Yesterday I went to visit my Mary Mom at the hospital. She has had a rough week. She spent some time in the ICU, as she failed quickly. She developed an upper respiratory infection which, according to the nurse in charge yesterday, has developed into pneumonia. They are suctioning her airways regularly and dosing her with high levels of antibiotics. When I visited her, she was back in a regular room, as she had stabilized.
Her neurological functions are so poor that she scarcely wakes during the day. When she does, it is hard to know what all she is able to comprehend. One pupil stays dilated, while the other one constricts.
I talked to her as though she were awake, and I read from the Bible--something dear to her. After I had been with her for about 20 minutes, she roused and opened up her right eye--the only one she can open. She looked at me, and seemed to follow sound. When a nurse entered her room, she turned toward her voice. When I'd talk, she'd look at me.
I gave her a run down of all of the kids, telling her who was doing what, and as I spoke to her, I kept my face bright and cheery with big eyes, and theatre expressions. She was completely unresponsive emotionally--she didn't meet or match any of my smiles. She was completely expressionless. I dug out my phone and showed her pictures of the kids, and she'd look from the pictures to my face, but again, with no expression.
It's hard to know if she knew me, or the people in my phone. After a while, with her right eye open, she began to snore. I moved to see if she'd continue to follow me, and she didn't. She was asleep. I rested my hand on her eye brow, just above her lid, and she closed it.
She has a sore on her lip, and her tongue is covered with horrible sores. It looks dry and scaly, and swollen. The nurse said that this was not caused by her one chemo treatment, as I would have thought, that they thought it was thrush, but as they have been treating it to no avail, at this point they don't know what it is. It is grotesque. It made me cry.
I asked when Mary would be having her next treatment for the cancer, as the tumor is wrecking such havoc on her on all levels. I keep thinking about the prognosis of only 2 more months of life without treatment. Of course, they can't give her a treatment with infection, but when do they think they might be able to start another one? The nurse said that they can't until her body flushes out the last treatment, and that her body is doing so far more slowly than it should. She didn't know why this was the case.
Over all, I came away feeling badly about her condition. This was partly due to my own observation, but it was also partly due to the body language and overall vibe of the nurse. I know that it is unethical for the nursing staff to give a grim prediction based solely on her current condition, as this can turn, but still, I saw a lot of head shakes, heard a lot of we just don't know why she continues to fail, and very little was offered in terms of enthusiasm over her progress.
While Mary Mom and I talked, I pushed ahead with hope, and I continued on the topic of her getting out of the hospital soon, of how badly the kids want to go to the beach with her, and I shared Christmas secrets with her, telling her how much fun Christmas will be this year. I want her to see herself well. I want to see her well.
I have to admit that as I left the hospital, I started crying, and I questioned whether or not I should have simply told her good-bye.
Later in the afternoon, Abi shared with me a dream she had about her grandma, back at home, laughing, and walking on her own. Seeing her fail as rapidly as she has this summer has been very, very difficult for the kids. As Abi told me about her dream, I felt a moment of hope. I also wondered if God was giving her a memory of her grandma well, rather than sick.
I believe that God is strong enough to restore Mary to full health. But I also know that people still die every day. It's the unfortunate part of life. But no matter if her time is near, or if it is still a long way away, Mary trusts in the One who preordained her days before she ever took a breath outside of her own mother's womb. Deep down in her spirit, she knows that she trusts in Him, and she knows that He will lead her to a better place--either with restored health on this earth, or beyond. This...knowing that she has peace in this, is what gives me peace.