I had a pretty difficult discussion with my dad last night. I don’t really know how much I can write down because my mind is just mush at the moment.
My mom’s surgery is being postponed until next Friday because they need more time to wait for her new ‘leg parts’ to arrive. Let me try to break down what’s happened with her thus far…
This was mom’s first operation on her leg. Or should I clarify, the first operation on her leg this time around. See, she broke her femur last year on a seemingly innocent fall. Turns out it was because there was a tumor on her leg. So a couple of months ago she got an operation on her leg to replace the damaged non-healing cancerous bone with a steel rod. We couldn’t figure out why she never seemed to heal from this operation and was always in pain.
Turns out that the cancer was doing a number on her leg in and around the steel rod. That meant the break wasn’t healing and she’d have to get another operation done in an attempt to “race” the cancer. This would lead us into her second operation.
So this time around the doctors decided that they’d have to replace her leg bone all the way down to mid-way into her calf (highlighted in blue). This meant a new knee and specialized pieces that would fit both her bone and the piece of steel already inserted into her leg (highlighted in red).
This is where things got really scary. Mom’s operation was a difficult one as the doctors almost lost her on the operating table on three separate occasions. I can only assume her body simply wasn’t strong enough to handle the trauma and they fought to keep her alive.
The doctor said that parts of her bone “were mush” and that he had never seen a cancer act that aggressive on someone’s leg before.
The operation that’s scheduled to take next Friday is yet another chapter in the “Cancer Saga” that has been my mom’s life for the past couple of years. Apparently the cancer has eaten through the bone above the steel rod and has basically disconnected the bone from the steel, resulting in her leg detaching.
Thankfully mom’s not in a lot of physical pain from this because of the copious amounts of drugs that are being pumped into her. Unfortunately these drugs make mom seem like a late-stage Alzheimer’s patient…which is brutally difficult for everybody.
Moms operation is a lot more serious than her previous one because they’re removing the entire upper portion of her leg and replacing it with more steel (highlighted in purple). It was originally scheduled for today but because the steel rod needs to be specially designed to fit into mom’s hip, it’s going to take more time to get completed.
Obviously, with the doctors almost losing mom on her last operation, this one has us extremely nervous due to it being so much bigger in scope and scale. In addition, the doctors don’t really think she’s physically at the point they’re comfortable with to do this operation but feel as though they can’t wait any further.
This brings me to last night’s conversation with my dad.
After careful discussions between my mom and dad, they informed the doctor today that they want to sign a DNR document before the operation. For those not aware of what that acronym means, it’s a Do Not Resuscitate document…also known as a living will.
“A Do Not Resuscitate document, often called a living will, is a binding legal document that states resuscitation should not be attempted if a person suffers cardiac or respiratory arrest.“
This was difficult to hear, to say the least. It was difficult for my dad to tell me. At the end of the day, they just want mom’s suffering to stop. If this operation is successful and she can rebound to her NEXT operation (the one that repairs the ruptured disc in her back that’s because of yet more cancerous tumors), then the hope is that she can recover and live life again…until the next time this disease attacks her. There are apparently a lot of things that could go wrong with this operation, so my dad just doesn’t want to see mom suffer anymore.
My mom has suffered tremendously over the past few years in dealing with this disease, the last year in particular. My dad is a wreck…working through the emotional pain and just trying to hide his feelings away. It’s tough to see my family in so much pain.
It’s hard to come to terms with the very real possibility that a parent will die. I’m 38 years old…it was only a matter of time, I suppose. But my mom is only 64…she’s really too young to be dying like this. But it’s something that I know all too well after losing my cousin to cancer a few years ago at the age of 34: cancer doesn’t care how old you are.
I’m sorry for rambling on like this. I know it’s therapeutic to get these things off of my chest and out of my mind but I can only imagine how depressing it must be for you to read.
All I know for certain is that I’ve got my son for the weekend and I’m going to hug him very tightly tonight. He’s going to be my focus and I’m going to do whatever I can to gather some positive energy and pass it along to him so we have the best weekend we possibly can.
I’ll do my best to not think about next week just yet.