Newest layers in the sweet and pungent world of the caregiver onion…

No matter our age, there are many things concerning our parents we wish we didn’t have to see. I would now include on that list an elderly uterus, a face contorted in agony, a rage born of loss, the fine details of a heart with a disintegrating aorta, and fluttery edged valves. I know it sounds childish, and believe me, normally I approach medical procedures and the variances of life with a huge dose of both wonderment and curiosity – as in: “WOW.  I am looking at a beating human heart. Or oh, she is unhappy because xyz.” Yet even without the benefit of years of medical training, there are times that you know what you are seeing should look healthier, and others when the song ‘If I had a Hammer’ takes on twisted dark dimensions.

Early in December, mom experienced the first in a series of uterine bleeds, resulting in a day at Newton Wellesley Hospital surrounded by angels. In the weeks that followed, the stress  of fear, compounded by an upsurge of medical appointments, near constant bleeding, shortness of breath, agitation, hyper-vigilance, and increased physical instability added to our usual two-four cups of crazy, resulted in an emotional overflow as serious as any level 3  bathroom bio-hazard.
An internal pelvic ultrasound was discontinued when the ensuing pain trumped any possible benefit of diagnosis. The procedure did rule out an obvious mass or tumor. At this point an intrusive and painful procedure is the only other way to collect cells for biopsy. The bleeding has remained, although there are lighter days and heavier. Mom says it is uncomfortable, yet she is not in any real pain, and we continue to monitor the situation closely.

The lingering presence of her military training and forbearance is still clearly present in her decision to encourage me to share this deeply personal journey with our friends, family, and subscribers. Since mom is not a candidate for a hysterectomy for a variety of reasons, or radiation due to her past breast cancer treatment we have decided not to pursue the matter. At 90, it is a pretty safe bet to say that death is going to come calling at some point, BUT, do we really need to see its nametag?

On the upside. I got the lobster that she wanted, we are warm as toast, and the VA has just fitted her for a candy blue custom wheel chair which should arrive shortly. We are both excited, because her de-conditioning, and the uncomfortable rented wheelchair we currently use have conspired to create a severe increase in the amount of time we both spend housebound. Molly also continues her decline. Life goes on.

It is January, and as many of you know, that means the Concept 2 World virtual rowing challenge is upon us. This year it seems I barely have the energy to get through the household chores, let alone make it to my erg with any real conviction of megawatt mileage. It is a huge learning to consider less than what I was capable of last year is in some ways all the greater success for the challenge. Pilates classes continue to bring immense joy and I have some new thoughts on re-creating a work life for myself while maintaining my commitment to mom.

We have had numerous discussions since the day we made the decision to take life as it comes, about what we see as both our collective and individual needs in the immediate future. Mom hopes in the coming months that you will all consider a short visit or stay so that she can continue to be surrounded by people she loves. For me, anyone who can see their way clear to share a hike, or walk  to help keep my energy uplifted would be greatly appreciated. My mom is a remarkable woman, and continues to be one of my greatest teachers about what is truly important and how I choose to live my life day-to-day. Blessings and peace to you all.




"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1 bakka2thesource a collaboration of musicians and artists.
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15 Responses to Newest layers in the sweet and pungent world of the caregiver onion…

  1. Amy Lapetina says:

    Dear Beth (and Marcia) thank you so much for sharing the good, the bad and the sad with all of us. As I’ve said to you before, Beth, you are SO lucky to have this time together even though it is difficult and painful. I admire your strength, your patience, your love and your insight. Thank you for continuing this blog as it helps me with what I know will be inevitable in my life as well.

  2. sgmackenzie says:

    Consider both requests a commit from me. Maybe on a nice snowy evening I can sit by your new fireplace for coffee. When the ground freezes properly a walk through the town forest.

  3. Robert Vanderwaall says:

    Beth, A great comfort getting to know your mom like this through all the ups and downs of life. The VA can do much for the veteran, but then there is a point where you come in to fill those needs that need filling. Good writing, as I said before, you bring me into your world and I appreciate that.

  4. Erin says:

    I look forward to many more adventures, both at home, on the trails, and in our shared pilates journey. It is my true honor to share this with you.

  5. Joan says:

    Dearest Beth,
    Much love is being sent to you during a most challenging time in life. You are a loving inspiration to us all!
    Joanie and ALysa

  6. Debbi Beit says:

    I enjoy reading your blogs and hearing about your life and how your mother is doing. My love to both of you.

    • Thanks Debbi, it isn’t always pretty but it is interesting. I think of you often when I walk by the house where you grew up. Would love to hear about your transition and new life….. why don’t you email me.

  7. Thank you for sharing this journey. I have just found your blog and will be following you. Just over a year ago I lost my 90-year-old mother after a series of set-backs. It was a difficult time for both of us. Yet, there is no way I would give up that time we spent together! Mom was clearly my best friend as well as my mother. May God be with you.

    • thank you so much for sharing this with me. It is always wonderful to hear about the journeys of others who remind me why I feel so blessed. I have great empathy for your loss. …and also with you. I would love to hear more and will check out your blog tomorrow morning.

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