Happy 89th Birthday Mom!

Stubborn old mule Pearl Thoman 1, Cancer 0.

I’ve spent a lot of time the last six weeks hovering over and around this old bird as doctors were trying to figure out why her blood count was so low and she was so out of gas. Some said meh, almost 89 years old is old.

Tests, more tests; test to see if she could stand other tests, a hospital stay to pump in disappearing blood. They found the internal bleeding that left her with less than half the blood she normally would have, then what to do, if anything, about the tumor they finally found as the cause. She’s old, some of the expert doctors told us, we can do major surgery, or maybe we should just let her live out her days.

Having MPOA for my Dad was a drag. MPOA for Mom was looking worse. Let it ride or chance the surgery? One on ten chance she dies on the table, the experts at Loyola tell me, and she’s not healthy, and she’s old. Maybe she should just enjoy what time she has left.

What up, Mom, what do you want? If you go down, you want to go down fighting? OK, surgery it is. The cancer surgery at Loyola Hospital one month ago was a low point for my brothers and sisters, but we all pulled together from all over the country, and we were here for her.

The seven hour scheduled surgery took less than three hours. Good news or really bad news? Good news; when they opened her up from port to starboard for the Whipple Procedure, things looked way better than they thought. Then the post surgery biopsy came back really positive. The blood thinner she was on, Kumadin, had accelerated the internal bleeding, leading them to a very early discovery of a cancerous group of cells in a tumor they beleive was a primary and singular site.

Recovery went, in one week, from tubes in her nose, neck, arms and hands, and pretty much completely mentally confused, to going home one very rough week later, no tubes, regaining her faculties, and four weeks later, today, we are celebrating her 89th birthday. She’s back on her feet, back to her sharp wit, back to being a stubborn old mule, ready (shudder) to pass her driver’s test, which she just did, with flying colors.

It’s an instant reality check when a parent gets really sick, and it usually ends in mourning. But that day is not today. One stubborn old mule, refusing to give up.


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