Saturday, December 3, 2011

A TALE OF REMEMBRANCE

Hi, it's Trevor, The Tell Tale Dog here, to bring you another inspiring tale of Brenda's life.  This has been a real sad year for her, as she lost her best friend in life to congestive heart failure on May 31ST.

Nobody had any idea that on that Friday morning in February, that their lives would be forever changed.  It was February 4TH of this year.  Brenda had been camping out at her Mom's apartment, as she was still recovering from her 2ND carpal tunnel surgery.  She was also just getting used to her orthotics, as she was dealing with tendonitis in both feet, due to her Rheumatoid Arthritis, that she had for almost 20 years at this point. 

Anyway, Brenda had gone in to check on her Mom who was still in bed.  She started having problems breathing and Brenda quickly picked up the phone and dialed 911.  She remained very calm throughout this whole process and kept telling her Mom, it would be okay.  She had been scheduled for a thoracentesis that afternoon to remove the fluid from behind her lung.  She didn't quite make it to the afternoon, before she had her attack.

It was at the hospital that she found out that her Mom had congestive heart failure.  She had been diagnosed with aortic stenosis severe, along with a heart murmur, which was a mitral valve prolapse, making 2 valves that were involved, at least that's what Brenda thought.  It was actually 3 valves and 2 were calcified.  That explains her cough that she had all those years, when she told Brenda that she just had a scratchy throat, when indeed it was the congestive heart failure.  When she started on the medication to reduce the fluid, one thing that Brenda noticed, is that her cough got much better. 

They did do the thoracentesis late that afternoon.  They got 865 cc of fluid.  When they showed it to Brenda's Mom, she said it looked like beer.  She still had her sense of humor as Brenda told me, they all laughed at that.  Brenda, btw, got to be there for this procedure and the doctor explained everything that was going on.  This kind of stuff really fascinates Brenda, because she has been working in the medical field for over 30 years and has got to see some really cool stuff.  She once stood right next to an ophthalmologist, as he performed cataract surgery.  It really helped her not to be so afraid, as she was facing a surgery of her own just weeks after that for her deviated septum.

In fact, Brenda had just had her 12TH surgery, so she is quite a veteran when it comes to hospitals and knowing what to ask for.  She was indeed the perfect person to oversee her Mom's care in that regard.  She was only too happy to be able to do this for her best friend. 

Anyway, when she arrived at the hospital the next morning everything had changed.  Her Mom's fluid had begun to build up once again and she was just not doing so hot.  It was then that the doctor there suggested they start looking at the possibility of a nursing home.  Brenda's heart sunk to her chest and she got that sick feeling in her stomach.  This was all happening so fast.  Her Mom was 88 but 2 days prior to her entering the hospital, she was still driving and was able to do most of her chores around the apartment.  Life can change in an instant, as Brenda well knows.  It was certainly a roller coaster ride for the next few months, until finally her Mom passed away.

Brenda remembers her Mom the most, for the life that she lived.  She truly lived by example.  Brenda wrote something that was put in the funeral booklet.  This was Viola's life.  She had a quiet faith, but it was genuine. 

Everyone who ever came in contact with Brenda's Mom, instantly took a liking to her.  The biggest thing they would say, is that she never looked her age.  She had a great sense of humor and she was always doing something for others.  She rarely thought of herself.  Brenda thinks that's why things with her heart just got worse, because she ignored them or didn't want to bother anyone with them.  If she told you something was bad, then it was, because she would not complain about every ache and pain.

She also had PMR or Polymyalgia Rheumatica, which is usually diagnosed in people over the age of 50.  The only thing that will help it is steroids, and she took a small dose every day and it really did help.  Her walking got so much better.  This was diagnosed about 5 minutes in with a visit from a great rheumatologist, who has since left the area.  He also diagnosed Brenda's tendonitis. 

She also had a thyroid mass which was actually bigger than Brenda's brain tumor had been.  They were doing periodic ultrasounds on it, to see if it was growing and it was not.  The decision was just to leave it alone because doing surgery would be risky, because Brenda's Mom could have ended up losing her voice.  Her age was another factor.  The mass measured 6.5 X 3.5 x 4.2 cm.  Brenda's brain tumor was 2.5 X 2.3 x 2.6 cm.  As long as she was not having any issues with swallowing, the decision was not to do anything but keep an eye on it. 

Brenda strongly believes, this could have had an impact on her weight loss.  She was down to 88 pounds in the home.  This is just one of those things that we will never know.

The thing is Brenda's Mom didn't seem concerned about these things, as least that was the side Brenda saw.  There was a lot more going on, than meets the eye. 

That's how Brenda's Mom was though, always caring and thinking of others...where she actually did neglect herself.  That's the sign of a true mother.

Brenda is truly trying to go on with her life.  Her Mom gave her the advice to "Live Her Life" and Brenda is doing that as much as she can.  She actually just purchased a necklace that says..."Live Life"..which is pretty close in my opinion.

We recently got a new addition.  A Golden Retriever puppy arrived this Tuesday.  Her name is Biscuit and she is a doll.  Truth be told, I was starting to get a little lonely, while Brenda was at work.  She sleeps most of the time and really is a sweetheart.  She is almost the same color as good ole Trevor here, so she fits in just perfectly. 

I was really getting worried about Brenda and now she has a little companion that she can be close to, when she has trouble sleeping. 

The holidays are always a tough time for Brenda, but this year they will be especially rough, this being the first Christmas without her Mom. 

One thing that Brenda and her Mom did instead of presents was to give to various charities.  Brenda has continued to carry on that tradition.  Brenda tells me, it feels good to help someone else out in need. 

I really hope this gives you a true sense of what Brenda's life has been like this year.  Don't worry though, she still continues to fight every day to spread brain tumor awareness. 

She recently got me this grey cape and I must say, that I look dashing in it.   

Last month the nursing home where Brenda's Mom was a resident, had a Fall memorial service for all the ones who had passed in the last year. 

Brenda asked if she might read the tribute that she read at her Mom's funeral.  There were 2 reasons for her doing this.  The first was to do one last thing in honor of her best friend and the second, was to spread brain tumor awareness, as her surgery is mentioned in there and just how much she appreciated all the things her Mom did for her, while she had a chance to recover.

The greatest legacy that Brenda's Mom left her was how she lived her entire life, genuine, that is just how she was.