Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Set Up

I know that depression is not a fun subject, but sometimes life itself is simply not fun.

If I can write about my experience and have even one person feel validated and understood, I will be happy.

If depression depresses you, you'll probably want to skip today's post. Thanks for understanding.

I was going to make this be one post, but I realize that just the set up is a very long blog post, so it will be in pieces. This is just the set up for my depression: the stage will be set so that you can understand my theory and solutions may be sought.

Over the past few months I've been given bad news on top of traumatic news, on top of devastatingly scary news. Let me recap:

May 2008 - Jared cuts his eye, the eye itself is bleeding. We go to the ER and then make several doctor's visits until they determine he is healing well w/o complications.

August 2008 - Amber plays basketball w/ Josh in the backyard to cheer him up after a bad day. As she shoots the ball she lands in a hole the dog dug. A crack is heard as her ankle bone breaks. For the next several weeks we visit two different docs, finally the swelling goes down sufficiently and we are told she won't need surgery. More visits to the doc until she is finally better.

September 2008 - I have pain in my abdomen. Upon close inspection it is determined that I have esophageal ulcers. If the ulcers don't heal and continue to be irritated by stomach acid, there is a chance of getting Barret esophagus which could lead to cancer. Because I hate medicine, this is a big deal to me. The doc tells me that my ulcers will not go away without the meds. A naturopath tells me that if I take the meds it will make my overall body unhealthy. Who's right? So I stress and pray everything goes well and that I won't get cancer.

All is calm until I go in for another EGD to see if the ulcers are gone. I'm fully expecting that they are not because I haven't followed the doctor's plan of action.
March 2009 - EGD results are that the ulcers are *healed* not healing, but healed! I'm excited and think that this is the beginning of a great year with less problems than the last.

April 2009 - Jared is diagnosed with type I diabetes. He is in the hospital over Easter weekend, and I'm right there with him, learning all about diabetes and getting his bloodsugar under control. We still haven't figured it all out, and his bloodsugars are still crazy most of the time.

May 2009 - Josh calls and midnight telling me that Karen is pregnant. Being unwed, yet engaged at the time, they both are scared and wish they would have been married first. I want to help them and so I start helping them make wedding plans. Because Karen's mom is sick and can't help as much as she'd like, and because Karen and her dad are a bit estranged at this point, much of the preparations fall on me. Thankfully, her mom goes above and beyond what she thought she could do to help, and her dad really steps in and with the help of his wife, Karen's stepmom, they make the load a lot lighter.

July 2009 - the wedding is upon us. On the 13th, my mom has been admitted to the hospital for abdominal pain. They recognize a kidney infection might be playing a part, but there is more. A CT scan confirms ischemic bowel: the bowel is dying in places. Her doctors consult.

Typically with ischemic bowel, surgeons would remove the dead tissue and life would resume. In my mom's situation where her kidneys have failed and she is on dialysis, her docs decide that she is no longer a surgical candidate. She must heal herself to survive, yet she has diabetes, which makes healing take a lot more time.

My sister explains all of this to me on Wednesday afternoon. She calls me while I'm shopping yet again for flower girl dresses because we've decided that M needs to be a flower girl too. Another dress like we'd previously bought for Emily's isn't available, so the shopping is resumed on a more frantic level this time. And I find out that my mother could be dying. This could be it.

When I was about four years old I used to talk to my next door neighbor Kurt through the fence in our backyards. He was way older than me: seven! One day he asked me if I still "like that Mike guy". Mike was cute and he worked for my dad. An older man. He was 18. I had such a crush on him! I tell Kurt that I do. He asks if I'm going to marry him. I tell him I will. He asks where we will live. I tell him with my mom, of course. He asks where we'll live when my mom dies. I shout: "My mom's not gonna die!" and he tells me that yes she will someday. I tear into the house, tears streaming down my face. "Mom! Are you gonna die?" I frantically ask her. "I have no intentions of it sweetie, why do you ask?" I explain what had happened and she consoles me.

Now here I am 35 years later, but this time it is my sister who is telling me that yes, someday my mom is going to die. And it probably isn't going to be very long until she does.

I muddle through the rest of the day. I buy the dresses, come home, get dinner, get the kids to bed, and then the realization hits me hard. I cry. Deep sobs coming from the depths of my soul. My head is killing me. I feel like I'm going to puke, and I do. I hurt. Everywhere. I've never drank, but now seems like a good time to start. The only setback is I know tomorrow I'll have a headache and puke. I don't want a repeat. I ask Steve for a sleeping pill, totally unsure that I'll be able to sleep on my own. I ask Steve for a blessing. My sobs fade and I sleep.

Tears come easily, but not the sobbing of that night.

