Momma dying

One of the hardest things when my mom was dying was not being able to be with her.  She was only two hours away but, I had no means of staying in a hotel and she was not in a private room at the nursing home.  To take the stress off of me, my mom emptied her house prior to her going to the nursing home.  I actually remember her consulting me on what she was giving to who and I told her over and over, momma its up to you.  She felt as if I had a say as her child.  To me, so many people had told her what to do her whole life, I had promised her I would honor her wishes.

My mom had refused to take pain meds.  As a nurse, you can tell when people are really in pain or not.  Some patients claim their pain is at a ten but they have no problem eating and checking Facebook.  That is not a ten.  My momma was so tiny and literally skin and bones that multiple pillows were required to make her comfortable.  The nurses could tell by her reaction and vitals she was in pain.  Normally my mom was lucky to have her top number be 80.  One time when I was told her BP was normal 120/80, I politely explained to the nurse that for my mom that is hypertension.  Mom denied the pain consistently.

The last time I saw my mom was a couple of days before she died.  I have never seen anyone so tiny in my life.  My guess is she was maybe 50 lbs.  I actually cried that time.  I couldn’t help it.  She no longer had the strength to pick up a cup and take a drink so I helped her.  She even told me its ironic, I spent my whole life avoiding food, now when I crave mashed potatoes i can’t even swallow it down.  Her stomach was so swollen from the tube feed, she actually looked pregnant.

For months we had been trying to bring momma to a nursing home back home.  I did not have the room where I was to properly take care of her.  Otherwise I would have in an instant.  The problem with this is hospice here locally would not take her without being able to evaluate her in someone’s home or at a nursing home.  Most available beds in a nursing home are saved for patients needing therapy.  My mom did not qualify for one of those beds.  The last time I saw my mom she told me, Sarah, I don’t think I can survive the trip back home.  Is it okay if I stay here.  I knew she was right.  I said of course mom.  Your safety and comfort is what is most important.

The doctor was trying to get my mom to discontinue the tube feed and take pain meds.  I was able to get a call connected to her and I cried begging my mom to turn off the tube feed and take the pain meds.  I said mom you have suffered enough.  Ironically, she told me she was afraid people would think she was starving herself to death.  Yeah the irony was not lost on me.  I told mom not to worry, I had her back.  Like I said I had no place to stay and physically I could not make the drive.  My legs were killing me with the fibromyalgia and I did not have an available ride.  My boyfriend (now my fiancé) had to work.  No one else was able to help.  So I called my mom a few times.  The last time I talked to her she was barely able to speak..  I said good night momma, I love you.  Her words were not fully formed, but I know I heard her say I love you too.  The hospice nurse was gracious enough to let me know.  The next morning, five minutes after my boyfriend had left for work, I got the call saying she had passed away.

One of the hardest parts was not being able to be there.  I was there when my daddy died.  I wanted to give my momma the same gift and I couldn’t.  This was not a choice.  I truly could not safely make the trip alone.  That weighs on me to this day.  Sure I have had critics, but they don’t have to live my life.  My fiancé has been my rock thru it all.

My mom’s death certificate reads as the cause of death being respiratory depression related to stomach cancer related to anorexia.  I know my mom is at peace now.  Per her request she was cremated which I found rather fitting.  Her body was a prison almost her entire life.  Now with her angel wings, she was finally free.

–Sarah Cobble

 

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Beautiful Tragedy

Sometimes it is hard to find a good way to honor my mom.  The only thing that scared her more than gaining weight, was finding out she had cancer.  Truthfully as strong as my mom was, I do not believe she would have truly beat the anorexia.  Not because she was not strong enough.  To me it is astounding that she was as “normal” as she was in life.  My mom was not only a contributing member of society but she also volunteered and genuinely was a good person.  I truly am proud of that.  However, in order for her to truly conquer the anorexia she had to deal with the pure hell she went thru.  This is especially true when those that were supposed to protect her failed miserably.  My mom endured all three levels of abuse.  All three, let that sink in.

