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Hiatus

I haven’t updated here in a while, mainly because not much has changed.

Work is going well, though stressful at times. I’m settling into my new role as more of an editor than writer, and I get to work more closely with the development team, both things I enjoy. And I’m starting to become well known across the company…this is new for me. People I’ve never heard of email me for things like they are familiar with me and what I do, and when I introduce myself to people for the first time, sometimes I get, “Oh yeah, I see your name in emails all the time.” I hope I’m at least leaving a positive impression with these people I don’t even know.

My relationship with food is still rocky. Sometimes I think I have a handle on it. I think I’m getting a handle on it, anyway. I feel absolutely horrid, like I’m wearing a fat suit. But people have said interesting things to me. One old friend told me that I’d gotten too skinny and was looking better. Another said I was too hung up on it and shouldn’t worry so much. It really makes me wonder about myself and if I have one of those body-dismorphic disorders. At any rate, I don’t feel happy with where I am and would like to get back to where I was last August. It just requires a lot of focus and hard work that I’m not sure I can dedicate right now. It’s a toss-up. I just have to do the best I can with what I’ve got and work on loving myself all the time, no matter what stage or phase I’m in.

I still miss mom. It’s not as acute as it was, though I admit I had an overwhelming moment last week while reading a book. I mostly feel bad that I don’t see dad as much as I should. I haven’t even been over to his house in months. I wish I could do more for him, but I just don’t know what to do.

And the boy…things with the boy. The whole situation is complicated and confusing. I’m honestly not sure what’s in the future for us, and I’m working on being okay with that. I do know for sure that he’s become my best friend, and no matter what direction life takes us, that’s not going to change. So things will be okay, I think, whichever way they go.

I hope you’re all doing well out there in the wide Internet universe. Dad’s birthday is on the 28th, so be sure to send him your love. 🙂

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A note to begin: This blog is probably going to turn very personal, so if you are just interested on updates on mom, feel free to ignore/unsubscribe. I need a space for my own thoughts, and this seems as good a place as any.

I saw my counselor again today…I think it’s my third time seeing her? The first time, I kind of spewed my life at her, a kind of hour-long diarrhea of the mouth situation. I’d been thinking about seeing someone to work through some issues for a while, and I guess losing mom tipped the balance for me. But there’s a lot more that I need to work through than just my grief. That definitely came out during our first chat…or, rather, my first monologue.

The second time I saw her, we talked about mom and how I felt about the situation. My dad and I had just gotten back from the beach, so we talked about how sad that was. I cried the whole time again. I always cry when I’m talking about emotional issues (or when I’m extremely frustrated, which is not very helpful in high-stress situations). I think my fee is going to go to replacing all the tissues I’ve used. She’s been encouraging me to make space for my grief. I haven’t made it back to the meditation cushion, but I have been walking outside a lot more, and I think that’s a good place for me to be.

So this third time, I went in with a goal not to cry. I’ve been feeling good about the grief lately and haven’t been crying as much on my own. I’ve gotten a lot of my focus back at work, which is a relief. I’d very much like to be good at my job. It was frustrating to not be able to focus on anything. We also had a lot of fires to put out last week, so that helped.

I haven’t been doing well with eating still, though. I’m an emotional eater. It’s what I do. I’ve been eating back all the weight I’ve lost over the past six months, and I’m sick of it. People say they can’t tell, but I feel disgusting. I can literally feel the additional weight. I’d already made the decision to go back to eating just plain foods once I return from Thanksgiving vacation this weekend. (I never eat terribly over Thanksgiving because there’s not much food I can actually eat where we go, but it would be even harder to try to start restricting when I’m out of town and don’t have access to Whole Foods, etc.)