The week after the wedding my mom is seeing and hearing non-existent children playing in her room. She calls my sister at three in the morning and tells her that she doesn't know where she is. Another week, more problems.

She is moved to a hospital further away. It is hard to go visit her. When I do go she is rude to me. When my time is up and I need to go she cries and tells me that she's sorry. My heart breaks and I'm an emotional wreck; I don't want to go and I don't want to stay.

Her breathing is worse. She can't talk for longer than a couple of minutes or she loses her breath. She can't breath without the aid of cpap. She is getting worse every day. I mention diuretics. The doctor doesn't think they'll work, but gives her some along with asking the dialysis guys to take more fluid off each time. In time, she can breath easier and can get off of cpap for a few minutes here and there.

I have a conversation with the doctor on the phone. Eventually the conversation gets around to more uncomfortable information: he doesn't know if she'll ever regain her strength and go back to her home. He tells me that she'll never truly get better: her heart is enlarged and doesn't pump well; the diabetes has already taken one foot and several toes; her circulation is pretty non existent below the waist; her kidneys have already failed; her lungs fill with fluid because of the heart problems. Another doc at the other hospital tells my sister that he expects my mom to not survive past 6 months.

My brother and sister agree that we need to push her to sign an advanced directive. No one wants to get left holding the plug. More emotion wells up inside of me and I can't imagine sitting in her room talking to her about her demise.

The day before the scheduled signing comes. I'm supposed to shadow a midwife friend the next morning. I've been looking forward to that day for months. When it comes right down to it though, I can't imagine adding one more thing into the day. I'm a basket case: crying at every opportune minute. I call and cancel, explaining the circumstances. And I wait.

The day of the signing I go to my peaceful place. I pray and meditate. Answers and peace comes. The signing goes pretty well. Some things are established, others still up in the air.

The next week she is moved to a skilled nursing facility/nursing home.

Another living will/advanced directive needs to be filled out, since the old one was never signed. This one is simpler: DNR or resuscitate. No other choices.

My moms bones are brittle. Her spine has a degenerative disease that has progressively taken her from a 5'10" woman to a 5'6" woman.

We decide that if they tried to do chest compressions she'd break into many little pieces. She is scared. She doesn't want to think about it. She says that she wants to check the DNR box and not talk about it any more. So we don't.

She is in better spirits. She is trying to regain her strength, though I think that she is trying to prepare *me* for the worst. The worst to her is having to stay in a nursing home for all time. And/or dying in pain. If the Lord is kind and willing, he will let her pass easily while asleep. or drugged.

In addition to all of these events there are the little parts of life that don't just lie dormant until you can get to them:

Jared's diabetes has been out of control lately. I have been afraid to let him out of my sight, but school started and so he is.

The tone (muscle contracture) in Michael's leg and arm is worse. I feel so drained that I haven't worked with him like I should. I feel like a failure for not doing better. The therapists are worried about him too. So there is a nagging feeling way back in my mind that we might need to start shots to loosen him. The shots are temporary and have side effects. Botax will be an allergen at some point when the body has had enough. Surgery is an option, but with side effects of making him not have enough strength. He might have to learn to walk all over again with it. He is my baby!

And the other stuff: kids yelling "I hate you!". Tifs between Steve and me. A couple of friends acting different and less supportive than normal. A messy house that keeps getting worse as less time can be spent on it. Supper that is very late because I get home very late because I am so busy with everything else. and the list goes on, and on, and on, and on.

The depression has waxed and waned. Off and on. I think I'm ok, and then something else comes up and plunges me downward.

This past week though has been something I've never experience before and is the entire reason for this post. I realize that this is such a long and arduous post that if there is anyone still reading you are to be applauded! I will continue in another post.

1 comment:

  1. I stumbled upon your blog through a few other crafty ones and noticed your post on depression and also about your mother. I hope things look up for you.

    I too have bouts of depression that tend to run hormonal. I would say to and make lists, knock a few of them off everyday, it keeps you going and feeling accomplished!

    I have also dealt with the death of my father from cancer, a very long and degenerative battle! Having just wanting to "fix it" you learn to almost accept it or live in the present more...We suffered with the DNR idea and eventually signed it...he passed away peacefully and having just been transferred to a different floor in the hospital they did not know he had a DNR an resuscitated him! He didn't know what had happened and at that point he also wasn't able to speak due to the cancer in his throat...he lived for about 5 more days. I'm grateful for those last few days with him, it was more painful to watch him suffer so greatly and almost wishing for him to pass on and begging him to let go. All in all it sucked but I realized the DNR would have been a gift and you can't think of it as an impending looming decision but something more natural I suppose...

    appologies for the ramble-peace to you and your family!