My entire life I was somehow certain that my mother's health was not good. She herself traces it back to being pregnant and giving birth to my sister - one of the greatest joys of her life, ironically - in 1972. That's just over 40 years of (not so) silent suffering for my mom. She had a Cesarean birth for my sister, then had to feed my sister through a tube for the first few months of her life. Then she had an appendicitis which ruptured in the late 70s. Then she developed septicaemia from that. Then she had an ovarian tumor which was benign when I was in high school and had a total hysterectomy. Then she broke her foot or ankle or some shit. Then she was in an automobile accident about 2 or 3 years ago and broke her back. Add to this an absolute addiction to Coca-Cola and Type II diabetes which she wouldn't stop drinking Cokes for so she has to shoot herself up with two types of insulin. She has always been, in one way or another, a fucked up little pup.
Then this past spring and summer she started urinating blood. She ignored it, being too focused on babysitting my nephew (who happens to have autism) to schedule and attend a medical appointment. The quack she calls a primary care physician is fond of just calling in an antibiotic for her without actually seeing or examining her. However, the day she finally made the call, at the urging of some woman at her church (having ignored my sister's and my suggestions/urgings/pleadings/veiled threats), luckily her quack was unavailable. She ended up being placed that day in the care of a nurse practitioner, who actually made her come in, give a urine specimen, and who immediately referred her to a urologist. The long and short of it is my mother had kidney and bladder cancer. One kidney, ureter and part of the bladder was surgically removed in August, 2012.
She spent the fall and winter of 2012 in chemotherapy, 12 days in all, (four sets of three days for you math whizzes out there). A scan on the last few days of 2012 showed that the chemo was effective in getting rid of the kidney cancer, but there is still a "dark shadow" in what remains in her bladder (cue vampire music here). On the 14th of January, she began radiation treatments for this. She hates radiation as much as chemo. Other than her trips to get the radiation and a stop to buy more junk food on the way back if she isn't too tired, she does not leave her bed. She has even lessened her obsessions. She is reading more, and even reading more than magazines and newspapers, so that is a good thing. But other than that, it is hard to watch her consciously make decisions in her lifestyle that are working against her healing. She has always been a junk food junkie, and has sneaked and rationalized drinking Cokes all throughout her diagnosis of diabetes, even through being placed on insulin. She is a pessimist about her own life, always has been. There is no magic wand or formula for me to get her to eat a real fruit or vegetable, even when I guilt her into drinking one of my protein fruit smoothies (22g protein, 3 servings of fruit). There is no way she is ever going to drink water instead of carbonated beverages.
This has been a long, hard road for her. Even more thankless, I would hazard a guest, than birthing me. I do know that there is no way I can "feel her pain" or understand. I don't have cancer and don't go to doctors. I feign health even when I feel like shit, and I have no patience for illness in my own body. I am not so naive that I think I am going to save her. I may want to. And I do feel like when all this is over, she will have a good prognosis. At least I hope so.
The Serenity Prayer states, in my version:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can, and
The Wisdom to know the difference.
My mother's health is a topic over which I need serenity. Maybe courage to change my attitude and approach. And wisdom to keep my mouth shut.
Having said all this, I do ask for tonglen or groovy thoughts from you towards her health and healing. If you are one of those Christian types, prayers work too. She is Catholic, so she is all about the prayers.