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April 25th, 2022 – Post #42
Hi there –
It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted an update. At the end of March, my mom’s youngest sister, Marianne, passed away after a long battle with cancer. We were thankful my mom was feeling well enough to travel up to Indiana for the funeral. It was a blessing for her to get to spend time with family and friends. I’ve waited to post anything about that, because my mom was pretty tuckered out after the trip, and I was concerned that too many sympathy calls and cards might do her in.
My mom’s main symptoms are still mostly being weak and tired. She had an episode about two weeks ago, where she nearly fainted. Her blood pressure (which usually runs high) dropped to 90/56. Her heart rate was 48, and her oxygen rate was 90%. Her lips were so white, and she seemed so out of it that for about a half a minute, I did think she was dying.
At first, she said, “I don’t think I’m dying,” but it was sort of funny, because when the computerized voice on the blood pressure cuff read her vitals out loud, my mom’s eyes got big like saucers, and she said, “Maybe I am dying.” The low numbers seemed to scare her enough to make her heart start pumping more rapidly. Her numbers started going up immediately.
For years, she’s told the story of the time her mom was taken to Fort Wayne for a broken hip and femur. “Grandma Woody” had put up a protest, saying, “Don’t take me to Fort Wayne – that’s where they take people to die!” She wanted to stay in the little hospital in Wabash, where less serious injuries were treated (she’d fallen while trying to tidy up her house before people came over to celebrate her 98th birthday).
Anyway, while they were in the Fort Wayne Hospital, my mom really did think Grandma Woody was dying. She described the room as being so peaceful and holding grandma’s hand, thinking it was a precious time for them to be together and thankful she just happened to be in Indiana to be with her mother when she took her last breath. My mom thought that Grandma Woody could slip away at any moment.
That’s when the fire alarm went off.
The hallway became a huge commotion.
Some people came into the room, announcing, “We need to evacuate this patient.”
I’m pretty sure it was just a practice fire drill. My mom got mad and declared, “You can’t move her! She’s dying!” She was pretty put out that they’d spoiled the tender moment she was having with her mother.
I believe my grandma trusted in Jesus as her Savior, so I don’t think she was headed for fire and brimstone; but if there was one thing that could delay her trip to Heaven a little longer, it was the excitement of a fire alarm. Grandma Woody absolutely loved firefighters, EMTs, or anybody who could be categorized under one of her favorite sayings: “Oh, you have such big, strong arms!” as they lifted her approximately hundred-pound frame from one spot to another.
I remember once, seeing a young man swell with sheepish pride when she’d declared those same words to him, just after he’d helped her from her wheelchair to her bed. A little bashfully, he said, “You always say that to me.”
She quickly deflated the poor guy by flipping her wrist and admitting, “Oh, I say that to everybody.”
I felt sorry for him, but had to laugh, because I’d heard that line so many times before.
Anyway, when my grandma was being rushed out of the room for the fire drill, she perked right up, and wound up living nearly four more years. My mom was pretty sure the excitement of it all was used to save Grandma Woody’s life.
The computerized voice on my mom’s blood pressure cuff seemed to play a part in bringing my mom back around the other day. We don’t know exactly what happened to make her blood pressure drop so significantly. It may have been a vagal response from some intestinal issues. I just know it made my blood pressure go up pretty significantly for a while. Since then, she hasn’t had another incident, so I’ve been thankful to the Lord for that.
Erica is doing her part to keep our mom’s systolic numbers soaring, and her diastolic numbers from dropping, by rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon right now. One of my mom’s most oft used phrases for the last forty-or-so years has been, “Where’s Erica?” At this point, we don’t know for sure, other than that she’s somewhere below Lake Powell. This should keep our mom on her toes for a while, even if she’s using a walker. Every so often, I may get a pinpoint on a map from Erica’s friend’s satellite phone, to tell me her whereabouts, but I doubt that will do much to curb our mom’s worry.
In the meantime, I’m in Aspen, with Erica’s little people, sort of smirking at my mom’s concern about Erica, the baby of the family, because within the first few days of my trip, I nearly got thrown off a horse who spooked at a grocery sack, ended up headed downhill head-first while snowboarding a couple of times, and have been reminded more than once that the bears are out and about here in Pitkin County – but I haven’t heard much worry from my mom about the risk of ME perishing – such is the life of a middle child! 🙂 That’s okay, I’d much rather live under the radar when it comes to all her “What If? Worst Case Scenarios”.
I do know that Erica has a better record when it comes to staying in the boat on white water rafting trips than our mom does, so she has that going for her – and my sister has definitely gotten better at making good life choices. Years ago, if my parents had asked Erica the proverbial peer-pressure question that tries to make kids feel dumb for being followers: “Just because all your friends jump off a waterfall, does that mean you would?”
The answer would have been, “Yes, as a matter of fact, she would,” but after crawling out of a jungle for several hours with a broken ankle, we think she’s learned to make better decisions. I did suggest she pack a pair of crutches, just in case, but I think she should be able to make do with the roll of colorful, tie-dyed duct tape she took along with her, whatever circumstances come her way. Hopefully she’ll come back in one piece, and if not, at least my mom will have the comfort of being able to say, “I told you so!!!”
Anyway, that’s about all I know for now.
Hope you all are doing well. Thank you for your love, prayers and encouragement. – Jody
*Erica did decide to cut her trip short by about a week and a half, and hike out of the canyon, for the sake of easing our mom’s concern. This decision has only led to more worry, since my mom is wondering if there are going to be bears on the trail (I told her, “No, they just climb and rappel up and down the canyon wall each day, next to the trail”). This is a pretty funny fear to us, since Erica has literally had a bear raiding the plum tree next to her parking spot at home before, and we’ve wondered if she’ll end up in one of those “real-life incident” car insurance commercials with the bear and half of the tree landing on top of her hood.
*To read more on my mom’s cancer journey from the beginning, or share it, please click below: