Thank you Julia, LoveMyMom, Lainy, Joyce and Gavin for the kind thoughts and support.
I went to see mom today. [An aside: When she was diagnosed, she moved from the city (where I live) to a smaller community about an hour away (where my three sister and niece live) which made and makes all of the best sense in the world. But it does mean it takes me an hour and half to get there versus 20-25 minutes so I don't get there as often as I would like. But still, it was the best decision, I am convinced.] When I got there, I saw my brother who has flown in from Vancouver to be with mom. He said mom was sleeping so we sat in the lounge to catch up. Then my sister arrived and the three of us sat down with the person in charge of personal care support who is a long time family friend (we all grew up together). It made me realize how lucky we are for this huge support network that we - and mom - have. We sorted out some extra care that will allow mom to stay at home. We were also assured that mom could stay here unless her needs got very complex from a medical standpoint.
I went in to check on mom in her apartment but she was sound asleep. It touches me how in sleeping, she often seems so far gone. I tiptoed out and did some work for a while until she woke up.
Good friends of hers - ones she grew up with in Holland who also emigrated to Canada - had come by to visit in the morning. She was so happy they had come by and they had a grand trip down memory lane.
I mentioned to her that I was still not decided about going to Florida for the big birthday party. Her first reaction was to ask me if I thought she wouldn't still be here come Christmas. My gut says she will be and so I told her this. And then she said, while she couldn't make my decision for me, she thought I should go. She then told me that she had a few surprises left in her yet.
I find she knows what's up. I've never hidden anything from her but have never forced information on her either. We've had some really tough conversations around treatment or no treatment, we signed a "do not resusitate" order together; we've talked about her funeral, where she wants to die, but still she'll come out with lines like "I could have a year or two left, you never know". And then we smile at each other because the alternative is to cry.
My brother in the meantime, took my car to get the headlight fixed (something I have been meaning to get to of course) and to get it cleaned (with the two kids and dog it was quite messy). And then the three of sat around and chatted off and on while mom dozed. It was wonderful to see him take care of her. He knew just how long to warm her heating pad and where she likes it. He managed to cajole her into putting on a festive Santa shirt. He is so tender with her.
Overall, mom seems to have gone downhill since Saturday. Yet my brother said she was far better than yesterday. She is beginning to experience nausea so I wrote to the nurse and doctor about giving her an anti-nausea pill as they had both gone for the day.
The bag is collecting a lot of bile - which means her jaundice is better but suggests that the stent is blocked, potentially from the tumor growth or a new growth. Her stomach is quite swollen with the ascities but overall her pain is tolerable and managed with tylenol 2s.
While she is in bed a lot, she gets up for each meal and still is able to use the toilet herself. She is not eating a lot - usually a yougurt and some fruit, or some soup or cream of wheat for breakfast - but she is eating.
I'm still not sure what to do re: the trip and will continue to play it by ear. I may head down to Florida, armed with my blackberry and Visa card so that I can head home if I need to and yet still try to be there for my own chidren and for myself. I am trying to decide if I can leave, knowing it might be the last time I see her. And yet, everytime I leave her, I face this same possibility.
I wish I could wrap her up in cotton wool and tuck her in my pocket so she'd always be safe and warm and near me...