Thursday, July 19, 2007

Her Last Week

A few days after my FIL's burial, Jet and I made a quick trip down to Manila. I was around 5 or 6 weeks pregnant with Dash. Mom looked worse. This time she did not even have the energy to talk. Our communication was just only through her nodding or shaking of her head and if more important things had to be said, she would ask for a pen and paper.
I could see that Mom was having a hard time already. Selfish you may call me but deep in me, I wanted her to fight it out. In my mind, I could not bear to think of Mom dying because of the complications brought about by her Cancer and NOT her Cancer itself. By this time, her tumor in the lung had shrunk from a golf ball sized tumor to the size of a peanut.
Again, we left for home. I promised Mom I would be back but I wanted to see her looking much better when I came back. She nodded her head.
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2 days later, my phone rang. My heart jumped. It was my Aunt. She said "They are going to put your Mom on the machine already." My heart broke. I broke down. I called Jet at work and cried to him. We decided to go back down to Manila to be with my Mom. Josh had to stay.
On the way down, so many things were running through my mind - would Mom come off the machine? How will she look when I get to see her? This will make her better, right?
When we got to the hospital, I had this feeling like I wanted to take the longest time in the world to get to her room. I was scared. I opened the door and peeked, there were so many many people inside - her doctors, her nurses, my Aunts, my cousins and some of her closest friends. There she was - Mom. Attached to the machine. Tubes inserted through her mouth. The machine kept giving this rhythmic sound - obviously breathing for Mom. I stepped out again and cried. My O.B., who happened to be visiting Mom that time, came out and embraced me. She said "This is hard huh? Are you ready to let go?" And I said "NO!"
We went back in the room and I went to Mom's bedside. She was drowsy as they had to sedate her while putting in the tubes but she was struggling. Her oncologist just kept telling her to relax. I held her hand and told her I was with her. I embraced her and cried and cried and cried.
A few minutes later, her oncologist said she wanted to talk to us. So we stepped out - me and my Aunts. She said it would be better to transfer Mom to the ICU so that she would be monitored better. As if we had a choice- we said OK.
Heartbroken and scared - that's what I was feeling. I wanted someone to tell me that my Mom would pull through but no one seemed to dare say so.
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The ICU had visiting hours. 9-11 AM and 7-9 PM. That was it.
I would sit on this small stool beside Mom and would constantly talk to her while monitoring her heart rate. Sometimes it would drop to a low - and my heart would literally stop. Sometimes it would race to very high levels and would stay that way for hours. She had around 6 or 7 IV bottles hanging over her all dripping into her veins. On some days there would be as many as 9 or 10 bottles. I would read the Bible to her. I would give her a sponge bath. When visiting hours ended, I would kiss her and tell her to wait for me - I would be back.
Jet stayed with me for 2 days but then he had to go back to work. That afternoon, I decided to go for an ultrasound just to make sure that the baby was OK. It was my first time in 4 years to see another little bean inside my tummy. Jet just told me to be safe and to take care.
I bunked with my cousin for the next 2 days. I had no idea how to get around Manila so what we would do was before heading off to work, my cousin would drop me off at the hospital first and would pick me up at night before heading home.
One time when I was with Mom, I started to hear a sound - more of like a drum inside her. By this time her respirator was breathing for her 40% of the time and Mom was doing 60% of the breathing herself. That was good. But that sound, it bothered me. So I called one of her nurses to ask what was the matter. This nurse - who was a student nurse told me that that was normal. I didn't think so. So, I asked my Aunts to contact Mom's oncologist. Bottom line was one of the tubes got dislocated and would need to be reinserted.
Angry. That's what I felt. I talked to the student nurse and demanded to know why she did not even think of consulting her higher ups. We - my cousin and I - decided to write the hospital director to inform him of what happened. They were very apologetic - but damage had been done.
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THey had to sedate Mom again. They asked me to leave the room. They closed the curtains. I cried and cried and cried.
After the reinsertion, Mom was very groggy. I just held her hand and embraced her. Her respirator was back to 100% breathing for her.
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I had to head back home after 2 days. In my heart, I knew Mom would pull through. Before I left, she was writing lengthier things on paper, almost like she was telling stories with me. She seemed more cheerful and even asked that her glasses be put back on so that she could see things happening around her. She only had 5 IV bottles hanging over her. I showed her my ultrasound results and she gave me the thumbs up sign. I kept telling her to get well so that she could come home and help me prepare and get ready for the birth of her 2nd grandchild. She wrote down on paper "sana girl" (I hope it's a girl).
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I took the bus up to Baguio and hubby picked me up. I was in high spirits. My Aunts texted me later that night to say that Mom seemed to be cheerful. Was socializing with her visitors that night, was even winking at them. I knew she would make it.
The next night, my Aunt called. She said Mom was not her usual self. I told them since the next day was a Sunday, I would make a quick trip down to Manila.
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I was awaken the next day by the ringing of my cell phone. What time was it?! 6AM?! Little did I know that this would be the kind of call I would never want to get - ever.
"Hello?" "Lou, your Mom had an arrest very early this morning but they were able to revive her. Were on our way now to see her."

