27 March 2008

Update: Exploring Options and Relying on God-Inspired Wisdom

First of all, thanks to so many of you for the messages of love, compassion and well-wishes with regard to the current issues we're facing with my Mom's health at this time.

I want to say a particular thank you to Karen G. in the beautiful state of Washington. I feel she's a kindred spirit for so many reasons. She's been through some challenges in her own right. If you would like to know more about Karen, and I believe it would be time well spent, you can visit her blog with a simple click of the mouse: Karen's blog.

I, myself, am a faithful reader and not only is she beautiful, but her grace with words inspire me, compels me to think in different directions and consider facets that would probably never cross my mind otherwise. Time spent on Karen's blog is time well spent and you should do something nice and treat yourself to a peek inside of her blog and, even more pointedly and delicate, her soul. Thank you Karen for your poignant supportive comments and I feel your good wishes even though we live on different sides of the country. This lady feels like a kindred spirit to me. I feel blessed that I stumbled into her on this tangled web we read.

Also, special thanks to Michel in Nantes, France (that's a photo of Michel holding his first granddaughter - the lovely Pauline) who is, without question, one of my mother's biggest fans. They have been buddies since his first visit to their home in Pembroke Pines over eleven years ago. Michel has called and also left a heartfelt comment that warmed my heart and pleased my Mom, even though I got sorely chastised for even mentioning her health! Hey, I'm too old to be grounded and I think I can outrun her, though I'm not certain about that.

My mother isn't well versed in being taken care of, but she could write the book on taking care of others. She's practiced nurturing her entire life. She's spent her life making things easier for everyone else and she's going to have to figure out how to accept people doting on her just a bit. She's the most fiercely independent woman I have ever met with a solid, untarnished heart of pure gold.

Spinal Stenosis

We went to the doctor today for a consultation with her primary care physician. He gave us the facts, the MRI report and made a case for spinal surgery. He kept reiterating that my mother is a "very young 84" and that when she gets to be 90, she may well wish she had endured this surgery. There are no guarantees of success, so it was at this point that I asked him what he would suggest if this were his own mother we were talking about (operating under the assumption that he has a very nice relationship with his mother!).

He said he would highly recommend it, after a more thorough assessment of her heart was performed because, well, this is major surgery we're talking about. Basically, the problem is that my mother's spine is degenerating and the pain and increasing numbness this is causing her has become more intense and difficult to handle. There are nights when she sleeps in the recliner, yet she's always the first up one in the morning with the coffee going and breakfast at the ready. However, constant, sometimes excruciating pain scrambles with one's quality of life. There's no question about that. She's finding it harder to do many of the things she loves to do. This woman is NOT a complainer, but there's no denying that she's finding it much more difficult to walk, or even navigate the step down into the living room.

We had a very thorough, candid discussion with the doctor and he fielded our questions in an unhurried manner, offering his opinion and discussing both the pros and cons to a surgical intervention. We also spent some time addressing her current pain and what other options we might have to contain it without making her drowsy and tired. After much discussion, he recommended we begin with a low-dose fentanyl patch which would deliver relief in a more consistent manner and after a few days, any drowsiness should dissipate as her body adjusts. He also said we may have to consider stronger narcotics such as methadone and morphine because, as he reiterated, her spinal degeneration is progressive and, although it may stabilize for a time, it's never going to reverse. The damage that has been done, the compression of the discs on the nerves in her spinal column isn't going to spontaneously reverse, though I really wish that it would.

We finally decided to explore the surgical option and went with his suggestion that we visit the surgeon he recommended and, after writing a prescription for the fentanyl, he ordered a referral to set up a meeting with the neurosurgeon. We collected her MRI films, notes and in the interim we hope this new pain regimen will offer her some much needed relief. Though she's not at all excited about the prospect of surgery, she's wise enough to explore the options and see what this next physician has to say after checking her out and reviewing her films. In the meantime, prayers are welcome and greatly appreciated. We adore this wonderful woman and it's hard to see someone you love in chronic pain and feel helpless to alleviate it. We'll optimistically proceed to the next step and pray for wisdom, as sweet Karen suggested.

Celebrating Easter - A Tale of Two Cities

There are new photos up on the flickr site of this past weekend spent in Cary. It was great seeing Katie and John and his extended family. Katie and I tooled around Cary all day Saturday and then retreated to our hotels and got dressed up for a beautiful dinner Saturday Night, hosted by John's Aunt Daria at the delicious Bloomsbury Bistro in downtown Raleigh.

Sunday Morning I picked Katie up at the Umstead Inn and we headed over to Nina's home (John's mother) for a scrumptious brunch. Again, it was fun and is always interesting and spirited to visit with Nina, Daria, Bill, Melanie, Kathy, Mary Lou, Kim, Chenille, Mark, Katie G., Sue, and Marshall. As usual, Nina outdid herself and a fine time was had by all.

All too soon it was time for Katie and company to head to the airport and me to take on the Raleigh traffic. Katie arrived at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey at the same moment that I pulled into the Cracker Barrel in Wilmington, where Justin and Stephanie arrived with my parents for a very nice, warm Easter Dinner. What a treat - I was so thrilled to share Easter with my son and my daughter and family - even if it was in two different cities.

As I sat at the table late Sunday Afternoon, I surveyed the scene surrounding me at the restaurant, scanned the photos of the weekend visiting with Katie, and I felt incredibly grateful for all of these gifts of family and friends who make my life so rich and precious. My life is colored in shades more beautiful than the finest, most expensive Fabrege Egg. I love all the eggs in my basket, and just about every branch in my family tree. We may be a little cracked here and there, but I'm of the opinion that those tiny cracks and chips simply add character.

And this brood of mine is nothing if not a bunch of characters. As for me, I've got a lot of work to do - spring is here and I've got to find a nice, mentally stable, financially independent, even keeled man with an even keeled sailboat. (A rare find, I suspect!).

Confession: I'm pining for the water. I dream of sailing, voraciously consume books on others' adventures as I secretly conjure dreams and fantasies of my own. There's got to be a nice guy out there, right? Where do they hide? Katie suggested I hit the local marinas and just eye a boat and see if a single man comes with it. Might be good advice. I'll have to look into that.

Oh, If I had a boat. You wouldn't be reading this because I wouldn't be writing it - I'd be out on the ocean, wind in my hair, sun on face, clouds in my crosshairs - destination: adventure. If you've any time at all aboard a sailboat, you know that it wouldn't really matter where, it would simply be enough that you are there.