As mentioned before, Mum got so, so weak whilst on chemo. She lost loads of weight, lost her hair, lost the core element of what made her her. She had to start using a walking stick and being helped up and down the stairs. We had to have a concrete step installed for the front door so that she didn’t have to bear weight on one leg for too long and get into the house easily. To put that in perspective for you; my front door is raised off of the ground by about six inches.
Mum spent days in bed. She slept all the time, she had to drink nutrition replacement milkshakes rather than eating because her mouth constantly hurt and some days she just didn’t possess the willpower to chew. She loved the banana ones but “didn’t much care for the forest fruits”.
For the Easter weekend in 2017, I visited my brother and his girlfriend who lived in Liverpool at the time. I left early on the Saturday morning, and arrived home late on Monday evening. I was gone for two nights, Mum spent the whole time in my bed because she missed me so much. To get home and see your chemotherapy ill mother sleeping in your bed because she missed you was really difficult. Once she’d gone back into her own room, I realised she’d left her cup of tea on my bedside table. For some reason, that really pissed me off. This illness had stripped my Mum of so much self awareness and independence that she couldn’t even remember to take her freshly made cup of tea with her, or ask for it to be brought in for her. The disease and debilitating treatment had done that to her. It had stripped her of herself, and I was angry.
I was angry all the time. I found it stressful to be around myself – god bless my friends and colleagues that had to be around me as well.
Right at the end of June, her chemo sessions had ended and Mum was ready to have an operation to remove the tumour. She went into surgery first thing in the morning, and went into the theatre pretty soon after. Surgery took a couple of hours and the nurses gradually brought her back round. I specifically remember I was so desperate to see her that afternoon, I drove in a sort of figure of eight around the area of the hospital for about an hour waiting to call them at the time they suggested she’d be awake and feeling less groggy. I got to see her around 3pm, she was literally fine. I thought she’d be all in and out of consciousness and still high as a kite. It was great though – she felt good, looked good, and the cherry on top of the cake was that the surgeons removed NINETY PERCENT of the tumour! She had a private room and a self controlled morphine drip – thanks, NHS! Mum had to stay in hospital for three or four nights more, and kept sending me photos of the gunk that came out of her wound and down the tube that drained all the fluid. Weirdo.
After her surgery, Mum “moved in” to my Nan’s two bed bungalow for about three weeks, to regain her strength and independence. I worked every day of the week, but had time off certain mornings or afternoons and would go straight there as soon as I woke up or finished work. One morning, Mum was up and about when I got to Nan’s (Nan had popped to Saino’s like Nans do), and she made me breakfast. Mum made us scrambled egg on toast. For the first time in probably six months, my Mum made me a meal because she could.
I so appreciated that gesture because she was my Mum again.