The Time Eater

I’ve been absent.

I’ve been absent not just from this blog, but from my whole life.

It started at the very end of April, when my mom started acting unusual. On May 1, we found out why:

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Yikes. The non-technical diagnosis was “big-ass brain tumor.” This particular tumor started out as an oligodendroglioma, a relatively slow-growing variety. Some time in March or April, part of the tumor began growing as a glioblastoma, a very aggressive type. Mom had the vast majority of the tumor removed on May 6. She spent the next few weeks at an inpatient rehab facility, and was then discharged home to begin radiation and chemotherapy. When she went back to her house, we hired an agency to provide 24-hour supervision, because the surgery left her with cognitive and short-term memory deficits. It quickly became clear that the supervision was inadequate, and she moved to an assisted living apartment at the end of July.

This is an abbreviated version of events; my mother’s story is not really mine to tell.

My story has been one of constant movement, constant change. I have memorized I-10 between Tallahassee and Jacksonville, having made over a dozen trips back and forth since May. I can draw you a detailed map of the Mayo Clinic, where mom stayed for 11 days and where Hazel learned to walk. I can tell you more about brain tumors and proton beam therapy than you ever wanted to know. Untitled//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Even when I am home in Tallahassee, my mom’s situation consumes my time. When I am not making or taking calls on her behalf, I am worried that she’s safe, that she’s comfortable, that she’s okay.

I feel I have become a terrible friend, a distracted mother, and a needy wife. My temper has never been long, but now my fuse is even shorter. I don’t sleep well. I find it difficult to socialize. My creativity has dulled.

The last four months have been filled with crises and setbacks, and each one has tested my competence in ways not previously imagined. However, I am grateful to have been able to spend this time with my mom. I am grateful that I am able to help her, and I am grateful that she believes I can make good decisions on her behalf. I am grateful for her community – her friends and neighbors are just amazing.

I am grateful for Jason, who has never complained about our trips to Jacksonville. I am grateful for Hazel, who has been a consistently delightful companion through some very un-delightful situations. I am grateful to my Tallahassee friends, who have supported us by animal-sitting and bar-tending.

Life seems to be settling into a new normal, and I finally feel like I can breathe. A little.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “The Time Eater

  1. Lisa

    I HAVE been missing your blog posts. So glad to hear from you, but so sorry to hear the reason you’ve been away. I hope your mom goes forward in good health, and that you can experience a little more “normalcy” in life. Thanks for the picture of sweet Hazel. Keep breathing!

  2. Caretaking a parent is incredibly hard work. When I did my 12 year stint – the first 5 years from a distance, I heard all the advice about making sure to take care of oneself. And promptly ignored it because that was easier said than done. It’s an all consuming job. My boss used to pooh-pooh me when I said at the end of the work day that I was going to my other job saying that motherhood was so much harder. Looking after the person who was once one I depended upon and who now was so dependent on me for everything was harder. When Mom went in hospice, I was there every day making sure she got what she needed. And the staff there repeated the warning. I realise now it was true. But, I realize also that -at the time- it was easier to soldier on. You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers.

  3. You’ve been amazing through all of this………Love and prayers

  4. Pingback: May Day | House Blend

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