Sunday, June 25, 2017

Mama Around Sixteen

Stella Lee Stricklin
April 27, 1932-June 6, 2017 

Hospital Digital Self Portraits?

It's been several weeks since I posted here, and a lot of life has happened during that time. My 85 year old mama was sent from the local ER to a hospital a couple of hours away from home with breathing problems at the end of April. She had been having problems with high blood pressure and a racing heart. My husband and I stayed with her day and night for three and a half days. They said she had Afib, and she had three tumors on her brain, two of them calcified (nothing to be done for any of them), and they adjusted her meds and sent her home on her birthday, April 27.

We were home four and a half days, which I spent most of with her at her home, because she was still having trouble breathing and was very confused. I am an only child, with no children, so no help. Other family does not live close. Very thankful for my husband, who has a great big heart.

On Monday, May 1, we took her back to the local ER, having a very difficult time breathing, and were sent back to the hospital about two hours away. We stayed with her day and night for thirty-two days and nights this time. Hubby went home one day a week to check on our homes and spend a couple of hours with his ninety-three year old dad, who lives alone.

Thankfully, I had my Kindle Fire with me and was able to be on Facebook and to message family and friends, among other things, so I was able to stay in touch with the outside world. Mama didn't feel like having phones or company much.

One morning I couldn't sleep, so I played with an art app on my Kindle and did a digital self portrait, just trying out the different tools and patterns. I did not know that the other shoe was about to drop.

One health problem led to another for mama, including a blood clot and pneumonia in one lung and kidney problems, which led to her not being able to walk. They thought they had everything under control and released her to in-hospital intensive rehab for two weeks. She continued to have kidney problems while doing rehab. They did a kidney scan and discovered that she had liver cancer, but it was also in other places, and nothing they could do.

I did another self portrait, of sorts, with my art app, during the rehab stint, after they told me about the cancer. Rehab and swallowing became unbearable to mama, and they released her to a local nursing home/rehab center half an hour from our home. She wanted to go home, and I desperately wanted to take her home, but we had no choice.

They let me ride in the van with mama for the transfer. Very tough ride for both of us. Hubby followed in the car. We got her settled in to her room. She didn't understand what was going on, but I explained that I couldn't stay the night with her there, but I would be back early the next morning, which we were. Her sister and niece also came for most of the day.

We went home late in the evening and had been there a very short time when the nursing home called us back. Mama was worse. Hospice was called in. They made arrangements for us to stay nights with her too, as she continued to get worse. Her sister and niece came back and stayed with us until the end. She was in the nursing home four days and five nights, and about a week and a half after we found out about the cancer, before she passed away on the morning of June 6, 2017 around 3:00 a.m., with me by her side. 

Mama never left me in my life, and I never left her side, except for the first night in the nursing home, and I had no choice, during the whole time of her illness and passing. Because I promised her when she went that I wouldn't leave her, and I didn't. For the first time in our lives, she left me. And it'll be ok. I have to believe that she's with daddy now, and I'll see them again one day.

We made it through making the arrangements, visitation, and the funeral before I completely lost my voice and hubby almost lost his. For almost two weeks after the funeral we both were very sick with a flu/virus bug on top of already being exhausted and emotional drained.

We are better over the flu/virus, but still reeling over the emotional roller coaster we've been on for the last few weeks. I think I felt every single emotion there is during that time and since. A lot to catch up on that has to be done and a lot that needs to be done, but for now we're trying to let the healing begin, as we adjust to living without mama, who I lived with for twenty years, and next door to for forty-seven years, the last fourteen without daddy. 

With God's help, and time, the next phase of our lives will slowly unfold, and we will be ok. My husband and I are considered elderly now too, and I am constantly aware that life can turn us upside down in the blink of an eye, and that sooner or later, one of us will be left behind to cope without the other. Just going to try to enjoy what's left of our lives together and not worry about the unimportant stuff, and it takes a lifetime of living to learn what that is. 

Hope to be back to my art, and sharing, soon! Stay Creative!