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When life pelts your loved ones with rotten lemons

Another representation of how I feel courtesy of “Rick and Morty”

At the beginning of October, I posted about one of the worst weeks of the year, which included the news my friend’s mom may have cancer.

About a couple weeks after that post, she was officially diagnosed with lung cancer, no doubt a side effect of a lifetime of smoking. Then soon after her diagnosis, she caught Covid and had to be hospitalized. She makes a full recovery from the virus and seems to be doing okay. That was until a week before Thanksgiving when she felt dizzy and had a major fall in her home. Banged up her shoulder and face and was on the floor for six hours before anyone found her because she did not have her Life Alert on her for some reason. As if things couldn’t get worse, the CAT scan they did to make sure she didn’t have brain damage from the fall revealed the cancer has already progressed to her brain. The fucking cherry on top of this was when they took her to another hospital to assess her situation and they said there’s nothing they can do at this point except provide hospice care until she dies.

Before any of this, she had gotten out of a relationship with her long-time boyfriend that turned out to be a massive piece of shit in every possible way and for a while had to deal with him talking shit on social media about how she kicked him out.

She’s been receiving home hospice care at her sister’s house since she came back from the hospital the second time. At first, I felt a little upset that she wasn’t receiving care in her own house, but after seeing her today I think she’s better off being at her sister’s place where she can be watched all the time and be surrounded by family instead of being alone.

She’s gone downhill in health so quickly in just a few days that she’s now completely bedridden, which I guess isn’t surprising considering she’s been given days to a few weeks to live. She looked completely exhausted. We were told she had a fairly rough night because she kept dry heaving and I’m sure that only agitated her already injured shoulder. I’ve seen her extremely tired before, but this was on another level. It was like seeing her at her worst and multiplying it by 50. I said very little to her because I just wanted let her rest instead being a bother and making her waste what little energy she had to talk to me.

She hasn’t eaten for a couple days and they’re not going to force her to eat (she has been drinking fluids whenever she can). Since she’s not eating at the moment, she has been unable to take the heart medication that regulates her afib since it needs to be taken with food or otherwise she gets violently ill and it seems wrong to put a dying woman who is already in pain through that much discomfort. So her body shakes as her heart rapidly pumps blood through her frail body.

Right before Thanksgiving, we had spoken to her over speaker phone and she was coherent despite sounding tired—now she barely speaks and what little she says is quiet, tired and slurred. To be honest, her speaking may be due to a combination of exhaustion and morphine. For now, she’s on a low dosage of morphine to regulate the pain from the fall, but they may up the dosage or frequency if she feels worse. She’s been traumatized by the fall so she was fearfully repeating “fall” every so often and we kept reassuring her we weren’t going to let her fall. She’s almost completely lost her eyesight within the past few days and not being able to see her surroundings is likely freaking her out.

Depending on how the cancer affects her brain, seizures may be a possibility in the future…if she even lives long enough to have the cancer progress to the point of having them. She’ll be lucky if she makes it to the end of the week and a miracle if she makes it to Christmas, which happens to be her birthday. They haven’t told her she’s been given such a short time to live so she doesn’t panic and becomes upset. I didn’t say anything, of course, but I kind of have a feeling she’s at least somewhat aware she’s going to die soon.  

Honestly, she looked better than what I pictured in my head after being told how she was before seeing her, but she still looked rough and it was so hard seeing her like this. However, I already regret not seeing my cousin or great-grandma before they died and I sure as Hell wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to see my friend’s mom while I still have a chance to even if it pained me to see her. I’m finding its much easier to put aside my discomfort at her current deteriorating condition than any regret I would have if I didn’t see her at least one last time.

She was like a second mom—no, she was like the mom I should have had instead of the mentally abusive one I got stuck with. When things weren’t great at home, she would gladly let me sleep over for a night or two so I could get a break away from my home life. I would sit at her dining room table and talk with her or watch TV with her or watch her play her Playstation 2. If it was Monday, we’d be watching WWE Monday Night RAW. She didn’t have a guest bed so I either slept on the floor cushioned by the blankets and pillows I brought and any extra she gave to me or on the loveseat that was too small for me to lay out on so my legs would be hanging up and over the deep armrest, but it was still a million times better than staying at home. If she could, I’m sure she would have let me live there. Even after I moved out of my mom’s place and got a place of my own, I would sometimes walk home and stop at her house on the way there for a break, especially if it was too hot or too cold. Over this past summer, I gave her a bunch of extra produce I had from my garden….I wish I had brought her more.

This whole goddamn situation makes me feel so angry and helpless. All this suffering and her reward for weathering through it is aggressive cancer that may cause seizures on top of making her bedridden and blind. She doesn’t fucking deserve any of this and it’s incredibly frustrating there’s nothing anyone can do about it except keep her as comfortable as humanly possible and wait for her inevitable death.    

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