occlusion in the CT scan results was due to bronchial blockage, and that was probably what was making Mom feel so generally crappy.  The body needs oxygen.  If the lungs got gummed up by radiation, oxygen isn’t getting where it needs to get…

i’d taken Mom out for lunch before our visit with the doc.  It was pretty obvious she was feeling crappy**.  So crappy that there wasn’t even much energy in her complaints.  A lot of sighs…

Dr. M confirmed that between the bronchoscopy treatment proposed by the pulmonary doc, and replacement of a failing iliac arterial stent, it was possible that Mom could be feeling much better with only a moderate amount of medical treatment.

But Mom just sighed…

As Mom told the doc about her heavy heart, Dr. M looked up and caught my eye.  She could see mine becoming a little leaky.  And behind those sexy, smart-girl glasses that she wears, i could see that i wasn’t alone…

image from the geniuses at despair

“That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable”


* Ridiculously sexy cardiologist.  i’ve written about her beforeHere, and here, too.  And here, in a footnote… The massive “girl crush” i’ve had on her for the past few years has bloomed into “deep love” due to her ability to provide spectacular care as both a cardiologist and integrating physician for my mother – while demonstrating sincere concern for her as a human being.  She is not a doctor.  She is a goddess…

** True to form, however, she was not feeling so crappy that she didn’t race to a table in our favorite pre-cardiology visit restaurant, and then clean her plate of all food molecules prior to leaving…  We are not “wasting away” people.  Far from it.

46 thoughts on “Another round…

  1. *Sigh*. Longingly remembering better times, growing weary with the trials and tribulations of the here and now. Cyber hugs to you daisyfae, hopefully to help make it through. Best wishes for your Mom. Take care. All of you.

  2. Awww… Poor mom. I get depressed if I have a friggin’ ingrown toenail so I can relate to what a bummer it must be. For the record, sick elderly people often develop depression and it’s unclear whether it’s reactive – due to feeling like crap – or changes in the brain with age. Who knows? A little mild antidepressant might help. Poor lady. Poor you, too. I’m going to see my parents in Boston this weekend and baking them a nice Prozac pie.

    • She’s 83. Given her poor health, and lifetime lack of taking care of her herself, it’s amazing she’s still here. But it’s hard to see her so miserable… as a retired psych nurse, she’s reluctant to take anti-depressants. she did start using Xanax after bypass to knock the edge off anxiety…

      Prozac pie? oh, yeah! i’ll have a slice of that too!

  3. Dr M sounds like a real keeper. And there are waaaay to few of them in the medical profession.
    Hope your mama and you are back to fighting fit soon. And, do you think that some of that prozac pie robinaltman is baking could be sent here? Or even just the recipe (though I would really much rather the pie).

    • she is a remarkable doctor. i don’t think she’s even 40 years old yet… delightful, competent, and attentive. even makes a point to ask after me, and where i’ve been lately!

      i think robin should set up a food truck, selling the pie. there’s money to be made…

      • you may have found your niche, honey! Step on up to the kiosk and have a big ol’ heapin’ slice of Dr. Altman’s PROZAC PIE! i’ll have mine a la mode, thank you! with some of that yummy alcohol infused whipped cream on top!

  4. Isn’t it a shame that it is socially unacceptable to put several luscious pictures of attractive cardiologists on the internet without their permission? Once day we’ll overcome such niceities.

    Sorry about your mum, especially after she sounded much chipper the other week when you drove to her favourite BBQ place.

    • thanks, dinah… we’re all headed in the same direction. this is not a unique position by any stretch… my feelings for mom have softened over the past few years. i can pretty much take anything she can throw these days…. but it’s so hard to watch, when there’s very little to be done to help, beyond what she’ll let us do…

    • she said she was going to refuse chemo if it had been recommended. not because it would make her sick, but because she didn’t want to lose her appetite. for a woman with fried tastebuds (65 years of smoking will do that) she loves to eat…

    • She really is fabulous! Mom was one of her first patients when she completed her residency, and i wonder sometimes if it makes it a little more special for the doc… if i had heart trouble, i know damn well who i’d be going to see…

  5. It’s difficult to hear your parent sound so deflated and … well, tired.
    It messes with your psyche.
    I’m so very sorry you’re going through this.
    As you said, we’re all headed in the same direction ….. but we do what we can to keep them going eh? (I’ve had several similar incidents with my Dad over the years)

    Dr. M is a rare gem … and you definitely got lucky by getting her. 🙂

    I wish you & your Mom all the best ….. keeping you both in my thoughts.

    • thanks… i really hope she can get through this round of procedures, and by winter, or at least spring, has some more enthusiasm for getting out of bed… very hard to see her so despondent, and not be able to do much to make her feel better.

