It feels odd to be writing this blog from home. Everything about the past two weeks has been completely surreal-it's like a bad dream. Spending at least 12 hours a day at the hospital for 13 days straight, receiving emails, voicemails, texts and hugs from practically everyone I've ever known in my west coast life made my life in New York seem so distant (though my NY community has been so amazing, too). And now I'm home but the bad dream is still going on. It feels more real.
I was able to spend a great few hours with Mom this morning-I got to the hospital around 8:30 and she and my dad were eating satsumas. Radiation was quick at 9am. I can't say enough good things about the radiation oncology department at Overlake. Our doctor is great-very available and honest. His nurse gave me a big hug before I left, as did one of the other techs, who pulled me aside to tell me what a special woman my mom was. They're just so great. After radiation, we ordered real breakfast-Mom got a delicious ham, egg and cheese sandwich, which she ate about a quarter of. (I know it was delicious because I ate the rest of it-looking very forward to running tomorrow!!) She was in good spirits, awake and alert and not in pain. We were able to have a few minutes just the two of us before I left; it was a conversation I'll treasure my whole life.
Then I was on an airplane for five hours. I was so afraid I would miss something important, which of course I did and will continue to do. This afternoon she had a very scary episode of shortness of breath and chest pain. An EKG was done and came back okay, pain meds were given and she was fine by the time I spoke to her around 7:30pm. But still. She told me it was really frightening, but thank God my dad was there to help. That made my dad's day. She's in an ultrasound exam now, having her legs checked for blood clots; I'm assuming this is to assess her readiness for surgery tomorrow.
Tomorrow is going to be insane: in addition to radiation in the morning, the surgery is to implant a porta-cath, which will allow her to receive IV medications through her chest instead of her arm. Then a PET scan to see how far the cancer has spread (with the main concerns being the lungs and the liver), then chemo. I feel horrible that I won't be there for this-her chemo headaches are a bit rough and seem to get better only with a head massage. I know Ross and Dad will do a great job with this, but it's hard to let go. Also, the family time we had before her first surgery was so amazing that I'm sad to miss out on it again. Though this surgery isn't as intense as the last one (it's not brain surgery!) and my understanding is that she won't need to go under general anesthesia again.
Also, I'm afraid of the PET scan results. If it's bad news, I won't be there to hold her hand and discuss all the options in person.
But truly there is no good time to go. And as hard as it was to leave, it's so good to be home. Kissing Gary was everything I was expected. Knowing that I'm going to work tomorrow feels great-so normal. I will of course have my phone glued to my side. I take comfort knowing that I can always fly back and be there within 12 hours. I told every member of my family that while I have my return ticket three weeks from today, if anyone wants or needs me there sooner, I'm there in a heartbeat.