My mother died 2 days ago, dad just a year ago. This sucks!

heathertonOctober 12, 2009

Just as I was getting over my dads death and starting to enjoy things again, my mother passed away Oct. 10th and it feels like now Im an orphan, just me alone to face a big cold world. Nobody to fall back on if I mess up. And IÂm a guy in my late 40Âs. I feel strange to say it was easier when my father went since when he died I knew at least IÂd still have my mother around. Now I have no one close. I won't be able to call her to ask how to cook something or for any other advice. If I want to get away for a week I won't be able to just fly down and visit anymore. And the worst thing is she will never see me get married or see any grandchildren.

She was diagnosed at age 72 with ovarian cancer 2 1/2 years ago and got surgery but didn't want to go through chemo. Instead she checked herself into hospice as she though there was no hope. I wouldn't have any of that and came down to pull her out of hospice(where she was days from death) and into the ER and to start chemo, by promising to take care of her which I did for 2 1/2 months until she got better. She did very well for 1 1/2 years, even started to play tennis which was the focus of her life before the illness. Last fall after she got home from my dads funeral and during a checkup, they found it had come back and since this spring she started to go down hill. By July she gave up most driving. 6 weeks ago she quit chemo but I was hoping she would start again when I go for a visit and try to convince her to hang in there. The plan was to bring up to Johns Hopkins for treatment and live with me for a while.

She was up and about around the house a few weeks ago when she asked me to come down for a visit so I didn't think anything of waiting and getting a cheaper 7 day advance purchase flight even when she was paying for it. By the time I got down there she was too weak to get out of bed without assistance and really wasnÂt eating. It really broke my heart when I overheard her say to her caregiver, "IÂm going down hill fast." A few days later I had them take her to the ER. They did some tests but didnÂt find anything new to explain her weakness so her oncologist said to put her in hospice. That was Wednesday Oct. 7. I was devastated. Why wouldnÂt the doctor try another chemo? Why didnÂt she get a PET scan so see how bad the cancer had progressed before giving up? In hospice the IV is discontinued and she cant eat so they are basically starving and dehydrating her. She was pretty alert for a few days so we got to say our goodbyes and got out all the other things you tell someone you will never see again. By Friday she couldnÂt even communicate by moving her head to answer yes or no like she did the day before, so she could say if she wanted morphine for pain. I told the nurse she was asking every 3 hours for morphine the previous day so even if she cant communicate, she should still get the same amount now, but nurse said she doesnÂt appear to be in pain so she cant give her more morphine. Just how can the nurse tell if the patient is in pain if they cant even move their head or even blink. I felt real guilty of not knowing if she was in pain and not doing anything about it if she was. She died the next morning while I held her hand. Not a pretty sight as someone slowly gasps their last breaths.

I feel guilty of not spending more time with her the last few months. Unfortunately the time you spend together is never enough when you don't know how little time is left. She would never come out and ask me to stay more often, knowing that I was busy, but she would drop some hints, that I never picked up on. I feel guilty of not hugging her as one of he aids said she would have liked more often. I feel guilty of just not appreciating her as much as I should for the little stuff she would do. Like putting out the vitamins for me each morning when I visited, sending me stuff she baked even thought the shipping was more than the cost of the items, turning the A/C cooler for me even it meant wearing a sweater. I was her only child and I never thought she loved me so much and IÂm so sad I cant show her how sorry I am for not appreciating all the things she has done for me. We werenÂt particularly religious so thanks in advance for prayers and thoughts of heaven, but I know I have to deal with the fact that she is gone and I will never see her again.

IÂm staying at her house arraigning everything and find myself just pacing from room to room feeling so sad. Seeing the unmade bed as it was after the ambulance took her to the hospital, looking at the little Lucite sculpture we found at an art show a few years ago, looking out in the yard at all the fruit trees and plants she planted, some I helped her with and now thinking how she will never be able to do any of the gardening she loved. Opening up the refrigerator and seeing the cucumbers I had picked up from the supermarket earlier with which she was going to make me a salad even though she could barely walk from the bed to kitchen. Going into the bathroom and seeing the embroidered giraffe design towels we bought together the last time could get out of the house and still walk. I told her not to buy them because they are silly and we have enough towels already, but she bought them anyway and IÂm glad she did. Going through boxes of photos trying to find a good obituary picture and seeing her enjoying life so much. And probably the saddest thing is that I wonÂt be able to tell her about all the things IÂve been doing in my life, big or small, from fixing a leaky faucet, to the latest car IÂve bought, to buying a house, and know that someone is actually interested. She is the only one that genuinely cared about and was proud of and excited about those things I did. Friends can be happy for you, but still, deep down, that can never compare to how your mother feels about your accomplishments. There is a bunch of other stuff I want to say but I'm exhausted and will post later.

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You did not do anything wrong. Cancer is a strange and devastating virus. Petscans are very expensive and some Dr.s don't use them if the cancer is advanced. Chemo does a lot of damage to the body also. Sometime there really is not alot you can do except keep the patient comfortable and it is up to the patient to determine their own medical treatments which is covered by the Hippa laws. Even the family cannot make decisions if the person has a living trust/will--sorry I cannot remember exactly what it is call.
I am sorry for your lost and remember the good times you had with her. By the way, my DH has cancer under remission but on chemo again due what they saw in the last pet scan.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 10:07PM
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Oh how I wish I had something to say to make things better. I lost my Dad in April and my Mom Sept 2005. Terminal Illness is exhausting as I never knew for sure if what I said and did was enough. All I know to do is just keep going. Some days I feel like I have lost it, first numbness and then anxious then sometimes happy to know they are at peace and sad because I miss them so much. This grief thing much harder than I ever imagined. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2009 at 2:01PM
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I lost both my parents over the course ofthe past 2 1/2 years and realy does suck. I feel the exact same way you describe about your Mom. It does get easier..but I know I will miss them as long as I live. My Mom was in hospice too and I never felt so sad in my entire life. The only thing I can tell you is to just feel your grief, let it come out and know that you loved and were loved. It will get easier.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2009 at 4:15PM
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I've taken care of much of the details over the last week. Published an obituary, had her sent to a funeral home back up north, got a casket, got a burial plot next to my father, etc. Today I went to a memorial her friends organized and it was quite sad. I'll fly back home on Tuesday and then decide on a date for the burial, plus I just need to get away from here now, too sad to be in her house knowing she will never be back. Also having my 30 year high school reunion next week. Don't even know if I'm up to it. I'm usually uncomfortable at these events in a good year, but now I'm not sure I can handle it.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2009 at 10:42PM
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I am so sorry for your loss. Nothing said or done helps,but I do care, that you've had to go through this traumatic experience.

My Mom died of ovarian cancer July 3rd 2009. She had the surgery followed by chemo treatments, it was in remission for 4 years. Only to come back again about a year and a half later. More chemo, tons of tests, they switched chemo treatments a few times. We got her into one of the best cancer treatment centers and the end result was, she still died. I seen my mom go through so much with the chemo treatments so I understand your mom's not wanting to go through it =/ I would of insisted Mom do chemo, too simply cause I couldn't bear to lose her. It hurts. It hasn't gotten better so far. In fact sometimes it seems to get worse as I realize, I've never gone without talking to her for so long. I really hope it does get easier for the both of us. Like you my Mom was pretty much all I had. Never been close to my Dad.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 12:37PM
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