This session today started out fine. I was talking about how I’m doing better and how we’re preparing for the holidays. I know it’s going to be very sad. Dad has not been very excited about decorating for Christmas, but it is going to be twice as sad if we don’t, so I’m kind of pushing for it. (I’m also hoping to ask mom’s best friend if she’d like to help…if you’re reading this, do you want to help? 😉 I’ll let you know when we’re planning on doing stuff. Dad said it would either be the weekend after or two weekends after this weekend. But I’ll follow up!) The counselor suggested a compromise. We’ll see how it goes. He’s getting a tree, though. I’m putting my foot down on that one.

Then we started moving away from grief and into my eating, which honestly is something I’d very much like to work on. I always thought it was kind of a joke that psychiatrists always blame things on your parents, but it might actually be what they do. Or maybe everything is our parents’ fault? It’s impossible to be a perfect parent. I honestly think mine did an awesome job. But, of course, there are lingering issues.

For several years now, I’ve blamed my obsession on weight on my parents. They made it an obsession back when I wasn’t even aware it was a problem. All the “you don’t have to eat everything on your plate” comments, all the trips to the doctors to find out why I was so fat, all of the school lunches that consisted of a SlimFast bar and an apple…all that good stuff. I know in my head and in my heart that they just wanted the best for me. They wanted me to be healthy and happy, and they knew that being overweight would make that difficult. I’m sure they wanted to know what they were doing (or not doing) to contribute to the problem so they could help me. But the end result was that I got the idea that for them to love me, I had to be pretty, and to be pretty, I had to be thin. Thus the obsession. All of this, I figured out on my own before I even saw the counselor.

What came out today, though, was something much deeper. After a long conversation, the realization emerged that I live my life to make my parents proud. The counselor pointed out that all of my goals (lose weight, be a good student, have a good marriage, get a good career) are my parents’ goals. Not that they’re bad goals, but that “there’s still a little girl inside of [me] seeking approval.” She pointed out that this is a nod to a low self-esteem.

“I know that,” says I, “but how do I gain self-esteem?”

“You’re in the right place,” says she.

And then a further realization dawns on me: “If I am constantly seeking my mother’s approval and trying to make her proud, and now she is gone…then what?” Ah, yes, the emotional eating. Not as a result of me losing my mother, but of me losing the capability to make her proud. What’s the point in all this work to be thin if she can’t be here to validate it?

And then yet another realization: “So what is this relationship, then? Aren’t I just going to put you in that role? Won’t you then become the person I’m trying to please?”

Yes, she says, that happens all the time, and it’s good that we’re aware and talking about it.

Nice.

Then later in the evening, there I am in the gym, when I really, really, really don’t want to be. And the first thing I do is run up to the trainer and say, “I signed up for a half-marathon in March!” because, I suppose, I want him to be proud of me. Again, nice. The realization that I’m spending my whole life trying to earn validation from those I hold in high esteem. It’s totally true.

The counselor pointed out that when I live to please others and the external situation shifts (like losing mom), it creates the instability that leads me to do things like binge eat. When I live for my own self worth and my own esteem, it’s much more stable because external situations are just that: external.

No one said this journey would be easy, but these realizations require a complete reevaluation and reconstruction of my entire being and the way I view the world. It requires a new way of eating, a new way of thinking, a new way of being. I have to spend time seriously considering what makes me happy and what makes me feel like a person of worth. Making my parents proud isn’t enough. I have to find a way to make myself proud.

Although…if I can figure out a way to make this work, it does open a lot of doors. I get to do what I want. Even if my goals are the same as the goals my parents set for me when I was young, it will be different if I strive for them on my own terms, not just to make them proud. And if my goals turn out to be different, then that’s okay. I have the right to follow my own dreams.

I do still have the lingering fear of being a disappointment. Maybe that comes from spending several years as a disappointment and never wanting to be there again.

