Print Story FoO*
By toxicfur (Wed Aug 23, 2006 at 04:19:28 PM EST) (all tags)
*Family of Origin
  • Mom
  • Grandfather
  • Brother P and Soon-to-be Sister-in-Law A
  • Brother J

This is not a pleasant diary. I watch, I listen, and I do what I can, which can never, ever be enough.


Every Wednesday night, I call my mom. I've been doing this pretty much since I moved up here, and if I don't call at the appointed day and time, my mom worries. This situation is far preferable than the previous one: In my last long-term-relationship, my then-girlfriend hated my mom, and, thus, we rarely talked. Those 5 years of practically not talking comprise one of my biggest regrets.

As I've mentioned before, my mom has terminal ovarian cancer. It was caught very late, and she went through a year of rather intense chemotherapy before she was healthy enough to have surgery. The surgery was last January, just as $evil_project was starting to heat up, and I went to visit. While I was there, she told me, quite matter-of-factly, as only she can, that the doctor gave her 3 years, maybe 5.

There was some hope that she would get that time, since she was continuing to respond well to the chemo - the protein they measure to detect the cancer had dropped to close to 3 (normal is less than 30 or 35 - it isn't an exact science by any means). She's been off the chemo now for several months, since she'd been through that course, and after as long as she'd been on it, the effects of the poison were worse than their benefit. The follow-up was an oral medication that, I found out tonight, isn't working.

Her abdomen has swollen again, and she's having trouble breathing (she was diagnosed when this fluid build-up had nearly caused congestive heart failure). Her doctor told her today that she's going to have to return to IV chemo - a different drug with even worse side effects. She will first have to have a heart test, to make sure the medication won't kill her, and then she'll have nausea and vomiting, her hair will fall out again, and her skin will peel off. The hope is fading.


My 87-year-old grandfather was coming back from the county dump a few months ago and ran his gigantic Dodge pick-up truck off the road. He had fractured ribs, a fractured vertebrae and rather serious head injury. He's been in a nursing home since he was discharged from the hospital, and my mom has been taking care of him. She's there every day, she takes him to all his doctor's appointments (2 or 3 a week, many weeks), and she's cleaning out his house so it can go on the market. She's also on 24-hour call to talk him down from his delusional episodes.

This week, he's moving into an assisted-living home. Fortunately, the delusional episodes are less frequent, but he'll never be able to take care of himself again. Unfortunately, my mom is becoming less able to provide the care he needs, and I can tell she feels guilty about leaving his care to others. Earlier this summer, my mom didn't believe he'd survive to move from the nursing home, but he's one stubborn son-of-a-bitch, and he's getting stronger every day. I don't know if this is a good thing or not. I feel guilty about that thought.

Brother P and Soon-to-be Sister-in-Law A

My brother and his fiancee are getting married September 23. They've been together for close to 5 years, I think, off and on. It's not been the most stable of relationships, but they seem to get through the rough parts and come back to one another.

I have to admit that I'm not entirely looking forward to their wedding, though. I'm not entirely sure why. It probably has something to do with the 150 or so other people who will be there. And I hope the marriage is successful.

The wedding is an excuse, though, to travel to NCia and see my mom and my grandfather. And to pick up stuff from my grandparents' house. My grandmother - who died 13 years ago - was the most important person in my life when I was a teenager. It will be bittersweet, I think, to have her antique dining room table (inherited from my grandfather's aunt), her china and crystal and silver, and her piano. She wasn't particularly musically talented, but I remember her playing hymns and singing to herself when I was a kid. She paid for my own piano lessons and gave me free access to her piano when I didn't want to practice at home. Like I said, bittersweet.

Brother J

J is my youngest brother (24 years old), and the one I'm closest to. In general, he's a good guy - so long as we don't talk politics and so long as we don't discuss the tactics he uses for restraining and interrogating those he arrests. He's getting married in May to his 19-year-old fiancee. They've been dating for a year and a half, and I worry. She's very nice, but also very small-town-Southern. They are intending to invite something in the neighborhood of four-fucking-hundred people to their wedding. That I am really not looking forward to, especially since it will be in a Pentecostal church and it will be dry.

And I can't help wondering if my mom and grandfather will still be around to see the wedding. That may very well be the worst part of it.

< Gah | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
FoO* | 14 comments (14 topical, 0 hidden)
*hugs* by Kellnerin (4.00 / 2) #1 Wed Aug 23, 2006 at 04:37:57 PM EST
I have nothing to say that will be adequate.

