Over the month of December throughout the classes and workshops I led, I prompted everyone to reflect on what came full circle throughout the course of the year 2022.
For me there have been so many elements that rounded themselves out and showed their meaning upon reflection towards the end of the year.
One of the biggest experiences was one that I had with my mom. I did not tell a lot of people what was going on earlier in the year because frankly I did not want to talk about it. I still do not like talking about in fact it is difficult for me to even write this.
In March of 2022 my mom got really sick. I noticed she was not seeming herself for a while and I kept asking her to go to the doctor. She finally did and they found a large mass in her lungs so they started running tests. She asked me not to say anything to anyone so I didn't. For some reason the tests were spread throughout the entire month even though she was having a very difficult time breathing. As the days went on my mom had more and more trouble breathing but she's strong, she always has been so she pushed through. She kept saying that she was ok even though she wasn't. It got to the point where she could barely take a few steps without getting short of breath, her lips were turning blue, her toes were blue, but she continued to say that she was fine. She refused to let me take her to the hospital and got upset when I went to call 911.
Side note: My mom was a pediatric nurse for over 30 years so I believed her when she told me that if I took her to the hospital they would not do anything since she was still waiting on tests.
I did what I could by trying to help with whatever she would allow me to. She's very particular and likes things to be a certain way so it's hard for her to receive help. I got up early to go over to her place before Erik left for work to make sure she was ok, stopped by her place during the day with Indigo, and checked on her at night.
I knew something was not right but she kept saying that she was fine. The morning of the day that she went into the hospital I went over to check and make sure that she was alright. That day she had previously arranged for me to teach a yoga class for her friends over zoom. I wanted to cancel the class because she did not seem well at all but she got upset me with me so I taught it anyways against my own gut. I taught next to her while I listened to her struggle to breathe and watched her toes turn blue. At the end of the class she wanted to plan for the next month and when I hesistated she got upset. She then struggled over to the couch. At this point she could barely breathe and was having a hard time getting through a complete sentence. I begged her to let me take her to the hospital but she told me to leave so that she could rest and that she wanted to call my brother.
I reached out to her sister, a couple of her friends, and my dad to let them know what was going on. I explained that she had asked me not to say anything so I didn't but things were getting out of control. I asked if they could help and try and get her to go to the hospital or at least come and be with her so she wouldn't be at her house alone. They all agreed to come and help.
About an hour later my brother called to let me know that my mom was in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. The doctors found that my moms heart was surrounded by water and she was stage 4 with lung cancer. The cancer was ramping up and had already spread to her brain. At that point she was not able to breathe without the oxygen machine and even then she was having a hard time.
When we sat down the the Oncologist she told us that my mom only 3 weeks to a year left and a year would be best case scenario if the treatment worked. The palliative care team recommended focusing on comfort rather than aggressive treatment. My mom refused to believe what the doctors said and kept saying that she was going to live but at that point I had lost faith in her. Over the last month and even the day she went into the hospital she told me that she was fine and I listened because she's my mom and she almost died! I didn't feel safe believing what she said anymore so I believed the doctors. I started to accept that loss was in the very near future and began to grieve.
For the months to follow I carried around anxiety and fear "waiting" for my mom to die. I panicked every time the phone rang and punished myself if I didn't make it over to my moms everyday. I catered indigos schedule around being at my moms several times a week out of the fear I wouldn't be able to make up time. I canceled plans and even took time off teaching. I crawled back into the hole I was hiding in the year prior after my postpartum psychosis episode. It was hard to live waiting for my mom to die. I felt like a burden to everyone I was around and my only source of joy was the time I spent with Indigo and Erik.
For a while it didn't seem like my mom was getting better. She endured the ups and downs of 3 round of chemo until there was suddenly a light. My mom qualified for a new treatment that was designed specifically for her type of cancer and would target only the cancer cells. She started the treatment and she started getting better. Within a month of starting the new treatment she was able to wean herself off of the oxygen machine. Initially I was skeptical because of what happened months before and what the doctors said but each week my mom showed herself to be getting better.
We are now 10 months later and my mom is doing great! The cancer cells are shrinking and my mom is breathing great. I am grateful to watch my mom enjoy and experience her life. I do not know what the future holds but I do know that I am going to enjoy the time that we have together and have faith that it can be extended. The doctors are now saying that my mom has years rather than months! I will take it.
Full Circle for me is that I learned to listen to my own inner knowing, listen to my gut, over what someone else is telling me even if it is my mom or a doctor. I also learned that fear is a paralyzing illusion. At the end of the day none of us know how much time we have. Anything can happen to any one of us at any given time. We are all here to be present and enjoy the moment. The future is always uncertain and best greeted with surrendering acceptance.
Happy New Year!
Let's start fresh :)