Saturday, March 10, 2012

GBE2: Confronting the Roller Coaster of the Unknown

Apparently Mom is not ready to leave us at this point. Hospice came in to do their evaluation the other morning. I kept getting phone calls at work as they alternated between my sister and I go gather information and make their recommendations. At this point, they do not see any medical evidence that shows she has six months or less to live. She is still getting short of breath at times, which is consistent with a blood clot in the lungs. Again, they cannot test for it nor can they treat it with blood thinners. She also is still ambulatory, which means she is moving around on her own and taking relative care of herself.

Her great aunt and two cousins went to visit yesterday. (Mom's dad was the oldest of 11 children, so the generations vary greatly in age!) They had a nice visit, but apparently Mom didn't know them when they came in. Once she was introduced to them, though, she was able to retain some of that information. My sister had a similar experience when she visited a couple of months ago. Mom kept introducing her as an old neighbor from 40 years ago, but with repetition seemed to be able to remember her. Some other family friends are planning to visit her later today. It will be interesting to see what they have to say.

The hardest part of this whole thing is the not-knowing. At least with Dad, when Hospice was recommended, we knew he was at the end. They could give us a timetable and it was fairly accurate. With Mom, it is a big roller coaster of just not knowing. I have a great deal of difficulty not having some control. The Great Unknown is hard for me to navigate. I know you can never know exactly when someone is going to die. But this up and down from "She's doing okay for now," to "She's going to the hospital," to "We recommend calling Hospice" to "She's rallying and doing great," is a lot. We went through this with my father for years.

As I was sharing with friends and family the "good news" that Mom didn't need Hospice, they were all so excited. "That's great news!" My sort-of-other-half hit the nail on the head, though. He said that while it was good news, it also kind of sucked to not have a direction and clear answers. I wish I could remember his exact phrasing, because it was perfect. And I just cannot articulate precisely how I feel about it.

Would I feel differently had I not just gone through this with Dad in the last year? Probably. If he were here with us, we would be holding on to each other for support. It would be easier to see the glass as truly half full. Because when they were both here, their deaths seemed so far away. Losing Dad nine months ago just thrusts their mortality into the forefront.

I am not saying that I wish my mother were dead. I really hope I am getting that across. And when I say there is a chance that the blood clot could take her today or it could break up and she could still be here for a few years, I am not trying to be negative. I am trying to be realistic. I am not the kind of person who wants to put on blinders and ignore the entire realm of possibility.

Okay, that being said, I could literally walk out my front door and get hit by a bus later today, or I could live for several more years. We don't know how we are going to go, nor when. I get that. I just don't like this type of roller coaster ride.


  1. I have family members who are going through this right now. One of them has been told multiple times that they need to come immediately. They were 12 hours away a few times and came immediately to find she had rallied. It's a very difficult and draining experience. When it's time, it's time and that really is all there is to it. Dr. can guess and try to give you guidance, but the fact is, death comes when it comes.
    In her case, it's such a dilemma because she isn't really your mom anymore. Her disease has taken that from all of you.
    Praying for you and your family. ♥

  2. I have an aunt in a similar position right now. She had a stroke last year and possibly another one just this week. They didn't take her to the hospital because apparently there wouldn't be anything they could do for her. So, as with your mom, it's a period of uncertainty. My cousin (the only child) is exhausted, and I'm sure she feels much like you do. The rest of the family is on alert, and we have to be prepared for the possibility of an imminent funeral (we're two states away). It's just a terrible position to be in. You really don't know what to wish or hope for. And I understand about your dad. Mine has been gone for thirty years, but I miss my brother so much more now for the support he could be with my mother. We can only pray and try to be as strong as we can be. Blessings to you.

  3. I think I would get tired of all the guessing on the medical professionals part. How stressful!! You have my prayers as well.


  4. I don't like any kind of roller coasters, but this type is just unbearably heartbreaking and exhausting. I think part of what makes this so difficult is that you've been forced to grieve the loss of your mom while she's still physically here, so it's all off balance. The usual processes have been knocked out of whack and it only seems reasonable that you'd be reeling. I pray for peace for all of you.