Wednesday, December 28, 2016

6 months today

It's been 7 months since my last blog post and 6 months today since mum died.

I was sitting alone with her at the Mater Hospice, just holding her hand, when she faded away at 10.13am on 28th June, 2016.  She survived 313 days when her Oncologist said it would be  a whole lot less.  313 days, and each one was a battle.  She was scared of death and didn't want to be left alone. She didn't want to die.  She was scared of being buried alive and kept asking me to check and recheck that she was actually dead before they put her in her coffin.  She wanted to live to be 100.  She remained alert and aware until the very last day.  Her body, on the other hand, let her down badly.  Pancreatic Cancer has a very low survival rate, something like 7% last 5 years.  The national average is 180 days. Mum smashed that record!  Although she suffered a stroke and a heart attack, she remained strong.  She had little pain.... until 4 days before she died.  Even when on the drug pump she could still talk, but could no longer swallow.  She told me she wasn't hungry or thirsty.

I was extremely privileged to be able to care for mum.  She was an amazingly strong woman. She endured so much.  We talked about so much and laughed a lot. The daily photo for Instagram was a blast and is a daily record of her strength.... and her demise.  It also records the trips out, the ice creams and the many visitors she had during those last 313 days.

She might be gone, but she will never be forgotten.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

257 days later.....

About 9 months ago mum was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer.  She had been poorly and had turned a nasty shade of orange.  Actually it was 257 days or just over 36 weeks ago now.   Her doctors gave her no hope.  Prognosis was vaired depending on which oncologist was offering numbers but the average was 26 weeks.  The doctor in Emergency that actually gave her her diagnosis said 12 months, so right then and there we decided to do a 365 photo project.  Decided to take one photo a day for 365 days.

So here we are 257 days later and  it has been something of a roller coaster ride.   Initially the plan was that I would stay at work until she was incapable of caring for herself on a daily basis and have care workers come in to clean.  Meal prep and shopping would be my domain and she would take care of her midday meal and personal care.

She went downhill very fast and in late october it was obvious I had to take leave from work.  I quickly ran out of Annual Leave and had little sick/family leave of my own after using 8 months of my banked leave with my own cancer treatment in 2012 and 2013.  Fortunately I had just over 12 months of long service leave I could call upon and so I have been in a nursing role since.

We did have some assistance in the home from an agency "assistant in nursing".... until I caught her stealing cash, but that is a whole other story.  We now have a woman come in for 90 minutes once a week.  She cleans the house, vacuums, steam cleans the floors, scrubs the bathroom, dusts, changes the sheets and puts the washing on.   Mum now has a hospital bed and soon a stand up recliner.  She can still walk short distances on a wheely walker but we rarely venture outside the house.  Palliative Care nurses and her GP visit once a week each, but both are only a phone call away if needs must. We've had the ambos come a couple of times too.

Mum recently spent a week at the Mater Hospice. They worked miracles getting her medication under control.  After a mini stroke and heart attack all her meds were fighting each other. So now she is home on reduced medication and we just take each day as it comes.

She enjoys the photo a day shenanigans.  If I forget, she always remembers.   Some days they are posed and themed, but most days they are just as she is.  She always worries about her hair!  The images can all be seen on Instagram here

But here are some of my faves:-