Facing the unknown.

Last week i ended up in the emergency department of the local hospital with severe pain, it turns out that i have 2 large cysts on an ovary, the smaller one had haemorrhage. I was given pain relief and antibiotics and sent home with  check up to follow.

Today i went back for the check up after not being able to stop thinking about all the “what if’s”. I came to the conclusion that if there was something wrong, i would rather have the cysts and the affected ovary removed if it was safe to do so.
I have a history of “women’s cancers” in my family so i don’t want to risk being another statistic.Also, I won’t be having any more children.

The head Dr had heard about my case and had been looking into it. By what i was told, i am led to believe that the cysts may have a chance of becoming cancer.
This news in itself did not concern me as i believe the hospital will do the best they can do to keep me well.
What it does do however is slightly scare me. Not knowing at this moment exactly what is happening with my body, not knowing if this issue is easily enough treatable or if it will shorten my life, and by how much.

The not knowing is scarier than what i do know.

I want to go into battle with my shoulders back, head held high, ready to face whatever comes my way.

It’s just that at this very moment…..

I am scared.

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Fast forward 12 months…

and you arrive at today.

It was about a year ago that my Nan was first diagnosed with the breast cancer.

It was about a year ago that my life changed more than i thought it ever would.

I feel so alone, even though i know i have a few friends and family that do care.

Others not so much, but a few do.

I have very strong feelings that the next 3 months are going to be very hard as it was this time of year- last year, that i spent so much time with Nan. Helping her in every way that i could. Even if it was just sitting with her by her hospital bed, or on the lounge next to her when i was looking after her.

I will never forget the little chats we had, the things she told to me that i will take to the grave- just as she took them to hers.

I thought the grief would lessen and life would be easier to live as time went on. But it seems that it isn’t the case.

As i type this, tears are running down my cheeks, i cannot stop them, nor do i think i want to stop them.
They are tears showing how much i miss my Nan, how much i loved her, how much i still love her. How i wish i could have her back with me.

Sometimes life really sucks. I can’t help but wonder what i have done so bad to deserve these obstacles in my life.

I just want to be free.
I just want to feel loved.
I just want to know who i am.

I feel that i have lost all meaning of life.

I am scared.

She is free.

I received the phone call from the hospital in the early hours of the morning. Nan had passed away.

She is now free. Free from pain. Free from being force fed. Free from having to live because some people were not willing to accept the fact she was ready to go.

I was told she was unconscious for about the last 12 hours. This is comforting for me to know as i believe it made the transition into her next life a calmer one for her.

I have always been one who likes to know information, who likes details.
I would love to know the exact time she passed. I would love to know what her final day was like. I would love to find out what her final medical results were. I would love to know exactly where the cancer had spread.
I doubt i will ever get this exact information. It is something i will have to live with for the rest of my life.

But one thing is for sure.

I know i was ALWAYS honest with everyone.

I know i ALWAYS gave Nan my full attention and care when i was looking after her; not just in these most recent weeks & months but for all my life.
I have helped her with lots of things since i was a little girl and i can live my life knowing i always did the most i could for Nan and i know she appreciated everything i did for her.

 

I love you so much Nan.
May you now fly free.

The clock is ticking…

I heard from someone today that Nan was not in a very good way at all so i rang the hospital to see if they could give me any news.

I spoke to a lovely nurse who had read through the files and notes and knew what i had done and knew the predicament i was currently in.
She informed me that the priest had been called to see Nan and Nan’s condition has worsened quite a bit over the past 24hours.
She has been moved into a single bed room.

Now i just wait.
I wait for “the phone call”.
The call to inform me that my darling Nan has passed n, that she is now free and up there with her husband and our pets and other family members.

Without sounding horrible, i hope she passes soon.
However…
The greedy side of me wants her to stay here on Earth until my Mum can get to see her (hopefully tomorrow) and give her the two letters that Nan’s sister has written to her.
I was speaking to the nurse about the letters, saying if Nan is still with us, how i’d really appreciate it if a nurse/volunteer/social worker could read the two letters out to Nan. I know both Nan and her sister would really appreciate it. She said she would try and make that happen.

