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Things Were Going Too Well

I've been away, I know.  That doesn't mean I haven't been writing.

I wrote the following email to the director of my writing residency, and I reprint it here, because honestly, I don't want to type this information again.  That would make it... you know... real.

Today, my family, which lives in Cincinnati, was told that my father must have one kidney and part of his liver removed due to an aggressive tumor.  It's not yet known when the surgery will be, but it could well take place during the residency. My sister and her husband have three boys under the age of six and my mother is struggling with her own health-related concerns; obviously, I'll more than likely be home at some point to help and to offer what comfort I can. Therefore, I might be late, I might have to leave and come back in the middle, or I might have to leave early.

I spoke with my mother and she said that I'd be of most help at home about a week after the surgery, when he is out of the hospital. Dad doesn't want me flying in to sit in the hospital for five hours and then watch him enjoying the morphine for a week.  I will abide by his wishes.

I'll be in Colorado whenever I am confident that my family does not require my presence.  Not only is it my professional obligation... it is something I will truly need at this time. It will be a great blessing and comfort to be in my mountains when the rest of the world is caving in.

There are several Medicare hoops to jump through before this takes place, so it could be a few weeks yet.  I'll keep you apprised.  Thanks so much for your kindness and understanding.

-Mary Beth

and yes, there are patron saints of kidneys at:  mbe@drinktothelasses.com

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Reader Comments (26)

[...] Beth is back and explains it all. Share and [...]

Mary Beth, I'm praying for you and your family. I'll also be sending positive thoughts and karma your way as well.

April 14, 2010 | Unregistered Commentervnaumann

MB -

You are a strong woman, stronger than you know. Can't get that way without strong roots. As this is a very difficult trip that you and yours will be taking, St. Christopher is my go to guy. Travelling this road you'll need his strength. And heaven forbid you run into any pestilence, flooding or get struck with a toothache, he's already on board there too! All my best thoughts and prayers to you and your family.

April 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCindy

Oh, MB, I am so very sorry to hear this. I am praying that God would provide absolute healing for your father, extra measures of grace, a peace that defies logic, wisdom to make the best choices, faith to sustain during difficult moments, and beauty to encourage your soul. "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. " Lam 3:21-23

April 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJess

I'm awfully sorry. My heart goes to you, your dad and the rest of your family.

Keep reminding your dad that watching his grandchildren grow up will be worth the pain.

April 14, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterred pill junkie

Oh, MB. I went though something similar with my mom last summer. It's like being sucker punched in the gut. Just deal the best you can. Good luck to your Dad and family.

April 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEm the Reader

Oh, Mary Beth, I'm so sorry!
St. Benedict is a good one to pray to - my father's church growing up was St. Benedict's.
Many (((((hugs)))))) and healing thoughts headed to you and your father and your whole family during this dreadful time. Keep us posted, as you are able. You all are in my thoughts and prayers.

April 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKris

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mary Beth Ellis. Mary Beth Ellis said: Things were going too well: http://tinyurl.com/y5x9pof [...]

Oh no! I am so sorry to hear this.

I will keep you in my prayers. Keep your chin up and remember God is there even when you don't think he is.

MUCH love and hugs from Oregon...

April 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

Sorry to hear about your Dad, MB.

But if your parents can handle "three boys under the age of six," the tumor should be no trouble at all. :)

When you get some time, I'd love to hear more about how Colorado and the residency are going.

April 14, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterj.s.

Beth - you and your family are in my prayers. If you are back here Cincinnati and need any help, please email me at hollee@holleedazeink.net and I will glad to be of assistance. I am at your disposal.

April 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHollee Chadwick

I'm so sorry MB - please let us here in Cincy know if there is anything we can do to help you and the family. I'll be thinking of you . . .

April 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie

I am praying for you and your family. I have a bunch of advice but can't type well on the phone so I will send it tomorrow. Love and prayers, Kelly

April 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKelle Belle

OH, MB, I'm so sorry. We'll definitely be thinking of you and JTP these days. I'm thinking of the title of one of your "Top Posts": God Is Watching Us, And Not From a Distance Either. I suspect that one was sent as a bit of tongue-in-cheek, but now there is wisdom in that thought... May you know His presence.

April 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTim Hunter

Thanks, Dad : )

April 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMB

I am so sorry to hear this MB. I hope and pray the Lord will watch over you and your family - bringing healing and peace.

April 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCathy Bell

I am back at a proper keyboard and can send some experienced advice.

1-Keep your Xanax close at hand. If you even feel a twinge of a panic attack coming on, use it. I repeat, use it. You having a panic attack when you are needed is not going to help anyone.

