Saturday, October 26, 2013


It's been a little while since I've logged what has been going on with mom. The main reason being that nothing is going on. Rewind a bit..

We had an MRI almost two weeks ago and it showed continued growth. Nothing huge, but growth nonetheless. The Avastin alone apparently hadn't been enough, but she hadn't yet had enough exposure to Etoposide/VP-16 in order to determine if it was also ineffectual. For the first time, her neuro-oncologist brought up the option of discontinuing treatment. It was a relief in a way that I can't describe, and I imagine anyone who hasn't been in this situation would consider that feeling somewhat cruel. We decided to give treatment another month, increasing her dosage of Etoposide, and do another scan. I demanded that the doctor give me estimates for time left. She guessed 2-3 months if we stop treatment, and perhaps 6 if we continue.

Mom was a wreck, of course, for a little while. She was crying a lot. But the last week she has been okay, though spending almost all of her day in bed. She gets up for the bathroom, to pester me about pills, and to eat when I remind her to do so. Otherwise she is sleeping. She's grown incredibly weak, and I've been helping her with clothing, sitting up, and getting tucked into the bed. So she's just sort of there, still, quiet, occasionally wandering for a beer. Other caregivers might be a little shocked. Most (if not all) of the therapies for cancer patients require that they drink no alcohol. Mom has stubbornly refused to give up beer, though she hardly drinks any these days. I fought her on the matter in the beginning, but soon realized the futility. She is going to die from this regardless of whether she has a few cans of awful light beer.

I've met with a therapist who wants to do some cognitive-behavioral therapy work. My father suggested I get in touch with a hospice chaplain we know in order to get an idea of what is going to happen. I've been reading Buddhist approaches to death and grief. Pema Chodron tells us that we must abandon hope:

If we're willing to give up hope that insecurity and pain can be exterminated, then we can have the courage to relax with the groundlessness of our situation. This is the first step on the path.

And as we walk, Tagore reminds us:

Death belongs to life as birth does. The walk is in the raising of the foot as in the laying of it down.

 It all seems to just bounce off the surface, though. I simply can't fathom what form my grief will take.

Aside from a few art projects and my addiction to kakuro (try it here), my main outlet has been slowly moving toward a kitchen remodel. I'll be selling the house when mom is gone, and it is not going to sell with the original 1964 kitchen. With my stubborn desire to do everything myself and thrifty schemes I think I can give it a major facelift for maybe $3000. I can't wait to get rid of the green linoleum flooring. I'm a little worried about asbestos, though. I don't want to pay someone for demo, I also don't want to inhale asbestos. This is when I want to collapse and yell "I need an adult!"

Image: still of a final scene from Lars von Trier's 2011 film Melancholia. Knowing all life will be destroyed by a collision between Earth and another planet, a woman, her sister, and her nephew sit on a hill and await death.

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