Until then…
the clock will continue to tick tock… tick tock… tick tock…

It’s getting close now…

I received two phone calls yesterday.
One from my Nan’s sister saying she had received a phone call saying that my Nan’s health has been deteriorating and that she is now needing strong painkillers at least every 2 hours; the second from another 2 relatives (via a “speaker phone chat”) letting me know that the cancer has now spread throughout Nan’s body, into not only more bones but also soft tissue and other organs. She has started hallucinating again, quite badly this time and is talking a lot of gibberish (possibly due to the pain relief she is on or maybe the hallucinations?).

No one could say how long she is expected to last for now, but i hope for her sake, that it isn’t too much longer as she has been saying she is ready to die for the past 5+ weeks.
I hate knowing that i have been threatened with violence by some family members if they find out i visit Nan. I don’t want them to think they have “won”, as they haven’t, i just don’t know if i want to see Nan now. In a way i do want to as i would love to have some “us time” to let her know how much i love her and just to be there with her for a little while but on the other hand, with what i have been told about her most recent health status and state of mind, i don’t think i do want to have this new memory of her. I think i would just prefer to remember her how i last saw her and moreso, about those weeks we spent together where i was able to be an extension of her and be able to care for her in between her hospital stays.

Although some people have tried to make these past few months hell for me, they have not won, nor will they get on top of me in the future.
I will not allow their childish ways to make me less of a human.
I will not let their immaturity get the better of me.

I know that what i have done for Nan over the past countless number of years (but mostly the past 2-3 years) will always be appreciated by Nan and also other family and friends who realise just how much i have actually done for her.

Most of all though, i feel so very lucky that i have spent a great deal of my life with Nan, having her to talk to whenever i wanted to, being able to have her as the first person i go to if i needed someone or if i wanted advice or needed to know how to do something.
Nan taught me so much about life, she taught me how to cook, how to clean, she taught me patience, perseverance, love, courage, she taught me to not judge a book by it’s cover, most importantly though- she taught me how to believe in myself.

 

Fluid Rocks

It sounds like it can’t be true, but that is how i would explain how i am feeling at the moment.

I feel like a rock as i have to be strong at the moment, i am trying my hardest to stay strong and not fall apart while constantly pulling myself together so i don’t fall apart in front of my children…
YET…
Fluid as i feel like i am falling apart, like i can’t contain myself. Like i can’t keep myself in one piece.
Like water in a broken glass, you can fill it up, but it will leak, water will spill out uncontrolled. I can’t seem to keep my feelings to myself. I know it is good to express oneself, but when all i can think of at the moment is negative emotions and feelings, i feel it is is a bad thing.

I have made contact with my psychologist again, for the first time this year and it was good to be able to talk freely without any judgement.
We have agreed to meet on a regular basis now with me being able to have impromptu sessions between our scheduled sessions if i feel i need them.

I scare myself knowing that i still have so much hatred within me. I am having flashbacks of moments in time from my childhood. Moments that i must have blocked out of my memory… until now.
Now they are coming back to haunt me. Coming back to taunt me and make me constantly question myself and everything i do.

I have allowed myself to empathise with those who have hurt me in recent weeks. I can understand why they are acting how they are. They are scared, they are hurting, unable to express how they are feeling for fear of not being taken seriously bu those who look up to them. I am sure that is why they are gossiping and spreading rumours about me and my family. Why they have turned my whole family against me. Every. Blood. Relative.

I have come to terms with my Nan being at the end of her life. I find it comforting knowing that she was able to see everyone she wanted to see and that she was able to do everything that she wanted to get done. Well, that’s what she told me, anyway.
I feel so very lucky to have been able to step into the role as her carer. I was an extension of her body. Doing things for her that she wasn’t able to do for herself.

