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I feel too tired and frazzled to write a coherent entry right now, so just a couple of brief notes.

Terri was absolutely amazing -- again -- and Jill provided me with many useful answers and suggestions, as well as sitting vigil with me for a couple of hours. Thanks to Terri, I was able to get back to the bank today and make sure that the $700 I'd left in mother's account to pay the rent was in fact in her chequing account (it was). And thanks to Jill, I have several good places to send my mother's possessions that George and I won't be able to keep.

Today I wrote the draft for my mother's obituary. It wasn't half as hard as I feared it would be.

I also made a couple of calls to funeral homes and got widely varying prices on straight cremations: $1500 from one place and $715 from another. I'll make some more calls tomorrow to try to get a better idea of what's out there.

My mother's breathing changed twice today -- first to deeper and more measured inhalations, almost gasps, and then, about an hour before I left, to quick shallow breaths. This could be a sign that death is imminent; however, since the color of her skin is still good and neither her knees or toes are mottled with blood, it probably isn't really imminent. I elected to come home tonight and get some good rest.

Tomorrow Terri will run me out to my mother's place to pick up some valuables, then take me to the hospital. Did I mention that she's amazing? Tonight she came by and sat with me until George arrived, and was a real rock of support when I broke down a couple of times.

I have just taken a tranquillizer and had some pizza. Now off to bed, where I'll call George and talk with him for a while until the pill takes effect.

I got some good work done today, I think, with the help of my friends.
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Peace for my mother -- she seems well and truly unconscious, and as far as anyone can tell is in no pain at all.

Panic for me, when I asked to speak with a social worker at Riverview about wrapping up my mother's affairs, and discovered that Enduring Power of Attorney, contrary to what my mother had told me, ENDS UPON HER DEATH.

This means that I only have the authority to access her bank accounts and conduct her financial affairs up to that point, not afterwards, as she had explained it to me.

Considering that she'll probably die in the next day or two, this naturally put me on an exceedingly tight schedule to actually do everything I needed to do, including get the original copy of her will out of her safety deposit box -- and I had no idea where the keys were.

A frantic phone call to Terri produced an act of friendship heroism above and beyond the call of duty: she chose to help me by driving me to my bank and then to my mother's bank rather than attend the graduation parade of her son in cadets. When we got to the bank with my EPoA paperwork, the bank was immensely helpful, immediately granting me access to my mother's accounts, including re-enabling the bank card I had inadvertantly disabled by trying the wrong password one too many times.

And then, when I confessed that I had no idea where my mother's safety deposit box keys were and that I was willing to pay to have the lock drilled ASAP, one of the bank clerks asked: "Did you look on her keyring?"

Digging into my purse, I pulled out said keyring, and lo and behold, there was the safety deposit box key. *dies* I actually kissed it and thanked my mother out loud for thinking ahead!

It was very sad, pulling all her important papers out of that box. It felt like I was erasing her life. But in the end I got the papers, paid off her line of credit at the bank, left enough in her account to pay the rent for June, and took out the remainder of her available funds to use toward funeral expenses. Then Terri very kindly drove me back to the hospital, where I sat alone with my mother throughout the evening, pondering the nature of mortality.

In the late evening I phoned up [ profile] morgaine_inanna, who not only agreed to come and sit with me tomorrow but also to give me advice and advocacy with my mother's landlord should it become necessary.

Truly, I am blessed with good fortune.
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Yesterday, since my mother had not rallied, I talked with the palliative care physician and elected to withdraw the antibiotics and, as of today, intravenous fluids. The physician told me that without fluids my mother may take up to seven to ten days to die, but that she will not feel thirsty or in pain during that time.

It absolutely breaks my heart. Part of me feels like I've just made the decision to kill her, even though I know that it's really choosing to make her dying easier and quicker rather than to prolong what she's going through. Sometimes the pain is like an icepick in my heart. I left Riverview last night feeling like I'd been kicked in the head several times by a large horse -- utterly crushed and defeated.

Worse, I can't keep putting off my editors. I have to get back to getting at least some work done, and so does George.

I don't want to abandon my mother, not now. I don't want her to be alone for even a minute. But I don't see that I have much choice.

