Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Game Plan of Life...

I spent some time last week with a patient that needed to make some really hard decisions.  To continue to fight or to call it a day...to keep trying to live or to let disease take it's course and die.  His wife had made a decision earlier in the week to stop treatment but was so uncertain about the decision after going home. 

The phone rang on Wednesday morning and I could barely understand the person on the other end through the tears..."I decided not to do the chemo yesterday, I guess were done" she sobbed.  "The doctor said it was up to me but then asked me if I really wanted to put him through this anymore" and I said "no."  I was at a loss for words and it was hard to understand her.  "Do you want me to come over?" I said before I looked at my schedule.  "No, I'm really okay, just sad and wish things were different."  We planned my visit for two days later and hung up.

I didn't allow myself to think too hard about the situation.  I decided that it was not the time and I had been teetering on the edge and have finally decided not to jump.  I went about my day and the next not thinking a whole lot about the visit.

Friday morning came and it was wet and soggy but the sun shone bright when I pulled up to the house.  I walked in and washed my hands admiring the dishes and glasses that they had accumulated over the years.  As I walked over to the couch, I looked at a picture from last year when they were on a trip.  They were holding each other and smiling...the calm before the storm.  I asked her to help him out of bed and bring him out to talk.  I decided the night before that I wanted to help her have clarity, to understand that she is doing what she believes he wants and what is right for them.

Typically, he is tired...has trouble keeping up with conversation and can't find many words to communicate.  On Friday, he seemed clearer than he has in the last three weeks.  I sat on the floor, grabbed his hand and looked up at him.  First, I asked him how he was feeling and if he had any pain.  "No, I don't hurt anywhere" he replied clearly.  Then I went on and explained what was going on lately, assuming he would not understand.  "You went to the doctor earlier this week and everyone decided that it wasn't helping so you didn't have your treatment" I said. "I didn't have my treatment? and then he paused, "Okay, but I don't mind the treatment" he said.  "Do you want to stop treatment?" I asked.  He replied clearly and with strength, "I'm not ready to die yet"... and then went on..."I know it's coming but I would just as soon stay and keep trying than stop."  He looked me straight in the eye hoping I understood.  And I did.  I don't know what it is like to know you are dying but wanting to stay...but I do understand when you want to keep fighting.  I also understand that my job is to honor that...until you can't fight anymore...and then be there with you when you decide it's time to die.

After that, he wanted to go back to bed.  His wife and I walked him in, helped him lay down and she kissed him sweetly.  He snuggled into the soft comforter and smiled.

"Thank you, Terry, so much" I heard her saying to me.  I think that sometimes it is easier say the things that need saying to a stranger than the person that you promised to be with, support and love forever.  I think it's a fear thing...if I say this, what will he think, will it come across wrong, or will he think I think he should do something different.  It's all that history, that water under the bridge along with the fear of pain when the person does go. 

She was happy to have some clarity about what he wanted.  All day, I thought about how it must be a daunting task to make a decision to stop treatment on a loved one.  Especially when it's not in your game plan of life.

The game plan of life...that's an interesting concept.  My game plan has been changed almost on a daily basis.  I am sure as Jim and I get more and more into the middle age years...it will change more.  I guess we need to have a plan...but when it goes terribly wrong, the fear of the "that's not in the plan" can be paralyzing.  I get to watch that on a daily basis.

So the final paragraph with the wrap up and solution...don't fall in love, don't get sick, don't have kids, and definitely don't die.  Then you are set...the plan won't have any glitches.  Or, you fall in love and plan a life, you live each day the best you can (some better than others), you live as much in the moment as you can, you have kids if you want, love them dearly and know that you have no control, and when you finally do die...or if you know you are dying...you did it up, you broke the fun barrier, the love barrier and you hoped for the best...

That is my game plan of life...want to join me?

We'll tawk tommorrow,
I love you all,

Thursday, October 20, 2011

This is what State looks like...

Tomorrow is State competition for marching band.  The boys will get on a big coach bus and go to CSU to march on the big field.  They will compete against other bands that have spent countless hours practicing their show.  Our band will have to show the judges that they have more heart and energy than the other bands to advance.

 This morning, while I was making my "to-do" list because I am not working today...(ha, ha), I began to think about my middle kid and how this is his last state show.  I asked him if he was ready to be done with band and he said, "no"... and then looked over at me and said, "I know mom".  I started to tear up.  My younger son tried to make me feel better and I told him that I wasn't sad...just tender.  And I am just tender.

My daughter, the Queen, was such a perfect child that when she was 15 months, I convinced my husband that we were such great parents that we should have another.  Eleven months later...here comes Mac.  He was born on a Friday the 13th and has been who he is since that very moment.  He woke up crying for 11 months straight...

Mac and his sister after his PR in cross country

When he started school, the very first parent-teacher conference, I heard that he couldn't sit still, talked too much and didn't know when to stop.  Over the years, I would hear variations on the theme but it was always the same...I even heard that story this week at the high school.

Now he is a senior and he gets up in the morning, gets going and lives his life.  He is fiercely loyal...and if you like him...you usually love him.  God forbid you don't like him though...it's tough to be him.

So, this guy, my son, a third of my heart and soul...is marching his last state high school performance this weekend.  I can't believe it.  Now, I realize I should have held him longer in the mornings when he was crying in the crib.  I should have slowed that time down instead of sticking a pacifier in his mouth to quiet him down.  I can't get those moments back and now I want them.  Don't get me wrong, I sat with him the other day and laughed so hard that I thought I was gonna pee my pants.  He is one funny guy.  Before I know it though, I will be dropping him off at some dorm that he is moving into with the hope that he keeps his mouth shut, knows when enough is enough and is able to sit still when he needs to...and he'll be 18.

