Perhaps, this will be the hardest article I will ever write but I have to let it out. By putting my thoughts here something will trigger the emotions that will prepare me for her final hour.
The first doctor called us in the meeting last week. He called it the ‘way forward’ as the patient was not getting better. The conversation was not the easiest I have heard.
Dr.K: As you know, your mother has been through the first cycle of chemotherapy. That cycle alone is not enough to kill the cancerous cells. She needed 6 cycles and now that her cancer has spread throughout the whole body, you need to plan for the next course of action.
Us: (By Us I mean; my father, my siblings and aunts) Oh.
Dr.K: By the time, you brought her to this hospital, the cancer was already at stage 4. She is now a high grade patient. That means we cannot treat the cancer anymore. She will be receiving palliative care from now on. Any questions?
Us:(Puzzled looks all around. Whom among us was willing to say the next words)
Dr.K:(Looks at one by one waiting to see the reaction) We have tried everything we can as doctors and the rest is up to GOD.
Me: How much time is left before she goes?
Dr.K: Will it make any difference if you knew the answer? We are all at the mercy of God. Anytime we could be gone. Just imagine today morning, someone out there was walking on the streets and was killed by a reckless driver. They were in perfect condition and just like that, they are no more. Life is unpredictable.
Me: Doctor? You see in developed countries, they let you know how long you are left with so that you prepare.
The meeting continues for another hour with out knowing when the torture will stop. Wait until she kicks the bucket.
Again this morning, the doctor on duty calls on our patient. How is she? How was her night? Any pain, throwing up? Checks the eyes, pull out your tongue and meticulously touches her swollen legs which have clots. The doctor makes his observation in the book and he says can we meet in the office down the corridor. This is tenth meeting we have had with the medical personnels. We have met the cancer experts, gynaecologists, pathologist and counselors. It gets easier with every one of these ‘chats.’
Dr.N: Have you met the counselor. Have they told you about her condition?
Aunt: The doctors have told us she has high grade fibrosarcoma. It has spread throughout the body.
Dr.N: It is good that you are aware of what is happening. We can’t cure her cancer. That is why right now we are concentrating on reducing her pain. She is very weak and her health will continue detorioting but since she is here, Utmost support will be given to ensure the pain is reduced.
Me: Doctor? When you tell us to prepare for the worst, what does that mean? What does the preparation entail?
Dr.N: The preparation needs you to be ready. Prepare the mind so that you are not shocked when she passes on. We always assume our loved ones will always be here. The shock sometimes leaves people paralysed, dead or mentally unstable.
Me: What is her life span right now? How long before…?
Dr.N: I am a medical doctor and you can never tell when the maker will take us. We can die in the next 6months, a year or in 50 years. Death is death.
I go back to the room and I go into my mind. It’s always safer in there. I think of things that can make me ready for her death. I have watched her pain for the last 6months. If I was in her position, how much pain would I handle? Would I too mumble in my sleep that; ‘Its too much’ Please forgive me! What did I do to deserve this pain?’
My preparation includes;
1. Making short videos of her while she sleeps or when she manages to say any word.
2. Sharing with my friends the news. It eases the pain inside. A problem shared philosophy.
3. Preparing her home by ensuring the flowers and fence are trimmed. The grass is cut and house is spotless.
4. Calling all her friends and sisters to let them know that they should visit pronto.
5. Getting men of God to help in the transition. Prayers and more prayers.
Speaking of men of God, yesterday I met a female pastor who was praying for mother and she asked me not to leave her side for the next 2 days. I needed to go home and shower but now I will be here waiting for a sign or reason why she asked me to be the one at her side. This story continues with this creepy phone call.
Aunt Christine: Hello. I can’t come over this week. You know I had a dream where I ran out of the hospital ward because your mother was getting worse. I told you to stay seated by her side because I was not strong enough to stay. I am now too scared to meet her.