Monday, January 13, 2014

When it rains...

When it rains… it pours… and people, we were drenched this week.  I'm not sure where to begin, or indeed, how it will end.  What I know for sure is we are truly in the thick of it right now.

Mom had called me last Monday, saying her doctor had cancellations due to the extreme cold weather.  Could I take her in?  She had such pain in her back and truly she sounded miserable.

So we took her in.  They managed an X-ray on the spot and her gracious doctor, Dr. Sheldon, squeezed us back in to get the X-ray read right away.

She broke the news to us.  Mom had a compression fracture.  It's essentially where one vertebrae in your back has been compressed and is practically resting on top of the other one.

She admonished they were painful, difficult to treat, and would be especially tricky with moms underlying liver disease.  

As usual, mom was a trooper and wanted no pain meds.  She thought she could rally and face it.  But Dr. Sheldon warned me, the road was typically riddled with chronic pain, the possibility of surgery and lots of rehab.  

Tuesday I had chemo.  Tuesday night, while mom sounded tired on the phone, she still didn't complain of anything.  We had all kinds of follow up appointments made and in a few days would find out more about mom's condition.

And I was clearly focusing on my impending surgery- the details were still elusive.

Early, Wednesday morning while still in bed, I received a call from mom's phone.  But it wasn't my mom.  It was her building manager.  It seems, mom had tried getting out of her chair, and fallen late Tuesday night, and laid there all night long.  Somehow she managed to crawl to the phone early Wednesday, and get help.

So 911 was called and an ambulance was on the way.

By the time Rick and I got to the ER, mom had been given dilaudid, a powerful pain med, and she was feeling better.  She fortunately did not hit her head, shoulder, hip, etc.  

She went for an MRI and Rick and I sat and waited for her in the lobby.

But mom made it back to her room before we did.  And by the time we were let back in, discharge orders had been written.  Even though they had not just found 1 compression fracture, but 2- she was going home! 

We were so surprised.  But mom, was adamant she was going home and the doctor felt she just needed some pain meds and would be great.  Mom agreed! 

Wednesday might officially have been the longest day of my life.

We brought her home and she was not well.  She couldn't walk, talk, or function on her own at all.  She slept for awhile, but even after a long afternoon of rest, she needed us by her side.  

Rick and I knew we needed help.

Through a zillion phone calls, it was finally her doctor who agreed mom had probably talked a good game in order to be sent home, and that truly she was hurting more than she admitted.

Dr. Sheldon, realizing my own stage iv status, helped us arrange an admit to the observation floor.  

I have to say mom was treated so well, during her stay.  She quickly figured out, she'd better be honest about her pain and started admitting she was at least a 9 or 10 on the pain scale.  

While seeing my mom in so much pain was so hard, the saddest point came when we found out she was going to be discharged after just 3 days in the hospital.  The only stipulation?  Was that she had to have 24/7 care by someone- and that someone would be me.

My poor mother, looked at her nurse and said, "You mean my pain is a 10, and I can't do a single thing by myself, and you are sending me home?  With my sick daughter to care for me?" 

Her sweet nurse could barely look her in the eye when she nodded yes.

I have to say, it was a low point for all of us.  We were sent home with lots of good advice, and agencies we could call for nursing services, but all of that would be at our own cost.  At anywhere from 410 to 600 dollars a day, we knew we didn't have any other choice at the moment.

It seems, nobody agrees as to whether or not the fractures are new?  Or old?  Since they are in question- she doesn't qualify for transitional care, or anything close to 24 hour care at home that would be covered by Medicare.

Rick dropped my mother and I off at her home late Friday night.  Superman has been Super-sized this week.  

When I chose the word become?  Who could have known the first thing I'd "become" was a 24 hour caretaker!  I have such empathy for all those who do it, including my Superman who does so much for me.

Plus, I was completely shocked at all my discoveries as I started putting things away.

Food rotting in the fridge.  Garbage piled up in bags everywhere.  Clothes strewn about everywhere.  Clearly, my mom has been talking a good game, in order not to worry anyone, -especially me.  