My mom wanted to help others not follow down the rabbit hole that an eating disorder entails.  The way anorexia robs you of life and experiences can not go understated.  The food is used as a tool to have control when life spins out of control.  To my mom, that was the only control she had.  I spent months trying to figure out a way.  I thought of talking to other people who suffer have eating disorders.  I quickly dismissed that.  In my mind, if it were that easy, my mom would have been saved.

So I began this blog.  Left it alone for a long time.  Then I came back.  I realized I wanted to tell my mom’s struggle and also show the world how wonderful she was.  My mom was a beautiful tragedy.  Telling her whole story is how I plan to honor her.  I love and miss her deeply.

–Sarah Cobble

Anorexia and my mom

What can I say that hasn’t been said and still make it relevant.  Maybe I have and maybe I haven’t but, I am going to talk about my mom’s anorexia.

While she and I did not share the same experiences and her battles began long before I was ever born, I was in the front lines witnessing what she was doing most of the time.  She admitted to me when she was sick her battles with anorexia began when she was in elementary school.  She had been horrifically abused by multiple people.  Her own mom put her on diet pills and she wasn’t even fat.  When she died she had just missed her 65th birthday.  Now, I am not saying she did not have good years.  Unfortunately her demons stayed with her throughout her life.  At times more controlled than others but, the demons were there.

My mom was very smart.  She excelled in nursing school.  However that inclination to have to be perfect was her downfall.  Her struggles were not reflected in her grades.  My mom kept her room-mate up at night by wearing one of the suits that make you sweat and exercising all night long.  It got to the point where my mom’s room mate needed to say something for her own sanity.  My mom was asked to leave the nursing school at that time.  Truthfully she was so small and sickly looking, she looked worse than the patients the student nurses took care during clinical.  The nursing school said mom was welcomed to come back when her health returned.  My grandma in the meantime took care of her at home giving her these high calorie shakes.  I have no idea if any other outside intervention took place.  Either way when my mom was doing better, she chose not to.  As a result, my mom started working at Ohio Bell where she later met my dad.

Even if mom was doing well weight wise, mentally things weighed on her.  When she married my dad, the ceremony was simple and no pictures were taken.  My mom would not allow them.  She absolutely hated her picture being taken.  So much so that I was given instruction years later when she was dying not to include a picture in her obituary or I would be haunted and not in a good way.

I was born three years after my parents married.  She was thrilled to have me but, unfortunately the parenting skills she learned from my grandma were not the best.  I am not saying she did not love me.  She loved me immensely.  I understand why things happened and I respect and love my mom.  Yes, some things happened that should not have happened.  However, my mom was so much more than that and I focus on the beauty of her.  My mom gave me so many wonderful things and many of them are not material which is even better.

When I was about two years old or so, my mom was pregnant with her second child.  I have no memory of this.  Partly because I was so young and partly because I was battling some medical issues of my own.  My mom struggled with gaining weight during her second pregnancy.  When my mom was considered at term, she was told by her doctor her baby was not going to make it.  My younger sister had spinal bifida so bad she only had half a brain.  The medical staff induced my mom and she had to endure the entire labor process.  That had to have been hell.  On the one hand you know what the doctor said, on the other hand you are praying God steps in with a miracle.  From what I was told, my sister took two breaths and died.  My mom did not get her miracle.  During that same hospital stay, my mom had her tubes tied.

Throughout the years I remember glimpses of some of my mom’s unhealthy habits.  She definitely cleaned more than what was necessary.  She abused laxatives and water pills.  I remember she always had ex lax on hand.  I was later told by my aunt I got caught hoarding food under my bed.  I honestly don’t know why and I have no memory of this.  At the time, I was not battling a weight problem.  Maybe as a child I could sense my mom’s battles.  I really do not know.  At one point mom would change some of our eating habits.  We would have mock beef casseroles.  In other words turkey.

Then my grandpa got sick with lung cancer.  By the time they caught the cancer, it was pretty advanced.  He still underwent treatment, but he lost his battle and passed away when I was in 8th grade.  Then when my grandma came to live with us.  I am sure the stress of it all did not help.  My mom’s anorexia reared its head.  I remember one time saying to my dad, I think mom had a problem.  He tried to tell me he had a handle on it.  I knew he was full of it but, I wasn’t about to tell him that.  At some point my mom was hospitalized for dehydration.  She was basically told she had to go to rehab.

