It’s like leaving a newborn. That’s how people have tried to explain my anxiety of leaving my mom even for a couple minutes. They tell me it’s good for me to take a break.
I’m by her side every day, all day. I help her go to the bathroom, wash up, feed her when she wants to eat, hold her drink when she’s thirsty, put and take off blankets when she’s cold or warm. I manage her medication and set alarms to remind me when she’s due for the next dose. I coherse her into taking a pill she doesn’t want to take and I handle the attitude when she didn’t enjoy taking it.
I took a leave of absence from work and day in and day out, I spend my time with my mom. I’m tired. I’m tired all the time. My anxiety is at an all time high and I’ve been experiencing panic attacks daily. Sometimes I feel so exhausted that I wonder how I’m going to take care of her.
But we have support. We have help. And I can’t help but feel guilty for talking about myself and how I’m tired or exhausted; because it’s nothing even close to what she’s going through.
She can barely keep her eyes open. She’s been nausea lately and has been dry heaving – like her other symptoms weren’t enough; the cancer now wants to add another symptom to the mix. She’s restless and agitated. She’s clammy and cold. She’s swollen and seeping. She doesn’t eat and barely drinks. The cancer is consuming her even more than before. Her condition changes not daily; but hourly.
And, we’re still not ready for all of this.
They tell us to start thinking about what she wants, what we want after this is over. And I can’t help but feel that talking about that is wishing her away while she’s still here with us.
She still tells me she loves me. She still gets snappy with me. She still looks at me.
But, getting everything in order is part of the process. It’s supposed to help us. We’re supposed to make decisions while we are in a good frame of mind – whatever that means. I can’t remember the last time I was in “a good frame of mind.” I feel like a robot and I feel numb.
I rarely show emotion, but when I do, it pours out of me uncontrollably.
I want my mom here. I don’t want her to leave us, but some nights I ask God to just take the pain away. Take the cancer away from her. Make her healthy.
And people ask me, how do you handle this? Do you have hope that pulls you through? My answer, I’m not hopeful – I know the outcome and being hopeful is silly. There is no miracle and even if there was, who’s to say this won’t happen to us again. My faith is pretty much nonexistent; and that’s probably why my prayers aren’t answered. I don’t believe in hope, because hope should have brought us a miracle a long time ago. Hope should have allowed mom to be admitted to a trial. Hope should have never let this happen multiple times.
So, instead I deal with this the best I can. I try to take it day by day and not look too far ahead. It’s easier than it sounds, but this is our reality. This is what we are all living.
As I finish this blog post, my eyes go to her chest. I watch it move up and down. She’s still here, and for that I am thankful.