Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I have some sad news to report..

For those of you who aren't on my Facebook, my mother passed away on Christmas night.

She was an adult-onset diabetic. And she was a good one. Followed orders, changed her diet, was careful about everything. In 2009, when I had my knee replaced, she lost a couple of toes. I spent two weeks at their house after my surgery where both of us were whacked on the Oxycontin family of narcotics. She seemed to improve, then her foot started going bad again. They decided to put some stents in her leg. I missed the second day of a ren faire for that surgery because they did it on a Sunday because they didn't want to wait any longer. When she went under for that surgery, she was certain she was going to wake up without her leg. When she was back in her room after recovery, she came to, asked the nurse to move the blanket. She looked at her missing-toed foot and said, "Good. I can sleep now."

Since 2009, she was in and out of the hospital far more times than I can remember. When they were both officially retired (2003), my parents started traveling around the country in their RV for months at a time. They cut their 2010 RV trip short in March and that's when they took half of her foot. That's also when they decided to announce she was starting renal failure. Of course, I and every one of my kids would have donated a kidney if we could have- but Mom's blood type is a negative and we're all positive (I have my dad's blood type, obviously).

In August this year, my dad sold their giant RV. He said that maybe they'd get a smaller RV and still go around locally like they used to when they both worked, but he also knew that wouldn't happen. In fact, Summer of 2011 marked the 41st year they spent going camping. We started in the summer when I was just a baby- in a tent! They worked their way up from a tent to a pop-up camper, to larger pull-behind trailers to the massive rolling castle they had most recently.

In February this year, they put a dialysis catheter in and after hemming and hawing and four surgeries to correct issues with the cath, she started doing dialysis from home in October. She seemed to respond well and it looked like maybe Dad would get to buy that small RV. In November, she wasn't draining properly because scar tissue grew over the cath's opening. They thought they fixed the problem, but in late November, they realized there was probably other problems.

December 10th, Dad woke up at 4 AM and checked on Mom. She asked him to call for an ambulance because she didn't feel well. And if she wanted an ambulance, he knew this was a serious "didn't feel well". She seemed to improve and decline nearly daily. She suddenly started having spikes and drops in her blood sugar and nobody could figure out why. Last week, her glucose dropped to 38! For Mom, the normal range was 80 to 115. (they moved her to the CCU that night) They realized sometime that day (before the drop to 38) that the problem she was having was that she had some kind of internal leak and the fluid they use for the home version of dialysis was being leaked into her body and gathering around her lungs. They tapped her lung area, got a couple pints of fluid off it and decided to start hemodialysis. She did so well on that. She seemed like her old self, just tired. We exchanged our usual gallows humor when I was visiting her one day during one of those four-hour hemodialysis sessions.

They moved her from the Critical Care unit back to the Intermediate Care unit on Friday. She was still getting the hemodialysis and on Friday morning, she refused it. She said she didn't "feel right" and wanted to be left alone. The doctor talked her into doing it that afternoon. On Sunday (Christmas Day, for all of you keeping track), she was tired and would doze off. We were all there- my dad, me and the disabled guy and our three kids. I brought both my parents some pie- apple for Dad (he loves my apple pie) and a sliver of pumpkin for Mom. I had permission to bring her a piece that she'd eat- I think the nurses expected a standard size piece of pie, but Mom didn't eat a lot of pie.

Anyway, she ate her pie after she tried to eat her lunch. She managed about five forkfuls of mashed potatoes, so I wasn't sure she'd even be able to eat the pie. But she did. All of it. Dad later told me she had hospital food-pie after dinner.

We spent a couple hours there, talking and laughing and trying to be quiet since we were in a hospital and my parents raised me right and I raised my kids right and we're all courteous of other people- but I digress.

I went to bed a little late, around 11-ish or so. I was in bed with my legs elevated (I've been swelling a little more than usual lately) and I had just answered a message to a friend on Facebook and set my phone down. Moments later, my land line rang. I knew it was Dad. When I answered it, he asked: "Are you drive-able?" (he knows of my nightly Vicodin/muscle relaxer cocktails).