I am not sure how many times mom was in therapy or rehab.  I know she was not a fan of any of it and had a strong distrust later in life.  Eventually my parents divorced.  It was not good for her.  There no longer was someone to have her back whether she liked it or not.  I could only do so much.  I was only allowed to do so much.

When my mom left Toledo in hopes that another town would give her a fresh start, she was maybe 110 pounds.  She moved about two to two and half hours away.  She loved the little town.  Sometimes she would visit.  Even though she complained, she did not always like getting visits.  One time when she was in town staying with me and sleeping on my love seat, the love seat seemed to dwarf her tiny body.  My mom was getting so small, I was almost afraid to hug her.  She would keep us from visiting her I later learned after my mom had an accident or had a fall.  My mom kept a lot from us.

When the doctors came in to tell her how extensive her cancer was, they were surprised the stomach cancer hadn’t been caught sooner.  The doctors asked her if she had any pain over the past year.  She replied “of course, I just ignored it”.  That’s how my mom was.  I knew something was wrong one day when I was talking to her on the phone.  She always complained about being too full to eat.  This time she complained of difficulty swallowing.  That was new.  I told my mom to call the doctor and let them know right away.  I couldn’t drive down there since I had just finished a 12 hour shift and never would have made it safely.  Mom contacted the doctors and the testing schedule began. By the time she had her operation, the cancer took over her entire stomach and the abdominal wall.  My mom was dying.

Ironically when I was begging my mom to turn off the tube feed months later since it wasn’t doing her any good.  Hardly any of it was able to get past her stomach and nourish her body, she told me, “I am afraid people will think I am starving myself to death”.  Yea, the irony was not lost on me either.  Mom finally agreed to stopping the tube feed and taking something for the pain.  She passed away the next morning.  As much as I miss her, I am happy she is finally free of her demons.  My mom as a beautiful tragedy.  She was truly and angel.

–Sarah Cobble

 

Goodness mom taught me

I did it mamma.  I stood up for myself today in a way I think you would have approved.  I did not go out of my way to make the other person feel bad.  I just gracefully stood my ground.

Also, I have been doing my best to do random acts of kindness to strangers.  I know you would have done the same.  Your whole life you gave to others even when others did not see.  I paid attention and learned many wonderful things from you.

I love you mom.  I am striving to make you proud.  I love and miss you mom.

–Sarah Cobble

Little sleep

my mom slept very little

today that is me

I have anxiety coursing through

my body

with its fingerlike projections

so as tired as I am

there will be no more sleep

especially since I have to be up

in less than two hours

I do not like this

I understand it more

but I still do not like this

like my mom

the nerves are winning

–Sarah Cobblepexels-photo-129062.jpeg

Mommas garden

I have said it before.  I will say it again.  I miss this time of year for my momma.  I keep thinking of planting some flowers in her honor.  The problem is I do not have a green thumb.  None.  It skipped me.  Since I do not have kids, it really skipped me.

I remember how she planted daisies for me.  Daisies are my favorite.  Even if I put them in pots I am not in a position to get on the ground.  Plus working in the hot sun is not for me.  daisy-flower-spring-marguerite-67857.jpeg

My momma could make anything grow.  I miss my momma

–Sarah Cobble

How did mom do it without sleep

i wonder how my mom did it.  I know she suffered from anxiety but she somehow pushed thru.  I am not saying her methods were healthy.  However, when you are exhausted and faced with another sleepless night, I wish more than ever I had some of her wisdom.

My nerves feel like fingers in my body.  It’s so hard for me to keep still.  I have to limit my activities so I don’t wake my fiancé up.  Not because he gets mad, but because we like to show each other mutual respect.  Besides there is nothing he can do to help me.  My eyes are tired but the pinball ball inside me is not off yet and i do not have the switch.

The meds help.  Somedays, they are not enough.  So instead I sit here at my laptop wondering when sleep will come.  I have so much i want to start tacking when I get up.  I need the sleep..My eyes are heavy… but sleep is a distant memory right now

I just wish I knew how my mom did it.

—Sarah Cobble