Monday, September 10, 2012

Caregiving means

Caregiving means humbling yourself to do things you never imagined you would do
  • feeding your mom when her arm feels too heavy
  • giving her a bath because standing takes too much energy
  • changing soiled clothes because the bathroom was just too far

Caregiving means showing patience and bouncing back when things get rough
  • cooking meal after meal until she finally eats something that won't make her throw up
  • letting her cry when she's sad, vent when she's upset, and validating whatever emotions she feels
  • never leaving and never ever giving up

Caregiving means standing strong even though your insides feel like crumbling

Monday, September 3, 2012

Orange Creamsicle Smoothie

Orange Creamsicle Smoothie with French Vanilla Carnation Instant Breakfast

1 1/2 cup of carrot juice (I used about 12 carrots with my Omega juicer)
1 whole orange, peeled
1 packet of French Vanilla Carnation Instant Breakfast powder
2 tablespoons of vanilla yogurt
3 cubes of ice
1 tablespoon of grounded flax seed meal (optional)
1 tablespoon of flax seed oil (optional)

  1. Blend all ingredients (With my Vitamix blender, I turned it on at low speed, then switched to high for about 10-15 seconds)
  2. Makes 3 cups
My mom is an extremely picky eater and while it'd be better for her to drink one whole packet of carnation instant breakfast, I don't think she could stomach it. So my goal is to give it to her everyday so that even if she drinks a third or half of the packet's worth, she'll still be getting more nutrients than she usually does.

Family BBQ

My bro manning the grill.
Happy Labor Day! I am happy to report that my mom is feeling a lot better. I say this nervously because I know things can always change and rather quickly, but for today and the past few days, she's been doing better. Her appetite is still not that great...mostly because she says everything tastes bad, but at least she'll have a few bites and won't throw up. I've been giving her 5 ml of megace every day for the past 4 days. The nurse practitioner we saw on Friday said that it might take a little bit before the appetite stimulant, well, stimulates. She had chemo on Friday and I was surprised that all her counts were in normal range- her platelets, white blood cell (WBC) and red blood cell (RBC) count. When her blood was taken on Monday, her platelets were still at the 60 range so she couldn't get chemo. But by Friday, it was at 203 (lowest of normal range is 150), so chemo was a go.

On that same day, my cousins (on my mom's side) who've recently moved here from China and Taiwan told us they wanted to visit. My mom was like, "sure, whatever," but I was nervous about how she'd feel in the next feel days. But all in all, it turned out to be a nice get-together. All my cousins' kids are boys ranging from 13-28 years old and they eat like beasts. Last time they came, my mom literally gave a face of horror as we watched them come back from a game of basketball and just swallow the food whole without taking a breath. With my cousins coming over, I decided made sense to host a barbecue. We also invited my cousins on my dad's side.

 The boys:
scarfing down chicken

Other than eating and visiting the local Walmart, my brother gave the boys some exercise training. My cousins also joined in on the "fun." We went to the park and my mom watched in amusement as they suffered through sprints, high knee jumps, push-ups, squats, jumping jacks, etc.

Although having guests over means that I need to get the house "ready" for guests in terms of cleaning and shopping, I think the extra company is nice for my mom. Since she's been off work for a while, I'm usually the only one she sees most days. And they also don't come empty handed, bringing dim sum, Chinese take out, Chinese newspaper, and fruit.

Two of our youngest guests had birthdays coming up so we got them cake and presents.

My mom and my cousin Tracy's children

note the Christmas wrapping paper ;)
giving my mom some love

I made some great burgers and thought I'd share the recipe:

3.25 lbs. of ground beef
3 tablespoons milk
1 egg, beaten
1 1/4 cup of bread crumbs
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of chopped onions
3 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
2 cloves of chopped garlic
salt and pepper

  1. Preheat grill for high heat.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the all the ingredients using your hands. Season with salt and pepper,
  3. Form the mixture into hamburger patties.
  4. Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill patties 5 minutes per side, or until well done. 
stage 4 stomach cancer blog

Saturday, September 1, 2012

"I love you" expressed in actions

Growing up, my family never said "I love you" to each other. Friends of mine say it to their parents as often as they say "good bye" when hanging up the phone. It could be a Chinese or Canto thing. In fact, saying the actual phrase "I love you" in Chinese to a family member just sounds odd. It almost has a romantic connotation since it's only heard in romantic movies. Even now, when my mom watches reality show competitions, she is always surprised at how often people utter those three words. "I love you," but you're off the show. "I love you," but it's just not meant to be. "I love you," but now's just not the right time for stardom for you.

It's not that Chinese people don't love each other. It's because in our culture, it doesn't need to be spoken. It's goes with being a family. I told my mom not too long ago that if anything were to happen, I would never fight with my brother over money or pettiness. My mom responded, "That's right, because you will have each other." She then said, "And if anything were to happen, I would kill you." (lmao).

Since my mom was diagnosed, I remind my mom about how much I care about her like it's second nature. And she does the same. But we always say "I love you" in English. Even though it's understood. I can never show express too much love for my mom. And it's just not words. My mom and I hold each others' hands when we take walks. Or she clings to my arm if she needs support. When I'm driving, she reaches her hand out for me to hold (yes very unsafe I know, but I let go during the turns, etc). Or I put my hand on her knee. Holding my mom's hand is our symbol of love and compassion. When I get mad and visibly upset because she didn't eat like I asked her to, she just looks up at me and opens her palm and asks for my hand. It's a sign of love, but also a sign of forgiveness. When she gets chemo, I give her foot massages. I remember a lady next to my mom remarked about how comfortable it looked and her husband glanced up and said, "No way" (like, "don't even think about asking me").

 Sometimes my mom just needs my company.

A few months ago, I was at a bridal shower and my mom asked if I could hurry home. I did and asked what was the matter. Then she said, looking sad and upset, "I just want you to sit next to me." So I gave her a hug and did just that. As we watched TV, she rested her head on my shoulder. My mom also likes placing a pillow and laying her head on my lap. She falls asleep pretty easily that way. And I hold her hand or gently stroke her arm. She lays on my lap until my legs fall asleep and I tell her it's time to go to bed.

stage 4 stomach cancer blog