Keep walking

Not much new to report with Mom. We’ve let her lousy prognosis sink in a bit. She’s revisited the idea of seeing some of the cancer docs at UPMC again, but as her oncologist told us at her last appointment, if the UPMC docs can’t help Mom, there’s not much else to be done. On the other hand, though, they haven’t seen her since we learned that her lung cancer has spread and is now stage 4.

Mom and I did tour the assisted living area of her campus, where she decided solidly against it. Too expensive.

When we called my sister afterward to brief her, she and I gave Mom a good talking-to, saying that even though we could try to approximate that level of care by hiring hourly, “a la carte” care, it wouldn’t bring us, her daughters, the same peace of mind that assisted living would. In assisted living, they physically check on her every two hours. At her apartment, my sister and I have to check on her by phone.

And Lord help us if she doesn’t answer. That stress is unbearable. I’ve made that drive, walked down that long hallway, afraid of what I may find behind that door.

For Pete’s sake, the first night in her apartment, she ended up on the floor, where she stayed for the night until we stopped by after church the next morning to check on her.

I tried to communicate to Mom that her not having enough care for her has taken a toll on me (hello, 25 pounds gained in 10 months!), but I’m not sure if she got it. I’ve made an effort over the last three years not to let her see how put out I am, because I didn’t want her to feel guilty (it’s not entirely HER fault she’s so sick), but my tactics may have backfired. I don’t know if Mom sees what dealing with her illnesses has done to ME.

Note to self: I don’t ever want to lay the kind of stress and guilt on my kids that my mom has laid on me.

Last week was a quiet week, the first since…January? The first two days I devoted to walking the dog and catching up on housework. Wednesday I got my workout in and took Mom to lunch. Thursday I walked again, and felt strong enough to tackle our den to get it habitable (I’m writing this in the den today!). By Friday, we were utterly out of groceries, so I shopped at 8:30 am, and by the time I got home and put everything away, I was wiped out and a puddle. (Missed my walk that day: coincidence? I think not.)

Yesterday, Saturday, I missed my walk again, and ended up having a mental health meltdown which took out my whole day and left me a quivering mass of protoplasm.

Another note to self: just keep walking. Especially when you don’t feel like it. It may not make you feel great, but it will keep you from feeling so much WORSE.

Plan for this week: keep putting one foot in front of the other. Literally.


About Kathleen

Kathleen Heuer is a serial arts advocate and volunteer. She is the mom of two beautiful girls, wife to a brilliant nuclear engineer, and referee between her golden retriever and her hissy 18-year-old cat. For more, go to
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4 Responses to Keep walking

  1. Colleen says:

    I so know what you’re going through. I got a call while out of town on business that my mom had fallen. The best I could do was send my son to check on her. I’m back in town now but will still be traveling between now and the end of year. I’m also having to work some on weekends while also doing errand running for my mom. Now please explain to my out of town sisters who don’t hold down full-time jobs what it’s like to have a demanding job, a family and an aging mom to juggle.

    At some point we have to tell our mom’s that we can’t provide the level of care they need. You’re there and need to stick to your guns. And yes, start letting your mom know that staying with the status quo is not good for YOUR health. If your health breaks where will your mom will be then?

  2. Sandwiched says:

    Thanks. It’s good to hear comments like yours, because if it were just Mom and me, I’d probably just be my perfectionistic, people-pleasing self and throw myself under the bus to prove my love for my (often overbearing) mother. It can be hard to know what’s truly reasonable. Sometimes I feel guilty that she’s not living with me, but then I realize that if she was, I wouldn’t be married anymore. So it’s a trade-off.

  3. Natalia says:

    Putting one foot in front of the other…great plan! I think you’re right, you do need to get her to understand how peace of mind would be a wonderful thing for you!

  4. Natalia says: are things going? I hope that you had a great Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year!

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