Its been a rocky few days.  I haven't earned my care-taking wings just yet.

Saturday morning as I tried to help mom up to her walker, she grabbed hold as instructed- and fell over- sideways, crashing onto the side table and smashing the lamp. And I was right there!!

I've been digging so deep to find the light.  I know its there… I believe deeply, I'm just waiting.  

I sat, tears streaming the other day, as I journaled my gifts.

- the warm up in the temperature.

-the sun shining and lasting a few more minutes each day.

-wonderful care given to my mom.  

I could only see the gifts through a veil of tears- but they were there- flying from my finger tips- even though I was spent.

Then yesterday a short reprieve.  A flicker, of light.

 My father-in-law, Jim, came and rescued me along with Marny, my mom's sister.  They sat with mom so I could go to hockey and see Nolan play.  Ahh- this gift feels like grace.

And boy did Nolan play!  He scored 2 goals- with some mighty big help from Hunter, his line mate- and his team beat Bemidji, 3-0.  He was awarded the "mvp" coat to wear!  My picture is blurry and I couldn't even tell, I was so tired!  But so, so proud!  Even more grace...

And while I don't have a photo to share, would you believe that Colton played in the next game- and won the "worked like a dog" bone award for the second time!  

Both my kids, rewarded for their hard work, and I couldn't be more proud.  

Suddenly it seems to be raining grace.  I just know the right things will happen, in His perfect timing.

Its Sunday now, and I'm home for another short reprieve.  I get to shower and find some clean clothes- and I can blog for a few minutes.

We have a big week coming up.

Through more research we did find out mom qualifies through Medicare for some OT, PT and home health aid visits at her apartment next week.  Thank goodness!  

Plus, my brother has offered to come and help.

As I sat journaling at the hospital that last day,  I saw this image out the window and somehow felt a moment of grace- through fire this time… no rain, and a lot of sunshine to boot.  

Life is the fire that burns and the sun that gives light. Life is the wind and the rain and the thunder in the sky. Life is matter and is earth, what is and what is not, and what beyond is in Eternity.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Dr. P found an OB for me here in town and I have an appointment with her on the 21st.  

I do not have internet access at my moms other than short bursts on my phone.  I will do my best to come back and update soon!  

I'm going to close by thanking you in advance for your prayers.  

And how can I pray for you?  I have quiet moments, when mom is resting, and with no internet I have found plenty of time to be in prayer.  Please feel free to leave a request in the comments or email me.  


  1. Vicky! where do I start? First, in the image above with the flame, I love the Heart that I see. His heart for you is full of love and compassion and understanding. Lean on the Lord and may His strength flow through you and by extension also bless your sweet Mom.

    2nd thought, your Mom needs one of those alert things that hang around the neck with a button. I don't know the technical name. My father (88 years old) has one and wears it faithfully. They phone the house to check that it's working periodically. Perhaps she has one already. Something to consider.

    3rdly, bless your Mom's heart - her situation must have been so much more limiting than she let on to you, for her to have an accumulation of chores and "stuff". I'm glad you are getting help with her care and very glad to read that you have a sibling to share this with.

    finally, your boys are amazing!

    YES prayers are with you. Lord, give Vicky strength for each day. amen ! xxx

  2. Hi Vicky, Following this journey of yours often takes my breath away...sometimes in the great beauty, and sometimes in the poignant awareness of the struggles. I am always 'awed' by your commitment to finding grace and share faith no matter what.
    I set alarms this morning to pray for my daughter at various times through the day...yes, sadly, I have to be reminded. She had a very rough night sleep (or non-sleepwise) and a cranky mother to content with last night. I will include you and your mom when those alarms sound. PS Your mom is so beautiful...her photo belies the pain she must be in. Thinking of you.

  3. Reading this makes me wish all the more that I lived closer and would be able to step up and lend you a hand. Even if only to help with laundry, cooking or cleaning. Glad you were able to find a OB doctor and hope it works out for you and you like him/her. Liking your doctors helps a lot when being faced with all these things. Prayers and hugs to you, Rick, your boys and your mom.

