The Last Christmas

Christmas of 2009 was going to be different, we all knew that.  Mom was nervous but wanted to make the most of the holiday.  She wanted to have Christmas at our new house but she hadn’t left Steinbach except for doctor appointments and tests since May.  I’m not even sure if she had been out to my sister’s house 15 minutes south of town.  So for her to think of going all the way to our house in Winnipeg she was very nervous.  We assured her of how close we are to a hospital just in case.  She was more worried about how to handle her colostomy away from home.  She always made sure that she was home within a few hours where she was more comfortable.  I made sure that we had whatever she needed to take care of herself.  She got a ride with my sister and her family on her 68th birthday, December 24th.

We had a big meal, of course.  Mom played piano for what would be the last time.  We had birthday cake with sparklers.  We got a few really good pictures of her.  She was the happiest and healthiest we had seen her in a very long time.  Healthy is relative of course but she didn’t have as many tumors in her so she felt better.  She was tired but she seemed lighter and happier.  She had really good color in her face for the first time in over a year.  She commented that it was one of the best Christmas’s we had had in a long time.  We had tried really hard to lift her spirits and I knew that this could very well be her last one.  We also wanted to be sure that the grandkids had a wonderful last Christmas/birthday with Grandma to remember.

After Christmas Mom was anticipating surgery again on January 14th.  They were going to reverse her colostomy, do a hysterectomy and remove more tumors.  She was nervous about it but so happy to get rid of the colostomy nothing else really mattered.  I am not a doctor and I don’t fully understand the intricacies of why the colostomy was reversed or how.  There were conflicting stories along the way and it was just glossed over by the fact that she was so happy.  She didn’t care why or what, just that it would be gone.

A week or so before her surgery I got a call from my sister that Mom had fainted again; this time in a restaurant.  My Mom had gone out on her own to the restaurant where my sister works; she went there almost every day so everyone knew her.  My sister wasn’t working but her co-workers had called her in a panic and she had rushed into town.  Mom had a piece of pie and when she got up to leave she felt funny.  One of the waitresses saw her in the camera from the kitchen and noticed that she was staggering so she ran out to check on her.  Mom came around the corner to pay and tried to get to the counter in time to hold on.  The waitress came around the other corner in time to see Mom start to go down so she ran over and was able to help her lay on the floor instead of crashing.  They then called my sister.  When Mom came around she insisted that she did not need an ambulance or to see a doctor.  The waitress agreed they wouldn’t do anything until my sister got there.  Rebecca agreed to not take her to the hospital because Mom had been thoroughly checked out for the fainting spells and there wasn’t really an explanation other than low oxygen but not enough to put her on oxygen.  I called a bunch of times to be sure that she was all right and home care doted on her.  Mom recovered from it that evening and again couldn’t figure out what the big deal was.  The next time we got a chance we asked the doctor if it was safe for her to be driving – what if she fainted while driving.  The doctors reassured us that driving in small amounts around town was still safe because the fainting was related to standing up.  As long as she stayed sitting she was fine.  So she gave us dirty looks, stuck her tongue out at us, said “I told you so.” and drove where she wanted.

We were definitely reminded that even if Mom had the best color in her cheeks we’d seen in months or that she was happier we still had to be on our guard.  Every time we felt like we knew where we stood something would happen to shake us up again.

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