Tuesday, May 28, 2013

today. and eff cancer.

I got to work early today so I was doing my usual eat oatmeal and check Facebook/Twitter/Instagram thing before the kids got there.

And on one of my checks of Facebook, I saw that I had a message from my Aunt Gwen (my mom's sister):

"Your Mom asked me to let you know that she is in the hospital. She has developed blood clots in her lungs and they admitted her. She is being treated and is feeling much better, but will probably be in for a few days longer. Not sure if they will be able to do her chemo treatment this week as she is waiting to see the Oncologist... If you get this message and can make a phone call to me please do so. Do not worry about the time."

I took a couple deep breaths and didn't think I was going to cry, but then, almost without even realizing it, I was sobbing. Like, hold-my-hands-up-to-cover-my-eyes-sobbing.

The first part—"she has developed blood clots in her lungs and they admitted her"—was scary, I feel like I can't breathe. The second part—"she is being treated and is feeling much better"—was phew, okay, she's okay. And the last part—"If you get this message and can make a phone call to me please do so. Do not worry about the time"—was scary, I need to call her now, cue sobbing.

And so I took a couple more deep breaths and stopped crying long enough to tell my TA, Danni, I need to make a phone call... and then my hands were covering my eyes again and I was shaking and crying. Between sobs and attempts to breathe, I told Danni that my mom was in the hospital and tried to explain why and that I had to call my aunt to get details. Meanwhile, she looked like she was going to cry (I think I may have scared her) and the security guard and ayi (cleaning lady) were staring at me. (The ayi had been laughing when I first started crying but then stopped as soon as she realized something was actually wrong.) I asked Danni to try to explain to the guard and ayi what was wrong and told her I'd try to be quick, that if the kids arrived, just tell the parents I was on the phone but would be done soon.

Then I walked quickly to the empty classroom at the end of the hall and got really frustrated with Gmail because the call feature kept telling me to download a plug-in but the damn plug-in wouldn't effing work. (I thought the "f word" a lot today and typed "eff" a lot, too.) So I got my wallet, added credit to my Skype account for the first time ever, simultaneously cursing and loving technology, and called my aunt.

And as soon as I heard, Hello? Hello?? (Hi, Aunt Gwen... Aunt Gwen!) Oh, Amanda! Hi!, I was sobbing again.

And really, I don't have that many more details than what I had from that Facebook message. Just that my mom has been really sick pretty much continuously since her first chemo treatment earlier this month* (which I already knew), that she was in a lot of pain on the weekend, went to the hospital sometime on Friday and didn't leave 'til Saturday (but wasn't admitted), and then went back on Sunday and was admitted because she has blood clots in her lungs. Which sounds effing serious, right? My aunt said Mom had been in a lot of pain but they finally got it under control on Monday and she's being given a blood-thinning medication. Only her family doctor has been in to see her so far; she's still waiting to see her oncologist. (My mom has an oncologist! Eff!)** The oncologist will decide whether or not Mom can get her second chemo treatment on Thursday as planned or if it will have to be postponed.

So, recap (more for me than for you guys): My mom is in the hospital with blood clots in her lungs but she is okay. Or, at least, as okay as she can be with breast cancer and blood clots. Eff. I just want her to be okay.

I didn't even know what to ask my aunt or what to say. I think I asked, Is she okay? a few times. Is she really okay? And I said, thank you a lot, I think. And I asked her to please give Mom a hug for me. And I told her to please tell my mom that I had tried calling her on the weekend and left messages, that I hadn't forgotten about her. And I cried a lot. And said, I'm sorry.

And then I called my Nan (my dad's mom) and I told her, I'm sorry for calling you; I know you were probably sleeping (time difference), but I knew you would want to know (they're close) and I can't talk to Mom right now, but I needed to talk to someone who loves me and who I love.

And then I took a few more deep breaths, wiped away more tears, and went back to work.

And let me tell you, getting bad news and then having to get straight to work as a preschool teacher is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because hugs from 2- and 3- and 4-year-olds are one of the best things in life. A curse because you just want to cry and you can't and then the 3-year-old cries because someone takes a toy from him and you want to say, Dude, you have nothing to be crying about right now, trust me, but you don't, because he's 3 and I guess maybe that is a reason to cry at that age. Eff.