  4. I have no words...but I do have prayers and will add your mom to my list. Love you.

  5. Oh, Vicky! Your title pretty much summed it up. I am so sorry that life is so difficult right now. As if you didn't have enough to deal with! I am praying that your mom starts improving soon and that your brother arrives promptly to help give some relief. So glad you were able to attend the boy's games this weekend at least.

    Tomorrow is my appointment with the oncologist. Always reason for a little bit of alarm, but praying constantly for peace and calm.

  6. To be a care giver is to put your life on be there for someone else. For the healthiest of people, this can take everything out of us. For you, who are running your own race, and battling cancer, with treatments and surgery..I cant even imagine what it must be like. They say the Lord doesn't give us anything we can't handle...but sometimes I have looked into the heavens and said aloud, "can I have a time out please!" Sometimes all you can do is hang onto those threads at the end of the rope...I have never let go of them, but there were moments when I pictured myself like a cartoon charachter...dangling and reaching..dangling and reaching. I am glad you got some time out's! SO IMPORTANT. And that help is on its way. I will pray that somehow the Lord will find a way for your mom to get that 24/7 help she needs. (Maybe contact the leaders in her church, I know there must be people more then willing to take shifts to be with her...when we are in the service of our fellow men, we are in the service of our lord!) I wanted to share something. When you wrote about what you found at your mom's... rotten food in the fridge, garbage piled up... Like you, I also discovered that my perfectionist mom, had not dusted things on high...since her cancer diagnoises I found panties and things behind dressers...and I realized then that my mom also needed more help then she let on. "mom you need more help"...ask us for it. and to my siblings I told them every time they come to visit they also need to offer there services. I guess what I am trying to get at is...the Lord allowed you to be this caregiver for this time, so you could see that she truly needed more help...perhaps a brother or someone else wouldn't have noticed..but you being her daughter, know her and NOTICED. So your word for this year fit's into this.... "To Become aware". And I know in my heart that now, the Lord will send the right people into your life to help with your precious mom! For he knows your heart, your love, and your own struggle and fight with cancer. Hang in there beautiful lady...I will pray very specific here for all of you! Hugs and much Love! (my post was to long so I had to delete a whole section..I will email it to you)

  7. A friend in our Sunday School class yesterday morning shared with us something that he smiling said to the Lord this past week. He was only given 6 months to live, and things began piling up for him. He said, "Lord, my plate is pretty full right now, and if you don't mind, I think I'm gonna skip dessert tonight. "
    Your plate is full, my friend.
    Praying extra hard for you and for your sweet Mother.

  8. oh Lord, Vicky. saying special prayers for you right now. so sorry you're dealing with all of this. trusting, knowing that God will shine a light on it all and give you relief and comfort.

  9. Bless your heart... and your mom's! When it rains, it truly does pour and I am becoming all too aware of that myself.

    You and your family are in my prayers! I know firsthand how hard being a caregiver is... and it's hard, even when you aren't dealing with your own issues. Blessings dear lady.

  10. oh sweet friend! i was prompted to wear the prayer bracelet Robin and you and I all have most of last week, but i had NO idea why! now i know, and i wish i'd prayed MORE! will be more intentional this week, and will believe God with you, during this having to dig deep, for the ability to see His gifts even through the veil. hugs hugs hugs...and tell Superman he's fantastic!

  11. You know that saying about God doesn't give you more than you can handle? These are the times I say, "Hogwash" to that little saying. Yes, this is too much God. No, I can't handle it. And yet, think of what you've already handled. Wow! Vicky! You are amazing no matter what you think. You just are. I would have curled into a ball. That said, I'm praying for gallons of grace to pour down along with that sad rain, those tears of disbelief. I wish so much that I were freer myself so I could run over and do something. I have not done enough to ease your burden. :( Please know of my prayers. It's not enough, but I hope it's something. And I hope the thought of Carmel also will be something to lift your spirits and hopes. God bless your mom, too, for all she's been through. She's so blessed to have you and the boys nearby. God, be with this family, please!