I just want to feel at peace with myself but i don’t know where to start. I don’t know where to turn.

A change of mind.

For the past week and a bit my Nan has talked about going back to hospital. This time, to die. She kept saying she had done everything she wanted to do, seen everyone she wanted to see and she was ready to go.
Each day, I’d ask her if she wanted me to make the phone call (a phone call to a specific number would start the ball rolling with her admission to the Palliative Care Ward at the hospital of her choice), but she kept saying “No, not just yet. I want to see (family/friends) one more time, they should be visiting today or tomorrow.”

Last Wednesday though, she couldn’t take it any longer, the previous two nights had been horrible. She’d barely had any sleep and had also started hallucinating. Some of the hallucinations were quite bad and to her, VERY real. She had been waking every couple of hours from nightmares, shortness of breath or hallucinations. I had been with her throughout the night as company and a reassuring voice that i would keep her safe and that she would be OK with me by her side.

She was also becoming much weaker, barely being able to walk more than about 5 metres without getting overwhelmingly exhausted.

Wednesday morning saw the Personal Care lady come as usual to bathe Nan. All went well until it came time to put the compression stockings on Nan’s legs. As Nan’s health has been deteriorating and it seems like she is aging faster, her skin has become extremely delicate. As the Care lady was putting on the stockings with her gloved hands, a skin tear occurred and as can be expected, it bled. The skin tear was seen to and dressed but Nan had been so scared by this and seeing as she was still hallucinating, she had had enough. She wanted to go to the hospital as soon as she could.

I made the phone call and the Palliative Care Nurse came out, assessed Nan, had a chat to her and arranged everything so Nan could go to hospital.

By this time my Uncle had arrived and also called his sister to come and move into Nan’s house (I still don’t know why she is now living in Nan’s house). I don’t think my Uncle or Aunt understood much about hallucinations or how Nan had been feeling as they kept telling her there was nothing else in the house and she was being silly and it was stupid how she was imagining these things. That was the last thing that my Nan (their Mum) needed to hear, and hearing them say that to her just made her more anxious, worried and stressed than she needed to be.

We got to the hospital mid afternoon and she was put directly into a bed in the Palliative Care Ward. Her medication was checked and changed, she was monitored and reassessed and had some food organised for her.

The Palliative Care staff are amazing. They are so caring, nurturing and compassionate.

 

Have I failed?

I feel that i have failed those i love, those i care about, my family and friends… Myself.

I know i am in a situation that i cannot control.
It is up to God, Mother Nature, fate, whoever or whatever you believe in as to what happens from here.

I feel lost.

I feel i have failed myself because i sometimes have thoughts that make me second guess myself. Thoughts that make me question myself. Thoughts that have me wondering if i have chosen the right path.

Am i doing the right thing?
It is NOT a walk in the park. There may not be much physical effort or work involved, but psychologically, it is so hard.
I am not too far away from my family, but i am scared at who i am becoming. What i am turning into.
Will i still be the same Mum that i was at the start of the year? Will i still be the same wife? The same friend?

I just don’t know.

I thought being a carer wouldn’t be so bad, after all, i was looking after my Nan which is something i have done in the past. But this is much harder.
I am having to see her health deteriorate. I am having to help her dress when she can muster the strength to change into nightclothes, otherwise she just asks to sleep in the clothes she had been wearing that day. I am now having to help her when she goes to the toilet. Sometimes, it is like i am caring for a young child who has not yet mastered how to use the toilet. It is killing me seeing her this bad. But i know things can possibly get worse.
Her eyes seem to be sinking back into her eye sockets further and further each day. He body is now just skin and bones. She is continuing to lose weight. She is shrinking away to nothingness.

I feel hopeless. I do not know what i can do.

I can’t leave the house as i have to help her. I am her carer. I promised all her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren that i would care for her as long as i was needed. I feel that it is now that she needs me the most.
BUT it is now that things are getting scary as i feel i can’t help her anymore. My hands are tied. I am being held captive by her illness, although in a different way to how it is affecting her.