Mac is front row bari sax and his brother is next to him with the baritone

So listen, buddy...your father and I love you dearly.  We are so proud of you and how you are who you are.  The ball is in your court...or coming at you from the mound...or you are standing at the top of the terrain park waiting to the land the big jump...and it's all up to you.  I will be there cheering you and your band buddies on...hoping for the best and knowing what awesome kids you all are.   But...I will be looking for you and your brother, hoping that you march out on that field and love every minute of it...and I mean it...every minute...because next year at this time, you'll be in another space and time, with 2011 state just a memory.  I know it's going to be an awesome one.

May you love every minute of your time on the field and may all of your hard work, heart and energy shine through!

We'll tawk tommorrow,
I love you all,

Saturday, October 8, 2011

For everything there is a season...

This morning, we woke up to snow.  For all the years that I have lived in Colorado, the first snow of the season shocks me.  You would think after 23 years of fall turning into winter...I would know how to deal with this.  But, again...I don't.  

My son, the senior, had a cross country meet in the city.  It was raining and the temperature was hovering around 38 degrees.  He ran well because, "Mom, this is great to run in."  Well, it is not great to be a spectator in.  I had on layers...that's what we do in Colorado when the snow flies.  I had a short sleeve t-shirt, long sleeve t-shirt, x-c sweatshirt and my down coat.  I had gloves on and the hood to the hoodie on.  It added another 20 pounds on to my already 50 pound overweight body and yet, I was still cold. 

My younger son had marching band practice today.  When I arrived at the high school to bring the older son from his race, the band was on the field in 4 inches of snow marching.  They were bundled up and they were all at attention.  The director was out there too...in his winter coat with a hat on and the microphone.  I can't tell you that I would be that dedicated when I was that age!

It's now Saturday night and we are home.  The boys are downstairs with a big fire burning.  It is cozy. 

While all this is going on, Jim is making pizza and we are listening to the Colorado Buffaloes get beat bad by Stanford.  The Queen is in Palo Alto with the pep band and we are hoping to hear her play her horn...obviously, we have little to no life. 

But...at least it is a life.  I finished my charting for the week and no one that I am caring for is waiting on the angels this weekend.  Sure, I wish it was warmer and dryer with the sun out, but we Coloradans know that tommorrow, when we wake up in October, the sun will be out and the snow that is left will be shimmering with gold and silver.  The Big O tire stores will be crowded with the folks like me that wait until the very last minute, slide down the hill in our neighborhoods and think about tires for the winter.  Then there are the folks who love winter...they probably made Chili for dinner, had the fire wood ready and love the white snow.  That is just not me.

You know what made me the saddest?  The pumpkin plant covered with snow and having to the cut the growing pumpkins off the vines.  This was the first year we had anything grow well and to watch my youngest son, who planted the seed, come home from school and see if his pumpkins had grown during the day...at almost 15...priceless.  Jim and I cut them off the vine, dried them off and brought them in.  We looked on the internet and learned that we can get them to turn orange if we keep them warm and let the sun work on them.  So we put them in the livingroom where the sun shines most of the day...

 So there you have it...a regular Saturday in our house.  The next two Saturdays are taken up by band competitions and the end of cross country.  I am trying not to look at that as the end of my son's high school career and a few more of his toes on one foot out the door.  But...that's the reality and for me, sometimes its hard to live there!

Here's to the sun shining on the melting snow tommorrow morning,
We'll tawk tommorrow,
I love you all,

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Party on...

Things happen.  Some of the things are good and some of them are bad.  But, sometimes the bad turns into good.  You know what I mean?  I am going to try to explain.  The hosts of the party were Katie Jo and Mike.  Last spring, the world was turned upside down by a lump, surgery and a diagnosis of breast cancer.  The war started and it was time to mobilize and fight with her.  Food was made and delivered, prayers were screamed to God for healing and love was in the air...all summer.  Her hair fell out, she had terrible headaches, body aches and numbness but didn't utter a word of complaint.  Not a word...none, atleast to those that weren't in her house.  Through the whole thing, we talked about a party...the end of the cancer celebration...to get back to life. 

The celebration party was  Sunday.  Sure things are still not back to normal...but what is normal anyway?  Who is normal?  Do you know anyone who is?  I  have an idea of what I think is normal but I don't know a soul who is what I think.

There was a band, food and drink.  There were adults, kids and various dogs and cats.  People came from every aspect of KJ's life and were there to celebrate.  There was hugging and kissing...pure joy of health and being on the road to the next chapter.

She made it...through the summer of chemo, the exhaustion and worry.  I'm not suggesting that it is over because I know that when you have a cancer diagnosis, there will be worry in the back of your mind.  I also know that KJ will not be the only one of us to fight the fight...just read the statistics.  But, she was the first.  The first of the pre-school moms that now have college kids and the one to set the bar on how to behave.

Grace, peace and power is what I saw through this battle.  A quiet strength that was evident in her every move.  Sure, she will say that she just did what she had to do...and she did.  But, she and Mike also showed a community what love is, what sacrifice is and what being there for your family is.  The example of how to care for one that you love. 

I am sure the journey was hard and will still take some getting used to.  The fear will subside and things will be right again.  KJ...you will be hiking, cross country skiing and tele skiing this winter with the energy of a teenager...just like before the big C...but, my guess is, you'll be sporting a cool looking new hair do!

I love you both and it is was an honor to be in the fight...and thanks for the celebration part...the margaritas and the company was excellent!

We'll tawk tommorrow,
I love you all,