Saturday, May 7, 2011


A new thing today. After helping Mom walk back from the bathroom with her walker and getting back into bed, I turned away from her to put the walker and gait belt away. When I turned back, she was standing next to the bed. Standing alone, nothing to lean on, nothing to help her balance, nothing to help her propel out of bed. She simply stood up because she wanted to adjust her pants. Ross had been watching the whole time and was standing next to her, arms at the ready to catch her if needed. Of course she was fine. She adjusted her pants and sat back down, then climbed back into bed.

In the hospital, if she needed to roll to her side, we needed to use the draw cloth to roll her over. During my last trip, a week and a half ago, she couldn't stand without a walker. Now her balance and strength are amazing. I truly have able-bodied clients who couldn't stand up from seated without wobbling with their eyes closed and here she is, doing it like it's nothing.

I spent the night with her last night, my last night doing that of this trip. She didn't get into sleep mode until after 10pm, and then we heard shouts coming from either other floors or just outside (it was Friday night, after all). So I turned on the radio to jazz and we fell asleep to the soothing sounds of NRP, the IV machine and the clock ticking. I'm not being sarcastic, it's actually a symphony of soothing sounds to me (to Dad, it's more of a cacophony. He puts the clock in a drawer). A few hours later, when everything was quiet, I woke up and turned the radio off. Mom woke up twice in the night for bathroom trips and sips of water, but other than that, we slept well and slept late.

We did yoga stretches this morning after breakfast for about 20 minutes and later this afternoon she took a long walk up and down the hallways with her walker. She finally napped from 4-5pm, after eating a big lunch and lots of snacks.

There are two truths to this situation. The first is that she's obviously getting stronger and healthier every day. She constantly works hard to make gains and it shows. The other truth is that she has a very aggressive form of cancer that has infiltrated her essential organs. Logically, these two truths seem mutually exclusive and one would expect that if one were true, the other would need to be false. So I find myself back at this issue of hope. One of the social workers we spoke with this week was talking about chemotherapy and saying that many people don't want to stop it, because they have equated that with hope. But that treatment doesn't have to necessarily be so closely tied with hope. Stopping chemo isn't always surrender. And continuing to take medication after medication isn't always fighting with everything you've got.

I would argue that Mom has gotten stronger because she has hope that she can. The cancer isn't even a part of that, or the whole part of that. Standing up unassisted is as simple as believing she can do it.

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