so I’m going to stop telling you that I’ll “write more tomorrow”, because I’m terrible at following up lol. I’m almost always on the go or busy with the kiddos, that by the time I remember to sit down with my laptop, it’s late, and I’m really not a night owl.
…finishing up where I left off with my mom being diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 14, and deciding that NOT telling me was some kind of great idea.
the day came when she would go into surgery to have one breast removed, and reduce the size of the other one (all the women in this family, and extended, are large breasted), and I know without a doubt that I have never EVER seen my mom genuinely afraid of anything, like she was that morning.
I went to the hospital with both of my parents, and sat quietly (and confused) as my mom slowly changed from her clothing, into the cold hospital gown. I wasn’t sure why she was scared, maybe I didn’t really know or understand the depth of what was happening, no one bothered to actually sit down with me and explain what was happening. so all I really knew was she had cancer in her breast, and she was having surgery. maybe that’s selfish of me to have felt left out, but it wasn’t just a “boo hoo, I’m feeling left out and neglected while my mom is terrified for her life”, I really cant put my finger on how I felt. I do know though, that if I’m ever that sick, I will keep my kids informed every step of the way, and not leave them in the dark, to fear the worst.
I actually watched my mom have a total breakdown. I sat in a chair in the corner of the room, she was in her bed trying to get up and my dad and the nurses were practically restraining her. she had massive body shakes, she was sobbing hysterically and begging them to not put her to sleep because she was afraid she wouldn’t wake back up, and to please just let her go. I’ve said before that my mom is a hard and cold woman, and to actually see her terrified to the point that she wasn’t in her own mind, left me feeling like I wouldn’t see her come out of surgery. I started crying myself. I was feeling the fear my mom felt, and then some of my own.
mom was hyperventilating at this point, and still shaking violently when two more nurses came into the room, they had with them a small bottle and a syringe, and they injected whatever was in the bottle, into her IV. One of the nurses that was holding my mom and trying to sooth her, looked over at me, and then said something to my dad.. he then simply walked away from my mom, without even so much as a “good luck”, let alone a hug or a kiss, said to me “lets go to the waiting room”, and he was out the door and moving quickly down the hall, leaving me to scramble after him. I looked back at my mom before leaving the room, and she was still shivering from her hysteria and her eyes were still wide and wild, but she started to look limp and it looked like she was starting to fall asleep.. I remember thinking she said don’t put her to sleep, what if she doesn’t wake up? whats happening to her? why is she acting like this? why do I have to leave?
I found my dad in the family waiting room, changing the channel on the tv.. I felt like I was going to start crying again, “why was mom acting like that?” and he replied “she’s scared or something I guess.”
“what did they put in her IV? she’s asleep.” I asked.
He ignored me.
A nurse came in and said we could go back in, and that the sedative was working and mom was calm.
Dad made me stay in the waiting room while he went back to mom’s room.. I was upset about being left behind, I wanted to see for myself that mom was ok. But I waited. there was nothing but news, cartoons and soap opera’s (but not my General Hospital) on tv, and some old magazines but all I did was stare out the window down onto my beautiful city.
Pretty soon I heard my mom moaning, and I went over to the hallway, and watched as my mom was being wheeled down the hall on her little bed by two nurses with my dad walking beside the bed. she was moaning and reaching for him, and he did hold her hand for a moment, but then let it go, and fell behind the nurse at the head of the bed, and came to stand beside me. “where are they taking her?” I ask him as I listened to my mom moan the word “no” over and over again as she was pushed down the hallway and through a set of double doors and out of sight. “to surgery” he said simply, “food?” he asked, and I nodded, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of the doors.
we went to the cafeteria and had lunch, and after that I cant remember what we did for the rest of the time, but I know that she was in surgery for several hours. dad didn’t talk much about it, and I knew I wouldn’t really get anywhere if I even asked questions.
after what seemed like an eternity, a nurse came out and told us that my mom was in recovery, but that she would be there for an hour or so, everything went well, and her doctor would come talk to dad, but then we could see her after that. dad just said “ok”, but I sat there with a big grin on my face.
the doctor came in a while later, but I didn’t hear what he said, and then a little bit later, we were allowed to go into a room where my mom lay in her bed.. my eyes about popped out of my head, mom’s skin color was a weird pale color, and she looked like she just got off of a carnival ride that spun her around a million times.. she tried to sit up, but cried out when she tried to use her arms to lift herself. apparently they had to remove some lymph nodes in her arm pit areas, so her muscles had been messed around with.
dad pulled up a chair next to her bed, kissed her on the forehead, sat down and turned on the little wall tv. I stood next to her on the other side of her, barely holding back tears, and just said “are you ok??” and she smiled and said “I think I am.” and I felt like I could breathe again.
one of my sisters came into town to come home with us to take care of mom.. god forbid my dad take any time away from work, even though he’s the boss..
mom got to come home just a couple days after surgery.. I think everything went smoothly, the only thing that stands out in my memory is that the day after she came home, she wanted a shower.. my sister (we’ll call her H), helped mom undress, and got her situated in the shower, and then left the bathroom.. we waited a few feet away in the living room (during this time, it was still the shitty cabin, lol). When mom was done, she called for H, and we went to the bathroom, and as H walked into the bathroom, mom opened the shower curtain, instantly turned white and collapsed. H moved fast, and barely caught mom’s upper body and head before she slammed against the toilet. H was freaking out, and yelled for me to call 911. I ran for the phone and quickly dialed, but yeah.. we lived in the middle of no where remember? 911 didn’t work out there. seriously. I don’t remember why or what the message was on the phone when I dialed it, but I remember yelling back “it doesn’t work!!!!” (it was several years before 911 became an actual thing in our little po-dunk town).
I went back into the bathroom, H was stroking moms hair and kept saying “mom? mom?! mom!” it felt like mom was unconscious forever, but in reality I don’t think it lasted more than 3 minutes.. when her eyes finally opened, H started laugh/crying and said “what the hell happened?!” mom slowly sat up and took the towel that H held for her and said “I just got really light headed, but I feel ok now”. H and I helped mom up off the bathroom floor. we wanted to just get her to her bed where it was safe and she could rest, but mom really wanted her night gown and to watch tv in the living room.. (I told you before, she’s stubborn).
so we got her nightgown and bathrobe on her, and got her to the sofa and made sure she was comfortable. H called mom’s doctors office and told them what had happened.. The nurse was positive that mom just had a major head rush, and after having surgery and being in the hospital bed for so long, that standing in the hot shower, and then opening the curtain to the cool air just caused her to faint. the nurse instructed H to keep a close eye on mom, and if we were really concerned that we should just load up and drive back to town to have her checked out..
mom insisted that she was fine and wasn’t going back to the hospital.. we ended up joking about it later that day. mom said “thank god there was no ambulance, I was naked! those people don’t need to see my naked body.. I only have one boob now!”
she also used to joke (and still does) that she can never go swimming again.. she says, “I only have one rudder… I’ll just swim in circles!”
thanks for reading!