Feb 22, 2013 - 2:19 am
It’s 9am. I put on my raincoat, grab the dog leash, and head out into the damp Oregon morning with my collie. As I pass our mailbox, I pull my phone out from my fleece lined pocket and plug in some headphones. The phone rings. My mothers voice travels over the 90 mi from her house to me, while I take my dog on his morning walk.
She tells me that she had a bad night. A bad night used to mean that she didn’t sleep well, or was restless. Now, when I hear her say those words, I know it means something very different. It means that nearly every hour she was awakened by thick mucus coming up her throat, pooling in her mouth and then choking her. It means that she spent time hunched over her kitchen sink while the thick secretions involuntarily rose up from her esophagus and poor out of her. Every two hours she got up and crushed whatever pills she was due to take, mixed them with hot water and then with a syringe flushed them into her feeding tube. When she could, she crawled into her bed, and sitting fully upright, tried to get a solid few hours of sleep.
She’s exhausted. As she is talking to me, I can picture her 98 pound body, sunk into her couch swallowed by layers of blankets. The backpack that holds her feeding tube pump and bag sits by her feet. She tells me, as she has for the last few months, that she’s so tired of being sick. That she can’t live like this anymore. I can hear her voice start to shake. She’s crying. I tell her how strong she is, and how everyday we are one step closer to surgery. One step closer to having that awful tumor removed from her weakening body.
This is our routine. When my husband and I are not staying with her, I talk to her on the phone multiple times a day. I try to make her smile, and encourage her to stay strong. I don’t tell her that I’m terrified that she may not be able to have surgery. That it’s possible for her suffering to worsen before it gets better. I don’t tell her that I don’t know what the next few months will bring, and that the thought of her not seeing her 53rd birthday has taken up permanent residence in my sub conscience.
When we say our goodbyes, I tell her to call me later, and that I love her. I get back to my house, make coffee and breakfast, and try to not surrender to the ever increasing mountain of depressing thoughts piling up around me.
I know that not all hope is lost, but the longer that this whole thing goes on, my positivity is slowly waining. My biggest fear used to be getting in a car accident, and now it’s the possibility of her not being there when we have our first child. I can’t think of anything much worse than watching someone you love so deeply suffer so much for so long.