Thursday, October 9, 2008

Death. Again.

I'm sorry to keep going here. I think I'm slowly starting to let the reality of my mom's death sink in. I don't expect this to be a long drawn out post. But there's something that's been bothering me that I had to get off my chest.

Something my mom always assured me of when she was sick was, "I'm going to be fine. I know the Lord can take this sickness from me." Or on days when she was scared and tired, "I'm going to be okay, right? I can do this?" God, it haunts me. I was never sure, you know? I knew cancer killed in the most random fashion. I had no idea whether she'd live or not. I wanted her to live. I wanted her to beat it. But I also knew that she was continually getting mixed reports from her doctor. The cancer kept spreading, at first in little spurts that they thought were containable. After that happened the third time, I started to realize that my mom probably wasn't going to make it through this. But I couldn't tell her that. She practically plead with me to tell her she was going to be okay.

Maybe this post will go longer than I thought. Let me tell you about the days leading up to her death.

She had just gone to seek a second opinion about her condition (her oncologist had been consistently confusing her chart with someone else's). The new doctor had looked over all her records and told her that he had a new treatment for her to use. It was a more aggressive chemo treatment. I talked to my mom when she got back from his office and was excited for her that things weren't looking grim afterall. I think that was on a Friday or Thursday.

Sunday evening, I called home with some question or other and my dad answered the phone. My mom was moaning in the background. I mean moaning. Deep, labored moans. My dad told me he'd call me back. He called me to tell me that if she wasn't better by the next morning, he was taking her to the hospital.

Monday morning he called from the emergency room of a little town near our home. They were taking my mom in an ambulance to a hospital in a larger city. I could hear my mom moaning in the background. She wasn't saying anything. Just moaning.

At the larger hospital, they put her on morphine and antibiotics and then gave her three blood transfusions. The chemo had obliterated her immune system and she had a UTI, a blood infection and possible pneumonia. The cancer had also spread to her liver and so her liver wasn't functioning correctly. The blood transfusions did nothing to increase her platelet count. Monday night, my dad called me while I was at a friend's house and told me that if the antibiotics didn't start improving the situation soon, then he would move her back to our small town hospital and put her on comfort care until the end. I could hear my mom moaning in the background. My dad was calling from the hallway.

Tuesday morning my dad called again. He had taken her off the antibiotics and was getting ready to have her transferred to the hospital near home. He let me tell her that I loved her. She moaned. I made travel arrangements and was in Oklahoma by Wednesday night.

At the smaller hospital, they increased my mom's dose of morphine and sedatives. When I went to see her Thursday, she was completely unconscious. They had taken off her wig and her false teeth. Her cheek bones protruded grotesquely under her skin and her mouth was hanging open. She had small whitish whiskers on the sides of her head. Her arms were swollen with fluids. And she was pale . . . almost grey, but not.

For all of Friday and into Saturday morning, my mom lay like that. Her breathing was shallow and clogged with fluid. If someone spoke too loudly, too closely to her ear, she moaned and coughed. My dad decided he wanted to be alone with her when she died. My mom's best friend called us Saturday morning and told us to call our dad. He told us she had died. We went to the hospital again and she lay there still. She was still. Her mouth was still and hanging open. Her eyes were still and closed. Her body was still.

It hurts me so badly to think that she may have died confused and in pain. Was it better that she be unconscious for the last few days of her life? Did it keep her from having to deal with the ultimate betrayal? And where was my mom those last few days? All I saw was a sentient being reduced to nothing but pain. Why should anyone have to lose their humanity like that? There was nothing of dignity or peace in my mom's dying. Her suffering finally ceased, but not in a way that does her any good, because she ceased with it.
And now I'm left to make sense out of this. To rebel against the idea that sometimes, the only way we can stop the suffering of another person is to obliterate them.


mfranti said...

no words. just that i'm here, listening.

G said...

I'm here too.

angryyoungwoman said...

oh, Lessie. My hand is here, if you need one to hold.

Chandelle said...

I'm so sorry. I don't have any words of comfort, but we're all here.

Nemesis-(darlene-doc) said...

I am so sorry, I hope you find peace.

djinn said...

My own mother died suddenly, after a life of almost perfect health, of a brain anyeurism. The pain was so great that for about a year I cried myself to sleep each night, wondering how one could live through such agony. Xanax helped, a bit. Listening to the sort of loud, angry music from my youth (My beloved Patti Smith, Pogues, Hole, Bikini Kill, Ramones, etc.) helped a bit. Having friends holding my hand quietly helped a bit. Cyber hand hold.

Lessie said...

Thank you all for your listening ears and hand holds. It really means a lot to me to have you guys here.

Djinn, I'm sorry that losing your mother was so hard on you. I guess we all deal differently, don't we? I've been listening to a lot of anger music myself lately.

djinn said...

Here's a song that always cheers me up: (very early Hole, covering,sorta, Joni Mitchell)

And, though this should be for a different post, here is the greatest breakup song ever. IMHO

(Mountain Goats, "No Children.")