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March 9th, 2012

Over the past three weeks, I’ve become overly acquainted with my mother’s bodily fluids.

You name it, I’ve seen it.

There was the pine-green bile-filled vomit. The applesauce and canned peaches that wouldn’t stay down. Blood from her catheter. Her tomato-soup-like stem cells being re-infused. Yellow platelet infusions. And other stuff that doesn’t need to be described.

She’s been home for nearly a week and yet today, we found ourselves driving back to Maywood, nearly an hour on the freeway, because she couldn’t keep any food down and was running a moderate temperature that Tylenol wasn’t helping.

I don’t know how I was able to drive. I was consumed, overtaken, and oppressed by worry. What had we done wrong? What if she had to be admitted? What if she had an infection? A complication from the transplant?

I wheeled her in a chair down to the High Dose Unit; the facility where transplant outpatients receive chemo and other tests. And as soon as we got there, they hooked her up to IV fluids and mentioned that she was likely very dehydrated.

See. I knew this. I was told when we were discharged that dehydration is a transplant patient’s worst enemy. Even though it’s a struggle to drink, it’s the single most important thing. Her goal was 2L a day, and we got close a few times, but I’d let things slip over the past few days. I’d managed to make sure she always had a bottle of water within reach, supplemented by treats like shakes, floats, juice, and 7-Up. And yet, I know that she often didn’t finish even the tiny 8oz provided. It was such a struggle getting her to finish things that I backed off when I shouldn’t have.

I knew this. And I’m so frustrated that I knew it and we still ended up making that drive, putting her through all that, pretty much needlessly.

And she’s so very frustrated that food, liquid, pills, don’t want to stay down. She’s not used to a body that’s this fragile and easily upset. And she’s definitely not used to even bottled water – her favorite beverage – tasting so very terrible.

Now she’s on strict orders to get down at least a litre of pedialyte or gatorade before bed. She’s got new anti-nausea medication, and they still haven’t ruled out an infection or illness like C Diff.

And so goes recovery. Just like life, it’s hardly that ideal straight line upwards and onwards. It’s more like riding a wave back to shore. Little ups, little downs.

Was today a setback? Yes. But maybe it was an important one too.

Maybe she needed to hear that something as simple as drinking enough is really the most important thing right now. Life or death important.

And maybe I needed to be reminded that my role isn’t always to be tender and loving. That I need to work harder to make sure she’s also doing the things she needs to do in order to get better.

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15 Responses to “Fluidity”

  1. Caroline aka FiberTribe Says:

    Hugs, girl. just hugs. Sending love and light to you both.

  2. Anita Says:

    Tell your Mom that it’s time for a loving payback. She is getting paid back for when she took you to the doctor for vaccinations and made you take nasty tasting medicine.

    Thank you for sharing the love and the struggle. It’s fortunate for both of you that you can be with your mom right now. I don’t think I could do the same due to my job… Maybe I could. Your priorities are in the right place!

  3. Kathy ~ Bliss Beyond Naptime Says:

    Oh Amy, wishing you much strength here. Beautiful how the roles are reversed many years later. Your mom raised an amazing daughter. xo

  4. kelly-ann (on ravelry) Says:

    Keep staying strong Amy – it is a team effort between you and your mom, but so hard when someone on the team is so sick. Giving that tough love is not easy when someone is so weak. Those drives to the hospital always feel like an eternity. Glad you are back home and hope recovery is on the horizon.

  5. dispatcherval Says:

    Hope that both you and your Mom get strong together. It’s so hard for a Mom to be a patient patient.

  6. Bonnie Says:

    What a difficult place for you as a daughter. You have our love as a knitting community. Hang in there.

  7. Cheryl Says:

    I am sorry you and your mother are going through this. I have been there with my mom, and I know how hard it is to be firm, when “mom” is so fragile. My mom was very upset with me. After it was all over, we did have a few laughs about it. Look forward to that day with your mom, and hang in there. It is worth it.

  8. Marylin Parikin Says:

    You know, life has its ups and downs, and let’s just hope and pray this down is only temporary. You both are very strong women, just ‘soldier on’ – its all character building!

  9. Marylin Parikin Says:

    Thank you for keeping us posted – we all wait to hear how you are doing, and we pray for good health.

  10. Marilyn Nance Says:

    Hang in there! It’s “tough love” where health is concerned. Very hard to argue with Mom.

  11. Laura from beautiful West Michigan Says:

    I, too, am so sorry your mom is having a hard time after her transplant. Keeping you both in my thoughts and prayers.

  12. Nancy Says:

    I’m sorry for you and your mom. My SIL went through something similar when she was receiving chemo. The nurses told us that the water in jell-o and soup counted just the same as the water in the glass. So we tried to make every bite/sip count. Does the same apply for your mom?

  13. AmeliesMama Says:

    I know this might not help, but when my mother in law was recovering from chemotherapy we got her ice pops (I’m not sure what they’re called in the States.) They are just frozen juice bars (water and cordial) which helped a little to control the bad taste she sphad permanently, helped keep her mouth cool and gave her a little of her fluids. Thinking of you both x x

  14. Anji Says:

    When I was pregnant, I lost 20 lb because I couldn’t keep any food or fluids down. I was hospitalized for dehydration. Then, as I was being discharged, a nurse told me to soak in the tub every day, so my body could rehydrate through my skin. I had a friend who was going through the same thing. She refused to try this, and was hospitalized 3 more times for dehydration, while I managed through the rest of my pregnancy without any more hospital visits. I understand some of what your mother is going through, and hope this will help her.

  15. duni Says:

    many hugs and good thoughts for you and your mom. thank you for sharing. i hope it helps. <3

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