Probably none of you know this but my mom has been sick for months. She was hospitalized back in May after a mysterious spell of being extremely disoriented. They discovered her kidneys were failing but after a day of intense hydration she was back in the clear. An x-ray of her lungs showed some cloudiness that the doctors interpreted as Pneumonia. They put her on new antibiotics and sent her home. After a week or two an intense cough and fever started. This lasted for weeks with no sign of her recovering. Sometimes she was in bed with a fever for days. I was about to have the baby and had a hard time processing just how sick she was.
After Joe was born, her health declined again. She would sleep almost the entire day, too weak to come down the stairs, too weak to answer texts or phone calls. My dad took her back to the doctor. Her white blood cell count was through the roof, they said. New images of her lungs showed a "mass," they said. The coughing had not gone away. This must be lung cancer, they said.
While waiting for new images and scans, the doctors put her on a new antibiotic and suddenly she improved. Her fevers stopped and her cough abated. It must not be cancer, then! It must be that she really did have pneumonia way back then, and it just got really, really bad. Maybe the "mass" the doctors saw was just what was left of the "cloudiness" seen at her fist hospital stint back in May. Yes, that has to be it! they said.
Two weeks ago she went in for the result of a follow up x-ray when the doctor told her he now sees something new. A nodule, near the "mass" in her lung. "A nodule typically indicates cancer" he said. Back to cancer.
But just today my father picked up and read the results of the high-contrast CT scan she had done last week to explore the new nodule. No mass is identified, no lesion is identified, likely resolving pneumonia.
Sooooo... not cancer, then?
This has all been so exhausting and all over the place. I feel happily relieved but also sort of unemotional and foggy. I look back at the past few months and remember I had a baby in the middle of this. The kids have had to try and absorb the shock of a sick grandma. My dad has had to sort through the stacks of test results and things doctors said and when. It's been a very strange few months-filled with beautiful new things (JOE!). But along it there has been a thread of fear, sadness, and worry. But also, hope- hope for wellness, yes, but also the reminder that this isn't our home and that death is real and that it's coming and that is oddly, strangely comforting, too. And it makes me hopeful for Heaven.
Will you guys pray for my mom?? Will you pray that we would get a clear picture of what's going on and that she would get better? I love her so much.
In the midst of all the diagnosing and undiagnosing there was a day where things looked pretty bad, and the week had been pretty bad. She was sleeping most of the day and honestly, I could imagine her just slipping away. It was a Saturday and I was looking forward to a night out with Kirby and friends to just get my mind somewhere else. Midday, Hero came down with a mystery stomach bug and became instantly, excessively needy. I couldn't walk into another room without her crying for me to come lay with her. I can't lay with you! I thought. I have a newborn, and all these other kids, and a dirty house, and a dying mother. You are the last on my list, I thought. I wanted my brain free to worry and fret. I wanted to be able to ignore them all and text my brother and eat ice cream out of the freezer and feel sorry for myself. But she wouldn't stop pestering me. It got so bad and she got so weepy that we ended up canceling our plans for the night. It sounds so stupid but I was crushed. I got so angry. I was so mad that in the midst of being postpartum with a sixth baby, my mom was getting diagnosed with lung cancer, my kid was getting sick, and I couldn't even catch a break for 3 hours to open a bottle of wine with friends. It seems so trite and silly now for cancelled plans to have been the impetus for my rage but I wanted to run from my life that afternoon. I don't think I'll ever forget it.
Later that night, as Kirby and I sat on the couch it struck me how obviously on-purpose the day had really been. It became so clear to me that Hero's obnoxious sickie behavior was God shoving my reality in my face and trying to snap me back to it. I had spent the majority of the week in a haze of emotion and worry. I had done my best to ignore my children and ignore my life so that I could wallow as deep as I wanted. And all it did was make me more worried and more sad and more out of touch with reality. I think the day Hero got sick was God shaking my shoulders. This is your life, He said. It doesn't exist in hypotheticals or possible test results or what the doctor might say next Tuesday.
It's right here.
You have to live it.
Motherhood is never, ever easy. It's either hard-hard or good-hard, but not easy. In those days I learned a new lesson- I've got to just keep being good to my family all the time. I've got to shake off selfishness when I feel it and stop feeling sorry for myself when I do- even in the midst of sadness or worry or grief. I've got to be good to them, I've got to love them and give myself to them and give myself up for them. And just like that, peace grows.
I'm trying hard to remember that lesson these days as we hear more results and experience more rollercoasters. If there is anything simple about this job it's that the job description is a basic, one-liner that never, ever changes. Love them all the time.