 

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Ashes to Ashes

Mom’s body is most likely being cremated tonight…tonight or sometime this weekend, right near me on St. Mary’s Street. I know it’s just her body and that she’s not there anymore, but it’s still very difficult to think about. I hate that she’s been alone so long…alone and cold. Well, I guess she does have her two little white stuffed poodles with her. 🙂

I’m sure everyone in these types of situations eventually finds something to feel guilty about. I know dad does…he’s very good at it. Me, I’ve been struggling with the fact that we gave mom morphine. My mom was so straightlaced that she refused marijuana, even when her major symptoms were nausea and lack of appetite. She never liked taking pain pills, even when she was in severe pain. Dad and I both hated giving those to her because they made her so confused. And I hate that I had to give her morphine at the end. She wasn’t in any pain, but her breaths came so fast and her heart was beating so rapidly…hospice said the morphine would help her slow down and breathe. I don’t know if it did. I don’t know if all it did was make her confused and feel trapped. I know that there’s no way to know and that we were all just doing the best we could, but it’s my biggest struggle right now. I hope I did right by her. I hope it was the right thing to do.

Besides that, I’ve just been struggling with struggling. It’s almost as if I have to be strong for everyone else so that everyone else can feel his or her grief. I was talking with dad last night about how I’m making a conscious effort to be compassionate. I know that all of mom’s friends and family members are sad and grieving for the loss of someone so wonderful. I know there’s this desire in each of them to express that sadness and grief to me…whether to commiserate, or to express their love to mom and to us, or to just share their feelings with someone who understands. It’s a bunch of hurt people trying to do the best they can, really. That’s all it is. But it doesn’t leave any room for my grief. I think that dad and I will have to work at being sounding boards for everyone until after the funeral, and then, when the quiet settles over us, we will have time for our own feelings.

Plus, geez, planning this funeral…it’s just very, very hard. I’m glad we have the help of mom’s best friend in planning the reception (and in planning parts of the service, too), but it’s just constant, all day, every day, something every minute. Something needs to be found for someone, or sent somewhere, or some decision needs to be made, and on and on and on. What music? What goes in the bulletin? What format for the obituary? What picture to put by the urn? Do we have a stand for the picture? Who’s handing out the bulletins? Will there be flowers? What kind of food? What were mom’s favorite Bible verses? Who’s speaking, and on what and when? This is another reason that there seems like there’s no room for our grief: there hasn’t been a single moment of downtime since Monday evening. And dad also has to deal with settling the estate, getting finances in order, sending death certificates to everyone, etc.

Dad and I are both taking tomorrow off. We both have a lot of stuff to get done around our own houses, and sometimes it’s just nice to shut everything else out and get everything in order.

So am I doing okay? Not really. I started this morning (pretty literally; the phone didn’t wake me up, but I was still in bed) talking about funeral preparations, followed it by continuing a month-long argument with the NC DMV call center about a non-existent lapse in liability coverage for three days in 2009 (when I’d switched plates to WV), then called all my insurance carriers to see if they could fax over the information *again* since the NC DMV seems to have ignored it, cleaned up my screened-in porch because the apartment complex is power-washing next week and needs everything clear, did more funeral stuff, wrote and submitted an assignment for school, worked out, got a haircut (and thus didn’t get lunch), got snapped at by my ex because he’s been working long hours (because all I do is sit around all day, obviously), then went by the grocery store and then to dad’s house to cook us both some dinner (probably the best part of the day; dinner was good). Every day is like this. I’m exhausted. I’m glad my company gave me a week off, but I feel like I need a month to deal with all this, and THEN I might need an actual vacation.

Right now, I’m going to take a shower and then eat some ice cream. Then I’m going to bed. And maybe, like dad suggested, I just shouldn’t pick up the phone tomorrow. That sounds wonderful.

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Grits

Dad had a doctor’s appointment today, so he asked me to work from their house again today. I’m very grateful that I have an understanding boss and a flexible job.

Mom ate a TON today! Okay, maybe not a ton, but compared to the amount she has been eating, she pigged out. I had a thought while I was killing myself on the treadmill this morning that mom might like some orange juice…I mean, maybe the lady is just sick of water. I was dehydrated at that moment and all I wanted was some orange juice, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask. Sure enough, mom had an entire cup! I went to refill it, but by that time, she didn’t want it anymore.

