Shock and Awe – Part 2

Yesterday I left off Part 1 with me frantically waiting for a call for my cancer surgery.  My surgery involved a complete hysterectomy.  Mom was alone in the nursing home with no visitors allowed due  to Covid 19. And I was at home desperately trying to figure out this “new normal” of isolation and social distancing.

One night around 9 am,  I got a call, a robo call from Mom’s nursing home.  It was to advise us that a health care worker had tested positive on the floor above Mom.  I was beside myself with worry.  Your worst nightmare is suddenly staring you in the face (shock).  I decided not to tell Mom lest it just get her too upset since she kept telling me that she was worried the virus would come to the nursing home.  14 days to wait to see if it spread.  14 days of dread.

While I waited at home, unable to see Mom I almost felt like I was in mourning.  I was mourning the loss of my love of being with my Mom ( we had not been separated more than a week in  over 10 years.),  I was mourning the loss of working at the library and all that was enjoyable for me there – my colleagues, the books, the patrons and yes – the money.  At first we were paid but then I as a page was laid off (shock).  Fortunately I was able to apply for government money allotted during this pandemic. ( ultimate awe)  I was mourning not being able to do the normal things I did every week like my tutoring and teaching my piano lesson.  I was mourning not seeing my friends.  I was mourning the fact that along with so many other establishments my church was closed.  I was mourning the loss of my life as I knew it.  And the scary thing was that I had no idea how long this would go on.  There were no constants anymore.  Things changed daily.  With my autism,  this was very difficult to comprehend and make sense of all the changes.  I felt lost and disoriented.  And dealing with a diagnosis of cancer did not help matters at  all.  Or the fact that Mom was in the middle of a Covid 19 outbreak.

But life must go on.  You make do with what you are dealt.  One thing that was especially comforting during this time was  a call from my surgeon who knowing it could be quite a while before i got my surgery decided to put me on a cancer medication that would help slow the spread and perhaps even reduce the cancer.  I jumped at the chance to take it even though I had to pay 155.00 out of pocket. ( it was normally a 700.00 drug but my insurance paid most of it ) ( great awe)  There were side effects but I didn’t care as long as something was being done to stop the cancer.

I was on the cancer medication 17 days.  THEN A MIRACLE HAPPENED.  Friday, April 3 I got a phone call – the most amazing phone call ever!! (extreme awe)  They were scheduling my surgery for the next Tuesday!!!!   Our city had not had a lot of Covid 19 cases so the hospitals were trying to fit in some elective surgeries that were more dire.  I had been told I would be at the top of the list.  I was so excited!!

Oh and more awe – Mom’s nursing home was given the all clear.  No new cases had appeared.  I could relax about Mom.

The surgery went as planned and because I have no other adults in my house and it was a pandemic so no one would come and stay with me I stayed overnight in the hospital.  I had a quiet room and a wonderful nurse and I was home by 10:30 the next morning. ( ultimate awe)  It was a bit scary being at home by myself when I had just had surgery.  I had planned well before the surgery so that I would have all I needed in groceries, cat food etc to keep me going for awhile.  I was thankful for the planning I had done ( great awe)  I was in a bit of good shock.  I couldn’t believe it was actually all over.  And now I just had to heal.  I had told Mom about the surgery with out telling her it was cancer and she kept in touch with me by phone.  It was so nice to hear her voice during this time that I felt alone.  I had good friends who ran errands for me, drove me and just checked up on me.

It was actually the perfect time to have the surgery because I wasn’t missing work or having to do anything major.  I didn’t even have to do the 4 hours each day I did to see Mom.  I could just rest.  This pandemic was working to my advantage right now.

About a week later,  I woke one morning with a feeling of dread.  Something just didn’t feel right.  When I talked to Mom she said all the staff were in gowns.  I didn’t say anything to Mom but I knew what that meant.  Sure enough, an hour or so later I got a phone call from the nursing home.  A resident on Mom’s floor had tested positive for Covid 19.  (frantic shock)  When I called Mom later she said her bathroom that she shares with the resident in the next room was off limits and she had to use a commode.  Then I really panicked.  I knew this meant that the resident with Covid 19 was right next to Mom.  I was in major shock.  How could this happen.  This only happened in nightmares.  Not only was Covid 19 in Mom’s nursing home it was almost bedfellows with Mom. You couldn’t get any closer to it if you tried.  I was a mess.  I was crying.  I was praying constantly.  I was afraid Mom would be terribly upset.  To my total surprise Mom was very nonchalant about the whole thing.  She said, ” I only die once”.  And she liked the fact that she didn’t have to go down to the dining room for her breakfast and lunch.  Well this was a strange turn of events ( ultimate awe)  I didn’t have to worry about how Mom was doing with all this.

So began a scary time of waiting to see if anyone else became positive.  A few days later I got another robo call from the nursing home.  The resident was now at the hospital and had tested negative twice!  They were doing more testing but it was possible this person did not have Covid 19,  (great awe)   Indeed a couple of days later Mom’s nursing home got the ALL CLEAR.  The resident had had a false positive.  ( ultimate awe)

So this just about brings us up to the present.  One more shock to report.  My surgeon phoned with the results of the pathology report.  I was cancer free at the moment YAY!!  ( extreme awe)  BUT  some of the results indicated it would be best if I had some radiation treatments ( shock).  Tomorrow I go to the cancer centre for a consultation.  I am thankful for the fact that I am cancer free and I am also thankful that the radiation will just increase my chances that the cancer won’t come back.

So that leaves me with still  not being able to see my Mom – probably not for a few more months.  Nursing homes are going to be the last places to open up again I suspect.  I have no idea when I will return to work at the library.  I am still struggling with trying to add structure into my day so I do not get depressed.   But hey,  spring is here.  All kinds of flowers are coming up in my garden and I don’t need to social distance from my flowers.  My cancer is gone.  Mom is safe at the moment and staying as healthy as she can under the circumstances.  We can still talk on the phone.  I am going to learn how to do Zoom so I can go to my virtual church service and join a caregiver’s group here in town.  This afternoon a dear friend came by and we sat outside social distancing and drinking tea.  It was the highlight of my whole week.  What we so took for granted just a few months ago now becomes priceless treasure in our eyes and in our lives.

I suspect shock and awe are going to continue in my life for a long time yet.  The world is just too mixed up and nothing is normal.  I can handle the shocks as long as there are the awes.  And as long as there is God there will always be awe and lots of it.  Stay strong and carry on.

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