A years worth of pain in a...

day's worth of worry

She came into my room. She had called in my brother and sister, had us turn the TV off,

so we all knew it was serious. When we were attentive she came right out and told us; she had breast cancer. My sister instantly walked over to hug her for comfort. My brother muttered how terrible it was. I just stood against my bed, looking at my floor, trying to change the subject in my head. She continued to tell some details, such as she knew about it for some time, but she did not want to worry us until she knew the severity of it. It turned out to be malignant. The doctors were pretty sure they had found it before it spread, so she had surgery not much after that.

I was glad when she was home. She was worn out and terribly tired. She had a bag under her arm that drained fluid, a replacement for her missing lymph nodes the doctors took to test if they had , in fact, gotten to the cancer on time. It is somewhat of a mute point but they had.

I'm not sure how long she was home, after that but I continued going to school, and baby-sitting for our family friend, Mary. I watched her son Cameron while she had time to herself.

One night, a few days after she came home, I was watching TV when my dad came in and told me she wasn't feeling well all day and he was going to take her to the hospital. I figured at the time that it had something to do with that damn little baggy, but also, thinking it less than serious, I just nodded and turned back towards the television to tune it out.

I woke up the next morning to a call from my dad, telling me he was still in the hospital. She was having some difficulties, he said, and that he might be home when I got home from school. He also added, I needed to walk to school and that was why he called so early. I hung up the phone and got ready for school, more upset about walking to school then her being in the hospital. At the time, I thought she was over dramatizing everything and I became angry. I regret those feelings, but I know they wouldn't have been there if I had known the severity of the whole situation.

My mom was in the hospital still and again, and it was serious...

After school I walked to Mary's for some baby-sitting. I was walking up the stairs to her second story house when I noticed my brother's car out front. I got to the door and saw my brother, sister, and Mary sitting inside, waiting for me. Again I was sat down. My brother explained to me that my mom was in the hospital still and again, and it was serious...

My brother, sister, and I went directly to Balboa Hospital to see how she was doing. We got there to find my stagnant father hold out a few more minutes before tears began streaming down his face and short, choked-up breaths issued out of him in spastic, irregular gasps. Not aware of the severity of the situation, I did my best to comfort him. It didn't help much though, because when his shaky voice recuperated, he told me how an infection got in and was eating away at her skin. Doctors could actually see the skin wither and die, so they had my mom in a hyper baric chamber. It is a containment unit with concentrated oxygen to kill the infection. I don't think I cried. I believe my emotions were numb at that point. I spent the remainder of the day in the emergency waiting room. My dad called family members. By the end of the night, My dad, my brother, my sister and I were accompanied by my Aunt who flew in from San Jose, and my moms parents who flew in from Maryland. We all sat and waited through the night. The next day was more of the same. We waited, thinking, hearing the occasional update on a worsening condition, a few crashes in the hall prevented her from the hyper baric chamber.

By the end of the second day, the infection was stopped. My mom lay unconscious in the O.R.. bloated, her skin (or what was left of it) taught like stretched canvas due to all the different drugs pumped into her, supporting her life. I couldn't look at her in that condition. In fact, it was by accident when I finally did see her. They were wheeling her down the hall on a gurney, when they rolled her past me. Her tongue stuck out of her mouth so she wouldn't swallow it in her unconscious state. Nightmares will plague me forever from that god-awful site. It was, it is hard to imagine that bloated, doll-looking being as being my mother that I grew up with, holding me when I was scared, kissing me while I cried over a scraped knee, there for me every second I needed her. It was about that time the tears began pouring down my cheeks. I was instantly hugged and comforted by loving relatives and siblings.

It wasn't until the third or fourth day that she was in stable enough condition for us to return home for a while. Tired, beaten, drained, we drove home like zombies, staring out the window. It was the first moment any of us had for three days to think about the outside world at all. It felt bizarre to say the least, returning home. A mess, no place for the family members, we spent most of the time at first cleaning and getting the house prepared from my aunt and grandparents.

After a skin-grafting surgery, and a month of rehabilitation, she returned home, weak and hoarse. Hardly audible, she became very frustrated when trying to communicate. She missed Easter while she was under. We all did. She loved holidays, so that and missing a month of her life, bothered her at first. It was a difficult time. She needed to be tended to much like a small child with delicate and patient care. We needed to push her in a wheelchair for a short while. The drugs she had needed toyed with her emotions, causing her to cry at the slightest disagreement.

...my mother
that I grew up with,
holding me
when I was scared,
kissing me while
I cried over a scraped knee, there for me every second
I needed her.

I returned to school with less enthusiasm then I should have had. It took me a short while to recuperate, so for a time my work was less then adequate; however, understanding teachers got me through with little impact on my grade.

My mom is still with my family and me, doing motherly things. It took me such a horrible experience to really realize how important my mother is to me, and how much I take her for granted. I wore dirty clothes for a week before my relatives pitched in to help clean, shrinking everything in the process. I had Burger King and pizza everyday for almost a month, missing that ever-fulfilling, home-cooked meal. Our house was a mess, dishes piled up in the sink. We could have cleaned it all, and we eventually did. It was just chores we never noticed being done, until they weren't getting done.

From all this, I've learned to respect and be grateful for people for the little things and every way they help out. It also made me see, life was delicate and short. My dad, at one point, was given the decision to pull the plug. He instantly signed the papers to keep her alive, but he later told me it was one of the hardest decisions of his life. This taught me to live it while I can. As for all the mess I saw without a mom, it gave me a glimpse of the responsibility I'll need when I'm on my own. It really is sad that a life-changing experience is usually not a happy experience, but I think it is safe to say, I got something out of what happened, at least one upside to the whole despised episode.

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