Monday, October 8, 2012


Today is Canadian Thanksgiving!  The best part of which, means I am NOT working! I opted out of doing a dinner this year.  But we did go on Saturday evening to Cory's mom and dad's and had a very low-key dinner there. 

I've never been one of those people who really ever acknowledges what she is thankful for come Thanksgiving but this year was a really tough one for me so I thought it was due time.

Earlier this year, well actually it started last year - mom got really sick.  No one knew what was wrong with her she was in a lot of pain and got down to a very sickly looking 85 lbs.  She was gaunt and fraile and freezing cold all the time.  The only part of her that was big, was her stomach.  What initially started as a lump that popped her belly button out like a baseball, turned into her stomach being so enlarged that she looked about 12 months pregnant, WITH TWINS!!!

She was barely able to walk, was in a lot of pain and could barely go any amount of time without rushing to the bathroom.  She saw all sorts of doctors and specialists and was in and out of hospital.  Despite not knowing what was really wrong, they took to draining her stomach to get it down to a "normal" size.  But it never really went down all the way and of course, it would fill back up in no time.  Of course, mom's will to live worsened and she was pretty sure she had some sort of cancer that they hadn't been able to diagnose.

Then, earlier this year, I got a call at work from a nurse saying that my mom was being transported by ambulance from her small town of Smoky Lake to the city and should be in, in about an hour.  Needless to say, I left work.  When I met her at the hospital, tears came.  She was in ridiculously bad shape.  It took hours, but they determined that she had a hernia and part of her bowel and intenstine had gotten twisted up in there.  They were recommending surgery that evening.  However, with her ailing health and of course the pre-existing heart conditions, she was definitely at risk of complications.  The biggest one of course, was that her heart would not be able to handle the stress of things.

Again came the tears.  Years ago, when my parents separated, my mom thought it was time that she speak with me about her wishes and presented me with a copy of her living will.  She had always expressed that if her health failed and all that was keeping her alive, was machines, that she would not want to live like that.  So, as she was unable to do so, I spoke to the doctor aboout her wishes. They read out some options and she advised them of her wishes.  I asked if there was a form we needed to sign and they told us no, they would indicate everything on that chart.

It was getting late, so I headed home. They said that surgery would probably start around midnight.  The whole way home, I cried on the phone to Cory, worried that something bad would happen and maybe I should just stay there.

When I left the hopsital, I called my brother and my dad to keep them up to date on everything.  I had a rough time sleeping that night and was woken up very early by the phone.  It was my mom's doctor.  The surgery was complete and mom was in recovery.  There had been a few problems but she seemed to be doing well. 

When I arrived, I noticed mom was hooked up to many machines, which surprised me, but I kept quite.  I spent the next few days at the hospital, sitting by her bedside.  Mom was in and out most of the day and on a lot of painkillers.  So I broguht magazines and read, just being there.  It wasn't until 2 or 3 days later that we found out she had "coded" on the table in surgery.

When I heard this I was confused.  I was under the impression that as part of my mom's instructions, that she was not to be assisted if her body was unable to continue on it's own.   I immediately had the doctor paged to find out what was going on - turns out her wishes had not been relayed to anyone in the operating room.  They had proceeded as they would with any other person when her heart stopped. 

Relief was the only thing I could feel.  As much as I was mad at the hospital for not respecting her wishes, I was soooo glad they hadn't. 

Fast forward 8 months, mom is doing remarkably well. They diagnosed her with Celiac's disease shortly after her surgery and having made a complete 180 in her eating, mom's recovery is pretty much a miracle!  Her stomach never grew big again, and she has gained all her weight, and then some back. She is able to do simple things such as clean her house and got lots of gardening done this summer.  She also likes to assist the other ladies in her community with odd jobs - gardening or painting, etc. 

This year, I am most thankful that a hospital error is the reason my mom is still with us.  Although the family opted out of doing a Thanksgiving dinner this year, we are all happy and healthy which is the most important.  Mom will be visiting me next week for my birthday so I look forward to seeing her then!

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