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is this really happening?

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I can't believe that in 3 weeks I have watched my mom become this sick, frail, suffering woman. She was so strong for so long. I posted a couple of weeks ago (or one week ago?) about her being overmedicated. Well, she was hospitalized for 3 days and then sent home. She started to become clearer, but now we realize it only lasts for a bit, and then the fogginess comes back. She mumbles and doesn't make sense most of the time, but you can tell she knows she's not making sense because she'll keep trying to correct herself.

We learned at the hospital that she was severely constipated. It's no wonder being that she was on pain pills for 2 weeks straight. She has been curled up in a fetal position moaning and talking about the pain. We assumed it was gas. When we went to see the oncologist I finally put her in a wheelchair because she's lost so much muscle she can barely stand up anymore. When he examined her he tapped her body and she said that her hips and lower spine hurt, NOT her stomach. This was new news for my aunt and I because we really thought she just needed to go to the bathroom. He calmly said that this could be atrophy setting in to her muscles from the lack of movement for 3 weeks, OR it could be the cancer that was found on her spine and pelvic bone back in January. He said we needed another PET scan since she hadn't had one in over a year.

But that appointment with him was Monday and it's now Thursday. He had us get her on some anti-seizure medication as well as some strong laxatives. And ordered AIM for her (Advanced Illness Management) -- it's basically a home nursing care service. He also ordered physical therapy to help her regain her strength in her legs. But it's like the laxatives all set in at once and for the past 3 days, her quality of life has become so poor. She can't use the restroom alone, can't dress herself, is constantly needing the restroom so she needs someone there 24/7. I stayed the other night and we were in the restroom ALL night long. Changing her clothes, washing laundry, etc. I finally have disposable undergarments now.

I look at her and I'm petrified and I feel like I'm walking around in someone else's life. She has lost 35 lbs, won't eat, is constantly talking about the pain, talks to her deceased mother....and then every once in a while, she'll make some joke about what we're all going through right now. (She has always had the BEST sense of humor and always been so tough). The other day I was saying to my aunt while we stood in Mom's bedroom, that maybe the home care nursing service could help her with an enema, she opened one eye to look at me and said, "You're going to do WHAT with me?" I kind of giggled and said, "No Mom, not ME, I was talking about the nurse." She said, "GOOD! Because I have to draw the line somewhere!.....Oh this is getting fun.......isn't it?" Then dropped her head back on the pillow. We all started laughing.

When we were in the hospital we had a very handsome male nurse. He was about 6'5", 35 years old, with the body of a model. My 2 aunts, my mom and I were all huddled in her little ER room. He came in and every time he'd talk to us and then leave, we'd all glance at one another, raising eyebrows and giggling. We all agreed he was pretty. =)

So when he said he was going to start an IV, I mentioned that she has a port. He said, "Oh good, that makes things easier for us....So, let me get some things here and when I return I'll access your port."

As he walked out Mom sits up and whispers in a low, sexy voice just for us to hear, "You're going to access my WHAT?" She had the biggest grin on her face. We were all hysterical until he walked back in. Then we all hushed and acted as though nothing had happened.

But those moments are fewer and fewer. The pain has increased and we're so lost with what to do. The pain pills caused the discomfort of constipation, but now she appears to have real pain, she has no control of her body, she can't walk, she won't eat.....and I feel so desperate and so helpless.

My aunt and I managed to get her to her PET scan appointment today but MAN, was that hard. She kept complaining of the upset stomach and kept asking for the restroom. By the time I'd get her in, it was too late. The technician was waiting for us....{{{big long exhale}}}}. I think the most comfortable part for her was when he finally got her up on the bed, wrapped her in blankets, secured the strap around her and told her she could go to sleep for 30 minutes.

Even with her frazzled mind most of the time, I did catch something she mumbled when I was talking with the technician about the procedure and her discomfort level. He was saying we could reschedule because of how upset her stomach was. But I knew her oncologist was waiting on these results to make the next move. So, while we were talking, I heard my mom say under her breath, "...why are we doing this anyways....we already know what they're going to find....." But she was leaning over and no one else heard her but me.

I'm not the same person I was 3 weeks ago. That has all changed. I have sunk into chronic depression and can barely find my way around at this point. I have 2 young daughters, a 21-year step-son and a husband who are all just watching me fall apart. Not to mention my mom's nieces, cousins, sisters and her 96-year-old father. I work and am currently in a teaching credential program. I spend every moment I can up the street with my mom at Grandpa's house. People tell me how sorry they are, how they don't know how I do it all. They say I'm handling this all with so much grace and that I am her rock.

