I’ve a lovely post about “could-do” rather than “must-do” going, but I haven’t finished it yet.
I’ve another one about Kegels and ear wax that’s little more than a title, the title being “Kegels and ear wax.” Things have been a little chaotic here on Walton Mountain since the October full moon.
(update: I’m turfing that wax and Kegel thing. Whatever inspired me is gone.)
For those of you who lack access to a wall calendar or downloaded app, that was October 20th, 2021. Eight long days ago. [i] I’d say it’s been eight crazy nights as well, with a snort-chuckle, except I haven’t seen the movie and have no idea if my nudge would be appropriate.
On the bright side, I still have a sense of humour. I think it’s good to have one, especially when the world goes dark.
I took a picture of the full moon the other night. It sucked: I don’t know why I bothered; my iPhone 8 is humourously underweight. At least the moon was lovely in the real, dancing among the clouds. I found it less appealing at eleven, as my son drove me to pick up mom-slash-grandma.
He was driving because I’d taken my sleeping pill – something I’ve become hesitant about doing since – and my mom hasn’t been cleared for driving by her surgeon. We were following the ambulance: my dad had coughed up a fair amount of blood (esophageal, but still frightening, especially in light of my mother’s recent history), and they were taking him in.
He’s been sick since before my mother’s lung cancer surgery. He’s been ailing, off food and drink and sleeping in ever-increasing amounts for nearly a month. His COPD is mild and not explanation enough for the changes. COVID19, however, makes doctor visits hard to secure, and the hospitals, at least in my area, are overflowing with deathly-ill COVID19 deniers and anti-vaxxers. [ii]
They won’t kick one out for a fully-vaccinated senior in need, no matter how ill. I agree philosophically, but it’s harder to maintain that point of view when things get personal. There are no atheists in the trenches.
He refused to stay, though, and threatened to call a cab. It was a mistake, but we brought him home to sleep on the understanding we’d return in the morning.
An ER doctor finally saw him in the late afternoon. He couldn’t stay conscious by that point anymore: that ship had sailed earlier that morning. You could feel his lungs bubble when you rested your hand on his shoulders: it was exceptionally distressing.
They sent him home once the X-rays were done and the diagnosis made. With a prescription and warnings to rest, eat, and drink to get better: the ICU and CCU are full to overflowing and can no longer help those who desperately need it. See again the aforementioned COVID-deniers. So he was sent home to my recently post-surgery, lung cancer afflicted, seventy-seven-year-old mom to care for. [iii]
We’ve been dealing, ever since, my brother, my mom, and I. The next day was serious hell. I slept at home, another mistake, but I didn’t know I shouldn’t, and not-home is hard for me. My dad called before eight, sounding almost lucid. “Your mother says she can’t focus,” he says on the phone. I ask a few more questions for clarity – she gets migraines and vertigo – and head over. It’s worse than I thought.
Dad’s clarity is an illusion, adrenaline-inspired only. I don’t realize that right away, however.
I call out as I unlock the door and head upstairs. Mom responds, which I take as a good sign, my second mistake. Both parents are in bed and seem less than conscious. I start investigating, but I’m pretty sure diabetes is going to be the answer. I take her blood sugar: in Canada, the happy numbers (mmol/L) are between four and seven. Her reader’s display says LO and falling. That means it’s already below 2.2 mmol/L: screw Hitchhikers, the time to panic is now. Especially when the blood pressure, which I take next, reads 35/18.
Especially, especially because diabetics with low blood sugar often resemble angry, drunk marines. [iv]
I get things back to survivable. It took nearly two and a half hours, fluids, sugars, and food. And then more sugars because the annoying creature that’s Mom with low blood sugar hid the first ones: she decided the reader was malfunctioning and didn’t need the help. Dad gave periodic directions as we tackled the low numbers, lapsing into unconsciousness again only after the immediate danger had passed.
It was the first time in nearly a year and a half I regretted quitting smoking.
I sent a message updating my brothers about the turn that had been taken. The relatively local one showed up as soon as he could, and we’ve been doing shifts ever since. The whole thing has been surreal. [v]
And then yesterday, the phone rang again. I’m going to stop answering. Nothing good comes from answering the phone these days. Still, like a frustrated moth to an LED tea light, I picked up the handset.
“My surgeon called,” my mom tells me. Good news because she was supposed to call two days earlier and hadn’t, but also surprising. “That’s early,” I reply: the reschedule was for this evening. She tells me the biopsy results are in. It occurs to me that phone calls aren’t the only things to avoid: I’ve yet to encounter a biopsy result that was good news. “There were three lesions in the lobe,” she says first. “I wasn’t expecting that.”
I’m learning not to say things like, “you already told me there were three.”
“The lung cancer has metastasized: they found it in one of my lymph glands. The staging is 3A, though I’m not sure what that means besides chemotherapy without radiation.
I was hoping the surgery would fix this, but I guess not so far. It’s fine, though.”
I tell her I’m sorry. She says “fine” again. I tell her it’s not fine, that none of this is fine. I tell her it sucks and that I wish the result had been different. I tell her she’s allowed to feel those things too. I’m doing a lot of preaching these days. I could stop.
But the advice-giving feels better than the angry. I was unprepared for how angry pneumonia, lung cancer, and what looks to be dual dementia would make me. I’m sad too, but mostly a ball of rage that’s one failed turn signal away from losing my nut.
I think I’m going to pretend that anger isn’t what shows up when sad and scared feel overwhelming, unwanted, and unsafe.
Life’s different than television.
[i] It was eight days when I wrote the first draft.
[ii] I might be angry.
[iii] She’ll be pissed I mentioned her age.
[iv] For those of you saying, “you should’ve called an ambulance,” I really should have.
[v] I didn’t even mention the gas leak at my parents’ house, or my son’s paycheck being shorted and him discovering that someone in the company is embezzling from hourly employees, or my son’s emerging carpal tunnel (sorry, again, for the defective genetics), or my daughter’s raging tonsil infection that needs IV antibiotics and surgical removal as soon as a surgeon is free (likely three-ish months), nor did I get into details about the interaction with my brother, which was bad. He’s assertive like my dad, which borders on aggressive. But that’s a whole other can of worms.