Friday, December 5, 2014

A Slow and Painful Good-bye

Back in 2010 Mom went into a nursing home because Tim could no longer care for her at home and she refused Home Health. At the time she went into the nursing home we were told she probably only had about 6 months to live. She stayed at Harmon House in Mount Pleasant until February 8, 2014! I remember the date because it was Seth's birthday.

I was at work on that day and got a call from Harmon House. Something had happened to Mom's leg when they tried to move her. They sent her to Frick (the nearby hospital) and they diagnosed a fractured left femur. They were not equipped to handle that there so they transferred her to UPMC Presbyterian. I immediately worried about a pathological fracture due to cancer.

Mom had bladder cancer years ago but never had a recurrence. Before she went into the nursing home she was diagnosed with a lung tumor. It was not in an area that could be biopsied without surgery and we knew she would have a difficult time having surgery. Also, she insisted she would NOT have radiation or chemotherapy. So we decided to let it go. That is why the doctors thought she would only live 6 months. She fooled us all!

I expressed my concern to the doctors at Presby about this being a pathological fracture. It did look that way on CAT scan. She had surgery to pin the femur and they took a biopsy. The tissue was rather difficult to pin down (very undifferentiated) but it DID turn out to be from the lung. A staging work up showed metastases in the liver and lymph nodes, but not the brain. Again, Mom declined any treatment. I wanted to put her on hospice at this time, but neither she nor my brother were ready.

After discussions with my brother and my aunt, we decided to move Mom to a nursing home closer to the kids and I so we could spend more time with her. We moved her to one in Greentree. I wanted to bring her to the one here in Moon which is right down the street from me, but they didn't have a bed. From February to June she was in and out of the hospital with fevers and UTIs and she eventually developed a UTI that was resistant to all antibiotics. She became septic. I spent as much time with her during that last week as I could and we finally put her on hospice. She went back to the nursing home one last time. I had just pulled into the parking lot to visit her when I got the call that she had died. I was just a few minutes too late.

I thought I was prepared for losing my Mom, but I wasn't ready. I can't believe or accept the fact that she is gone. Logically I know she is gone, but my heart doesn't want to believe it.

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