Yesterday Cheryl, who had come into town on Tuesday evening, spent the afternoon with me at my mother's side. She told me some things that my mother had said to her that considerably eased my mind in many ways: that my mother did not want her dying prolonged, and that this is pretty much the way she would have wanted to go. Terri was able to come in to cover the evening, as well as giving me a lift home.

Today Cheryl went to Riverview in the morning and took over from George, allowing me to sleep until 3 pm today, as well as allowing George to come home so we could sleep in the same bed for the first time in several days.

Tonight Tara is coming to take me to Riverview at 5 pm and will sit with me for part of the evening.

I am so very blessed to have such friends. By the way, whoever is posting as "anonymous" in response to my posts, with offers of help? I honestly have no idea who you are. I would like to take you up on your offers, but can't if I don't know your name or contact information... please feel free to email me at anotheragentsmith at

And to everyone who has responded with words of encouragement... THANK YOU. I might not have the heart or the time or the energy to respond, but I want you to know that each of your posts eases my pain and makes this bad time a little bit better.

Time to go get the laundry out of the washer.
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My mom is still, apparently, dying, although the doctor on the ward today said that he's seen people rally from a similar state and recover to a certain extent. If she doesn't improve by tomorrow, they'll cut the antibiotics and let nature take its course.

For the most part she rested peacefully today. At one point her eyes opened and I leaned over and kissed her cheek.

"I love you, Mom," I said.

"... love you too..." she murmured, then fell back unconscious.

If that's the last communication I have with her, I can count myself blessed, I think.

Several crying fits today, trying to weep quietly so I wouldn't disturb her if she could hear me. A visit from one of the pastoral care workers, who offered to help me with any rituals/death rites if I need an assistant, even though they're not Wiccan themselves. Mom had a bit of a scary choking fit this afternoon due to the buildup of phlegm in her throat, but a nurse came and turned her onto her side and she was able to cough it up. They've started giving her a medication to cut down on fluid production.

Starting to panic at the thought of all the administrative things to be done when she dies -- talking to her landlord (which has to be done in the next couple of days), cleaning out her apartment, etc. I'll be taking another tranquillizer tonight to make sure I can sleep. My friend Terri sat with me this evening while George was at home, and will give me a lift out to Riverview tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow my friend Cheryl comes in from British Columbia, and she's someone my mother has been waiting to see. Perhaps after they have a visit, my mother will feel easier about passing on.

It's still so terribly hard. Thank you to all who responded to my last post with encouraging words.

I just want her to be at peace. I don't want her to suffer. The nurses say she is resting very comfortably, but still... I feel such grief and such a sense that I could be doing something, anything, to make the situation better.

And now I'm crying all over again. Dammit.
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Today my mother was almost uniformly unresponsive. The doctors tell us her kidneys are failing. They think she has hours, perhaps days at the outside.

This is a terrible blow. We expected to have at least a few weeks longer with her. The time for conscious communication is past; all we can do now is hold her hand and tell her that we love her, hoping that she can hear us (which is very uncertain). Today I told her exactly that, and also that George and my friends will take good care of me after she's gone, and that I will be all right -- giving her permission to go, so she doesn't feel like she has to hang on.

George is staying with her tonight so that I can get a good night's sleep and spend all day and night with her tomorrow. She seems to be sleeping deeply and naturally but we aren't able to wake her up. The palliative care nurses have promised us that she IS not and WILL not be in pain, and right now that's all that really matters, at least as far as I'm concerned.

It's so hard. So very, very hard. I keep thinking there's more I could have done -- that I could have spent more time with her, that I could have urged her to eat more, that I could have done SOMETHING to help her or put this off somehow. What's even harder is that one of the last things she said yesterday is: "I'm not dead yet." I think she really expected she might recover from this recent downturn. If that's the case, then I pray she never realizes that she is dying; that some of her last thoughts were hopeful ones.

In some ways this is the best possible death we could have hoped for. She was quite well and largely independent up until a week ago; only in pain for the last week; and only unconscious for the last 24 hours. I pray she passes easily, if it's her time to go.

I'm so afraid of the process. What will be expected of me? What can I do?

