As I posted earlier
, mum died this morning at just gone 10am. It wasn't a huge shock. I mentioned in previous entries that she had got dramatically worse over the weekend, and yesterday afternoon during visiting hours Phil and I tracked down Fiona, the Macmillan nurse to see what was actually going on, as we hadn't seen an actual doctor who would tell us anything since the beginning of the previous week.
Fiona said she was shocked at how much worse mum was yesterday than she had been on Friday, and confirmed what I already felt - that we were looking at an extremely short period of time, probably just a few days. Fiona felt that mum would probably gradually slow down her breathing and fall into a coma and gradually stop breathing. She said we could stay at the hospital if we wanted, but that she felt we needed proper rest and that it would happen regardless of where we were - even if we just went to get a cup of tea, and so Phil and I decided that we would go home at the end of visiting hours. If were looking at a situation that could go on for days then we wanted to be fresh enough to deal with it. And in the condition that mum was in on Monday evening when we left, we knew it would be a strain. Her breathing was more laboured again than it was on Sunday, and her tongue had stopped working. She tried to say lots of things to me and Phil when we arrived, the only period she was really awake for, but unfortunately we couldn't understand any of it apart from our names. And that it was lovely when we wiped a cold flannel across her very hot face.
Fiona felt that the deterioration in mum's condition was caused by the fact that the tumour had grown so large that it was 1) causing swelling in her throat, making breathing difficult, and 2) pressing on the nerves and muscles that controlled mum's tongue, which is why it was we were struggling to understand anything she said.
As I said, when we left on Monday night it was clear we were looking at days at the most. I was worried we were looking at hours, but deciding there was nothing more we could do at the hospital, we came home.
We'd not been home long when the nurse looking after mum last night (Tidings) called and said that in the short time we'd been gone, mum was worse and that we should thing about coming in. We had dinner, and headed in, supported by my auntie Pat and uncle Allan. She was worse, and when we got there, Tidings told us that though mum was calmer, she had spent a good deal of time calling my name. We all sat around her bed and talked to her, and around her, and recalled memories of our childhood and the lovely times that we had had. All the while her breathing got worse and worse. She was also in a good deal of pain, the first time she's really been in pain since she was admitted to hospital on 29th April. They gave her a top up booster of morphine, besides what was in her syringe driver, but it didn't really seem to help much with her pain. Meanwhile she was sweating profusely, and we tried to keep her cool with wet flannels. After a while she rested more, Pat and Allan went home, Phil first dozed on the floor (to the horror of a nursing assistant), and then in the day room, where said horrified nursing assistant insisted that he move to, and I dozed fitfully in the chair next to her bed, waking every 20 mins or so to reassure her that she was ok, we were ok and that it was ok for her to let go if she wanted to, because we would be looked after. I tried to keep touching her arm and hand, though she kept withdrawing them to posture against her chest, which I think was a pain response.
We left her at about 7am. She seemed quieter, and though her breathing was a little worse (it had got steadily worse through the night), she was cooler and seemed to be in much less pain. We decided to go home and get some sleep, and come back at around 1pm.
So we left her, after telling her we loved her and we'd be back later. Came home, ate a little and fell into bed. Was woken at about 10:10 by a call from Fiona telling us that mum had died just a short time before. They had washed her and put her in a comfortable position and she had looked much easier. Even her breathing was a little better. A nurse was still with her, and Fiona had just gone away for a little while, and in that five minutes she'd simply stopped breathing. Fiona said that it was a very peaceful end.
She asked if we wanted to see her, and said we could hold her hand if we wanted to. We wandered down to the end of the ward, and she opened the door. And there mum was. And it was awful. I've never had such spontaneous tears as I had then. Immediately the door opened and I saw mum they started. She looked peaceful, yes, but she didn't look like my mummy. And seeing a body without seeing breathing is strange and odd and not nice. I couldn't touch her. I don't think I can bring myself to see her again after the funeral home lay her out. I'm almost regretting seeing her like that because I can't get the picture out of my head. But at the same time, if I hadn't seen her, the last image would have been of her in dreadful pain and discomfort. That image is still with me, in fact. I'm crying as I write this. I don't know which I would rather have. But I have them both, and I really hope that soon I can stop fixating on those awful thoughts of her and see her as she was most of the time. Fuck Cancer. It wasn't supposed to be like this. She was retiring in a year and going to have a huge party. And now she never will. I checked my irc logs. You know, it was less than four months, barely over three, from start to finish? First symptoms of tingling in February. It's barely May now and she's dead. Fuck cancer. Fuck it right in the ear.
Most of the rest of todoay has been a bit of a blur. Everyone's being awesome. So awesome that I don't know how I'll thank them, ever. We've called people, organised various things, and know which funeral home we'll be going with. I've picked an outfit for her. We've even sorted through a few of her physical posessions (though only her shoes, and toiletries). Tomorrow we're going to sort out the paperwork at the hospital, and then go and register the death with Wandsworth registry office, which is the district that St Georges falls in. After that we're heading to the Funeral Home, a local company called WA Truelove and Son, to start sorting out the funeral.
Bleh. Today was exhausting and hard in its own way. But I think last night, when she was in pain and crying and struggling for every breath that was hardest and worst. Possibly the hardest and worst night of my entire adult life.
Finally, ben signed mum off IRC tonight. It makes sense but feels awful.
20:47:49 -!- typo [firstname.lastname@example.org] has quit [Exit: fuck cancer]
Sorry for the brain dump. Needed to get it out before I could sleep, and before I forgot it all.
ETA: 12/07/11 No longer filtered