Approximately three weeks ago I introduced you to my mother-in-law, Charlene. She is battling throat cancer. She made the decision at the beginning of this journey that she would try doing the chemo/radiation without a feeding tube. She was making a valiant attempt to be keep up her normal everyday activities. Her attempt failed miserably. She ended up severely dehydrated and basically starving. In which she ended up in the hospital and into ICU.
After spending nearly three weeks in the hospital, here’s her update. Well she is finally home. When she first went into the hospital her weight was 113 lbs. Her skin was like just hanging on her bones and very pale. Her eyes were sunken back into her head. Her voice what was left of it was raspy, gravely, harsh; it made my throat hurt just listening to her struggle to talk. She is now up to 117 lbs, her skin has some color to it and her voice is sounding like the woman we use to know.
She has a home nurse come in three days a week and physical therapist twice a week. She walks with a walker for now while regaining her mobility and strength. There is oxygen she has to be on now as she struggles to breathe when she is walking. She is still adjusting to the feeding tube. When you walk into the house there sets her food for the month. A stack of cans of liquid food and nutrition for her. “I can’t taste nothing” she tells us and “I get nauseous after my feeding that I have to lay day before the therapist gets here.”
My mother-in-law has always been a woman of grace and beauty. She always made sure her hair was done and well dressed before anybody came to visit them. Now she sits in pajamas that look as though they are ready to fall of her feeble body and her hair pulled back. She talks about how she had her hair burned off in the back and it won’t grown back. She was very proud of her hair and always took such great care of it. It hurts my heart seeing her cry and talk about how her hair fell out. There are times of full emotion in her eyes and voice and then I mention something else to try and lighten the mood and she chuckles and starts reminiscing.
I was honored to marry her oldest son, Gene, almost 21 years ago. She has two other sons, Michael and Christopher. Her husband, Cecil is retired Navy. Every holiday you could go to her house and she would have some wreath hanging on the door whether for Veterans Day or Easter. Showing the family pride in our great country and the service men and women that give their freedom and lives for protecting ours. Christmas you would find a set of lighted motion reindeer and sled in the front yard and inside a most glorious rounded Christmas tree. Ornaments of all different shapes, sizes, handmade and from all over the world. The gifts would be gently wrapped in the neatest fashion and each with their own spirally ribbons hanging off of them. Even when it was not a holiday, when you went to visit you would be greeted with warm hugs and kisses on the cheek welcoming you into the house. The smell of vanilla lingering in the air from the candles burning throughout the house. And all the grandchildren knew exactly where the crystal candy dish was and what was waiting for them there.
This was the first Christmas that the tree was not up or the decorations hung or set out. As this nasty disease was taking its aim and control of her body. There are times when she talks, the way she talks you know its that dreaded disease making her sound that way and it tears you up. The passion and compassion she has in her body is still there. It has just been slowed down a bit. But she is making her way back.
She will find out soon when the will resume the treatment for the cancer and if they will have to start all over again or not. She was almost half way through her treatment when she had this set back.
I told her my aunt and uncle will catch her on the flip side when they return at Thanksgiving and she says “if I’m still here”…”
I’m trying but I don’t know.” It was then I knew that she is still fighting like a girl…..she is fighting like a woman.