Thursday, June 30, 2011

BRENDA'S TALE...IN HER OWN WORDS...

Well, it's that time again for another tale.  Trevor insisted on being able to pick the title.  I think he really watches too much NBC Nightly News.  Since, I am giving him some time off, as he has been doing an exceptional job with writing...I let the dog have his bone, so to speak.

I am going to be sharing my personal feelings in regards to the events that have happened this year so far.

As many of you know, my Mom passed away on May 31ST, 2011.  I also lost my brother-in-law this year in April who was married to my oldest sister.  I can't imagine losing a husband and then a little over a month later, losing your Mom. 

We found out on March 30TH that Mom was dying.  I was informed by my PCP, while I was at work.  I just got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I really thought she was beginning to get better.

That's just how fast things would change.  It was pretty much like that the whole time, since she first entered the hospital on February 4TH, when this whole ordeal began.

I had no idea that the following Wednesday on February 9TH, she would be entering a nursing home.

She had seemed to be doing very well after her thoracentesis to remove the fluid from behind her lung.

When I arrived at the hospital the next morning, it had all changed once again.  She was talking to the hospitalist, about the possibility of going to a nursing home.  I could just not believe this was happening and so fast.

So they started contacting different ones in the area.  There were 4 different places that had openings.  Mom told me to be sure to bear in mind that she wanted, The Baptist Home.  The reason being, because I lived so close and would be able to be there almost every day.  I did not want her to think that she would be deserted. 

So a day before she entered the home...again, I received another call at work, that she would be entering the home the following morning.  This was going way too fast, my head was spinning.

I couldn't think fast enough to make arrangements to be with her when she entered.  That is the only thing I would have changed.  I would have been there.  She was still very alert at this point and was able to fill out the paperwork, so I wasn't concerned about that. 

When I got there that evening, it changed again.  She wanted to go back to her apartment.  I understand that completely.  She was taken out of her apartment in an ambulance less than a week before.  2 days prior to going to the hospital, she was still driving, running her errands and able to do most things around the apartment. 

I can just imagine the fear of losing her independence.  She was always taking care of some body else.  She enjoyed that, as it gave her a sense of purpose.

I am going to backtrack here somewhat.  After my sister died 8 years ago from colon cancer...my Dad just seemed to go downhill and not long after that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.  I wanted to help with this as much as I could, because Mom did not want him going to a nursing home.  She told me once, it would feel like she was divorcing him. 

I tried to come every weekend and stay, so Mom could at least do some things without worrying that he would wander off, etc.  It was at this time that Mom & I really became a team.  One of our doctors even made that observation once.

That went on for over 4 years.  When we finally had to put him in a nursing home, it was really sad for both of us.  One, because he was over 60 miles from us.  We live in ND, so we probably wouldn't be able to make it there every weekend.  He only lived less than 8 days after that. 

So after Dad passed, Mom asked me to please give her things to do, as she wanted that sense of purpose back again.  Only this time, we could do things for each other.  That's how it was.  I was not her favorite...as she had plenty of love to go around for all of us.  I hated being referred as that, as it just was not true.

We had a lot of good times together.  We would go shopping, or go to movies.  Yes...my Mom saw "The Hangover"  Gasp!  She had a great sense of humor and she loved the tiger.  I won't say anymore, in case you haven't seen it. 

I enjoyed doing things for her, as she did so many wonderful things for me.  She had great ideas and was so talented.  She made my curtains for my apartment and also made pillows with the extra material that was left over from the drapes I bought.

We faced another challenge in 2008, when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  We'd been through so much already, but she was so calm about it and I think I was in shock.  We really made a great team.  She sat with me in the ICU and didn't have to say a word, just her being there was enough.
 

Just a side note here.  After my Dad passed...Mom asked me to stay with her on weekends.  She didn't like to be alone all the time.  That was great because that was when we would usually run our errands or go out to lunch, etc. 

After I had my brain surgery another surprise came up in that I didn't like to be alone at night.  I found myself spending more nights at Mom's apartment.  This would get better and then worse.  I can't explain it.  Finally after almost 3 years it has gotten much better. 


There is something I would like to share with you.  Now, I am a person of faith.  I don't know if it is great or not, but here's my story.  As I was sitting in the room with Mom in the ER...just for a split second, I felt something touch my shoulder.  I thought at first I was imaging this but then, I felt such a calm and peace, that I could not explain it.  I knew I was not going to lose Mom that day.

I have really been struggling a lot lately, which I guess is normal.  I also battle with Rheumatoid Arthritis, as I have for over 20 years now.  I am sure that the stress in my life has not helped.  I have managed to work even though, some days have been rough. 

The sad thing about this is that one of my family members, has never acknowledged the fact the I have RA.  Their response was, everybody gets aches and pains.  Oh really!  If any of you suffer from this, you know that it is not just a pulled muscle, which gets better with time.  You have swollen joints that get red and hot.  Sometimes you just want to scream, because the pain is so bad. 

I have for the most part been able to keep my wits about me...but I am now in the grieving mode.  From what I have been reading...I am to find a safe person in my life, who I can feel comfortable sharing some of this with.  I thought for starters...I would share with my readers. 

I am also not going to get involved in one sided friendships.  No emotional vampires allowed.  I need encouragement and help to get through this.  I have always tried to be there for others. 

One thing my Mom asked me once.  "Why is is that you always think you have to do more than others?" I guess I never really looked at it that way before.  I just always wanted to help in any way I could.

