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.