Flashback April 7, 2004
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I started to cry but I had to tell my Aunts to sign the DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) form as soon as they get to the hospital. If it was her time to go, it was her time. I kept telling them to sign the DNR. They asked me if I was sure, I said I was.
Jet and I got up took the quickest bath, changed and got ready.
I went to see my Aunts (Dad's sisters) as we were to leave Josh with them. They embraced me very tightly.
I no longer knew what to pray for. I just told the Lord that His will be done.
It seemed like the shortest and fastest trip to Manila. Jet and I decided to load gas along the Express Highway. Just as we were pulling out, my phone rang. It was my Aunt. "Lou, wala na Mama mo" (Your Mom is gone). I put down the phone and composed a text message which I sent to almost everyone - "My Mom has gone home to heaven just now. Thank you all for your prayers."
My phone started to ring like mad. So many people called me up.
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When we got to the hospital, I was pretty composed. We went straight to Mom's ICU room but my cousins and SIL told us Mom was at the morgue already. We just gathered her things and went to the morgue. My Aunt and Uncle were there. My Uncle embraced me, I embraced him back and cried. They asked me if I wanted to see Mom, I said no more. Jet wanted to, so he went into the morgue. He came back and told me she was cold already.
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We had to pay the bills, fix the clearances and had to wait for the funeral home to pick up Mom. We had lunch at the cafeteria while waiting for all of that to finish. Aside from that, we had to go find clothes for Mom as all of her more formal wear were back home in Baguio. After around 2 hours, we were finally able to bring Mom to the morgue of the funeral home to have her embalmed. We decided that Mom be viewed in Manila for 2 nights because she had so many relatives and friends and former students who were based in Manila and who would want to see her.
On the day we were to bring her up to Baguio, Jet and I convoyed with the funeral car. It felt good in a sense because we were finally bringing her home. That was one thing she was longing for. She had been away from her home for 8 months. The ride up to Baguio gave me a sense of peace. We were to watch her for another 5 days before she would be cremated - that was part of her will.
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To be continued...
* This was very hard for me to write. The memories just came flooding back.

4 comments:

Mama G said...

Wow ... this post also brought back my own memories of dealing with the passing of my mom. The hospitals. The machines. The decisions.

It's a bit ironic that your mom passed on my mom's birthday - and literally just two weeks before my mom's passing. No wonder I feel like we're somehow connected ...

Hugs to you!

SusieJ said...

Oh -= so glad you are writing this.

Sophiagurl said...

the words are pouring and i could almost feel and see every event as it unfolds. writing is healing and it is a form of letting go of feelings. glad you're able to share this with us. you're such a strong young lady. God bless!

Chrissy121875 said...

Oh, Louann! Your posts are always so bittersweet. You are such a wonderful and thoughtful writer. Thanks for sharing :)

xo