Today is October 2nd, 2020. My mom spent three weeks of the last month hospitalized and during this time, I have begun to understand what fighting cancer looks like up close and personal.
The hospital stays have been excruciating, watching my mom toss and turn, feeling pain, unable to sleep. My sister and I have been her only visitors since she has been allowed only one guest per 24-hour period due to Covid-19 regulations. When my sister informed me today around 5pm that mom was coming home to begin hospice care, I wanted to fight it. But I know it’s time for her to rest and feel the love of her friends, family, and beloved cats.
How am I doing? I don’t know. Fighting cancer is an exhausting battle. So I guess its safe to say I am very tired.
My mom is sleeping now and this is my first attempt to communicate with the outside world about this. I think I know what to expect in the upcoming week/s. But actually, I don’t know anything except that this is going to hit me like a pound of bricks when it does.
The Other Side of the Door
On July 7th, 2020, I traveled from my LA apartment to my childhood home in Dallas to be with my mom who was diagnosed in May of 2019 with MDS which is a cancer in the marrow that eventually progresses to acute leukemia.
Just over three months ago, her chemo treatments were no longer preventing the cancer’s progression, so I knew it was time to come home to be with my mom, sister, and other family members and friends.
Being that my mom’s immune system put her at huge risk of catching the coronavirus, the goal was to take all necessary precautions. I basically self-quarantined in the guest bedroom of her house and would cross paths with mom and wave to her down the hall.
A week later, I tested positive for Covid-19. Yes I had some symptoms, yes I recovered, and no, by the grace of God, I did not get my mother sick. As soon as I tested positive, my sister showed up like a warrior to protect the family. She turned the guest bedroom in my mom’s house into a fully functioning home for me that included a microwave, mini fridge/freezer, toaster (that I gave back because there wasn’t enough room), coffee maker, water boiler, air purifier, and a table stand for me to set my meals on. She dropped food off at my door, and once the area was clear, I would quickly and carefully open up the door to the outside world and heave in the items she would leave for me daily.
All day long, I would communicate with the outside world through Facebook and Zoom.
At the end of the day, Lara (my sis) would come over with her girlfriend and they would provide dinner for the family. Once everyone was served their meal, we would have a Facetime family dinner. How friggin adorable is that? I loved it because I think it was the first time they had ever listened to me when I would speak at a meal. I would interrupt the conversation with a word or two, then someone would introduce me like I had something important to say. “Jonathan said something”, “What did you say, honey?”, “I said the salmon is good”. I wanted nothing more than to exchange hugs with them. But I was content. I have never felt so much love and protection as I did during that time on the other side of the door.
Jonathan. When I was “forced” to make a decision to move my husband from the hospital (7 weeks in) to hospice, it was explained to me that the purpose of hospital staff was to cure or improve his health. When the inevitable became obvious (we had known “the inevitable” for 3 months), hospice was the kind decision. The purpose of hospice staff was to provide comfort. I was sketchy about all of this until we had him settled at the hospice Location. We went from antiseptic to homey surroundings and an astoundingly dedicated and empathetic group of doctors and nurses. I will contact you directly by DM and be there for your frustration relief if desired.
Sweet Jonathan, It’s a rollercoaster for sure. Be careful to take care of yourself as well as being there for your Mom and sister. If ever you need to reach out …I’m here for you. Sending love and strength. Ellen-Ann