This is not a happy post.
So for the past 3-4 weeks, something has been wrong with my mom. Ever since her cancer surgery, she is much slower. That was anticipated. She always been a slow walker, but now it’s ever more so. But about 3 weeks ago, she fell off her bed. We can’t seem to get a direct answer out of her on what happened. No idea where she was sitting up. But my mom has a tall bed, so when she is sitting on the edge of the bed, her legs dangle. Anyway, she fell off. My dad heard and rushed to help her. And then she fell why taking a shower. My brother is always the person who acts fast, and immediately went out to buy some bar at Home Depot to put her in tub so that she had something to hold on to. Apparently she went to the doctor, and things seemed fine. We were stumped. But we chalked it down to post-surgery, and the fact that she hasn’t even done any remote exercising for the past year. We thought maybe her muscles and blood flow were weak. We told her to get dad to take her to the doctor to check further. The thing is that my brothers and I have to work, and this past year has been so crazy, so it’s not easy for us to take a day off to bring her. We had taken so much time off already this past year.
Then things just got progressively worse. My dad pretty much had to help her with any task. She would want to cook, but the thing was the strength in her legs was just not there. Then she started walking even MORE slowly…almost dragging her left leg as she went along. Her mind and thought process was fine. We kept telling her to go to the doctor, and she kept resisting. Then she fell again in the laundry room, and my dad finally forced her to go to the ER. The doctor didn’t get any tech tests done, but just asked her questions, and made her walk for them. And apparently she walked FINE then, and was sent home. We were just all perplexed. How in the heck did in a week’s time…did she lose the majority of her strength in her legs? We took her to the food court one weekend, and it scared the shit out of us. She literally could not walk without a person on each side helping her. Her equilibrium was off, and it was like she couldn’t help but lean forward as she walked. We already noticed this as my dad had been helping her down the stairs every time, as it seemed like she would fall forward. Anyway, at one point she was holding my dad’s hand, but behind him. Then her head fell forward on his shoulders, and it looked like his weight was the only thing keeping her up. I rushed over to her other side and grabbed her back upright. I thought she fainted, but she was alert. We walked down the mall a bit, but she was slow, and it seemed like she was dragging her left leg even more. I noticed people kept staring over at us, and realized it was because it almost looked like we were dealing with a special needs person. My mom looks fine, but her body was walking like a special needs person. I kept telling my brother that wasn’t right. And I started googling. Maybe it’s a balance disorder? Was it MS (multiple sclerosis)? My friend’s mom had that too. But usually losing mobility took time with that disease. It seemed that with my mom, it was happening at an accelerated pace!
My brothers said they took her out to eat this past Thursday. They had to sit in a booth. My mom went in first, and she could only get so far, so my dad was literally sitting on the edge of the booth seat. At one point, she just started leaning to her left and luckily my dad was there or she probably would have fell to her side.
On Friday my dad apparently had a break down with my brother. He was just so tired. He has been a superstar and doing absolutely everything around the house. Cleaning, laundry, cooking (although highly monitored by mom on the side – haha), etc. But he was getting stressed out more from what he called “hide and seek”. Because of our stubborn mom still thinking she could do things by herself, and would sneakily try to go somewhere, or do something quietly without my dad knowing. And then something would happen, and then he would have to physically lift her up from where she fell. She is probably at 90 lbs now, but that is still alot of weight for someone to lift. She was too weak to help stand up even.
The kids and I went to my parents’ house on Saturday. We always get there around 9:30am, and my parents are usually awake. We noticed a mattress on the floor in the living room. I guess after my dad’s breakdown to my bro on Friday, they decided to move a mattress downstairs so that my dad didn’t always have to help my mom upstairs. I guess getting her up and down was getting harder. However, she convinced my dad the previous night to help her upstairs to sleep. The thing with her mobility is that it is bad….but there are OK days, although mostly there are bad days. Apparently she even walked around Granville Island on Wednesday without help! Which was shocking when we heard it, as every time we’ve seen her, she had needed supporting. So the previous night, she was having an OK day, so she convinced my dad to bring her upstairs that night. But of course my dad gets a restless sleep as he’s just always scared she’s going to try to get up herself, and God forbid, go down the stairs herself.
Anyway, when we got to their house Saturday morning, my mom and dad were upstairs. I could finally hear them coming down, and I ran over to the stairs. I was in shock. Within a week, she got even worse! My dad was pretty much supporting most of her weight coming down. He had one arm at her back, and one arm somewhat in front of her just in case she fell forwards. My dad didn’t want me to help, so I grabbed her bathrobe from the chair, which she usually likes to put on when she gets down. When she finally got down the stairs, she started trying to take her vest off…and my dad barked at her to just wait, and to do things one at a time. That the first step was to get her to the chair in the living room first. And will she just LISTEN to him?!! Now…I have NEVER EVER heard my dad ever use a sharp voice with my mom. EVER! She was always his queen. He has never raised his voice at her. So I kind of stood there dumbfounded that my dad just barked at my mom. But he’s been dealing with this 24/7, so he knows what is the best thing for her. We finally got her to the chair, put her in her bathrobe, and sat her down in the chair. My dad then charged to the kitchen, and got her a cup of warm water. And then he started zooming around in the kitchen, so I went up to him and asked if there was anything I could do. He started getting flustered, and told me that he got it, and that he has the morning routine down pat, and to just let him do it. So I did.
