Thursday, November 15, 2012

The day before the funeral

My mom passed away on Sunday November 11th - just 13 days before my brother's wedding. I remember when my father passed away, it was very hard to accept. I was not there when he died, I just had to trust that he was gone. And on the day of the funeral, I didn't recognize him in the coffin. He did not look like the father I remembered. There was a closet near the bathroom in the funeral home and I recall thinking "he could be locked up in the closet, or somewhere else, he's not really gone."

With my mom, I don't have that thought. We spent time with her after she passed, feeling her soft, smooth skin for the last time, giving her one last kiss on the cheek, feeling her hand touch the side of my face. She laid there, lifeless, but at peace.

In a way, I dread tomorrow. I fear she will not resemble the mother I knew, the mother with the warm smile and soft skin. To be honest, I have not really processed everything. It's not as though I don't believe she's gone. I know it. She's not coming back. But with my brother's wedding and tying up odds and ends here and there, I have not mentally prepared myself for tomorrow. I have not even picked out what I will be wearing.

After this publishing this post, I will sign off and pick out the clothes for tomorrow. I will write a letter to my mom. In Chinese tradition, we burn paper money so that our loved one will be taken care of in the after life. In that same fashion, I will also burn the letter.

My mom has always said that even when she is gone, she will always watch over me. I hope I have enough strength to get through tomorrow.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The next few days...

My mom has been more or less stable at this point. She's developed edema throughout her body because of lack of nutrition/low albumin levels. My brother and I try reducing the swelling by lightly massaging and moving her skin towards the lymph nodes in her body. It usually works. But as always, it eventually builds up again.

The oncologist said that unless she spikes a fever, she might get released within the next few days. The doctor said that this might be the best she'll feel and we should take advantage of this opportunity. Coming on the fifth week of staying almost every night in the hospital room, we almost were in disbelief. At the same time, we know that we need to take everything day by day and things can change at any moment. Also, we need to be as prepared as possible for her care at home.

Healthy Jello Option.
Eating is a huge challenge. The mass in the stomach prevents her from eating much and food will cause pain. At the same time, without food, she gets puffy and very fatigued. We're trying to get whatever we can through...mostly liquids and jello. Sometimes oatmeal or cereal with soy milk. It gets difficult and my brother and I take turns encouraging her, playing bad cop/ good cop.

Sometimes I feel bad pushing her. But it is her goal to make it to the wedding, and we want to do everything possible to give the greatest chance of that happening.

Speaking of jello, I just tried this brand: Jeannie Prebiotics Gelatin-free Dessert. It's high in fiber and Vitamin C. We just tried peach, and I can say, it's Mama Lee approved. I figured if she was eating jello in the hospital, might as well make this and get some vitamin C in her.

Please let mom feel well enough to listen to me!
It's been really helpful having my brother here. We are way pass the "cabin fever" phase. It's more like, we've accepted the hospital is our new home. I freely walk around in this robe my mom made many years back, out of a blanket.

Tonight, my brother went back into Manhattan to take care of some errands including wedding stuff. This means that tonight and tomorrow night, I won't have anyone helping me. Well, aside from the nurses. It's a bit scary. For me and my mom. No question, my brother is strong and my mom trusts his strength. Me...not so much. And getting up 3 to 4 to 5 times in the middle of the night is very exhausting.
Push the bed up. Lean Mom's legs towards the floor. Edge closer off the bed. Rest. Hold tight and lift her up. Slowly turn in the direction of the commode. Have her sit. Get bathroom paper ready. Wait. Wait more. When she's done, lift her up. Pull up underwear. Turn body towards bed. Sit. Rest. Lift legs and shift her body. Use pad to move body in desired position. Place pillows to position her. Rinse bucket. And Repeat.
I am also charged with taking her for a walk tomorrow and feeding her. Lots of pressure. Both very daunting tasks. Hoping Mom is feeling well enough and can eat more.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Turning Point

Today, we learned that my mom's platelets and hemoglobin count dropped low enough to warrant a blood infusion as well as platelet infusion. They are seeing if my mom has yet again, another infection. We are pretty much at the verge of hospice, but we are still holding out hope that she can come around with the boost of blood and platelets.

Our tangible goal is that my mom will be able to make it to my brother's wedding which is on the 24th of November, just 23 days. But that seems so far away. We are being realistic and my agenda also includes researching hospice companies to see which we would go to if it comes to that point. She did eat more today which is good.

We continue to surround her with our love.