Going Home

The last week that Mom spent in the hospital in Winnipeg was much more relaxing than the previous 4 weeks.  She had no more tubes in her.  She was going outside for short walks and sitting in the atrium for short periods.  She was so happy to get out and feel the sun or sit at a table in a chair; simple pleasures.  Mom had some learning to do before she could leave for home.  She had nurses teaching her how to take care of her colostomy.  This was the toughest part for Mom.  She really resisted and continued to have issues until it was reversed 5 months later.  And there was chemo coming.  The doctors had finally decided on what type of cancer she had, which was Breast as well as Peritoneal, which behaves and is treated like Ovarian.  The breast tumor was very slow growing so they decided to leave that one alone.  They focused on the chemo for the abdominal cancer.  Mom was nervous about all of the side effects of the chemo but was really positive in terms of what it could do for her.

When she left the Winnipeg hospital she stayed in the Steinbach hospital for a few days to be sure that she was all right and could handle going home.  The doctors and all of us including Mom agreed that to go straight from Winnipeg to home would be too much of a shock.  They also had to set up home care.  Mom wasn’t so sure about home care at first.  She knew she didn’t have a choice and was thankful that they were available to her for her medical needs.  But she was determined that she would handle as much of her meal making and general care on her own.  She liked to remind us that she wasn’t that bad off and it was good for her to do as much as she could to keep going every day.  And we admired her for it, even if it was frustrating some days.

Mom went home and was so happy to be there.  Auntie A was still coming, staying for up to a week or two and then going home to Minnesota.  And I was going to Steinbach 3 evenings and 1 day a week for the first few months.  It was a strain on our household but I was home more than I had been when she was in the hospital so it was still an improvement.

My Mom asked me to be at her place when the first home care worker came because my sister was working and she needed some extra support.  I have a distinct memory of how nervous Mom was.  The nurse had been there to do vitals, check bandages and help out with the colostomy.  But this was the first time she would have “help” doing things that she had done on her own for 60+ years.  Giving up even a small piece of your independence is so hard.  And at first it was a small piece.  They helped her get changed for bed for a while because of her surgery and the tap they had put into her back to get rid of the fluid around her lungs. It was hard for her to lift her arms and bend down.  They would also get her meals if she needed or get things for her that she could no longer reach or bend down for.  Once a week someone would come and cook meals from Mom’s recipes that could be frozen and they would wash her bedding.  They were also company on some lonely nights.

“Tara” came that Thursday night and was so kind.  She listened to Mom and explained what to expect.  She eased Mom’s fears of her life being taken over by strangers in her own house.  Knowing that the home care workers were there also eased our minds when we couldn’t be there.  We knew that if something went wrong they would be there at certain times and if she didn’t answer her door they would let us know.  Mom had known home care workers for many years, including a few that were now helping her out, so she had enormous respect for what they were doing.  She appreciated every effort that was made for her.  That first night we had no idea that these women would join us so completely in Mom’s journey, share in some extremely intimate moments and become a part of our family.

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