One step forward, two steps back...

So what do you do when one of your parents are sitting on the living room floor crying in pain?

Well, if you do like I did, you stand there, call 911 and cry right along with them.

So this past week or so has been a non-stop emotional roller-coaster ride. At times I've felt as thought my family has taken a step forward, only to take two steps back.  Monday, she was admitted into the hospital because she had so much pain in her leg that she couldn't even walk. By the end of the day, the doctors believed that she had a thyroid condition that caused the elevated levels of calcium that was in her system.

Tuesday, the doctors believed she had multiple myeloma, which is a type of blood and bone cancer.

Wednesday, it REALLY looked like it could be multiple myeloma 'cause it was the only thing that explained all her symptoms.

Thursday, I was told the blood work and the CT scans came back negative for myeloma.

Friday, my mother underwent a bone marrow biopsy to determine conclusively if she had myeloma or not.

After her procedure, the hospital released her and my brother Jeff took her home.

Well, at least initially. He soon discovered that she couldn't maneuver stairs very well. So he opted to take her to his apartment where it is all one level.

There, my poor mother was parked on Jeff's sofa. Unable to move. Somehow, all the strength had left her limbs.

It's not easy to see one of your parents become completely helpless overnight. You're so used to them being strong.

My mom in particular (and if you were raised by a single, working mother, you'll understand this as well) was both a loving, doting mother and a disciplinarian. One of my favorite childhood memories (in retrospect, at least) is when my mother chased my brother around the dining room table with a wooden spoon...my bother yelling the whole time, "NOOOOOOOO!" 

Okay, so it's funny to me, the sister of the kid who was chased around with a spoon...sue me. Haha. 

But, here we were this past weekend...my mom was so weak she couldn't even lift her arms to brush her own hair. Somehow, in all these years, strength left her...and quickly. The worst was seeing her understand that and feel as if she were a burden on myself and my brother. She was so depressed that she had essentially lost her independence as an adult.

She had said to me, "It's like I'm the baby and you're the mom now."

It absolutely ripped my heart out.

I had to admit, I was overwhelmed. Jeff was overwhelmed.

Nothing can really prepare you for the idea of having to care for one of your parents. Especially if that parent now needed 24 hour care.

Yet, my mother tried desperately to hang onto her dignity and independence. Jeff and I procured a wheelchair (on loan) from the hospital where she was released just so that she could get from my brother's couch to the bathroom. While at the hospital, the doctor that was treating my mother said that they were still waiting on the results from her biopsy and that if it still came back negative, then we would have to look for some other type of cancer.

One thing was clear: some form of cancer was attacking my mother's bones.

By the time we returned to my brother's apartment with the wheelchair, my mother had to use the washroom. My brother offered to pick her up and put her in the chair so we could wheel her over. But again, holding onto her dignity she refused. She told us that she would rather try to crawl.

Yet, as she lowered herself down from the couch to the floor, her femur snapped under her own weight.

My poor mom cried out in pain and could not be moved. She sat on the floor and cried...not only for her broken leg, but also for the absolute helplessness that she had found herself in.

We called 911 and the ambulance came and took her to St. Margaret Mercy in Dyer, Indiana.

If you've never had to see a parent of yours taken away in an ambulance, I can tell you that nothing can prepare you for it. I could do nothing but cry for my mother as the EMTs worked to put her safely on the stretcher.

I called my father and my mother's best friend and we all prayed for my mother. My brother and I prayed. I don't think I've ever prayed so hard for someone in my life. The emergency room doctors told me that the bone in her thigh had become so brittle that it broke with very little stress.

What a surreal thing to hear about a parent, huh? It's hard to even wrap your head around something like that.

Yet, from the moment she was admitted to St. Margaret's, my brother and I felt very good about it.

Seriously, the staff here have been excellent. They took the time to explain everything that was going on. They showed my mother so much kindness and respect...I felt at peace with leaving my mom in their care.

Today, we received the news that my mother does have multiple myeloma. Yet, the doctors were so kind and they explained everything in detail.

Tomorrow, they will be putting a titanium rod in my mom's leg to stabilize it as well as take a look at her left arm which has become completely unusable to her.

That's the first step.

Second step is that I have to call and make an appointment with her oncologist tomorrow. When we are finally able to see the oncologist, then we can talk about what treatments we can pursue for my mom.

I'm determined to remain hopeful. Every website that I've seen, every doctor I've spoken to has said that myeloma is "very treatable" and that she can live another 5-15 years depending on how advanced the disease is.

It looks like I will be planning that fundraiser for my mom's treatments after all.

Thank you all for your continued prayers and positive thoughts. My family and I truly appreciate it.

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  • I am very sorry for your mother, yet very hopeful.

    Every Tuesday, when I am in town, I go to a novena to St. Anthony. Tomorrow I will remember your mother -- and you-- in my prayers.

    I have been there too many times. I know the frustration and the helplessness.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    Thank you so much! I really appreciate the positive thoughts and prayers. It's just so hard to see a parent be anything other than a parent. I'm sorry that you've had to deal with the same sort of helplessness. Thank you for reaching out.

  • In reply to Misty Callahan:

    As hard as it may seem to you now, you must take care of yourself especially. That means to try to eat well, rest, and take a break from being a 24/7 caregiver. This may sound selfish, but it the only way to make sure that those whom you love will have a healthy you around to help them. The mistake I made was not doing this, and I paid for it with my health. Let us know how things go, if you wish. My thoughts and prayers. rmd

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    Yeah, it's hard sometimes. It does seem selfish. I think to myself, how can I fathom going to a salon to get my hair cut when my mom is laid up in the hospital. I've spent so much time over the last week trying to create some balance but for obvious reasons, my mom takes up so much of my time...and deservedly so. It's hard...but I think I'll eventually find some sort of rhythm. Thank you so much..

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    Praying for you and your family, Misty. I know that you're a strong person and your mom is so lucky to have you in her life-you're such a positive person to be around and I know that having you by her side will be such an encouragement to your mom. We did a fundraiser for Jason's mom when she was diagnosed with leukemia and it was really helpful. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help during this difficult time.

  • In reply to Eva Johnson:

    Thank you so much Eva. I honestly appreciate all the support that everyone has given my mom and my family. I've contacted the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation as well as the Lymphoma Society as far as treatment options and support groups. I was planning on a fundraiser too. As soon as I bang out the details, I'll let everyone know.

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