I wish i could take her pain away.
I wish i could take away the illness.
I wish i could make everything alright.

 

A decline in health.

Unfortunately my Nan’s health is worsening.
Last week, i could tell she was getting weaker, but she was still mentally strong.
I think now, she has had enough.

She is exhausted.
Mentally.
Physically.
Emotionally.
Completely and utterly exhausted.

I think her body may be ready to start shutting down. That’s if the process hasn’t already started.
She now finds it extremely tiring to walk more than about 5 metres at a time. Twice that distance has her almost collapsing, buckling at the knees.
She also gets exhausted if she has to concentrate for more than a few minutes at a time. Listening is exhausting for her, so is talking.
Things we take for granted are such a huge effort and exhausting for her now that she is so fragile and ill.

The illness has spread throughout her body.
It is in tissue, glands, organs and bone. It is sucking the life out of her.

Up until the past few days, i have been able to keep the pain away with medication, now that doesn’t seem to be working.
I will have to talk to the medical staff taking care of her and see where we can go from here.
I do not want her to be in pain if i can help it.
It is painful watching her in pain, knowing there is nothing more i can do.
It makes me feel i have failed her. I told her i would take care of her, but now i have to watch her face screw up as the pain takes over. I am helpless, i am unable to do the one thing i told her i would do for her- keep her comfortable.

It’s not fair.
Life isn’t fair at the moment.

She doesn’t deserve this.

Life’s too short.

Some of you may be following the progress, or decline, of my Nan’s health.

Today we had the Palliative Care doctor visit.
I know Nan isn’t well, i have noticed her declining each day but today my fears were confirmed.
The doctor couldn’t give me an estimate for her life expectancy, but she said the time was nearing. It could be weeks or months, i’m not sure, it may even be days… I simply do not know.

I am not overly religious, but it is times like this when believing in something or someone does help.

I am not scared about my Nan passing away, i just don’t want her to be in pain. I want it to be peaceful. I know i’m not the only one who thinks this.

I wish i could keep her alive forever, but i know that’s not fair on her. She has to have some quality of life, but that is now shriveling away with each day that passes.
She no longer has the energy to dress herself or change into bedclothes. She asks that i let her sleep in clothes that she wore that day.
She sits in her lounge chair all day, most of the time is spent with her eyes shut just listening to the TV or else she is fast asleep, usually with her mouth wide open. We joke that she is “catching flies”.
Occasionally she’ll hear something that sparks her interest and she’ll prop herself up and watch TV for a while.

I am doing everything i can for her, without actually forcing her to do things. She is now eating very little, it is worrying with the little amount she is eating but i have been told it is normal for this stage of life. Her thirst has somewhat increased over the past couple of days and she has been drinking more than she was the previous couple of weeks.

Nan has had so many visitors. More are planning to come for a visit over the next couple of weeks or so. She really loves her visitors. She does get quite tired, but she still loves the visitors. She talks about them after they have left, how wonderful it was to have seen her family and friends.

Her most favourite visitor in recent days has been her sister who lives a couple of hours away. It is so beautiful watching the two of them sit together, holding hands, singing to each other and talking about the olden days.
Today she got to meet her newest Great-Grandchild. Her face lit up so much and she got to have a little cuddle until she was too tired to hold him any longer.

I have been taking photos of Nan with our visitors. I show them to her when i have them on the computer. She loves looking at the photos but hates seeing images of herself.
In a way, i don’t blame her as i hate seeing photos of myself too.
I have to remember to try and get a few photos myself with her too. I always seem to be taking photos of other people, but not of Nan & myself.

Next week, we have a number of people come to visit from Community Health Care and the Palliative Care teams. I hope she finds the strength to hold on until next week…
We have a number of family birthdays coming up so i will remind her that those are happening in the coming days.