I was glad that I could be there for my Mom but I have to tell you, it drained me to my core.  I would pretty much after work go to the home and sit with her.  My weekends...I spend hours there.  I didn't want her to think I was deserting her.  My life has pretty much been on hold for quite some time now...even before this all happened.  I am not complaining.  I am just sharing with you...that there is a lot you go through when you lose a parent or loved one.

I have been going out again and having fun.  Mom told me to live my life and grab...when I want something.  She really encouraged me to go to the Elton John concert.  She said, "You never do anything for yourself and you can afford it."  I guess she was right on both accounts.  I went and I had the time of my life.  It was a dream come true.

Another thing...that was very important to her, was that I take my trip to Omaha for the Meningioma Mommas Meet & Greet weekend.  She was to go with me, but that didn't work out.  I went and I am really glad I did.  I had a wonderful time and everybody was so kind in asking about her.

Before I go here,  I just want to again thank everyone who has sent cards and words of encouragement...throughout this past month.  The memorial went to The Salvation Army for the flood relief right here in Bismarck-Mandan.

Thanks for allowing me to share this story in my own words.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A TALE OF LOSING A BEST FRIEND....

Trevor, The Tell Tale Dog, here again, to introduce another tale of Brenda's life. 

Last Tuesday, May 31, 2011, Brenda's Mom...her best friend in life lost her battle with congestive heart failure.  She fought hard, but it was evident some time ago, that her life on this earth would be coming to an end.  She had her for 2 months longer than anyone had hoped.

It was during that time, that Brenda begin to realize that it would be so important to be able to have those heart to heart talks.  She had many.  She was able to tell her Mom just how important she was to her and that she hoped that someday, she would be half the woman that her Mom was. 

Her Mom replied with, "Someday you will be."  Even up until the very end Brenda's Mom encouraged her and told her not to feel bad about anything.  She realizes, Brenda did everything she could.  If she could have, she would have taken care of her herself but, that was just not feasible or possible. 

Brenda was working full time during all of this.  She visited her Mom almost every day.  If she couldn't get there, she would either call the nurses or try to talk to her on the phone.  That grew more difficult, as the days started to grow shorter for her time here.

Brenda had a very special Mother's Day, as she got to take her Mom outside for a wheelchair ride and look at the flowers.  She was telling Brenda about all the different kinds.  You see, Brenda's Mom used to have a beautiful vegetable garden and she also had a green thumb when it came to flowers. 

Her Mom told her that was really nice of her to take her outside.  That made Brenda feel so good inside.

When you are dying different things begin to happen.  Her Mom started to see things that were not there...but Brenda would tell her that she didn't see them and it was okay if she did.  Brenda always asked her if what she was seeing scared her?  If it was...then they made sure that her Mom would take something, so they would disappear.

Another thing that happens and it's no fault of their own, is that their personality changes.  They become agitated more easily or angry.  Brenda really understood this, because of what she has gone through since her brain surgery.  It was still at the same time hard to see, as this was not her Mom, as she knew her.

Brenda's Mom did have some good days within those 2 months.  Those are the days, that Brenda cherishes the most. 

Brenda would grow impatient or upset at times too.  She is only human. 

The hardest part was seeing her Mom suffer with any kind of pain.  The last week was probably the hardest.  The important part was just to keep her as comfortable as possible.  

There was a evening when her Mom just did not want to take her pills.  It took some convincing on Brenda's part, but she just decided that being upfront with Mom was the best way to go.

She told her that she has never lied to her and that she would not start now.  She told her that those pills would help to calm her down and not make her so afraid.  You see, they face fear too, as with lack of oxygen and not enough nutrition, starts to kill off brain cells. 

She agreed to take them and did have a good night's sleep that night.  She had taken something earlier that day, that Brenda and the nurses think, just set off a bad reaction.  It happens. 

Over the next few days, things just seemed to be getting worse.  Brenda's Mom was starting to imagine that things were going on and she had to reassure her that just was not so. 

Last Sunday, Brenda, was able to take her Mom for her last wheelchair ride outside for just a few minutes. They did sit in the lobby and had a little talk.

Then on Monday, things really started to get bad.  Brenda's Mom was in much more pain and just did not want be touched, but they had to turn her every couple of hours. 

When Brenda arrived on Tuesday morning, her Mom was resting comfortably and she did not speak anymore.  Brenda sat with her most of the day, but she knew it would only be a day or so more at best.

Dying is a process and sometimes, some of the aspects of it are just not so beautiful.  No one wants to see their loved ones scared or in pain.

That's where Brenda was at.  Before she left that afternoon she told her Mom that she would see her tomorrow, but if she wanted to go to Heaven tonight, that would be okay, because her Dad and sister were waiting for her.

She went home and at 5:45 p.m. she received a call that her Mom had passed at 5:40 p.m.  Brenda felt such a relief, that her Mom was no longer suffering or in pain.

On Saturday, June 4TH, 2011, her family and friends gathered for her Mom's celebration.  That's just what it was.  Brenda told me, that everything was beautiful, the singing, the message and Brenda was able to grant her Mom's wish of reading a tribute to her. 

Her Mom wrote her own obituary, had picked out her songs, her favorite Bible verses, so it was really the way she wanted it.  Iris, Brenda's sister, had talked with Brenda's Mom ahead of time about what songs she would like played before the celebration.  As they were doing this Brenda's Mom said, "I would like to be there."  I am sure she was in spirit and she would have been so proud.

Brenda lost her best friend in life...but she left her a wonderful legacy and she is so blessed to have had a wonderful relationship with her Mom, as that is so rare. 

Brenda will miss her Mom very much, but she also has so many wonderful memories to carry in her heart.

Lastly, Brenda would like to thank everyone, who has been so kind with your words of encouragement and especially your prayers, during this most difficult time.