I asked mom if she wanted food, and she actually nodded, so I got very excited and decided to make her some grits. I tried to give her some instant oatmeal in the meantime since the grits took 30 minutes, but she didn’t like the oatmeal at all. She did, however, eat at least a half a cup of the grits (mixed with butter and sugar, of course!). And I even got her to eat some barbecue for lunch (not sure what it was, exactly, but it smelled good and was in the fridge, so whatever). And she had at least three big glasses of water, so that’s great too!

Things didn’t go so well after lunch. Maybe it was the pork. 😛

I posted this as my Facebook status today: “Something I’ve noticed at my parents’ house: everything always happens at once. For me, it will be the CNA needing help while I’m on a conference call, or the phone ringing right when I get pinged on IRC, or perhaps all of those all at once, plus a flower delivery. Then three hours of dead time. Then four more things all at once. It’s interesting how it all works. I’ve noticed it happens with my dad, too.” And it’s the truth. Today was no exception.

I went in to check on mom, and she looked horrible. Her face was all red, she was kind of shaking, and she was very hot. I searched high and low for a thermometer, but I couldn’t find one anywhere. I was about to call the hospice nurse when there was a knock on the door, and one of my parents’ friends showed up. She visited for a bit while I got a cold washcloth for mom and tried to get the hospice nurse on the phone. I like the hospice nurse, but whoever they’ve got on the phones and/or scheduling isn’t that great. I had to wait for a menu, then hit 0 to get the operator, then ask for hospice, then got a voicemail message for the hospice scheduler that said that if it was an emergency, I should call back and ask for the supervisor. *sigh* So I called back and the operator took my name and number for the nurse to call back. But apparently the nurse didn’t get my number because she called the house phone, which gets forwarded to my dad’s cell phone, and I was trying very hard not to worry him. Anyway, the nurse finally called my cell and told me to give mom some Tylenol. Helpful.

Mom’s 180-degrees different than she was this morning. She was lucid and talkative and hungry this morning, and now I can hardly rouse her. One of the pills they stopped was her Synthroid, so dad and I just gave her one of those. I tell you what, if my thyroid level is even a teeny bit low, I can’t get out of bed…I can’t imagine what would happen if I stopped it entirely. I’m cool with stopping the Tarceva because that has more benefits than downsides, but I am NOT cool with stopping the Synthroid. Ugh. I didn’t even think about that yesterday. She’s only missed it by several hours, so it shouldn’t be too big of a deal. Good thing dad mentioned it!

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Oxygen

I’ve been spending Friday evenings at my parents’ place, usually getting there around 4:30 or so and having dinner with dad. This week, my dad’s brother-in-law was in town, so they invited me to go out to dinner with them.

I got there a little later than usual (had to put on nicer clothes!) and went in to give mom a hug. Hugging her usually consists of me resting my head on her chest and squeezing her as best I can. Sometimes she squeezes back; sometimes she’ll kiss my forehead; sometimes she’ll pat me; sometimes nothing. I put my head on her chest and immediately noticed that she was having trouble breathing. It sounded a lot like when I used to have asthma attacks, except without the wheezing.

I asked her if she was having trouble, and she nodded. I asked if she needed the oxygen (the hospice nurse had ordered it a week or so ago–maybe two?–just in case), and she nodded again. I asked if she was just nodding or if she really needed oxygen. “I probably need the oxygen,” she said.

So I went and asked dad how to turn on the machine. He said she hadn’t needed the oxygen yet, but they’d been talking it over for a couple days, and I told him that she might need it now. He turned it on (it’s a nifty thing that filters oxygen out of ambient air and shoves it through the tubing), and we fit it around mom’s head. Mom started breathing faster. It’s the same thing I went through with asthma: you can’t breathe, so you freak out, which causes you to try to breathe faster, but you can’t, so you freak out, etc. I tried to calm her down, and she did.

