A medical crisis brought on by vasculitis and steroid induced diabetes created a difficult and emotional trying holiday. Most of the time was spent in two hospital rooms helping my Mother. The crisis is still continuing and against that I had to fly back to Washington, D.C. But I promised my Mom that I will be out there again soon to visit.
“Everything passes. Joy. Pain. The moment of triumph; the sigh of despair. Nothing lasts forever – not even this.”
“There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.”
God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
Matthew 5:3 NLT
Mural at the entrance of St. Agnes Hospital
Patient Goals as written by David to his Mom
This was the worst holiday that I can recall in my history. It was painful, dark, and immensely frustrating. It started out shortly before I left Washington, D.C. for Fresno, California on December 25. I knew my Mom was in the hospital and that doctors discovered she was close to going into a diabetic coma the day before due to a high glucose rate. I heard that and was concerned. On December 25 I arrived in Fresno and went to the hospital with my sisters and Dad. I was not prepared for what I saw. When I walked into the hospital room I saw a shell of a person I once knew. She was very frail, delicate and I could not believe how much weight she lost. My Mom went from 104 to 86 lbs. She was bony and her body was wrapped in bandages as she was dealing with vasculitis and her skin was weeping. My Mom said hi to me and she was hoarse and could barely talk. It took my breath away and I was stunned. I was not prepared for this sight. I turned around pissed and looked at my sister and asked her, “Why didn’t tell me it was this bad?” My sister and Dad said that Mom declined a lot over the past two days and my sister also said, “You have told me in the past that I get too dramatic” (quick side note, I have said that I admit that…) I dropped the situation and sat next to my Mom, and for most of the next week this and another hospital room would also be my home as well.
The first conversation I had with my Mom as I sat next to her was answering her questions. How was the weather in Washington, D.C.? How was your flight? She then asked about my health especially in regards to weight loss surgery I had a couple of years ago. How was that doing? I had to explain I put on a couple of pounds, and that I am enrolled in a competitive volleyball league here in the D.C. area in January. My Mom also asked me a specific question about an employment application I have submitted. In this environment I am not going to say where. For those of you who do not know I endured a false accusation from a co-worker who was a care group leader at Redeemer Arlington. I learned why rape and sexual assault is a problem in the United States military. It was never resolved and I realized that I was going to have to change jobs to get a new start and get out of a hostile situation. So I have something submitted and I am just having to wait. I told my Mom about the political climate in the city of D.C. and how if a federal hiring freeze takes effect January 20 and kills my applications I don’t know where to turn. My Mom lamented the uncertainty going on right now. After spending some time with my Mom then I went home and later went back to the hospital. That evening I spent time with my Mom and she dozed off and when she came to she could not recognize her surroundings. She thought she was at home, and I became deeply disturbed that she did not know she was in the hospital.
The cavalry arrives! My sister relieves me for a late lunch. (4:00 PM)
I am not going to give a day by day approach. Here’s a summed up version. On the second night my Mom tore out her IV and which upset my family. My sister then spent the night in the hospital to make sure that would not happen again. If it was going to be a problem I talked it over with my sister and I agreed to spend the night in the hospital as well to allow my sister to rest. My youngest sister and Dad spent a lot of time with my Mom especially in the evenings. I mostly spent the days in the hospital helping my Mom. When she needed a nurse, I flagged one down. When my Mom needed fresh sheets I got them for her. When she asked for a couple of amenities I ran down ot the gift shop and got them. The nurse would leave the medicine with my Mom and I would encourage her to take it. I also helped cut my Mom’s food and feed her or hold a glass of water or juice. When the doctors or nurses wanted her to eat more especially with her low body weight I kept telling my Mom “5 more bites sweetheart! Come on lets eat some more protein.”
