“The Pathology Report Is Back”

Day 12 in the hospital and still no pathology report.  It has been 6 days since the procedure.  I got to the hospital at 8 a.m. in hopes of not missing the doctor.  Mom was sitting up in bed having the same meal she has had for the last 5 days.  Yuck.  But she looks good, considering, and she smiles when I walk into her room.   I give her a kiss and take up my station on the couch by the window, and we begin the wait.  And we wait.  And wait.

The only thing that breaks the monotony of the day is Mom’s jaunts into the bathroom — every 40 minutes.   I shouldn’t really call them jaunts as her trips into that room are hard to watch.    She is skin and bones and very weak.  She can hardly put her legs over the edge of the bed without help.  She requires help from the tech to stand and then needs the walker.  She spends 10 minutes in there every time.  Bless her heart.  What is going on?  Between the daily heavy dose of water pills, the fluid filling her tummy (still don’t know exactly why), and her liquid diet, she might was well sit on the bedside commode.  I think it would be less taxing.

She no more than gets back into her bed — again with much help and quite a bit of struggle — then she rings that bell again.  I would help her myself except the nursing staff has said we should not.  I specifically asked that question when I got there this morning.  “She isn’t hooked up to anything, can I just help her into the bathroom?”  “Oh, no, please ring the bell, we need to help her.”  Probably a liability since in bold letters on Mom’s white board it states “high fall risk”.   “Well, ok, but she will most likely need you every 30 minutes.”  “That’s ok, we understand.”  But the nurse/tech are over-worked and have too many patients so the wait is way too long, and Mom is almost frantic every time before they get back to her.  And we do this over and over throughout the day.

At 4:30, I learn that the surgeon charted, but did not come into the room.  Seriously?  I’ve waited all day to talk with him.   I guess he didn’t have the report, and nothing new to say.  Sigh.  Urr.  Sigh.   We are at their mercy.

The nurse tells me that Mom’s diet has been upgraded to regular food.  Yay.  Mom looks over the menu and decides on a few comfort foods.   I place the order and add the stand-by broth and some applesauce to her meal as I’m just not sure how much “real” food she will be able to tolerate.

As she rings the bell for the “bathroom guard”, I tell her that I am going to head home.   It’s earlier than I normally leave, but I have over an hour drive; it’s rainy with threats of storms, and I’m just simply antsy.

When I get home, I crash on the couch, stare at the ceiling, and I wonder about my mother’s eminent release from the hospital.  Can I take care of her here in my home?  Can I physically do this?  Can I give her the care that she needs?  The good, quality care that she deserves.

I don’t know.

I sincerely don’t know.

It is now 8:30 a.m. the next morning.  I have made the decision to stay home today and prepare for Mom.  Her room needs to be cleaned; her sheets need to be washed; I want to get some groceries.  My sister is standing vigil at the hospital.  I am just ready to make out my to-do list when the phone rings.   “The pathology report is back.  She doesn’t have cancer”.  I am stunned.  The doctors were convinced.  Absolutely sure.  I stutter my relief in words that do not form complete sentences.   A million questions fill my mind.  What then?  Now what?

We don’t know.  The doctors don’t know.   But our prayers have been answered, and we did indeed get a miracle.  My mother does not have cancer.    She is still a very sick woman, and yes, her health is very precarious.   Her heart is failing.  We have known that for months.   And we were dealing with that awful disease.  And will continue to do so.

But today is a good day.

No cancer.

No surgery.

No chemo.

Thank you Dear God.

 

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And So We Wait…

Another long day at the hospital.  Another day with no answers.  At least no official answers.  My sister and I keep making small talk in the hospital room as Mom huddles down in her bed.   Only her tiny head is visible under all those blankets.   After sitting up in a chair to drink her liquid lunch, Mom was shivering and cold, and asked to go back to bed.    I’m not surprised she is cold as she doesn’t have an ounce of fat on her body anymore, and even though it is 85 degrees outside today, even  my sister and I are bundled up in sweaters ourselves as the hospital room is indeed cold.

We are talking about everything except the elephant.  Because even though the doctors have basically told us she has cancer, the pathology report isn’t back yet; it is not uploaded onto Mom’s records.  When Mom is distracted by a tech or a nurse, we have whispered how we’d like to talk about important things with her.  My mother loves to talk.  She always has something to say, but seldom do those words reveal her deepest feelings.  Or let’s be honest, any feelings at all.  That is not her way.

So we wait.

Mom’s health was fragile even before this cancer bombshell.   But, of course, now I know the cancer was the source of the ill health all along.   The weight of that is heavy.  All this time, we should have been treating the cancer.  Why did they not see it?  She has had every test possible, yet it stayed hidden and disguised as something else.

Mom is a woman of faith.  I sincerely believe she isn’t afraid to die.  But she loves life.  She loves her children and grandchildren.  She loves her friends.  She is moaning about being in bed instead of on the golf course.  At 84 years old, Mom feels young, and she doesn’t want to die.  She wants to live.

With the dementia, she hasn’t comprehended her current health issues.   She doesn’t seem to be aware that the game has changed dramatically this week.  The doctors have not been shy about saying the “C” word, but Mom doesn’t grasp it.   Is it the dementia?  Is it denial?  We don’t know, but my sister and I cannot bring ourselves to talk about it with her — yet.

So we wait.

And even though we do not say it out loud…

We are hoping for a miracle.