I tried to ask her some questions about what it felt like. I asked if she had trouble getting air in, or if there was any pain, or if it felt like her lungs were constricted (that’s what asthma always felt like to me). She said it felt constricted.

It was hard to watch her there, breathing. It looks like her rib cage is protruding, which is probably a result of her losing so much weight from not eating. Her skin is kind of melting…that’s the best way I know how to describe it. All that’s left there are bones.

One of mom’s friends came over to sit with her while we went out to eat. I told her what was going on, and she said sometimes food can get caught in the lungs. I told her I thought there was a better chance that there were large tumors caught in her lungs.

Mom only smiles when her friends are visiting. She never smiles like that for me and dad. To be completely honest, it hurts our feelings. I’m sure it’s because her friends come to visit and bring her nice things, and dad and I take care of the necessities and force her to do things she doesn’t want to do (eat, bathe, brush teeth, change clothes, etc.). Dad even mentioned last night that mom was tired of having him around. I don’t think that’s true. She knows how much he is doing for her, and she loves him a lot. It’s easier to see that about other people, though. I understand where dad’s coming from.

Dinner was nice. We went to St. Jacques, but the owner was off taking care of his new B&B, so it wasn’t as fun as usual. Food was still good. My uncle said I was turning into “an elegant young lady,” which is an awfully nice compliment, I think. I talked with him a little more before I left my parents’ house. He took care of his mother for a long time; she passed away when she was 92. He said it never gets any easier to lose someone close to you, no matter how old that person is or how long you’ve had to prepare. I’m finding that to be true myself. It’s just no fun at all.

I’ve got a girls’ weekend planned coming up. I hope we’re able to go. I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time. And we’re not going too far away, so I will still be able to get to my parents within an hour or so if something happens. I wish mom could come with us and enjoy the spa like she used to. I know she wants to take a hot bath more than anything. I tried to make her understand that it would just be impossible to get her up and into the tub, much less get her out of it again. Maybe we can get a kiddie pool and put it in her bedroom? 🙂

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Another week, another Tuesday. Dad had an early appointment, so I’ve been here alone with mom for most of the day. No one was sure whether or not the CNA was supposed to come sometime (they’re moving her up to four days a week, but I guess no one had said which four), but no other visits were scheduled. It’s kinda nice.

I went in to see what mom wanted for breakfast and noticed that she had thrown up during the night. There was dry, crusty stuff that looked mostly like blood to me all down the front and side of her shirt and on the pad underneath her. I did my best to change her shirt (watching me try to take the old one off would have been hilarious had it not been so sad…it’s very difficult to change someone’s shirt when she’s just lying there), and I put a clean pad over her old one while I called to see if the CNA was indeed coming (if not, I’d go ahead and try to change everything). After a few rounds of phone tag with hospice, the CNA called to say she was on her way.

Of course, she came right when I have my weekly (phone) meeting with my manager. The one appointment I have all day. So there’s me with my cell phone pinned between my shoulder and ear, talking with my manager about a matter of procedure, kneeling in the middle of mom’s bed, and helping the CNA slide mom in and up on the bed. Talk about multi-tasking.

Mom’s always exhausted after nurse visits. I’m sure it’s because she gets manhandled and has to expend a lot of her energy. I was trying to get her settled and get her some food since she said she felt nauseated again. She’s on a two-bite kick: two bites of breakfast, two crackers, two bites of sandwich, two spoons of yoghurt or smoothie, two sips of water. I wonder if she’s aware. But that’s all she’ll take these days. Anyway, I got her some crackers, and she didn’t seem to like the way they stuck to her teeth, so I figured it would be a great time to brush her teeth, especially since I’d forgotten to do it earlier. Bad caregiver.