  12. Oh my dear friend,
    One of my favorite quotations says,

    Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass,
    It's about learning to Dance in the rain.
    -Vivian Greene

    And I would add to that...sometimes the storm is a typhoon. Oh. my. goodness.
    How sad to see your Mom's apartment and the reality of how things are going. What a blessing for her that the truth is out and now she can get some much needed help.
    Those of us who have ben caretakers for our parents know that, as Peggy Sue said, our lives are often put on hold. This season of being a caretaker is not easy, not easy at all. Thank goodness the troops and helpers are on their way.

    And the Dance in the rain? How MARVELOUS that both Nolan and Colton did a spectacular job at hockey and you were there to see it! Praise God for those "flickers, of light" you spoke about. Thank God that Dr. P found a new OBGYN for you to work with. I'm already praying for her. Does Dr. P have ANY idea how many of us are praying for him? :) And there, holding all of you up, is your beloved Superman, who has been Super-sized. Another flicker, of light.

    And we ARE praying, big time, and bringing in reinforcements. I just called the Prayer Circles at two churched and asked them to pray for you and your Mom. You are saturated with rain and prayers.

    I so wish I was close by so I could watch your Mom or cook a meal, or anything to give you a much needed rest. Know that you are so loved, dear Vicky.

    Love you to the moon and back again.
    Your friend, Linda

  13. oh sweet girl….you said it, when it rains it pours and let us all just for a moment CHEER YOU ON….as your cup is way and i mean way runneth over. here, you can have all the prayers i have and keep them for yourself and use them however you see best. seriously, i mean it !!!…xo

  14. So much to bear, Vicky! I know how incredibly exhausting it is to care for a sick family member, but doing that while fighting Stage IV BC kind of puts it at a whole new level! I am praying for you and your mom, as well as the rest of your family. I pray for comfort and healing, and for peace in knowing you are doing everything you can for your mom. Take care, and keep us posted!

  15. i could cry reading this. I ran into a similar situation with my mom a few years ago right after my father passed away. I knew he had been helping care for my mom, I had no idea to what extent. Mom wanted to continue living alone but had no way to continue caring for herself; she was basically bedridden and her idea of help was to call 911 when she fell to the floor. (We later learned she and dad had called 911 multiple times as a back up if dad needed help.) While we ended up having to make a hard decision for permanent supervised care, I learned a lot along the way. Your local senior services may be able to give you some advice on help. Also, as a Medicare recipient, she may qualify for meals on wheels, light house keeping, and partial nursing care for bathing and therapy. I would question the decision that she does not qualify for transitional care because of the age of her injuries. The fact remains that her ability to function with the injuries has been affected now and therefor she needs help.Unfortunately, many physicians are knowledgeable about the treatments from the medical side but are not knowledgable about further treatment possibilities; it is left to the family to be the advice for the patient. Put a call out to her church and yours to see if anyone has handles a situation with a parent recently. They may be your best resource for knowing what is an is not available. You can call the social worker at the hospital as well and see if they can refer you somewhere in your particular area. Praying for your mother and you. These are hard days and hard decisions as well.

  16. Words are failing me to express my feelings sweet, sweet Vicky. Prayers for you and for your whole family in these trying times. Hugging you tight and close always in my heart xoxo

  17. I have been following your blog for about a year I think and I have been praying for you as I read each post. I live in Iowa and I have 4 kids and I'm a stay at home mom who homeschools her children. I am a fellow believer in Jesus. I work part time as a care giver for people who need non medical care. I work for a company called Home Instead and there are offices all over the United States. We will clean homes, bathe clients, run errands, provide companionship and pretty much anything a client needs that is non medical. I work with one lady 2 hours a week. Another lady I spend the night at her house 2 nights a week. What I'm trying to say is look into your local Home Instead office, even for a respite every week or every once in a while. The company was founded by Christians and we all have background checks etc. and it might be affordable every now and then to help you all.
    I will continue to lift you, your husband, your kids, your mom and your doctors in prayer.

