Saturday, October 4, 2008

She's Gone

I promised more info about the bad news in the last post. Here it is.

A month ago, my mother was planning to come down and visit us at the end of this month. Drive down in her RV, with the dog.

Two weeks ago today, she called me up to tell me she was sick, and they'd found growths in her lungs and liver.

Things went downhill from there. The growth on her lung was small-cell lung carcinoma. The liver growths were metastatic.

I arrived here yesterday afternoon. She recognized my sister and me, and apologized for not being good company. (She couldn't say much. She wasn't in good shape; her liver and lungs were both swollen, and her diaphragm was caught in the middle. She was on hourly morphine.)

This morning, she was in worse condition. The morning bloodwork showed her potassium level was way up. They put her on various meds to try to bring it back down. The morphine dosage went up, and they moved her to a room where they could put her on cardiac monitoring.

It wasn't enough. Her potassium levels kept going up; her body was breaking down. They could try the meds again, but the next step was dialysis; if the potassium levels didn't go down soon, her heart would go. My sister and I discussed it, and read over her advance directives. She didn't want to be kept alive when she was clearly in a terminal condition. It pretty clearly qualified at this point, so we told the doctors to keep her out of pain.

We kept her company for a while, then went to get some dinner. When we came back, her body was still there, but it was clear that her spirit wasn't. We went down to the chapel; within a few minutes, the nurse called to let us know she was gone.