2-Doctors are dirty liars. Surgeons have no social skills. It is a fact of like that you must accept. Any time they are not cutting or proceduring something, they get pissy. Here are some of the most common lies.
---"The surgery will take 2 hours." This is a false statement, the correct answer is "The surgery will take as long as it takes for me to do my best work and ensure a positive outcome. Every person is different and I will take my time and not rush as your father is the only thing I am concerned about."
--"There will be some pain but we can give him meds for that." They lie. There will be a lot of pain and they will want to give him Tylenol and have him do deep breathing to control the pain. Tell your mom and dad not to be afraid to ask for something stronger. Surgeons really don't care about how you feel. They only care about their work. Talk to the nurses, they listen and really do the brunt of the work post-op.
--"You'll be back on your feet in x amount of weeks." Total Lie. It will take about a month or so longer for your Dad to be back to his normal self, don't worry if he doesn't recover as fast as the Dr says.

3- Make your parents get a notebook. Tell them to write all their questions in it. Have them write all the things the Drs tell them in it at each appt. When they make calls to Medicare, have them record who they talk to and what the outcome was. Record everything and keep it all in the notebook. It is so much easier to have everything together. And will be helpful to the Drs later, if they need to know who else was consulted.

4- ASK QUESTIONS. Don't be afraid to ask anything. You've never done this before, the Dr does it often, they tend to forget all the details.

5-Use people. I am sure you will have people offering to help. LET THEM. Get them to make dinners for you or drive your parents to appts. If they don't have to worry about traffic, it can make them more relaxed and focused for the appts. If someone wants to come and sit with your Dad when he is home, let them. Take any and all breaks that you can, so that you can take care of your self. It is completely true that you can't take care of your Dad, if you don't take care of yourself first.

6-My guess is that he will have a visiting nurse, PT and a home health aide, upon coming home. USE THEM. They get paid to do the icky stuff. Yes, you might have to do some yourself, but they are trained and can help you. Also, if your Dad has a big incision, he may have trouble moving. Have them or the nurses in the hopsital, show you the proper way to move him. It will be easier on him and you. Plus, there will be a better chance that you won't hurt yourself.

7- This is the hard one. BE MEAN if your Dad needs it. There will be times, he might not want to do his exercises. MAKE HIM. It is hard to watch him struggle, but if he doesn't he won't get better and then you'll have to take care of him forever. The exercises are there for a reason and yes they are completely tiring but it is worth the pain.

8-Ask about medicines. Chances are, your Dad is going to come home on meds, he didn't have before. Make sure you understand, what they do and why he needs them. Also find out when it is best to give them to him. I find a lot of hospitals give sleeping pills and laxitives at the same time. I know. Right? (And any good pain med will bind you.) So once you get home you can give meds at more appropriate times. Also, ask about what food restrictions there are. Again, Drs and RNs do this every day and tend to forget all the details. Also, ask about side effects. They tend to forget about those the most. (Pain meds can lead to stomach distress, make sure you ask if he needs something to protect his stomach before you leave the hospital.)

I do realize you won't be there for most of the hosptial part but please pass this along to your mom and sister.

This is going to be hard MB. I am sorry you have to go through it. I just spent the last 7 months watching my Dad go through this with having his aorta replaced. Once Dad got home, my grand father got sick and now I am bringing him home on hospice care. If I wasn't so needed by my family I'd head west in a heartbeat to help you. I will be praying for you.

Your Dad will be fine. It is going to be a shock at some points and that is why I suggest the Xanax, you can do no good having a panic attack when they need you. I know that you are stronger than you think. Know that I love you and am praying for you.

Let me know if there is anything else I can do. Even if you just need to vent, I've been there, I know what you are going through.

April 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKelle Belle

Prayers for you, your family and especially your Dad.

From personal experience, having an ill parent is very difficult. So I can empathsize with you (my mother-in-law has Lou Gehrig's, a/k/a ALS, and is not doing well at all).

There's not much I more I can do from Milwaukee, but know I'm thinkg of you and hope all goes well.

April 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmy the Reader

Thoughts and prayers to you all...

April 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPatchfire

Thanks for caring enough to type so much hard-won advice : )

April 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMB

Many thanks to all of you for your kind words. We feel it.

April 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMB

Sending prayers and strength your way. God bless you, MB. He is there and will sustain you, but please remember to take care of yourself....

April 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWiserlemming

Well, poop. Poopy, poop, poop! I'll be sending positive vibes your way constantly. Blessings for your family, too.

If you are driving through Western Iowa at any point and need to stop, I'm here for you.

April 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnne from Iowa

Hey MB -

Just wanted to swing by again to let ya know I'm thinking of you and your family.

Keep your chin up, sweetie. You are loved.

April 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJules

Sending thoughts and prayers your way from Wisconsin. Stay strong.

April 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKristina

[...] for other residencies.  Also, daily posts of this type in the midst of so much emotional upchuck will require, you know, work, and additional [...]

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