Do not misuse.
Thanks. :-) by toxicfur (4.00 / 1) #2 Wed Aug 23, 2006 at 04:48:50 PM EST

Continue to lean until you feel gravity threatening to discipline you for being stupid. - CRwM
[ Parent ]
As I recall, by johnny (4.00 / 2) #3 Wed Aug 23, 2006 at 04:50:20 PM EST
I met this brother at Peg's house on the eve of your nuptuals.  It was amusing talking to a 12 year old police officer. Or so he seemed. I do wish him well, of course.

As to the other topics: good luck and best wishes, and we sure are glad that you made it to Massachusetts. I think keeping you in the South would be cruel and unusual.

She has effectively checked out. She's an un-person of her own making. So it falls to me.--ad hoc (in the hole)

That would be the brother. by toxicfur (4.00 / 1) #4 Wed Aug 23, 2006 at 05:03:13 PM EST
He does indeed look like a 12-year-old - it's incredibly odd seeing him in uniform complete with gun belt. I must also agree that I'm incredibly glad I'm no longer living in the South.

And, in other news, I habitually reload the page for The Pains and there's nothing! I read the first two chapters, got all excited, and then no more. You don't seem like a tease, but, well... ;-)
Continue to lean until you feel gravity threatening to discipline you for being stupid. - CRwM

[ Parent ]
Painful update by johnny (4.00 / 3) #9 Thu Aug 24, 2006 at 03:31:15 AM EST
Sorry.  It has been one hell of a spring and summer.  Really, truly.  The good news is, Dear Wife and all three children are still alive.  Actually, the prospects for them remaining so appears to be very good, which is more than I can say about some other people to whom I've very close. But this summer gave me some grist for The Pains. I'll leave it at that.

I did promise to have it done "this summer", which ends on September 22.  I'm still holding to that.

She has effectively checked out. She's an un-person of her own making. So it falls to me.--ad hoc (in the hole)

[ Parent ]
golly by webwench (4.00 / 2) #5 Wed Aug 23, 2006 at 07:04:49 PM EST
that's a lot of stressful stuff going on :(

Getting more attention than you since 1998.

It is. by toxicfur (4.00 / 1) #7 Thu Aug 24, 2006 at 02:02:19 AM EST
I'm feeling quite overwhelmed by just this little slice of my life. That doesn't count work and home. At least home is pretty wonderful.
Continue to lean until you feel gravity threatening to discipline you for being stupid. - CRwM
[ Parent ]
That sucks by skippy (4.00 / 2) #6 Wed Aug 23, 2006 at 09:58:40 PM EST
I'm sorry to hear about your mother.  What she's going through sounds a lot like what my mother-in-law went through.  Chemo went well, everything seemed fine, fluid buildup, back on chemo.  Rinse, repeat.

Hopefully it all turns out okay, I hear that it's possible.

Shitty to say it, but spend as much time as you can with her now.  And stuff.  I gotta go now, can't see the fucking keys anynore

Thanks for the thoughts. by toxicfur (2.00 / 0) #8 Thu Aug 24, 2006 at 02:06:50 AM EST
I'm trying not to be too optimistic about the eventual outcome - my biggest hope right now is that this next round of chemo won't take too much of a toll on my mom.

It's tough to spend time with her, since she's about 800 miles away, but I'm trying to get down there when I can. And she's tentatively planning to come up here this fall. I'd really like for her to take her around Boston. It's rough, though, for everybody involved.
Continue to lean until you feel gravity threatening to discipline you for being stupid. - CRwM

[ Parent ]
Well, by blixco (4.00 / 3) #10 Thu Aug 24, 2006 at 03:59:16 AM EST
hope is all we have sometimes, so many times.  And sometimes tht hope shifts from some obvious goal to some bitter understanding.

You don't need a list of platitudes or promises; the world is spinning, and there's a countdown no matter what, no matter who, and we don't have time for empty.

All my love, then.  Peace will eventually track us down and smother us with something beautiful.
Taken out of context I must seem so strange - Ani DiFranco

Thanks, blix. by toxicfur (4.00 / 1) #11 Thu Aug 24, 2006 at 04:33:20 AM EST
This means a lot.
Continue to lean until you feel gravity threatening to discipline you for being stupid. - CRwM
[ Parent ]
*smooches* by a user by any other name (4.00 / 1) #12 Fri Aug 25, 2006 at 04:43:37 AM EST
to you.  sorry to hear you're going through this.  I'll just second what Blix said cause' whatever i say wouldn't be as elegant.

Thank you. by toxicfur (2.00 / 0) #13 Fri Aug 25, 2006 at 05:39:21 AM EST

Continue to lean until you feel gravity threatening to discipline you for being stupid. - CRwM
[ Parent ]
*hug* n/t by duxup (4.00 / 2) #14 Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 10:42:25 AM EST

FoO* | 14 comments (14 topical, 0 hidden)