  18. Oh my oh my oh my!!!!!! I have never, ever left the prayer brigade that goes on for you, and I will not stop. Bless your heart and soul.

  19. Praying for the help that all of you need. What a difficult time.

  20. Hello Vicky, I have recently started reading your blog. I am a home care physical therapist. First, I think somebody in discharge planning or the m.d. must have dropped the ball. Your mom should have been referred for home care at discharge from the hospital. Your mom's diagnosis is a slow recovery and very painful for awhile. Her functional capacity has changed and she may need some new equipment at home like a commode by her bed, shower bench, maybe even a hospital bed. Some things to watch out for are constipation from pain medication, dehydration/bladder infection, more falls, and general failure to thrive because the pain can be so debilitating. In home care she should be eligible also for at least a social work consultation to help you all plan her care management and find resources. I hope you can involve other family members to provide her primary care. You should not be the main person caring for your mom. Your physical vulnerabilities, primarily the lymphedema, could be exacerbated if you try physically assisting her. The fatigue of caregiving could effect your recovery. Please consider enlisting everyone in your extended family to help. It sounds like your mom is going to need help for quite awhile and may have future problems. She would benefit from a fall alert system for sure but possibly she is at a time in life where she will need on going assistance. I worry for you and encourage you to coordinate care but let others do the work as much as possible. My prayers are with you…you give so much to all who read your blog…so much inspiration and love…please let others help you with your mom at this time…much love and blessings, Candace

  21. Hi Vicky, I pray for you every day. My Dad went non-responsive 3 weeks ago. Dad's electrolytes were severely off and his brain was starting to shut down. After 4 days in the hospital he was sent to rehab. We were told he has 20 days with Medicare at the rehab center and 20 more days with home health care. The social worker at the hospital set this all up. He is still in the rehab center but will probably get out soon. When the time comes, the social worker at the rehab center will have it all lined up for the physical therapist, occupational therapist and what ever else he may need. My parents are snow birds yet so they are in Florida and I am in Pennsylvania. They have their main home about 5 min. from me now. They just bought it in July of last year. This was my biggest fear with them. My oldest brother is an hour and a half away from them. So a neighbor had to take Mom to the hospital until my brother got there. I am hoping they agree now after this happens they will sell the home in Florida. I am afraid when Dad gets stronger again he won't sell. He may be coming home stronger than before he went in. He has COPD and on oxygen all the time. I did go down the day after Christmas and stayed 11 days until another brother and his family from Seattle came and stayed for over a week. Mom goes at lunch and dinner to eat with him. If need be I will be going back to help out when he comes home. I really enjoy reading your blog. You do give a lot of inspiration!!!

  22. Vicky--you truly are one of a kindl! are one tough cookie. I am keeping you, your Mom, and your family in my thoughts and prayers. Sending many warm hugs, sweet friend.

  23. Ya When it rains it does pour.
    All I can say is that it is good your Mom still has her faculties and memories and you can still sit and have quiet time together and get to know each other time.
    I wish I had that with my Mom. I always say it is simpler when you all live together. This way you always have help but if Mom has to live alone, it kinda becomes more difficult, esp at night.

  24. Glad your brother offered to come. Take every bit of help your Mom needs. There is only so much one family can handle. I think of you often. HUGS

  25. I'm getting ready to leave town for 10 days and I just knew I had to check your blog and now I know why...prayers for your mom, you and your family. Oh Vicky, how I wish I lived closer! I would be right there helping with your dear mom. Congrats to the boys!! I'm so glad you were there to see them. I'm fortunate to have a video feed to watch Rache, but there's nothing like being there. Just know that I'll be praying!! Grace and mercy each and every day, heaps of healing and loved poured down <3 A big hug to you!!

  26. Your mom sure is one tough cookie. Though she must have been in a world of pain for hours. You could not have possibly given your full attention to you mom if you're ailing too. Hopefully you could get some help at a reasonable price. Let's see if Dr. P can find a good one for both you. Take care!

    Marcia Sherman @ Comfort Keepers Wood Dale


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