My Best Friend: My Mother
Where do I start when I talk about my mother and I? We had a special relationship.
Our road was never an easy one. Through the years our relationship has been both very good and very bad. Any one who knows us knows that my mom left us on more than one occasion to chase some dream, or to move to some other state. She drank to much, mostly resulting in her disease that eventually killed her.
When she wasn't drinking she was your best friend, always there to help when someone was sick in the hospital, or troubled with something, she did a great deal to help take care of her mother when she was sick and mom and I were there when she passed away, little did I know that just 5 years later I would have to watch mom die.
It is a very awing experience to watch someone leave this life. It wasn't what I expected, it was quiet, peaceful and when she breathed her last she had a smile on her face -- the first after weeks of torment.
Mom was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver January of 1998. By April of 98 they were only giving her a few months to live, so I moved her from Austin to Dallas to live with us in May, not realizing that at the time I was already pregnant with our second child. She lived with us for about a year and got her own apartment in Garland. She lived there a little over a year, her health just riding a fine line between livable to miserable.
There were countless trips to the doctor and hospital, gradually it got more to where she could not drive herself any where, her eyes and memory failing because of ammonia levels being high in her brain from the liver failure. In August mom was getting much worse much faster than before and after a blood test her doctor called me at work and told me to get mom to the hospital as soon as possible because her kidneys were in failure. I never dreamed that was the beginning of the end.
Three days after we arrived at the hospital things became much more grave. Shortly after Greg arrived mom slipped into a coma, she was having breathing difficulties and the doctors along with the family persuaded me to allow them to put mom on a respirator to allow some medication to reverse the problem. No one thought she would make it. I walked in the room and there she was, hooked up to every machine you can name, part of my heart died right then. But to everyone's surprise she pulled through the coma.
In a few days she was out of ICU and in a regular room. The first thing she wanted to do was smoke. The first time we went out everything was fine, but the last time I took her out was different.
It started out fine but as we sat outside and talked and she smoked, she seemed to be more and more distant, not able to answer me. Then she let out this terrible sound, I thought she was playing at first, but then her eyes rolled back in her head and her lips turned blue and her whole body was rigid and shaking, I knew she was having a seizure, I screamed for help for what seemed forever.
Everything started to move in slow motion, I had an older lady stand with mom and told her to protect her head no matter what happened, I ran in and shook the ER doors and suddenly people came from everywhere. Once I got them to understand that she was a patient there and what had gone on in the last week since she had been there they finally got her to stop seizing, I kept trying to tell them she had been fine when we went out, and that my mom had a DNR, I couldn't stop crying. I felt nervous and guilty and alone. My brother had gone home to Georgia once mom came out of the coma, and everyone else had gone home but me.
The next day she woke up back in CCU wondering why I was still there, she had no memory of the seizure. Her kidney function never returned to normal and the doctors talked with us and suggested dialysis until a liver-kidney transplant could be performed. Mom had surgery to prepare her veins in her arm for the dialysis as well as placement of a double lumen catheter in her chest for access until her arm was ready and she had her first two dialysis sessions at the hospital.
In the mean time I resigned my job at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice where I had been on medical leave and prepared to bring mom home to live with my family. I moved all of her belongings from her apartment to my house. Once home after a few more dialysis sessions she was put back in the hospital for more complications and the doctors discovered that her liver failure was so acute that she would never live to get on the waiting list for a transplant, so we made the decision to stop the dialysis and go on hospice and keep mom as comfortable as possible.
That was the middle of September. The first few weeks were not too bad, the hospice people were fantastic. But as we got into October, she got up less and less and it became harder and harder for me to help her get in and out of bed for anything and her pain got worse and worse combined with terrible nausea. Then she became unable to swallow, she would want to drink and I would have to tell her no, she couldn't remember she couldn't swallow, I would just walk out side and cry and cry.
More and more she slipped away and finally my hospice nurse told me to call the family in from out of town, my brother arrived just days before she passed. We both feel she knew he was there. My children (a boy 5 and a girl 3) wanted to go back to see her often and I never denied them access to her, I did not want them to be afraid of illness and death seeing as it is all part of life and I did my best to help them understand what was happening. On October 21st hospice couldn't find an aide to help with mom in our 24 hr care and my aunt and I endured the most awful night you can imagine, mom was having seizures and it was necessary for one of us to be with her at all times, giving her morphine and Atavan every hour to try and calm her.
Our angel Shirley arrived at 8:00 a.m. on the day Momma died. She was wonderful. Around 1:00 p.m. mom started to bring up old blood and Shirley let us know that the end was very near. My aunt and I and my brother were in the room when she took her last breath,I told them she was gone but the nurse said to wait. I knew she was gone, I just knew.
The nurse confirmed this by checking her blood pressure. It was 1:22 p.m. on October 22, 2000 when I lost my best friend, my mom. She died with a smile on her face and she had faced this challenge as she had every challenge in her life, head on with bravery and dignity. She was the strongest person I ever knew and now I would give anything for just 5 more minutes with her. Just to hug her and kiss her and tell her once more I love her.
My son and daughter both still miss her and ask about her. And we cry together. This was my first mothers day without my mom and I put yellow roses on her grave and told her I missed her but that I am thankful she is no longer in pain. If I could give one piece of advice...Don't let anything get in the way of your time with you loved ones because once they take that last breath and let it out that is it. Nothing will reverse it. Hug and kiss every chance you get, tell someone you love them. And love yourself. The end.
I live in Dallas, Texas near Mesquite.