Figuring out what I wanna be when I grow up.
Oop..I AM grown up...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Typical Excursion With My 3 Year Old Daughter

So, I was going to a local cheapie store this morning with Ella to buy Jack more socks, because Jack apparently can't have ENOUGH socks ever, and I said, hey let's call Grampa. Dad came to McDonald's with us and we had egg mcmuffins (as a small aside, I have to say McDonalds makes the best mcmuffin, and their coffee was quite good, and the orange juice was delicious, so truly that might be one of the best breakfast spots--who knew) etc. Then Dad and I were having nice conversation while Ella headed into the playland from hell. Because she's Ella, she either got totally confused or legitimately stuck somewhere up in the pipery, and this skinny grandfather guy had to go up to rescue her. I tried to go through but apparently am too fat to fit through the padded rollers part. All the while Ella is sobbing away in despair. Finally the guy leads Ella to the slide, at which point I hear Ella happily shout; "WHEEEE!" and emerge at the bottom wanting to play some more, to which I say "hellz no."
Dad is now wiped out from the stress of the event and jokes to us; "next time you're going to McDonalds, don't bring me!"
And I concluded by saying; "yeah, welcome to my world."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Blah, blah, blah-diddy-blah

Today marks one week exactly since my mother died. Hopefully not too many people will know what it's like to scramble around a hospital room, frantically cleaning, gathering and chucking things out, as someone they loved very much lies there mort on the bed.
Too harsh?

How can I describe how I feel? My brother has described his feelings as an enormous, or crushing sadness. My sister has mentioned this overwhelming sense of frustration; she wants to call mom, but she can't, thus she feels frustrated, among other things. Me? Over and over, when I try to classify how I'm feeling, I picture this big neon sign that says:


I'm finding I'm having a very difficult time with the banal lately. You know--that stuff we open our yaps and blab about every day: "I don't know what I'm going to make for dinner tonight. My son is so picky, and my daughter doesn't like cauliflower."
I'm also having a hard time listening to it. New Mom at the kindergarten pickup a few days ago: "yeah, we just moved here. We used to live in Toronto, then we lived in Mississauga, then we lived in Niagara Falls, and then we lived in Ridgeway, and now we're back in Niagara Falls. No offense, but Ridgeway was 'hillbilly heaven.' No, I shouldn't say that. It just takes an adjustment you know what I mean? But that's what I found when I moved to Niagara Falls too. We had to make an adjustment..." I nodded my head appropriately, and kept saying; "uh huh. Uh huh. Yeah. I understand." Honestly, I didn't give a damn.
It also happens on Facebook. I am not knocking Facebook--I'm as much of a loser as anyone else, and I love that news feed page whereby people post all their comings, goings, doings and general who-gives-a-rats-ass thoughts of the day. Right now though, I can't take them. One "friend" had written something about having a hard night. The dinner he/she had tried to make just didn't turn out. Call me a total douche, but I so wanted to write; "That's too bad your dinner didn't work out. My mom died." ZING-A!
Deep breaths karen. All things will not seem so completely meaningless as time goes by.
I think.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

keep going kid, broken heart or not

So, I have this fruit basket on the kitchen table. My dad brought it for me, because he has two more at home, and he's just not going to be able to eat all this fruit. I'd really, really rather have my mom.
I never thought my life could change so quickly in two lousy weeks. We thought the whole problem started in February, after my mom and dad caught the Norovirus from us (you know--the good old stomach flu). My mom only threw up once that weekend, unlike the rest of us, but then she just never felt better.

Her fever never went away. Each night it would return. Then she developed this awful cough. We all figured she had a chest infection. Some people, we'd been told, had developed secondary pneumonia along with this particular bout of the stomach flu. Okay, this made sense.

Also, my mom had been on immunity suppressing, heavy hitting arthritis drugs for years, so no wonder she got the secondary infection. Of course you can't shake off the bug as quickly as everyone else, I'd reasoned to her, you have virtually no immune system.

My mother was extremely stubborn. More than anything as well, she hated going to the doctors, and she HATED the hospital. In the end, we had to go around her to get her to go to the doctors. My dad and I composed an email together, and he sent it off to my mom's doc. Dad and the doc were on a slightly more personal basis, thanks to having done some business together in the past.

Well, the doctor had no idea mom had been sick for two months, so he immediately had an appointment made up for her. She had gone to the specialist several times for her lung problems. Back in September, she'd spent several hours at the hospital as they tried EVERYTHING to bring her super-racing heart back to a normal rhythm. I was worried sick, but mom was very nonchalant about it. Typical.

Eventually they got her heart back to normal, and the next day, when I drove in from Mississauga to visit, I collapsed into sobs when I saw her. The specialist at that time told her she had a hole in her lung. Apparently it never healed.
This is a long story, but the point is, my mom had gone to a lot of specialists.

She had a lung biopsy done. They stuck the needle through her back into her lung, because she has what we were told were "arthritic nodules" all over the place. When she got the results she called me and said; "well, looks like you people are going to have to live with me a while longer." Ha ha, I said, not funny. They told her it wasn't cancerous.

Also, mom had been mentioning every now and then that she didn't know why her stomach looked so big, and she wasn't able to sleep on her stomach comfortably. Hm, maybe she had another ovarian cyst. Hm.

So, all of this, and then finally mom was so sick, so nauseated, so unable to do anything that she went into the hospital. The specialist took one look at her x-ray and said she had a "chest infection," and would have to stay in the hospital for five to seven days on I.V. antibiotics. Oo, scary. Hm, but her breathing kept getting worse. Then, about four days after she'd been in hospital, we were told by this specialist that she had a "blood clot in her lung." Here, in addition to the antibiotics, she would have to get a shot of blood thinner.

