Monday, November 11, 2013

A Melting Pot of Emotions

This weekend was to be celebratory and fun.  My sister was turning 31 and her daughter Sydney, my niece and Godchild, was turning 1.  It is a huge milestone.  Last year, my sister turned 30 while sitting in the Children's Hospital NICU in St. Louis, MO peering at her tiny 5 pound newborn lying in a crib hooked up to so many monitors because shortly after she was born, while my sister was nursing a babe for the first time in her life, her tiny daughter stopped breathing.  Sydney was full term, had great Apgar scores, and my sister was holding her in a correct and comfortable nursing position.  There is no explanation, even to this day, for why Sydney should stop breathing. 

My mom and I had rushed to Quincy, IL from Minnesota, hoping to be in time for the birth and we were!  Except it was the middle of the night, we were stressed, we were exhausted, I was incredibly motion sick from the flight and then subsequent terrifying drive through dark and stormy night to get to the hospital.  So even though my sister was probably mere hours away from pushing, and we'd traveled so swiftly and so far to get there, my mom and I wussed out and left the hospital to get some rest.  We both regret it to this day.  Instead of being present firsthand for Sydney's miraculous birth and subsequent near-death, we received the paralyzing, bone-chilling call to, "Come quick!  She stopped breathing."  We didn't even know who "she" was as we tore through the small town streets of Quincy to get back to the hospital.  That weekend was pure anguish.  And this weekend was a reminder of it all.  This was the first time I'd been back to Quincy since.

And this could very well be the last time my mom makes it to Quincy. 

The elephant in the room was in the back of all of our minds this weekend, I'm sure.  This Fall, my mom was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer that results from exposure to asbestos.  She has made the very personal decision to treat her cancer naturally, holistically, and to eschew all invasive forms of treatment including pleurectomy, radiation, and chemotherapy.  When we first got the news, we were absolutely gobsmacked.  The only signs my mom had of being sick were some chest pain and coughing.  This turned out to be a result of a pleural effusion (fluid around the lung) which was originally misdiagnosed as pneumonia.  In order to determine the cause of the pleural effusion, a biopsy was completed.  Since my mom had been absolutely healthy until now, this was just a matter of "making sure" and no one in the family was the least bit prepared for her diagnosis.  For the first several weeks, we all lost it, moping around, sobbing at the turn of a hat and my mom worked her butt off to cheer us all up.  She assured us all that she had already (so quickly?) made peace with her diagnosis and with her decision to attempt to treat her cancer with food, supplements, and the like.  Her positivity was infectious and we all started to believe that she was going to cure her Mesothelioma, or at least keep it at bay for many years to come.  That's what I believed anyway.  Until I road-tripped to Quincy with my mom and dad and kids this past weekend.  When I spent nearly all day for four days with my mom, I could see how stressed and scared she was.  How she chronically coughed and cleared her throat.  How stressed and scared for my mom my dad was.  And I think, this weekend, the illusion cracked just a little bit.  Because the reality is that most people, when diagnosed with Mesothelioma, live for about 9-12 more months.

I did make an effort to have fun.  And did have fun some of the time.  And my family had fun, too.  And we are happy and blessed that Sydney is a healthy, happy, well-adjusted, EASY little baby girl.  But, still, it was a melting pot of emotions this weekend.



Angie said...

I want to tell you and your family and especially your Mom, how brave you are to acknowledge the elephant and to enjoy the time you have. You are Blessed to have Sydney and Pam with you. I know many are praying as am I, that healing will happen. Until then know that we here in Florida love you all. said...

Wow. I can't imagine all the emotions swirling around. How bittersweet to have such a lovely happy weekend. I'll keep your family in my thoughts and prayers.

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