So many questions, and not enough answers.
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George and I went to see my mother this morning, and found her still in considerable pain that breakthrough medication wasn't touching. We stayed with her for a couple of hours, and just before we left the ward doctor came to tell us that they were just waiting for a bed for her in Riverview, a health care centre which has an excellent palliative care program. This is not necessarily an immediate death sentence, but will provide her with excellent care and pain management until (and if) she is able to go home again.

This afternoon we got a call from the Grace Hospital telling us that my mother was being transferred to Riverview early this evening. We'll have to pay for the MediVan that got her there, but that will be under $100.

I am very happy and relieved about this. Riverview has an excellent reputation, and has had glowing reviews for their palliative care program; also, it was where my mother wanted to go if such a thing became necessary. Not to mention the fact that I could walk there in 45 minutes if need be, and by bus you can reach it in about 20 minutes -- a big improvement over Grace Hospital, which was an hour away by bus.

I phoned Riverview this evening and spoke to one of my mother's nurses, who told me that she is resting relatively comfortably. Tomorrow we'll go to see her and bring her some things she's requested, including some non-alcoholic beer, nail polish and remover, toiletries, and a lovely silk scarf that our friend John brought to us as a present for her and which she'll probably be quite happy to wear as a kerchief to cover her bald head.

I honestly can't express how much pressure this takes off of me. Now I just hope that they can get her pain under control. Thank you to everyone who's kept her in their thoughts and prayers.
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I'm leaving this entry un-friendslocked so that as many people as possible can join in with a prayer, if they're willing.

A quick recap on the situation: my mother is in hospital, and has been since Monday, with greatly increased pain, intermittant nausea, and just today, an infection and fever that they're trying to lock down. Her oncologist saw her yesterday evening and told us that the pain (which is not being controlled by narcotics at this point even though they're really loading her up with medication) is a result of the cancer -- however, the oncologist believes that once we get it under control and get her on an adequate maintenance dose of painkillers, she can go home again once sufficient palliative care is in place. Consequently, she'll be staying in the hospital until the pain is under control and those care services are ready to take care of her in her apartment.

I went to see my mother this afternoon and she is TOTALLY out of it -- sleeping most of the time, and in pain when she's not. She feels cold, which is a result of the fever, and they can't load her up with blankets because her body temperature is so out of whack, so she's pretty uncomfortable when she's awake. Seeing them try to take blood from her for blood cultures (she's so thin and her veins are so small) just about broke my heart.

The good news is that she's been transferred out of EP observation and onto an actual ward, which means that she'll be staying there for a while, until she's able to leave on her own. She's still complaining of belly pain and nausea (distinct from each other) and still hasn't eaten much of anything. I'm very worried and desperately wish that there was something I could do to help her other than just stand there by her bedside.

I also noticed something else that concerns me: her PICC line, which is in her right arm, was uncapped and hanging free instead of being capped and taped securely to her arm as it has been in the past when not in use. I didn't remember to mention it until after I'd left the hospital, so I called George on my cellphone and had him relay that to my mother's nursing team. If it turns out that this infection is the result of an oversight in caring for her PICC line, heads WILL roll in that hospital. I'm not looking for a fight, but at the moment I wouldn't back away from one either, especially if it means that it might spare someone else what my mother's going through.

Today I spoke a prayer over her, and it's one that I'm hoping I can get more people to say on her behalf. If you're willing to do so, please feel free to change it to suit your religion or belief system. Here it is as I delivered it:

"Gracious Lord and Lady, Apollo and Isis, from whom all healing flows, smile upon my mother, I pray, and lend her strength and courage in her time of illness and pain. Also, grant her health care providers wisdom and gentleness and cmpassion, so that they may give her what she best needs in order to recover and be well cared for. As I will, and in Thy holy names, so mote it be."

My mother's name is Barbara, she lives in Winnipeg, and she's in the Grace General Hospital, if you want to fine-tune the prayer that way.

To those who are watching this LiveJournal waiting for KeyCon pictures, I apologize, but I'm sure you can understand that I have many other things on my mind right now. They'll get here. Just give me a little time.


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October 2016

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