Thursday, September 29, 2011

Being Tested

Tonight I am struggling to write.  I have stared at the screen for 5 minutes.  I have changed the title numerous times.  I am standing on the invisible fence, not sure which way to jump.  I can jump to one side and tell you that we are continuing to hope for the best as we enjoy every second we have with mom.  All of which is true.  Or I can be real and tell you how things have been the past few days.  I am torn because I know there are people who get hope from this blog, but there are others who want us to be honest and paint an accurate picture of how cancer can change lives.  I will do my best to be brutally honest while still allowing my mom the dignity of some privacy in her final days.

The truth of the matter is that my mom is not ready to die.  She has too much fight in her.  Although last week she was showing many signs that the end was imminently near, she has since experienced many additional changes.  Her breathing has stabilized somewhat.  She rarely complains of pain.  She went from being unable to eat or drink to asking for small meals and lots of water.  She went from laying in bed sleeping all the time to sometimes sitting in a chair and often talking with us.  All of those things sound great, but here is the catch.  Although her end of life symptoms have stabilized, other things have gotten worse.

The tumors in her brain have causes many of the behavior changes we are experiencing.  She has surges of energy but they are spent trying to get out of bed on legs that aren't stable enough to walk.  She talks a lot, but it is usually all night long and throughout most of the day and quite often she doesn't make any sense.  She is experiencing cranial pressure from the swelling in her brain.  It appears to be affecting her walking, talking, eyesight, and many other functions.  It is similar to caring for an Alzheimer's patient.  She usually knows who people are, if she is able to focus on the person.  She is still a great hugger and likes to give kisses.  If we tell her we love her, she tells us she loves us too.  Mom is still the loving, caring parent and friend that all of us have always know, but now she is losing her personal battle within her own body.

Mom started wheezing again last night.  The hospice nurse came to the house today and told us that it sounds as though mom's left lung is not really working at all and the part of her right lung that still works seems to have pneumonia in it.  After a call to Dr. Eaton to determine if an antibiotic is the right choice at this stage of the game, it was determined that any additional drugs would be inappropriate.  They are increasing the medicine which helps to relieve the swelling around her brain though.  We are hoping the boost in Deximethizone will help to provide her with a clearer mind.

It would certainly be easy for us to complain about the cards we have been dealt lately, from the 15 hour power outage this past weekend that prevented mom's oxygen machine from working, or the fact her hospice nurse has had back to back emergencies in her family so mom has had 5 different nurses in the past week.  It seems to be one thing after another lately but the caring friends we have in our lives are just as consistent as the recent roadblocks.  Many people have brought us food and it has been very helpful to feed the house full of relatives and caregivers on a daily basis.  Friends have brought cases of water, and Kleenex, and in the case of power outages... Lanterns to see, and fans to keep mom cooled down.  We know that we have the best support system possible.

I want to remind you how appreciative my family is for the caregivers in our lives and the wonderful friends who go out of their way to help us take care of the things we can't do on our own.  I have learned a lot about people throughout the past few weeks and I am grateful for the selfless angels around us.

Please continue to wrap us in your loving arms-


  1. All of our arms are wrapped around all of you...the hardest of times brings out the best in those closest to you and even those you maybe didn't realize were right there.

    Doreen and your entire family have shared so much with so many and taught us all so much. Life is such a gift. Even the smallest details DO matter...not to take anything for granted.

    THANK YOU for the update Amy. Hugs to you, Angie, Jake, Megan and the entire Schmitt family, extended family and all your amazing friends/community.

    God bless all of you...I pray for peace to come to Dor when it's time...I smile knowing she'll be home soon with Rick.... ;-)

    ~ Kathy (Relay friend)...

  2. Reading this post made my heart hurt. I have been following this blog for several years and always hoped for a better outcome, but I see that is not to be. Soon Doreen will be together with Rick once again. My prayers go out to your family, friends, and everyone who loves you all.

    Sue Hopper

  3. My prayers are wrapped around your family like a giant long-distance hug. May you feel those prayers, like the strongest of arms, holding you up. God bless you all.

  4. Schmitt family,

    You are all in my thoughts and prayers as you continue through this difficult time.

    God bless each of you!

    Kim (a Skagit Relayer)

  5. It is such a mystery to me why one family has had to endure so much.I can't even imagine being able to handle what your family has been through. I will send thoughts and prayers of peace your way.

  6. Still praying for you all, been a while since the last blog post. Hope you all are coping as well as can be given the situation. {{Schmitt famiy}}

  7. Praying for your family during these trying times.

  8. You're at peace, you and Rick are proudly standing together-two angels-watching over their precious children. Together they will continue to watch you grow. Peace and love to all of you. God Bless each and everyone.
    Illa Rae Rice