Snarkling Clean

Snarkling Clean- because you don't have to cuss to make fun of stuff. Two dedicated readers discuss romance novels- from what made us weep with joy to what made us want to poke pencils through our eyeballs.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Annie's Song

Hey everyone.

I haven’t posted in a long while, but I did lurk. And I howled at all the great titles you came up with; it will be difficult to pick a winner.

Last Sunday morning, shortly after I posted that reminder about the challenge, my brother called me and told me that all the family needed to come to see my mother in Arkansas right away. As you might remember, she had lung cancer. She had finished her course of treatment, and the tumor was gone. It looked as though she was cancer-free. She looked great at Thanksgiving.

She had gone into the hospital a few days later with pneumonia, but all the doctors were sure it would just be a couple of days and then she’d be home. Apparently it was pneumonia, but a form of it they’d never seen before. It didn’t respond to any treatment they gave her. Because her lungs were weakened by something called “radiation luminitis (sp?)” the right side of her heart had to pump harder to try and get blood through her lungs. The oxygenated blood wasn’t getting to her other organs, particularly her kidneys. Even with all the fluids they were pumping into her, she had no output and went into renal failure.

The doctors hoped her family would be the spark she needed to fight. Unfortunately, every time she was excited (turned, had blood drawn, you name it) her blood pressure bottomed out. They couldn’t figure out why. Whenever we would talk to her or pet her, her blood pressure would bottom out, so even our presence couldn’t be much of a comfort.

Sunday night she was kind of ‘in-and-out’ conscious, as they had her sedated and on a ventilator. She knew I was there; she could shake her head and blink her eyes. By Monday morning she had gone downhill fast, and we decided as a family that night to pin the doctor down the next day. We knew what she wanted- she was very vocal about not being kept alive on a machine. The hospital called my dad to come back late Monday night, and she died about 3:30am Tuesday.

We all rushed down there, and now I wonder why. She was gone. And I don’t know that it really did that much good to see her in the bed without all the wires and tubes. All that meant was that she wasn’t fighting anymore. The thing that got me, that still gets me, is that the ICU is FREEZING. I mean snow bank cold. While she was alive, she was mostly uncovered, I guess for access to all the tubes. She had a garden hose down her throat, and I counted twelve IV bags hanging up. My brother-in-law, a nurse, said they weren’t all hooked up to her; some were waiting just in case of heart failure and what-not. That aside, she had little tubes coming out of her every which way.

I kept worrying that she was cold. I know I was. I kept wanting to pull the covers up; I was sure she must be freezing. But every time I touched her, she was warm. When we saw her in the bed after she passed, the nurses had put her glasses on. Nice touch, I guess, but it seemed weird. When I kissed her goodbye, I guess I still expected her to be warm, somehow. She wasn’t. She was cold. That shook me more than I ever would have thought. After worrying she was cold, now she really was. Confirmation that she truly was gone, and I hurried from the room before I came apart completely.

Where would women be in these situations if there weren’t coffee to make and food to prepare and houses to get ready for guests? Even my dad, especially my dad, went into a flurry of movement. His neighbors are amazing, though. They had more food delivered to us than a small village could eat in a year. And they are the type of people we could call and say, “We’re feeling like ice cream” and they’d go get us twelve different kinds. They were very supportive and the church was great. They handled all the small details but still let us plan the service. Mom wanted a wake, not a funeral. She wanted it said, “She was fun and will be missed. PERIOD.” It helped so much to go through the photo albums and put pictures together for the reception. The smiling, classy, beautiful woman, eyes bright and sometimes mouth wide open laughing- that was my mom.

Now that everyone’s back home, I thought about my mother’s role as the family matriarch, and what we would do now. My brothers and sister are all kind of far-flung, and it was Mom who made sure we knew what was going on in each others’ lives. I decided to start another blog, and send invitations to all the family members, so we could all post our family doin’s, pics of growing kids, etc. I’m going to call it Annie’s Song, in honor of my mom.

Thanks for the indulgence. This post is long and not funny and kind of personal, but I needed to get it out. And as Ann would have wanted it, the snarkage will continue tomorrow or the next day. I need the laugh and she is the first one who would have understood.


Blogger Jessica said...

Wow, Robyn, what a beautiful post. I am in tears over here in Idaho. I'm touched by everything you said. I am so sorry about your mom, I can't imagine the loss you are are in my thoughts and prayers today.

10:20 AM  
Blogger Missie said...

We all know what a great mom she was by the great daughter she produced.

I love you, my friend. I am here for you anytime.

11:30 AM  
Blogger OzzatLarge said...

Sorry to hear about your mom. I could never know what you are going through, but I had a tough time when I lost my dad to cancer a couple of years ago. He and I were best friends when he died. I miss him so much. Time seems to ease the pain a bit, but you always think of them. Remembering the laughs and fun stuff is the best way to keep remembering them. You always know your gonna lose them some day, but you are never prepared when it happens, even when they are facing cancer or other life taking diseases. I lost both of my parents within a couple years of each other. I have to focus on the good times or some times it can be suffocating thinking of them being gone. I hope that you find peace in the coming days, May God bless your life richly and when that day comes, let us see our loved ones once again.

4:01 PM  
Blogger Jolene*Marie said...

Robyn, so sorry for your loss. But I'm glad that you're already thinkin about the good times. My grandma passed on last April, her name was Anne. Kind of odd, the coincidence. Anyway, I'm glad that we can be here for you. Lots of prayers going up for you & your family. It's tough to lose someone.

God Bless,

5:38 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Hi Robyn,

I lost my father-in-law to pancreatic cancer last year. He was a great guy, and I really wish he'd been around longer for us, and for his grandson.

He went through chemo and radiation in his last year. Can't really say if it prolonged his life -- it probably did, but was it worth it? It was a miserable year for him. For me, the whole thing did nothing but confirm my opinion that medicine & doctors suck when it comes to the things that really matter. I could elaborate, but I suspect you know what I mean.

As for radiation 'luminitis': this is almost certainly radiation pneumonitis, an inflammatory condition caused by radiation therapy. Remember, with the exception of surgery, we treat cancer with treatments which (we hope) kill the cancer before they kill the patient. Often, it's a close race.

I may be overly optimistic, but I think a lot of this will change in our lifetimes. Modulation of the immune system, drugs that attack the blood supply of the cancer, drugs that target the cancer from multiple angles, hormonal treatment -- both to strengthen the patient and weaken the cancer -- all of this is right there on the doorstep, waiting to get in. We're going to look at chemotherapy and radiation the same way we now look at mercury for the treatment of syphilis.

That's my hope, anyway. All the best, Robyn.

8:49 PM  
Blogger Robyn said...

Thanks for the explanation, Doug. It was so frustrating to watch the doctors shrug their shoulders.

And thanks for your prayers and kind thoughts, everybody.

9:43 PM  
Anonymous Sharon said...

I'm sorry, Robyn :(

6:02 AM  
Blogger Bernita said...

Dear heart.
It is so hard.
God keep.

6:30 AM  
Blogger Camy Tang said...

Sorry to hear about your mom, Robyn. But thanks for being so authentic. Praying for you.

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Amy said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Robyn. Your post nearly brought me to tears.

7:26 PM  
Anonymous Michelle said...

Robyn, I am so sorry. What a terrible loss, right before the holidays. Hang in there and know that you're in my thoughts.

11:41 AM  

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