In the meantime, we'd had this stupid family trip scheduled to a local hotel/waterpark. We were all supposed to go and have a ball, occupying two rooms for the night. That was coming up on Thursday.

On Wednesday, my mom and brother were having a pleasant visit. Mom was feeling a little more chipper. Then the resident physician came in. He didn't think that the tone of the room matched what surely they had been told about my mom's situation. "What has Dr So-and-so told you?" He asked mom.

And then he dropped the bomb. Mom was full of tumors. They were on her lungs, they were in her adrenal glands, and she had a mass in her abdomen. It was in her bones. Eleven days later, my lovely mother died.

So, I'll stop going into details now. I won't tell you how much we scrambled to find a way to save my mom, how we even at one point considered taking her from our lousy local hospital in the back of dad's van to a hospital in the United States. The plan was we might get our American cousin to have an oxygen tank waiting for us immediately over the border. We panicked. We scrambled. We had crazy bouts of hope. And she died. It doesn't seem real. It feels unthinkable.

We had a house full of people at my parents' the other night who brought casseroles and haunted looks. They kept telling us how "sorry" they are. I saw dirt on the kitchen floor, and my mom wasn't there to fret over it.

I can't even understand any of this. Sometimes I feel crushed by sadness, and sometimes I feel filled with rage, like my heart has turned so black. Mostly though I just feel so empty.

How am I going to get through the funeral, where everyone will have to hug me and say "I'm so sorry," until I absolutely want to be sick?

Remember that fish who Ellen Degeneris did the voice for in that Disney Nemo cartoon? "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming..."

My poor family.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

When a Parent Gets Sick

I have been avoiding the whole blog thing lately. Immediately this begs the question: is anyone even reading this? But that's just a silly little besides-the-point type thought. Anyhow, I have been stressed. Stressed? Well, I think I nearly dehydrated myself from crying the past few days, but I've always been that kid who has been nearly incapable of NOT crying.
Teacher in Elementary school says: "karen, stop talking." Karen spends the next hour trying not to cry. Seriously! It's become something of a family joke now in a way; everyone just expects that at the first sign of distress, karen is going to start crying. Sigh. Crusty on the outside, soft as hell on the inside, whether I like it or not.
So, I have been avoiding this whole writing business and retreating inward. I see the url for my blog in the drop down search menu every day. It says; hey buddy, going to do any writing today? And I say, nope. My mom's in the hospital right now. She's really sick. Scary sick. She has a bad chest infection, among other problems. Anyone who knows my mother knows that she is stubborn as hell. To use a crude analogy, if she were in the emergency room because one of her legs had just been hacked off, and they told her she didn't have to be admitted to the hospital, well, she'd hobble on out of there to finish her laundry. So, my mom had to feel pretty damn lousy before she'd go to the hospital. I just hope we get some answers this week, and start to hear some promising things.
I hate the hospital. Yeah, who doesn't. I resent the poor overworked nurses who take ages to answer the call of my mom's button after she's spilled her gingerale and can't get any papertowels to clean it up, because the oxygen tube she's hooked up to isn't long enough (and don't get me started over the fact that she shouldn't even try to clean it up, but again, that's my mother). It's nothing personal against the nurses. I know how hard these women work, and I admire anyone who pursues a career in the medical world. I resent them because I have to rely on them to take care of my mother, and I just want them to give a shit. Nothing more. When they come in with a needle of blood thinner, I want them to know what the f*ck is in the syringe. Is that too much to ask? I resent the doctors. They're not around frequently enough, and they hastily whisk in with a "let's try this," and then they whisk back out again. I hate that every time someone walks by the hospital room, they look in. I never look in peoples' rooms as I walk by! Get a life, people. I even resented the woman who minced on in to the ward behind my dad, as he pushed my mom along in a wheelchair, and never said "thank you" as I held the door for everyone. That is, until I yapped out a loud and super cheery "YOU'RE WELCOME!" People. Shudder. But you know what gets me the most? The food. THE FOOD. Oh yeah, this is not a continuation of some long joke about how bad hospital food is. It's really not funny. It's reprehensible, and all who are in charge of this food, and dishing it out to patients should be ashamed.
My mother's appetite is really poor right now. If your appetite were really poor, would you think a good breakfast would be: a large, white, cakey, gluey muffin and a piece of PROCESSED cheese???? I won't even go into dinner. And no, I'm not just being a snobby gourmand, turning her nose up at something that's not a chef-prepared meal. Another breakfast was rice krispies with 1% milk. Rice know: the MOST useless cereal of them all? Zilch fibre? A few nutrients tossed in just to make it look good? Let me put it another way: my mom overheard an exchange between an elderly male patient and a nurse:
Nurse: "how are you feeling today?"
Patient: "Oh, I'm SO CONSTIPATED!"
Gee, I wonder why. The sad thing is, it's probably easier for the hospital to give him a laxative rather than just spend more money on edible food.
I'd better leave that topic. Food and nutrition is a pet interest (obsession) of mine, and I know that the almighty dollar wins out over what's actually "best" for us.
So, I hate the hospital. I want to see someone leave the hospital actually "well." If anyone has a story of a loved one or friend who actually got better because they went to the hospital, please share it with me. It may help me change my cynical, cynical mind.
It's very upsetting when a parent becomes ill. I desperately want my mother to be at home, so I can phone her as I do my lunch dishes, and we can chat about all kinds of things, as we do.
Speaking of dishes, I guess I'll plug my ipod into my head, wash the lunch dishes, and then head off for the start of visiting hours.


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