(I had a quirky post started on the subject of my mother and a very funny conversation we had a week ago Tuesday after she and my father had spent 12 hours in the emergency room — the ER wasn’t funny, nor was the reason for the visit, but my mother is pretty funny when she’s feeling bad. Not crying is really my only job right now — being strong and upbeat so that they don’t know how sad and scared I really am — and the black humour we share helps. But it’s hard, so very hard today.)
In an attempt to treat the cancer in her body, my mother will be undergoing three rounds of chemotherapy, followed by surgery, and then three more rounds of chemo. I don’t know what specific type of chemo she gets; I just know that she gets it for something like six hours at a time, and that it is particularly toxic. In the time since she had her first round three weeks ago, she has lost all of her hair and has taken to wearing biker hats instead of scarves or wigs. (She picked up her first wig, a lovely shade of dark brown that she has never in her life ever had, at the Cancer Centre this past Tuesday.) We use the “kidney stone scale” to judge how bad she’s feeling — if she feels less sick than when she’s passing a lot of kidney stones, it’s OK. Her “OK” would flatten me, though. She’s a far stronger person than I am.
This past Wednesday, she went in for her second round of chemo. Within minutes, she had a severe anaphylactic reaction that, among other things, caused her airway to close. They gave her epinephrine, antihistamines, oxygen, and I don’t know what else, and when she was able to breathe again, started the chemo back up. Subsequently, the line came out of her arm, spilling the chemical cocktail all over her and everything else. But they all soldiered on, finishing up the round.
Late Wednesday night, she sat down on the couch and couldn’t get up again because her left leg had a palsy. My Dad carried her back to bed and the next morning, after she slipped onto the bathroom floor while trying to get dressed and Dad couldn’t pick her up, they called 911. The EMTs took them to a different hospital than usual. After seeing that the x-rays of Mom’s knee showed nothing wrong, the doctor told them it was probably just an side effect of the toxic amounts of chemo she’d just had and sent them home.
By this morning (Friday morning — it’s late night Friday/early Saturday as I write this), she was starting to have trouble with her left hand so my oldest brother and my Dad trundled her off to their usual emergency room. Where they learned that she’d actually had a stroke yesterday. A small one, but a stroke nonetheless. (Wouldn’t it have been nice if, oh, I dunno, maybe the ER doctor from yesterday had have considered “stroke”? Nothing like waiting an extra 24 hours untreated.) She’s going to have to stay in the hospital for at least a week and undergo physical therapy. I know little beyond that.
I’ve been talking to my parents every evening for the last eleven days…
I’m a little afraid for tomorrow’s call.