I’ve been working with mom for MONTHS about not swallowing toothpaste. Apparently this is something she’s done her whole life, I don’t know. But the first time I had to help her to the sink a while back, I noticed she wasn’t rinsing and spitting. She was under the assumption that if it’s safe to put in your mouth, it’s safe to swallow. I know she never reads ingredient lists, but toothpaste is not your friend! So now I make a big deal out of “rinse and spit!” I brushed her teeth for her (awkward if you’ve never done that before; all previous times, she’s done it herself) and held up a cup. I must have said over a dozen times, “rinse and spit; please don’t swallow!” I don’t know if she couldn’t understand or was just in the habit of swallowing, but she swished the water around and swallowed. Ugh. I made her rinse and spit anyway, though it was very hard for her to figure out how to do it. When we were done, I asked if she needed anything. “Yeah,” she said, giving me a nasty look. “I want my life back.”

Nice.

She was sure she had to be somewhere for bridge, either at church or her friend’s house. It took some convincing for her to believe she didn’t have to go anywhere. I put on the TV and tried to get some work done. When I went back, I asked if she was okay…she looked very confused. She said she was confused. I asked what about. She told me that it was like she had two lives, one on the TV that was causing her to miss the other. I turned off the TV and asked what she wanted to do. She said sudoku or read, which is what she always used to do, so I got her the sudoku book and a pen that writes easily.

Boy, that didn’t go well. I don’t know what she was doing, or what she thought she was doing. She started by putting a 1 in a box that already had a 1, then told me I was wrong when I told her she couldn’t do that. So I just agreed and let her do her thing. I checked back on her a few times, and there were some scribbles in a few places, but no numbers. Every time I walked by the room, though, she was staring at it intently. I wish I knew what was going on in her mind.

When I walked by and she was asleep with the book in her hand, I took it away. I got her two bites of lunch, and then she agreed to read a book. She’s been in bed reading for a while. It’s really a small miracle. She hasn’t read, to my knowledge, for a long, long time. It used to be her favorite thing to do. I hope she’s getting some enjoyment out of it.

I also hope she’s getting some sunlight. I opened the blinds in her room. Poor dad…he loves birds, and he said the last time he opened the blinds, a bird flew into the window and killed itself. He just can’t win. (And, yes, he even has those decals on the windows that are supposed to tell the birds that there’s glass there.)

I’ve been doing a little better these past couple of days myself. I went to yoga, which I haven’t done in ages, with an instructor I haven’t seen in months. She was my first real personal trainer. She’s a very kind soul, and I was hoping that yoga with her might help me remember to treat myself with kindness and compassion. I spoke with her a bit after class, and it turns out when she was 16, she lost her mother to cancer. They had a four-month warning. It’s so sad, how many people this disease touches. It seems like everyone. I hope I can make yoga a part of my regular routine. It’s another thing I can’t afford, and I’m horribly inflexible, but it’s a nice way to touch base with what’s going on with myself. Just like meditation, it brings a lot of crap to the surface that can then be scraped away. I hope.

So here’s to small miracles, two bites, and two lives. I don’t know how much longer we’ll have with mom, but I hope she can spend that time doing what she loves to do.

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Rea Le Rata

Happy 50th anniversary, Peace Corps!

I was supposed head to DC on Friday. This weekend, the Friends of Lesotho organization is hosting a reunion for all Lesotho RPCVs, from the first group to the current group, and there are a ton of official PC events, like a gala hosted by Chris Matthews and a global leadership panel. I have to admit that I was looking forward to going. I’d been calling dad all week to make sure he was okay with me going away, and he kept saying yes, he’d be fine, mom was doing okay. Then he called at around 7 pm on Thursday to tell me he didn’t think it would be a good idea for me to go. Mom had a good day that day, but she had one bout of serious shortness of breath. He’s not so worried about her passing away this weekend as he is her starting to lose her ability to concentrate and recognize what’s going on around her.

So I stayed home. It’s probably for the best in many regards. I need to work on my thesis, I can’t really afford to go anyway, and I do need to spend time with mom. Dad and I have now both had to miss our 50-year reunions. What are the chances of that ever happening?