Anyway, the rest of the day went on and it was mostly okay, except for crying off and on, and continuously thinking about my mom: How is she? She's in the hospital. She has blood clots in her lungs. Is my mom going to die? Oh my God, she could die. I mean, I know she's okay, but what if she isn't? What if something else bad happens but it's even more serious?*** I mean, in just one month she got super dehydrated and sick, got a bad throat infection and had almost no white blood cells, the antibiotics she was given were damaging her esophagus, and now this. Eff. I wish there was something I could do. I want to be home right now. I want to hug her. I want to see her. Why am I in frickin' China? I'll be home in less than a month but should I be getting on a plane now?

Other thoughts included: I hope she doesn't think I forgot about her. I hope she knows I love her. Why didn't someone tell me sooner? I don't want to be at work. I want to curl up with a blanket and cry. Eff. Is there something I should be doing but I'm not because I've never done this before and I don't know what to do? Should I even go to that wedding this summer or to Boston? Eff these tweets about The Bachelorette (or is it The Bachelor? I don't know because I don't follow this stuff); don't people know there are more important things in life? Amanda, don't be ridiculous, life goes on and you tweet about stupid stuff all the time. (I don't actually think this stuff is stupid. Not The Bachelor or blogs or what-have-you. Well, maybe they are, but they have their place in life.) Eff, I was doing yoga last night while my mom was in the hospital, in pain! I went for a walk this morning and complained about stupid stuff while my mom was in the hospital! My mom is in the hospital right now! I hope she's okay. What can I dooo?

And the answer to that last part is nothing. There's nothing I can do, not really. But I'm going to try and get through to my mom at the hospital tonight (her morning) so that I can hear her voice (and probably cry some more) and tell her I love her. And order some flowers to be sent to her. (As my Nan said when I sent her flowers for Mother's Day, I guess that's what they mean by wiring flowers.) And just try to keep things in perspective. Bad hair days? Pfft. Acne? Pfft. Small argument with a friend or boyfriend? Pfft.

Yes, perspective. I learned about perspective today. (A lesson that it seems we need to learn over and over.) And gratitude. I learned about gratitude today, too. I am grateful for:

My mom, for making sure my aunt would keep me updated.

My aunt, who let me know what was going on with my mom and who promised to keep me updated.

My Nan, who is always there.

My students, who hugged me, even though they didn't know anything was wrong.

My ayi, who washed my dishes for me.

My TA, who told me to take a longer break today, "because you need it."

My security guard, who said, in his limited English, "I have no words... your mom... you..." and explained that his oldest sister had breast cancer and had a mastectomy and is okay now. (Reminding me just how common breast cancer is. Eff. But also that it's not impossible to beat.)

My friends, who reached out via Twitter and iMessage and Skype.

Alanna, for a chips & dip and wine night.

T-Man, for hugging me and letting me cry on him (literally) and not saying anything.

All of you, who read this entire rambling post. Thank you. If you pray, please pray for my mom. If you think positive thoughts, please think some for my mom. Thank you, thank you.

*I know it's normal for chemotherapy to make you sick, but apparently Mom's been more sick than she should be. They said they'll adjust her next treatment. 

**Obviously she has an oncologist. I know this, but these kinds of realizations pop into my head pretty often. Things that make me think, Wow! Mom has cancer! Eff!

***My mom has always called me her "What If? Girl" and I'm pretty sure if she were here, she'd tell me to stop thinking, What if? She's been so positive throughout this whole thing; my mom's a superhero!


  1. love you Amanda, praying & thinking positive thoughts <3

  2. Beaming all my positive thoughts to your mom, hoping for relief from pain and worry for you both. In order to take care of your mom, you have to take really good care of yourself so you can be strong enough for her and you; so don't feel guilty about yoga and anything you do that makes you feel better. You can think of it as treating her better, because it will lead to that. You will be home soon, and you will have lots of time to pamper your mom during her treatment and recovery.

  3. hey sweet pea what John said - you are so brave, so strong, so perfect. Your Mom knows that you'll soon be home with her. Sending loads of love & comfort xoxo Susan & les Gang

  4. Sending happy thoughts!!
    From your atheist blog reader:)

  5. Lauren - Thank you, thank you! <3

    John - I didn't think of it like that, but I should! Thank you for the positive thoughts!

    Susan - Thank you!!

    Atheist Blog Reader - ;) Thank you! Happy thoughts are the best kind!


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