It’s been 4 weeks since I left mom and came back to Toronto.
And 4 more weeks since her stem cell transplant.
She’s now 64 days post-transplant. I realize, in the grand scheme of recovery, she’s got 4 to 10 more months to go, for her system to fully rebuild, for her strength to fully return.
I call her every morning on my way to work, and every evening on the way home, and I’m good at being encouraging, of reminding her of the big picture. With mom, I find it easy to congratulate her on the small (but oh-so-big) victories. Yesterday, it was managing to keep down all of her food, all day, for the first time in ages.
And yet, privately… just between you and I… can I admit that I’m absolutely terrified I encouraged her into the wrong decision?
Neither of us understands why every day is getting harder, rather than easier. When I left St. Charles, she could walk for 20 or 30 minutes. Now? She can’t make it one lap around the indoor mall. When I left, she was getting down 1500 calories a day, and keeping them down. Now? She’s throwing up (mostly) daily, despite additional medications. She’s weak, shaky, and ‘walks like a drunk’ (to quote what she said this morning).
I called the doctors last week to find out if this was a normal thing at this point in her recovery. They could just tell me her blood counts look good, give her an additional anti-nausea medication, and put her on something to stimulate her appetite. And of course, reiterate that everyone’s recovery is unique.
All reassurance aside, I’m at the point where I’ve accepted that if mom’s not in a full remission next week when she gets those results, that I can’t ask her to go through any more chemo. And perhaps, undergoing a stem cell transplant at age 67, as healthy as she was going into it, was a bad idea.
What if she doesn’t fully recover? What if this is what the rest of her life will be for her? This treatment was so much more brutal than I’d imagined… and I’d prepared myself for all of the side effects and complications. I just wasn’t prepared to see her still struggling with basic tasks, so long post-transplant. And I wasn’t prepared to have to leave her in the care of good neighbors and friends, while she’s still so weak.
Don’t get me wrong. I fully realize that Mom’s decision to do the transplant was, in the end, her decision. But I do know that I encouraged her, and that most of her motivation was to have more time to spend with me. But can you blame me for second guessing that now?
When do things start to turn around?
For the past week, I’ve been back in sweet home Chicago Toronto getting settled back into my own life. I had all these good intentions for my time with Mom. I’d blog daily. I’d go to yoga. I’d focus on health – hers and mine – and use my work hours to dig into some [...]Keep Reading >
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 [...]Keep Reading >