This last weekend, I drove 6 hours to go home and see my mom. She had surgery on Tuesday, and due to complications she became severely ill. If you’ve read one of my previous articles about her (I Got It From My Momma), then you know that my mom has dealt with health issues her entire life. About 4 years ago, on top of everything else, she was diagnosed with Gastroparesis. Gastroparesis is a condition that affects the stomach muscles and prevents your stomach from emptying properly. And it’s also something that people with MS can develop if certain nerves are damaged. My mom does not have MS, but the nerve was possibly damaged by her life long struggle with kidney disease among other things. Basically, in normal digestion, our stomach muscles contract and help our food and stomach acid to move into the intestines, but hers are unable to do that so everything is left in her stomach. This causes her extreme pain and discomfort along with nausea and vomiting. It also affects her ability to eat properly and maintain proper nutrients.
Admiring her inner strength
The surgery she had was to try and help her food move to the intestines properly so that her body can get the nutrients it needs to survive. Unfortunately, it didn’t work, and after surgery her stomach retained a lot of fluid causing a lot of vomiting and dehydration. She even began to vomit undigested blood or what they call coffee ground vomitus, which was very scary. They had to insert a nasogastric (NG) tube through her nose, down her throat and into her stomach so that they could remove all of the extra fluid. They ended up removing about 3 liters of fluid (a normal stomach holds about 1.5 liters). They also had to insert a PICC line so that she can have some kind of long-term nutrition. This disease causes rapid weight loss, so her strength and weight have sadly decreased, but her inner strength is something I truly admire. She’s slowly beginning to heal, but it’s going to be a long and difficult process.
Support during the hard times
I write all of the gory details not to gross you out or disturb you, but to show you the cold hard truth of what my mom is facing. I have watched my mom struggle with chronic illness since I was very young. It’s been scary, and it’s been hard. But, one thing my mom is taught me is how to stay strong even when you feel like giving up hope. Growing up I never knew I would also face a chronic illness, so my diagnosis was a shock to my system. But, watching my mom persevere has taught me that even when you feel your worst you can still put a smile on your face and push through it. There are so many times my mom could have chosen to give up. In fact, as I sat with her this weekend, I was amazed at how even through the pain and sickness you could still see the fight in her eyes. Sure, it has dwindled from the full fight that was once there but it’s still there despite it all. It inspired me to continue my fight daily. And as I sat with my family this past weekend I was humbly reminded of the loving and supportive family and friends that I have. Support during the hard times isn’t just something to wish for, it’s one of the most important things we all desperately need. I’m exhausted from the quick trip and stress of my mom’s situation, but I have to push through it. Even if it takes me a week or longer to recover, I’m going to find that light at the end of the tunnel. If she can push through the things she has, I feel like I too have the ability to do anything.
Sometimes living with chronic illness we all can feel like a burden to those around us. The constant struggle isn’t easy on anyone. However, if you know that those around you love you regardless you shouldn’t feel that way. Sometimes it feels easier to give up hope when everything seems to be going downhill, but we have to keep pushing for our loved ones, but most importantly ourselves. Chronic illness and disease shouldn’t stop us from pursuing our dreams, from fighting to reach our goals and from living our lives to their fullest potential. I know that’s much easier said than done some days, but to me the hope of something bigger and brighter is always worth battling for. Surround yourself with positivity and the people who care about you most and be the warrior you were born to be.
We can beat the odds
Right now, watching my mom be so sick does feel hopeless. It feels like sometimes the curves life throws us are too much to bear. But, like I said earlier, I’ve watched her beat the odds time and time again and I believe she has a lot of fight left. And, from my standpoint I know I have to keep fighting for her and for myself. I just want you to know, if you are feeling hopeless and like a burden to those around you, please don’t. We all have our issues and those who love you want to see you overcome whatever it is that you’re facing. We can do it, maybe not alone, but together, as a team…we can beat the odds.
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” –Eleanor Roosevelt