Usually we take my parents out to eat, but there was no way my mom could walk. Today was a really bad day. My brothers arrived, and we just visited with my mom at home. At one point, she had to go to the washroom, so my dad, me and my brother helped her along the way. I mean…I pretty much had to help hold her up. She was that weak. She went to the washroom, and then later she wanted to brush her teeth. She was holding the glass mug in her left hand and she couldn’t even lift it. I had to lift it for her. 😦
The kids and I left around 2:30pm and ran some errands. I picked up some BBQ duck from this store for dinner later on.
My awesome brothers found out that my Playstation (which was given to me by them) was not working. They had just upgraded to a Playstation 4, so they had given me their old Playstation 3. I am clueless with setting up crap like that, but I finally figured it out and was so happy. Plus now I could watch NETFLIX on my TV again! So I texted to thank them around 4:30pm. One of my brothers texted back that they didn’t want to alarm me, but that they just called an ambulance to my parents’ house. Shortly after my brothers left, they got picked up by my cousin to head to watch the UFC McGregor vs Aldo match. I think they were at the pub when my dad called in a panic. I guess my mom was laying down on the mattress in the living room when all of a sudden she could not stop shaking, and said that she couldn’t feel anything. So my cousin had to drive my brothers back to their house to get their car, and they rushed to my parents’ house. My dad had already called the ambulance. So my brother told me that they were there, still waiting for the ambulance. And that I didn’t have to come down, and that they would update me when they got to the hospital.
Thank God that my kids are older and so responsible. I just put rice on the cooker and told them to get their own dinner. Luckily I had bought that duck previously. Then I headed to Richmond Hospital. I got there before my mom got there. So I was there when the ambulance crept in. I guess they had to get all the paperwork done at the house once they got my mom settled. We were lucky and my mom was pretty much wheeled to a bed in the ER.
Was it a stroke!?!?! Why didn’t we clue in to that! Maybe she had a mini stroke earlier on and never knew it. Then it would make sense why she lost alot of function on her left side so suddenly! Earlier on when my dad, brother and I were helping her back onto her chair, she exclaimed that we all stunk. And we were like “Huh?!” And she claimed that we all stunk like garlic. Which we cracked up a bit as we all started smelling ourselves. I was like: “But all I had today was Tim Hortons broccoli soup and coffee. Is it my coffee breath?!” And you know what they say…that when you’re about to have a stroke, you smell weird things.
My mom is in Room 10, and we take turns checking in on her 2 at a time. They don’t like it getting too crowded with people. They ended up taking her for a CT scan at one point. We waited till she got it done and got wheeled back. Shortly, a nurse comes to where we were all sitting at the front area and tells us that the doctor would like to speak to all the family members. So the 4 of us are standing by the bed, and he tells us he doesn’t have good news, and that the results of the CT scan shows that there is a 5cm tumor in her brain. Now…whenever my mom starts hearing diagnoses of her medical situation, she kind of automatically tunes out and only understands a part of it. It’s like she doesn’t process the information, or doesn’t want to hear it. He tells us it’s most likely the cancer crept up there, and that he’s so sorry. That it was probably what was causing the swelling in her brain, which caused her mobility issues. And that they were going to give her some steroid medication to alleviate the swelling in her brain. He told us that within the next half hour, they were going to transfer her to Lions Gate Hospital (as there was no rooms available at VGH). And that they were going to set her up over there, run some more tests, and monitor her. Then he awkwardly just stands over her for a long while, staring into her eyes, giving her the “I hate to give you this bad news” stare. Awkward. He finally steps out of the partition, and my brothers and I surround him to ask him more questions. He basically said that he’s seen cases like this, and that it’s a pretty big mass, and that the reality is that we should prepare for the worst.
So it’s about maybe 9:00pm now. And so my brothers said that I should drive home, park my car, and that they would pick me up along the way to Lions Gate. My dad went in the ambulance with mom. As I drove home, my eyes teared up a bit. Like I said, when it comes down to serious life challenges, I can’t cry. The doctor didn’t get any tears from our family. My mom was not processing the info. My dad, one of my brothers & I are like bricks. My other brother did step out, and I know he probably cried outside.
Anyway, I got home first. I ran in to tell my kids that their grandmother was being transferred to a different hospital ,and that they had to put themselves to bed. By the time we got to Lions Gate, my mom was already in a bed in the ER. We just sit with her and waited till the neurosurgeon came to talk to her. Dr. Gul finally came, and he was very straight-laced and asked her a series of questions. He said the CT scan showed the mass to be about 5-6 cm, but that they were going to do another CT scan at their hospital. That the MRI would probably not be able to be done till Monday.
Her shaking had completely subsided, and she seemed to have a bit more strength in her legs. This was all due to the medication. We all sat with her a bit, and probably left the hospital around 10:30pm.