I haven’t posted anything since December. For many reasons, my interest in blogging crashed. I have been in Southern California since mid-December. I came to celebrate the holidays with one of my sisters and her daughter.
I stayed to help care for my sister, who discovered on December 27th that her breast cancer had returned and metastasized to her hip. On December 29th, her pain and inability to move on her own were so great we had to call 911. Today, she is doing well, following surgery, radiation, and oral chemotherapy. But it hasn’t always been an easy journey. And now, I remain in Southern California under a stay-at-home order as Covid-19 forces much of the country to shelter in place. Who knows how long I will be here. I live in Virginia. The stay-at-home order there runs through June 10, 2020.
I’ll be honest. The last three months have been a challenge for all of us. Watching my sister in terrible pain. Waiting for the results of each test and scan. Waking up and wondering what day it was and what was procedure was scheduled. It was my choice to stay and be her caregiver, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Luckily, three of our other sisters and her son were able to come for shorter periods of time to provide support, advocate for her care, and to give me a break.
Her recovery from her February 3rd hip reconstruction and replacement surgery to remove the tumor and the damaged bone has been slow but steady. Today, she was organizing one of her kitchen cupboards, as best she could with her continuing movement prohibitions.
Now we are bound together by a virus. I was able to make two quick trips home, one in early January and one in mid-March. Returning to California on March 17th, just as many of the travel warnings and restrictions were being put in place, was an eerie experience. Empty airports, nearly empty planes. Confusion about the lack of interest on the part of anyone in the airports if I had traveled outside the US recently. No extra screening. I flew on Delta and have to say I have never been on such a clean airplane. I felt like the airline took the risks of spreading the virus seriously.
I’ve learned a few things over the last three months. I’ve learned how comforting the company of a cat can be when you are worried about someone in the hospital.
I’ve learned that even with the best medical care (and her’s has been wonderful) patients need to have family or friends to advocate for them so they don’t get lost in the circus that can be modern medicine. I’ve learned I never want to be in a skilled nursing facility if I have a choice. I was so distressed by the facility she was transferred to after her surgery that I wanted to put her in the car and run away. I’ve learned how important family is and how comforting it is to know they care. I’ve learned to appreciate social media (in most of its forms) for providing immediate connections and information, both on a personal and a human level. And I’ve learned how glad I am that I am not going through the pandemic on my own, isolated in my house in Virginia.
Oh, and I have learned to admire the doctors, nurses, and other medical professional who don’t always get the credit they deserve. And my hat is off to anyone who is a caregiver. I have a new appreciation for the struggles long term caregivers must face.
I think I am ready to return to my blog. I don’t have access to my photo archives so who knows what sorts of pictures I will post. Luckily, I have lots on my phone. In an age of uncertainty, I am going to try to put a bit of order back into life.