Thursday, May 14, 2009

My mom is to be moved to Hospice care tommorrow

With my mom at Blue Springs State of her favorite parks. She really loved the manatee's that would frequent the park. She campground hosted at this park and enjoyed it immensely.
With my mom this past fall at the Baltimore Marathon. We had girl's weekend out at this race and had lots of fun crashing at one of my co-workers house (thanks Cara) in Baltimore so we could explore the inner harbor. Although my mom didn't run, I think really enjoyed the energy of races and the positive feeling that runners and spectators share during marathons.

At Disney World several years ago around the holidays. My mom loved Disney World and like I, her favorite park was EPCOT, but she also enjoyed various aspects of the other parks including the shows, people watching and all the fun activities.

With Mom at Great Falls a few years ago during a drought. My mom was always up for sightseeing at a variety of state and national fact she frequently mentioned that she was on a 200 year plan to get to see all of them!

Two years ago my cousin got married in New York. The whole Wood family converged, so here is her younger brother, Peter on the left and Paul on the right...yup her parents named them Peter Paul and Margie:-) But this was before Peter, Paul and Mary, so I guess perhaps they should get a little kickback!
My mom had fun at this wedding because she met all sorts of nice people. She loved to meet new people because they all became defined as "friends"...I guess if you read my blog, you notice I have this same definition/naming strategy.

I thought the other day's conversation was hard. But I was way is like saying mile 75 is tough in a 100 mile race. That is only a sneak preview. But ultimately the day ended with a bit of peace.

My mom's neurologist says she initially had a stroke on Tuesday morning with 55 mL of fluid (I think blood) observed within a CT scan. It has expanded over time to 75 mL. She is really not responsive and is basically not functional. I know she would not want a life like this. She would want to be on a hike, at a national park, enjoying a picnic or just goofing around.

My sister, aunt and I were able to have a teleconference to discuss plans. We decided no more testing, interventions or herioc resucitation efforts. This is what is clearly written in my mom's living will and what she always expressed as her desire to live a life fully and completely without regret and having seen and done as much as physically possible.

She was very famous for her "200 year plan". She wanted to visit all the countries national parks, state parks and other highlights. She did not accomplish this, but she did stay at many places as a camp host and/or volunteer. The National parks include: Yosemite, Yellowstone, Acadia, Everglades...and many state parks including Blue Springs (FL), Pocohontas (VA), Douthat (VA), Parker (TX), Toriah (FL). She really enjoyed the outdoors and was definitely a "people person", ready to befriend everybody!

She lived in a motor home and had a HUGE Ford F-150 truck which enabled these travels (I know because after her last stroke we drove down to Florida together--kind of like a college road trip except neither of us were in college).
When she moved from place to place she would explore locations on the way or off the beaten path. She has been to nearly every state in America. I think her only deficiency is Alaska since she did live in Hawaii before my sister or I were born.

In addition to her travels all over America, she also had several stints working at Disney World. She loved the premise of working at the "happiest place" on earth because she was always so happy. It was a place she fit in. She also is a bit goofy (kind of like the rest of our family), so again she fit right in!

While I know the decision to allow her to die peacefully in the way she wanted, is really hard (in fact I haven't really slept the last few nights). I know that she clearly expressed that she would never want to live a life in which she could not explore, meet new friends (because everyone is friend to her) and savor the journey of life.
My mom will be going to hospice care tommorrow. It is a bit unclear if she will be going to an inpatient hospice or if she will be going to my Aunt's house. In either case she will be with her cat, Pocohontas. My sister and I joked that she loved that cat more then us, but I think it might be true. It's okay, that cat pretty much spent every second of every day with my mom for the last 10+ years. I don't mind the cat being her #1 son/daughter (funny story, for the last 10 years my mom was told this cat was a girl, then last fall the cat was diagnosed with diabetes, had some scan and it was found the cat was a male!!! Either her veterinarians were a bit sloppy or my mom has a hemaphredic cat:-)

Finally, I think the following link provides a wonderful video on my friend Jamie Donaldsons blog that would really please my mom. My mom always wanted to see, do and experience life to the fullest and this video by Ultra Runner Matt Hart really captures this essence!
I will miss her so much. I hope she knows how much I love her.


Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

A tough decision for any daughter to have to make, but the right one.

My thoughts are with you and your family and especially your mother.

It sounds like you had a great relationship.

Runner Tammy said...

Thank you,

My mom was a great person and I was so lucky to have her. She was always so nice, warm and friendly...but sometimes I felt like a Saturday night live skit in that she would be talking some poor unsuspecting persons ear off and I would have to "rescue them".

She had some pretty amazing stories and definitely lived life to the fullest. I wish she had been able to live out her 200 year plan over many years...not simply the last ~10 years after she retired and got her mobile home.


Nyght said...

I am so very sorry for you and your family - many prayers to you. What a loving daughter you are to put your mom's wishes first! I hope your wonderful memories will give you some peace.

Mike Bailey said...


My thoughts and prayers will be with your family this weekend. It's sounds like your mother was an incredible person, and close friend. I'm glad you two seemed to share many significant moments together. Life is considerably shorter and more fragile than we care to believe. I hope you can live out some of your mother's life goals through your own adventures.


Runner Tammy said...

Thank you so much for your support and kindness.

Oddly enough my mom has recovered a very tiny bit. My sister came to my office and we were able to talk to her together. Apparently my mom was trying to talk and look at the phone.

We are still planning to utilize hospice care for the time being, but in fact now it sounds like she will have days or even possibly weeks left (guess doctor's might not know as much as I thought...I thought 3 days without saline was a death sentence but learned today people can survive for up to 3 weeks!!!)

Well, this has led to a slight change in plans in that we have the Saline drip re-instated and my sister will be using one of my frequent flyer passes to fly to Texas on the first available flight, next Tuesday. I go to VT to run and Tristan goes to visit his family in CA, then almost immediately we take a one way flight to Texas one way (with my big strong husband) . We will take my mom back to Pocohontas, her favorite park, then to our house along the way seeing all sorts of sights.

I think my mom will like this road trip in the making. My only fear is that we will get pulled over in some state and the transport of a barely responsive adult will yield questions and perhaps some misadventures. But that would probably only make my mom laugh harder from heaven.

While others may want to die with grace and dignity in their own home/bedroom, my mom's home was travels, the great outdoors and adventures. And I don't think anyone would use the word grace to describe her..goofy, happy go lucky, kind, sweet, funny, carefree come to mind, but not grace.

She wanted to live out her 200 year plan and clearly this is a bit unrealistic but we will show her a good time on the trip back from Texas..biggest ball of twine, here we come!

By re-instituting saline she may be able to have a few more weeks of life based on today's talk with her doctors.

In this time if a miracle is to occur, she will have to dig deeper than any of us...otherwise, she will be able to peacefully drift off with her cat: Pocohontas and either my sister, Tristan or I with her.

I am going to pray that she is able to pass peacefully during our adventure or else somehow taunts science and recovers in a way that will enable her to live her life fully in a way that she wanted.

Kim said...

That sounds like a good plan Tammy. Your mom rocks!!