Daily WordPress challenge for the week is Change.
Maybe I am a person of habit. Change stresses me. It causes me a lot of anxiety that I would rather not take the change and would just leave things the way they are. But oftentimes we hear a lot of people say change is good.
Here is a photo which really changed my life and my family’s. It was a painful change that I wish didn’t happen but it was something that was necessary for the well being of my mother.
In 2008, my Mom was diagnosed with liver cancer. She came back from the Philippines that year after one of her siblings died and right upon her arrival she complained of back pain. I told her to mention it to her doctor even after it subsided and not just ignore it. I said, “nothing is too inconsequential or embarrassing to ask your doctor” when it came to what she was feeling.
My Mom was not one person who whined and complained about life. Like any person she had dreams, for her children and hardly for herself, she was happy and contented at that stage in her life although she missed my Dad.
So it came as a shock to us when the results came back after a month. I was happy that I haven’t heard from her doctor. I thought “no news is good news” but I called just the same to confirm. I was heartbroken and armed with assurances from her doctor that there were ways to fight it I related the bad news to her. My sisters were not as optimistic, they are in healthcare and they’ve seen enough death among their cancer patients – they didn’t live very long.
That night I asked my Mom if I could sleep in her bed and she was grateful, it eventually became a habit as we supported each other. I knew she didn’t sleep at all. I was sure she was asking why it happened to her, what was going to happen to her children and grandchildren. I was sure until the end she didn’t want to die.
I was mad at people who would end their lives for some surmountable bumps or fleeting sad moments in their lives and here was one person who was fighting just to get well and survive. If only they could trade their wasted lives to my Mom. I thought that was so unfair.
Every night and every day I prayed that God would lengthen her life. She died four years later right after her 81st birthday but before that I begged God to at least let her live until she’s 86, the same age as when her mom passed away.
After three years of treatment, her cancer got worst. Eventually she got frustrated that she could not do anymore the things she used to enjoy. First her joy of gardening, that first Spring she looked longingly from our kitchen window at her bare vegetable plot.
But the ultimate was when she could no longer cook which she most enjoyed doing. Her everyday life was filled with time in the kitchen. She was good at it and I always told her so – for me she was the best cook ever.
Slowly her cancer took over her life. I was lucky that I worked (and still do) for a man who understood that if ever my mother called me, I had to be there for her. I was given “banker’s hours” because gradually my Mom was needing me more. She complained about her caregivers not heeding her call for help and need for comfort. She was miserable and for me, lacking sleep and stressed, there were times when I forget that she was sick.
The hospice gave her more medicine to ease her pain but they were not working right. She got more confused, depressed, sleepless and had no appetite, she looked sicker each day and her pain unbearable. There was no quality of life, easing the pain or honor that the hospice promised. It was painful to watch.
In the end I had to convince her to bring her home. My younger sister and other family members were waiting for her. Some reminded me of the cost of providing for her maintenance without the medical insurance to fall back on in the Philippines. My Mom herself didn’t want to leave me alone. Even though I knew she misses my siblings and all her dear grandchildren and I was presenting her an opportunity to be with them, she argued that she would rather be with me. I had faith that in the end the Lord will be there for whatever I need.
And so we took her home.
Seeing her picture this way makes me feel that all that change was the best decision I made for her.