There were a couple of times Mom asked the doctors if she was going to live. And twice she said that she wanted to die. I kept talking with her and engaging her. So did my other family. I combed her hair, tucked her in, and hugged her as much as possible. When my Mom slept I spent time reading up and educating myself on vasculitis and steroid induced diabetes. For more information you can read about it here, here, here, and here. When I read about steroid induced diabetes I became deeply concerned when I considered my asthma medicine that I have taken for years and how much of it is steroid based. When the doctors were there and my sister and Dad was not I took notes and ran them by other people in the medical community or relayed the vitals to my Dad. I found the illness to be stressful. On the second night I was there one of my friend from Campus Crusade at Fresno State came to the hospital when he heard about what was happening. It was a blessing to see Eric Pauls and I plan to do an open letter to him in the next post or two. But to hang out with an old friend in the lobby of a hospital was deeply encouraging. A friend who drops everything and comes to the hospital at 9:00 PM is someone who is precious. But getting back to my Mom, it was hard when they had to change IVs as it is painful. My Mom asked to hold my hand from time to time and when they were putting in an IV she often squeezed it. I was in the hospital so much I learned the differences between a pink and grey alerts and the others as well.
Dealing with Aging Parents and an Upside Down Holiday
I’ve talked about this privately with some friends and I will state this here. It is hard to watch your parents age, especially when you remember them from a different stage of life. I grew up with my Mom telling me how she held me all night when I was an infant struggling to breath. I would later be diagnosed with asthma. Now it seemed as if the tables had turned and I and the rest of my family were playing care giver to my Mom. The entire holiday was really non-existent. Every year when I go back normally my Mom likes to make meals such as lasagna, Swedish meatballs, stew and other favorites that she does well. This year was different. I often got home late at night between 10 and 11:00. Dinner consisted of In-N-Out Burger, Me-N-Eds Pizza and other quick food. I have to tell you as a transplanted Californian in the Washington, D.C. area I miss those local foods and reflect on them from time to time. But having In-N-Out regularly was not my idea either as too much of a good thing is also not good. Since my Mom was in the hospital and a medical crisis was ongoing regular cooked meals just were not an option. Actually on the last night there my sister made prime rib and I stopped and thought, “wow this is the first time I had a home cooked meal this week?” After dinner it was back to the hospital where I stayed until 10:00. Then I kissed my Mom goodbye promised her that I will travel back to California in the near future to see her. Afterward I came home and packed as I was flying out at 6:05 the following morning. When I wasn’t at the hospital I was home cleaning and trying to help get the house in order. I threw out so much stuff that had accumulated over the years.
Christmas in the Hospital
Since my Mom was in the hospital long term we finally celebrated Christmas in a hospital room. For my Mom I got her a home made pecan pie in Virginia which she loves and transported it to California. With her diabetes I don’t know if she will be able to eat much of it. Christmas was light and heavy especially with all that went on this year. I got a couple of pieces of clothing, and one, a Chicago Cubs t-shirt, could not be found as is somewhere in the house. The rest of my family exchanged gifts also but it was a light holiday.
As I close this post out I want to say the following. To those of you who are atheists or skeptics that wished my family well, I want to say thank you. I also want to express a thank you to Jordan Kauflin from Redeemer Arlington for his email and his prayers for my family. That meant a lot to me. For those in the Evangelical Free Church of America who also prayed I want to say thank you. That also meant quite a bit to me. I felt really sick leaving Fresno and coming back to DC. As I said I promised my Mom that I will be going back in the next month or two to visit and spend time with her. Due to this crisis there was no board or card games. There was no time to have coffee or lunch with my parents and talk with them about regular stuff. I found this entire ordeal stressful and hard. My Mom commented to me in a heavy whisper that this family has been through a lot. And it has….when I reflect on everything this has what has gone on…there has been a brain tumor, pancreatic cancer, my sepsis and blood infection which put me in the hospital for nearly a month in 2012. There was also schizophrenia and then I had that false accusation which I am still dealing with. Even while away from home the news continues to flow. My Mom’s platelet count is dropping and my Mom is undergoing chemotherapy in an effort to try and control her immune system which I believe is flared up from the vasculitis. I love my Mom deeply and to watch all this was so hard. It was exhausting and I had no idea what I was walking into. Prayers and /or support from all sides are still appreciated. My family is still dealing with this and trying to get through it. In the meantime for me its going to be a lot of cards, texts, and phone calls. As always guys I love you.