Wednesday, November 30, 2011

On Baring It All

I try to very rarely bring up our family's problems. I had a blog several years ago that I used for that purpose, and while it was admittedly cathartic, at the same time I realized that I didn't share anything I was particularly proud of. I shared a lot of good times, but I also shared innumerable personal failures that were nobody's fault but my own. I bared my soul to a very small number of readers, and in late 2009 shortly after A was born, I made the conscious decision to abandon "Believe In The Flowers" to move on to something that felt more realistic, more like me, and less like a dumping grounds for whatever personal struggles we faced. I last posted there on December 17, 2009.

Of course, things have fluctuated since then. We have had our share of good times and bad in the last two years, with the latter often outnumbering the former simply due to a new financial crisis every other week. I have on occasion shared what we've been going through, but have tried fairly hard to avoid sharing too much, or going into excessive detail.

The one thing I haven't spoken about at all is my mother's health.

My mom is 53, and a product of eras where rampant smoking and drug usage were not only expected but encouraged. She told me once that in the 70s she did so many drugs that she wasn't even sure how many she did or when - no doubt, in my opinion, a way to lash out at her uber-conservative parents who favored her more successful older brother over her, and who ruled their house with an iron fist at all times. She was the kind of person I honestly thought, for a while, that I would become. Not out of choice, mind you, but out of necessity, to deal with everything that caused me such trauma and agony in high school.

Now, she's paying for all of that (and for her lifelong weight problems, which I have inherited) with a host of health issues that keep her in pain and struggling most of the time. In the fall of 2007, she had her left knee replaced at the age of 50, during which time I moved in with her with six month old G to help care for her and take care of her house and dogs while she was recovering for weeks on end. Her right knee needs to be done also, but she just finished paying off her left, so I'm not entirely sure when this will occur. She has plentiful back problems, though I'm not sure if they stem from old injuries or her osteoarthritis, which plagues the rest of her joints. Repetitive motion at work has given her tennis elbow and carpal tunnel, which both affect both arms. Her blood pressure is horribly high, her blood sugar puts her just above borderline as a diabetic, and her weight has caused problems in the remainder of her body, including some pretty serious varicose veins in her legs that often ache without provocation. Her eyes haven't been checked in years, she needs to visit a dentist but is afraid of them, and to top it all off, she has struggled since childhood with asthma, which has coupled with the rest of her problems to give her a positive diagnosis for the dreaded COPD, and leaves her using an inhaler almost daily and a nebulizer at least once a week, if not more often, in addition to an enlarged heart that they also think is related to her asthma.  Top it all off with severe seasonal allergies and at least two mental disorders that I'm aware of that she no longer takes medication or seeks therapy for, and a nasty battle with an MSRA infection in her foot caused by (her podiatrist thinks) an open wound on her foot and her tendency to come into contact with bacteria and viruses in the hospital she works at, and I'm sure you can see how she probably needs much more medical care than she seeks out on a regular basis.

She is also where I got my stubbornness from.

However, recently she has been struggling with even more. Her feet, especially her right, have begun to swell and hurt at night, to the point where she often can almost not stand or walk, and today her blood pressure spiked enough that she actually went in to see the employee health nurse. She didn't divulge much about the visit, but she mentioned that they aren't sure it's "just" GERD (which was originally suggested given her pre-diabetic state and the swelling in her feet), that it could be more and could be related to her blood pressure, and that she will be having more blood tests done tomorrow. I should note, at this point, that my grandfather (her father) died in his late 70s from lung cancer and my grandmother (her mother) passed away at just 65 years old from a heart attack she had in the same bedroom my mother now calls her own. Our family doesn't have a history of excessively long life, much less of pleasant ways of passing. So of course, you can probably imagine that I am freaking out.

I don't often ask for prayers, but I am doing so now, and am requesting that if you have a prayer circle, or any process or ritual in which you ask for a deity to watch over someone, that you ask them to watch over my mother. I fear the worst for her, and have in truth been trying to no avail to prepare myself for something awful, just in case. Of course, the potential severe illness and/or death of someone you love - much less the only parent you have ever known - is something that you cannot possibly prepare yourself for when you don't know what's going on and lack the amount of information that I do. I still ask, however, that you at least consider keeping her and us in your thoughts as we continue to traverse this slippery medical slope and investigate the underlying causes of her debilitating problems.

Thank you.

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