I replied, "I can be, what's going on?"

He said that the hospital called and we needed to get up there right away. I leapt out of bed, threw on my too-big yoga pants, giant blue shirt and slipped my sneakers on without socks. I grabbed my jacket and a hoodie on my way out the door. I broke many speeding laws getting to the hospital. I beat Dad by about five minutes. I waited for him, though, because I didn't want to face any sudden medical decisions (I was on Mom's medical decisions list with Dad) all by myself. Dad arrived. We went up together. They stopped us in the hall to tell us she hadn't been moved to the ICU yet, to go down to her regular room.

On our way down the hall, the floor's head nurse stopped us. She told us how Mom was talking to a nurse while they were doing her vitals. Then she stopped talking. And her heart rate went bad. They called a Code Blue and brought her back. Then they called Dad (and he called me- see above). Then she said that Mom went again and they were working on her right now.

Dad said: "You can stop. She had a 'no code' on her records."

And I lost my shit right there in the hallway. For those who don't know me, I'm the one who holds it all together. I have to be outwardly strong. When Jerry had his stroke, I handled everything and then I would cry by myself in the bathroom so no one would see or hear me. But I lost it right there in the hallway. I stifled my sobs with my hand (it was around 1130 PM and I was raised to be courteous) and someone handed me some tissues. They led us to the private waiting room down a long hallway. Dad told the nurse a few important things, I don't recall what really.

Well, I could continue with the minutiae of what happens when a family member dies in a hospital, but you can just assume that it was quick, precise and very professional. They gave us her glasses and the stuffed moose magnet that my youngest daughter brought back from college for Mom (Mom liked moose). She put the moose on the eraser board in Mom's room and I drew a girlfriend for the moose next to it.

Anyway, I've cried several times while writing this blog post. Her memorial service is tomorrow. Mom didn't want a funeral and she allowed for a "celebration of life". She was cremated and didn't want any kind of graveside service.

As for how this is related to fibromyalgia- well, it isn't really, but I figured this blog is where I've been recording how fibro makes me feel. And stress, emotional ups and downs, and lack of sleep will affect fibro. I'm feeling more tired than normal, but I don't hurt more than usual. Yet. I expect that if I do feel pain from this, it will hit after all the activity settles down.

I know this was long and of course its worrisome, but there is no need to worry over us too much. There have been just as much laughter as there have been tears. We're a practical people and we soldier on. And we're there for each other. Next week, Dad and I are going through Mom's stuff. He wants to donate her clothes and anything else usable to a local charity that gives clothes to people who need it (the name of the organization escapes me at the moment). Mom has an Alaskan gold nugget bracelet that I think I'd like, I'm going to ask him about it tomorrow.

316 of 365/2- I never wanted to do a photo of the day like this...


  1. this was beautifully written- my heart goes out to you and yours

  2. Oh Patty, I have so many emotions going on after reading your blog. I lost my Dad many years ago. I wasn't able to be at the hospital because my husband was working out of town. When I got the call I think I went into shock. During the funeral when a friend came up to me and told me how proud Dad was of me is when I lost it. It felt like my legs had turned into wet noodles and I cried like a baby in front of everyone.

    So my heart goes out to you with all you must be going through right now.

    I'm also a bit scared now after reading what your mother went through. I am diabetic, the circulation in my legs is not good. I also have several other health problems, RA and fibro. I'm so scared of ending up like this in a few years.

    I things get easier for you and your family.

  3. My heart goes out to you and all of your family. You have always spoken of your parents so highly, and I know how proud of you they both are. I hope you take it as a compliment that I think you look like your mom in that pic you posted of her. I know it may not mean much, but I'm here if you need anyone to vent to.

  4. Oh, Patty.
    There are no words.
    I cried while reading this, so I know it must have been very hard for you to write it.
    Many people, including me and my husband, feel your pain. I tell him stories about you and Jerry all the time.
    Tomorrow, we eat lemon pie.
    I love you and wish you strength.