What a Difference a Day Makes

Life suddenly stoppedHaiku Friday
I hear it whirling around
Seems like slow motion

In quiet moments
It’s all I can think about
Painful heart, wet face

Although this is intensely personal for me, I feel the need to get it out, to write it down and give a voice to my broken thoughts.

My Gran’s been quite ill, and more so recently. Her health has really declined just in these past five months. It’s unbelievable to think that in such a short time she has went from leaving her home at 6:30 a.m. to go out for her daily walk and having lunch at restaurants with my Mum a few times a week, to how she is now. It’s such a shock to the system for me. She’s always been walking. Always. It’s what she does every day. She’d take me on walks to the harbour close to our house and we’d throw bread to the seagulls, wrens and pigeons. It was a highlight growing up.

Then one day in early November last year, my Mum mentioned to me that she hadn’t been out for four weeks because she was weak and falling down a lot because of her pacemaker. She was later hospitalised with a pneumonal chest infection. She wasn’t able to swallow fluids properly and they were diverting into her lungs. As I contemplated my Mum’s statement over the next few days, I realised the ramifications of it. She hadn’t been out for her walk in four weeks! It’s a cold day in Hell before my Gran lets anything stop her for getting outdoors. She’d go out in a blizzard if you’d let her.

She overcame colon cancer in the late 90’s while she was living in Australia. After the death of her husband (Burge[ss]) in 2000, she moved back to Scotland and found a place quite close to my Mum’s home. Last year they found she had cancer in her throat and connecting to her stomach. She went through another series of Chemotherapy and was given the all clear recently. They decided to feed her by a tube through her nose and down her throat. But still her food wasn’t travelling down her esophagus properly. She was still throwing up and couldn’t digest much. They tried to connect the feeding tube plug on the outside but were having difficulties with it. It was then they did another scan.

I phoned my Mum yesterday to thank her for Cameron’s card, but really I wanted to talk to her. She’d told me early December that they were keeping Gran in hospital over Christmas and New Year because of staffing issues in case the tube came out while she was asleep and needed to be re-admitted. Since then I thought about my Gran off and on and have felt something was wrong for the past two weeks.

The tone in Mum’s voice changed when I asked about Gran. She said she didn’t want to spoil my Christmas and Cameron’s first birthday by having me worry about her. She then told me that after they did another scan they found my Gran had cancer in her stomach. She didn’t ask, so she doesn’t know (but I’m sure she does–she saw Burge go through it), but her life expectancy is anywhere from 2-3 months to 2 years.

It has been a huge shock to the system. My Gran is a fighter; as tough as they get. She has been the one grandparent that I have gotten the closest to, and the last one I have. I can’t tell you how far away I suddenly feel; how feelings of helplessness and solitude have rushed over me. I just feel consumed by it all. I cry and I don’t even realise I’m doing it. It comes and goes, but especially when it’s quiet. I sat and watched Cameron in his bath last night, but my mind was elsewhere.

Mum gave me the number to the ward she is in. I was surprisingly nervous as I dialled the numbers. It took a while, but I managed to get through and talked with her three hours ago. There was so much I wanted to say, so much I wanted to tell her and wasn’t able to. I knew she was tired and it was a little difficult for her to speak too. So I’m planning on writing her a letter and sending it through to my family to print off and read to her. It’s faster than posting it and waiting a week for them to receive it.

I want to go see her but I don’t know if I could make the trip alone. I’ve done it seven times total (five alone), but this is different. I want her to see my boys, to meet them. I want my Mum to see Cameron too. I really need Bryan by my side but I doubt if any of that is feasible. It’s just too expensive.

Time feels like it did again when I was a kid–it’s ticking by slowly. But it affords me the ability to make some decisions that I know I need to think about.


14 responses to “What a Difference a Day Makes

  1. Oh I am so sorry. I am sorry for your pain. I am sorry for your worry. I am just sorry.
    My mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer 2 years ago and wasn’t expected to make it more than 4 or 5 months. She is doing fab. I just wrote a post about it a few days ago.
    I know the worry and sorrow you are going through. Life can be so difficult.
    Is there any way you could make the trip with your boys?
    Thank you for sharing such personal info with us. And a wonderful haiku!

  2. I pray the Lord will give you comfort, support and direction. And the He will strengthen Gran.

  3. anglophilefootballfanatic

    I can’t believe I haven’t found you sooner. I love you wily Scots. And, I dig your accent. I’m near you as an ISFJ.

    Now, about your post. I’m very sorry your grandmother is ill and you are so far from home. That makes it terribly hard to let go. I hope you are able to make it home.

  4. I’m so sorry for the pain your family is going through; I remember it myself all too well. What I’m going to say may sound harsh, but it is meant as advice from a friend who doesn’t want you to make the same mistake I made:
    I know you said that it could be up to 2 years, but do not plan in hope for that time.

    For 17 years, I have lived with the pain of not having said goodbye to my father, because I thought I had tomorrow to see him. It is a peace with myself that I don’t think I will ever hold, but want so desperately for you have.

    You and your grandmother stand in my prayers.

  5. Oh, Siobhan.. I’m so sorry. I truly hope you and Brian find a way to go see her very soon. I hope you can feel better about it..and I hope she rallys and improves.

  6. First time reader, but I wanted to let you know I said a prayer for your Gran and family.

  7. Siobhan,
    I am very sorry for your pain. I hope you can find a way to see her with your children and husband. My prayers are with you and your family.

  8. I had thought to send a Haiku to you. But now is not the time – no matter how heartfelt the sentiment, it couldn’t possibly be expressive enough.

    I pray for you. I pray for her. May you both know peace.

  9. Go and see her is all I can say.
    I could not say Good-Bye to most people I lost.
    If she gets better again, which I hope, it will be still good that you have been there.
    All my Best wishes to you, her and your family!

    Try to make it, somehow!
    (A visitor that found your blog through Lou 🙂 )

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  11. Being so far from family really is tough. I think it’s important you get home soon to see your gran. We had a bit of a family crisis this past summer that really broke my heart. I was able to get home for the first time since being out here and it really helped. I can’t even imagine how my relationship would be with the ‘heartbreaker’ if I hadn’t got back…
    It is easier knowing the bigger picture though. If you’ll regret not seeing her one last time you really need to get home to say ‘goodbye’ to her.

  12. Oh dear. My mother is fading quickly before my eyes. I feel your pain. I know that life for my mother and your grandmother will be so wonderful and pain-free for them. It will be us left behind to feel the grief and sorrow of missing them. I feel lucky I have a mom that I’m really going to miss. I hope you get to see your grandmother very soon, with all of your boys and man!

    Sending prayers.

  13. I can’t believe how much I relate to this. I got back last night from England where I spent a week visiting and taking care of my amazing and brilliant Gran who is being wrecked by a brain tumour, lung cancer, breast cancer and liver cancer. She has always been up for anything and has traveled to the states to see me (and even to Italy when we lived there) and has always been full of life. Seeing her this week was so wrenching, and it nearly killed me to leave her because I know I won’t see her again. But I think I did the right thing. She appreciated me being there, and it was the least I could do after everything she ever did for me.
    Know that there’s someone out there who TOTALLY understands what you’re going through.

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