  6. I’m glad the doc’s prognosis is good in spite of everything going wrong, but watch that depression. A person’s state of mind has a lot to do with recovery. My mother ‘gave up’ and seemed to rush towards the end with abandon. Sadly, this occurred before she was diagnosed as terminal; and I still feel her lack of zest for life and feeling age had defeated her contributed a lot to her illness. The trick is to continue making them feel useful. I wish I would’ve known that then; hindsight being 20/20.

    • Trying to encourage her to look forward to things – she usually enjoys the holidays (the good stuff and the drama), but going into winter it’s tough. When she lost her driving privileges, she really lost a lot of her sense of “utility”. Honestly, i think she feels her most important purpose is to keep my niece and family safely housed as they take care of her… Appreciate the insight, and will consider things we could have her do – such as provide an oral history of family moments – that would give her more of a sense of purpose…

  7. Lots of sighing going on. Here too — my dad is back in the hospital as his pneumonia has not responded to treatment as desired and also he displays depressed kidney function. My mother is tired, so tired — but only because of caring for him. Physically she is doing much better than her 83 years would necessarily indicate. Today I give her a ride to the medical facility where my father is incarcerated (I’m sure that’s how he feels). I made chocolate chip cookies for him as a way of alleviating his psychic discomfort. I think he has the same sort of thing going on with his pacemaker. It keeps his heart beating but he is tired. so tired.

    My thoughts are with you, Madame Daisyfae

    • Sorry to hear about your father… and that your mom is wearing thin. The cookies are a nice touch! Mom knows i am crap in the kitchen, so perhaps making her up a big batch of chicken noodle soup would brighten her day a little… Sending hugs your way, too!

      • Took the cookies to the hospital and was greatly cheered. He was in good spirits, seemed actually quite healthy and when I gave him the cookies he asked “How did you get those past customs???” which was actually quite funny. Since he is about 15 pounds underweight, I’m sure the nurses totally approve of him receiving tasty and tempting calories…

        We are all much better this morning… hope you are too.

        BTW: JIm followed the link to the demotivational posters and we spent about 10 minutes giggling over that this morning at 4:45 am, which was a fantastic way to start the day! Thanks for that…

  8. Best wishes. This brings back thoughts of my grandparents. Two of them died from lung cancer. It was not fun to watch. That was before chemo existed. I don’t think they even had radiation therapy. Now I need to get that out of my head.

    • It was sheer luck that caught the lung cancer before it spread – she was asymptomatic, but they saw it while checking for pneumonia… hoping that there will be no further treatment recommended, as she said she didn’t want surgery or chemo… Sorry you lost your grandparents in such a difficult manner…

  9. I’m sorry your mom is so down, and sick. I wasn’t around when my parents died, having had the good sense to move 1500 miles away years previous, but I took care of everybody else’s parents and grandparents as they made that last journey. It never gets any easier. Also sorry for your friend, JB. We had a suicide in the family, and now, 40 years later, that is still haunting us.

    • JB is still struggling. coming up on the 1 year marker, plus the holidays, and what would have been his son’s 17th birthday. i don’t know if it’s any easier for him now… he will grieve for his son for the rest of his life…. very sad.

      • Steve Jobs is quoted as saying that kids are pieces of our hearts, running around outside our bodies. True for me, and I think, most parents. Give JB (my initials too, BTW) a hug from someone in the club. And maybe point him towards “The Compassionate Friends”, a group of parents who have lost a child. As they say, we don’t wish membership on anyone, but all are welcome.
        First year is brutal. Tomorrow is El Dia de los Muertes, for children, then on the 2nd for adults. Putting together the pictures for my daughter to take to school today was not a little bit fun. But my DW and I managed, so that’s an improvement over last year.
        My father killed himself 48 years ago. It still resonates around the family.

      • taking my friend to lunch thursday. have blocked a few hours… i’ll pass along the hug, and the suggestion for “compassionate friends”. he’s been all over the map – even contacting those folks who claim to contact the dead and speak for them. trying to support him as he tries to work through all this, but hard to see him throw money to those possibly exploiting his grief… mostly, i encourage him to write. it seems to help. i read it. and encourage him to keep writing….

        pieces of us running around outside our body. yep. exactly that….

      • Yes, trying to contact the dead. Asking questions for which there are no answers. Trying to make sense of the senseless.
        Though my degree and most of my work is and has been in Comp Sci and Math and Physics, I am also the Bad Yogi, and so am curious about all things spiritual, including what happens after death. There are more charlatans and mountebanks in the death industry than anywhere else, I’m afraid, and John Edwards is among the worst, IMO. He’s doing cold readings, and he’s good, I’ll give him that. But he’s not alone.
        That said, I cannot shake the feeling and belief that there is something there. Once is co-incidence, multiple times stretches the boundaries of statistical inference. So I remain skeptical but open. Since I have a dog in the fight, one might reasonably ascribe my position to that…
        Writing is very good, as is a competent therapist who has experienced the death of a child. They are not easy to find, I was lucky.
        All the best, DF. Stay well.

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