Saturday, May 10, 2014
I'll be celebrating this afternoon with my mother, a woman who has seen her share of medical problems in her lifetime, but is still going strong and will be 92 next month. When I was young, she had cancer - twice - and survived both bouts that could still kill someone easily today. It took years for one of the best endocrinologists in the U.S. to balance her thyroid hormones after the first surgery. There was also a ruptured appendix that left her recovering for a long time from the infection that occurred because it was initially misdiagnosed. And she had vicious migraines.
As I started to grow up, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor, benign, but one that was determined to be inoperable because it was growing around and protecting an aneurysm. So, over the years, it was monitored with six-month MRIs as it slowly closed off the optic nerve behind one eye, leaving her blind in that eye. Then there were the two knee replacements and the usual high blood pressure, cholesterol issues, and so on.
She has had two skin cancers, one on each leg, that were treated with radiation because they sat right on top of the bone, leaving nowhere to "dig" via Mohs surgery. Unfortunately, one of the radiation wounds didn't heal properly, so a year later, we started to see a wound specialist who has been treating her leg with everything except hyperbaric oxygen therapy (which was "threatened" from Mom's perspective). It seems to be healing - finally!
A couple of years ago, she told me one evening that she was dizzy, so I started trying to call her the next morning. She didn't answer. After a short time, I realized that she couldn't possibly be in the shower, so I hopped in my car and sped the five minutes it took to get to her house. When I let myself in, I found her unconscious on the floor. It was clear she had fallen. After a short ride to the hospital in the ambulance, I learned that she had a bleed (hematoma) under her skull that was pressing on her brain and would kill her without emergency brain surgery. We were lucky. The renowned chief of neurosurgery was in the hospital when we got there, and she was in good hands. After a month in the hospital, Mom came home and has had a helper living with her 24/7. We don't need another fall like that one (even though she has taken a small topple or two since)!
You know what happened two weeks ago. Suddenly she had a small bowel obstruction - life threatening - but with a fast diagnosis and great doctors she is home today and getting stronger. To think that the strictures in her bowel could have been caused by the appendix surgery of hysterectomy years ago is mind-boggling.
You might think that kind of medical history would have incapacitated someone. Not my mother! Throughout it all in earlier days, Mom drove us to school, kept house, did the accounting at my father's business, made their investment decisions, went grocery shopping, cooked three meals a day for us, and so much more. She even found time to volunteer her time at church and a nursing home. She played bridge and had lunches with her girlfriends. She led a very active life until the brain surgery, which had no effect on her brain or behavior, but left her feeling more comfortable close to home.
Happy Mother's Day - to my mom and all the moms! This is your special day! I hope all your days are special, but especially this one. Today we take the time to honor your love and sacrifices. We love you all.
Photos courtesy of jis.gov.jm and fightforrhinos.com