But I always think, do I have a choice? And wouldn't YOU do the same? This IS what we do for those we love. We don't give up, we don't say 'I'm sorry but I can't' -- we do whatever it takes to preserve our mother's or father's or husband's or wife's dignity. We don't flinch or blink an eye. We don't put ourselves first, we sacrifice and sacrifice so that we can eliminate their pain, take away any suffering we can, make them smile when we know they don't want to....and we do everything we can not to fall apart in front of them. We love them with everything we can.

I walk around now with constant flow of tears on my cheeks. It never stops. And I'm an adult education teacher for ESL students. They may not speak English, but they know tears. Tears are universal. They see my pain and even though they can't communicate with me, so often, they come up and just touch my arm or hug me. The other day I was teaching a lesson and smiling while I talked......with tears rolling down my face. I'm raw all the time. I'm just shocked that people walk around this earth in this kind of pain and still survive. I can't believe other people have been through this pain and survived. This pain is unreal.

Whewwww. Thank you for letting me get this out there. This board really is therapy.

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Hello There, I am so sorry you are going through this. I have been where you are and it sucks! It hurts so much to see someone who has so much life to live in pain. Everything that you are describing is what my mom went through as well. My mom was severely constipated from the meds and was hospitalized for 3 days because of it. My mom wanted to give up. Your mom has more fight in her. God bless her for that.

I am sending you and your mom huge hugs.

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Sweet Tova,

I hear every word you say and understand every one. I am sorry to hear all you are experiencing. I remember thinking the same - do other people feel this pain - hurt somuch - and if so - how do they go on? I don't know the answer. I know I did..............somehow.

I am sorry - no other words can I speak other than those. You are tired of hearing how remarkable you are - what a rock you are. You need to just rest and can't. And I'm sorry again. I will hurt here for you to maybe alleviate that last bit of hurt that makes it just too much to bear. I will carry that for you and hope and pray.

We have to believe there is mercyf or all thos who suffer so.


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Oh Hon I am so sorry that you have to go through this. I understand the fear and pain and helpless feeling. So many of us have been where you are now. I wish I could tell you that it will get better but I just can't.

You love for your mom is so strong and you are so much stronger than you think. When you get to where you feel that you are at the end of your rope you just have to reach down into the depths of yourself. You will find more because love has no end and what you do for your mom is born of love.

Take everyone of those precious memories and hold on to them. She may still have a lot of fight left in her and maybe it is not as bad as you both think but if it is you will face it. Just as you have faced so much already. My heart goes out to you. I wish we were a few miles closer and I could give you a real hug but for now this will have to do (((Tova))

Take care of yourself too and keep us informed of what is going on. You will be in my prayers. Lillian

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My heart broke reading your post. But I so admired your ability to still hear the humor your mother manages through all the suffering. You are a good daughter. You are an amazing daughter. I wish you nothing but the strength you need to see this through. And I wish your mother peace and hope they find some medical blunder that's been her sudden undoing. It's just too sudden.

Take care of yourself the best you can.

Judy in Key West

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Tova, what a remarkable post. After I read it and all the responses, I went back and read it a second time — very slowly. It's no wonder you love your mom. I think you'd love her even if she WEREN'T your mom. I think anyone would. Ditto in particular to Judy's thoughts.


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I'm so sorry you have to go through all of this. I took care of my Mom too, she didn't have cancer though. It one of the hardest things in the world. One thing I did want to mentioin was medication for you. There is nothing wrong with you taking a anti depressant or an anti anxiety right now to get you through this. Prayers are on the way.


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Dear (((((Tova))))),

I echo the sentiments in responses so far - and know that I can not say any better what has already been said.

Though I have not had your experiences, I fear that one day I may .... I read your entries and I learn from you. May you be comforted to know what a role model you are and may the prayers and warm hugs coming your way, lessen your pain to some degree.



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I don't know what to say other than I can see where you get your strength and your humor. Your mom sounds like one special lady--the best way to tell is by her very special daughter.

At this point, all you can do is all you can do. Keep coming here to vent when you need to. We'll be here for you.

In the meantime your mom and you will remain in my prayers.


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