If you’re wondering about the title of this blog post, it’s a line from the Lesotho national anthem. In that context, it means that we love Lesotho. Outside the context of the anthem, the sentence can mean “we all love you all.” They would have been singing the anthem last night. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard it. It has a lot more harmony than ours and is a bit more fun to sing, in my opinion.

Anyway, I had already scheduled vacation time for Friday, so I went ahead and took the day off. And since I’d already cleaned the apartment on Thursday night in anticipation of being gone this weekend, that was one more thing off my list. I slept in a bit Friday and worked out at noon instead of my usual 6 am, then headed to my parents’ house.

Mom was doing much better than she had been on Tuesday. Much more alert and able to talk a lot more. I made a smoothie to share with her (she changed her mind at the last minute and didn’t want any), so I shared it with dad. Then I laid down on the bed next to mom and watched a movie on TV with her. It was some weird Julia Roberts movie that I’ve never seen before…it wasn’t very good, but it was on the WE channel, so I figured it would be okay.

Mom is seriously into the TV now. I guess it’s something to do. But now, if the TV is on, she won’t or can’t focus on anything else. I did keep asking her questions to keep her engaged and to see how she was doing. Like the guy in the movie set a pot roast on fire in the oven…I had no idea that was even possible, so I asked mom if that had ever happened to her. She said it did once with a roast and that it is possible if there’s enough oil there. Go figure.

The hospice nurse came back by around 4:30. Mom’s catheter had been blocked, so that needed to be changed out. It was a long process that was no fun for anyone. Turned out that mom needed some other care while the nurse was there too, so I had to help out since we needed two pairs of hands. The nurse is very rough with mom. I like the nurse a lot, but I don’t like how she handles my mom. I understand why she does things the way she does…but just taking a little more time and getting mom into different positions gently makes a big difference in her pain level. She has a lot of pain in her back.

We had mom on her side while the nurse was doing something that was no fun for mom at all, and I told mom that we’d have to get her a lollipop or some ice cream like she used to get me after shots. Then I remembered that after my weight became an issue (at too young of an age, really), mom stopped buying food treats and started taking me by Kerr Drug to pick out a toy of my choosing. So I told her she’d get to go pick out a toy. 🙂

One thing that really bothers me is how thin mom is getting. She’s turning into just skin and bones, literally. When she’s on her side, the skin of her calves just droops down like there’s no more muscle there…which is probably because there isn’t. And her hip bones just stick up into the air.

At one point, when the nurse was reinserting the catheter, mom was gritting her teeth and making some not-so-fun expressions. I was surprised by my reaction, which was to dive onto the bed and to grab’s mom hand and tell her to squeeze me as much as it hurts. It wasn’t until after that happened that I realized that they always did that for me when I was having things done that made me uncomfortable. The more that mom slips, the more our roles reverse. It’s an interesting process.

I asked the nurse about the timeline. She asked if mom were still eating, and she is, though not much at all. She said that we’d have no more than a week after mom stopped taking in any food, but that we still had weeks to a month left. She pointed me to a booklet that they provided that outlines the common dying process. It wasn’t a fun read, but I’m the kind of person who likes to know exactly what’s going on and when it’s going to happen. I also understand that this isn’t something that can be outlined precisely, and no one knows an actual timeline. It’s just nice to know some benchmarks to look out for. Dad said that his mom passed away one day after she stopped eating. I guess that’s the big one.

The nurse also went through the “little white box” with us again. I’m a lot more comfortable with what’s in there now. She also ordered some oxygen so that dad can use that if mom has breathing issues again…instead of starting on the morphine. We all, the nurse included, want to keep mom as coherent as possible for as long as possible.

I’m thinking about calling on some of the hospice resources for myself. I’ve always had an emotional eating problem (kind of the way an alcoholic is always an alcoholic even if they stop drinking), and it’s hitting me pretty hard. I’ve put on a little weight and need to figure out a way to work this out before it gets worse. Hospice is supposed to offer counseling services, so we’ll see if that’s something they’ll work on with me.

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