Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Part Where My Mom Gets Abducted by Aliens

First, let me apologize for putting up a post about depression and then leaving for a few weeks. Not cool. I apologize, but then again every thing went a little crazy a few weeks ago . . . It started with a call from my mother and ended with me sitting jet lagged in front of a computer in South Carolina.

About 3 1/2 weeks ago, on a normal Sunday afternoon, my mom called. This was not too strange, as we often chat on Sundays. She told me that she had gone to the gym the previous week and had hurt herself.

"Man my abs and stomach area hurt so bad, I could not get out of bed the next morning."

"Good for you mom! That is a good workout."

"Not really. I went to the doctor thinking it might be a ruptured cyst. She sent me for an ultrasound and I am going to in for the results tomorrow."

"That does not sound so bad, Mom."

"Well our conversation went like this . . .

The Doctor: We found something on the ultrasound.

Mom: What is it?

The Doctor: I am not sure, but I do not think it is life threatening. I want you to come in soon. Is Monday morning okay?

Note to doctors everywhere: Never tell someone that you "think it is not life threatening" on a Friday afternoon and then make an appointment for Monday. This does not make for the happiest of weekends.

The next day my mom called me back. The doctor thinks it is a tumor. On her ovary. A 10 cm tumor. My mom was, understandably, a little freaked out and had in her hand a referral for a surgeon that specializes in gynecology and oncology. She went there on a Friday.

That doctor was very optimistic. There was nothing on the ultrasound besides the one "growth" but we would never know until it came out and so that needed to happen and soon.

The Monday before Thanksgiving (this was last week, ya'll!) my mom called me with her surgery date: Monday, November 30. After much discussion, the German and I agreed that I would fly out to SC. Not only did I want to take care of my mom and hold her hand, there were other things that needed to be done, which I could help with. Last Wednesday I bought a ticket. On Thursday I fed the masses with a 12 pound turkey. On Saturday I taught all day and administered an examination. On Sunday, I took the Dude to my in-laws, kissed my boys goodbye and flew to the US.

That brings us to two days ago. Dad-squared and I sat and sat in the waiting room. When I get nervous, I clean. So I kept wandering around the waiting room putting away magazines and throwing away empty coffee cups. It drew stares.

A few hours later the doctor came down. It was the first time I met him. He looks just like Steve Colbert and he gave me some of the best news of my life.

"It's not cancer," he said with a wide grin. "But it also was not on her ovary."

Um, say what?

Upon entering the abdominal area the doctor found a perfectly healthy ovary. Looking to the side he saw the tumor growing on the inside of the abdominal wall. He gave us pictures, ya'll! Pictures! I think it looked like a testicle, a ball hanging in a sack. (For those worried, I did get permission from my mom to use that description!) after taking it out both he and the pathologist agreed that it was a fibroid tumor. Smiles all around.

My mom stayed in the hospital overnight and after sneaking her out for a cigarette, I was able to take her home yesterday. I will be here the rest of the week taking care of my family, a roll that I never expected, but happily assume.

The doctors have no idea why these kinds of things develop. Our theory is that my mom was abducted and impregnated by aliens.

This entire incident has brought up feelings and anxieties that most ex-pats face. Who will take care of my parents when they get sick? My parents did so much for me as a child, especially my mom. It not only my duty to take care of them, it is an instinct, a pull that I feel. Just as I want to sooth and reassure my son, I want to give my parents the same care when the time comes . . . so when I go home, I may have to start converting the basement into an apartment, because you never know what the future will bring.

Until then I am going to enjoy my parents, curl into bed with my mom, watch really bad TV and drink tea. We always joked that my mom had balls of steel, given all of the things that she has experienced and accomplished in life. I just hope that we have not removed the source of all her superpowers.

Oh, and the pictures . . . this year's Christmas card, baby!


Michelle said...

Relieved to hear that it was benign! And I think we all worry about that scenario of when things go wrong back home - both from dealing with it when it occurs and also always being somewhat uneasy or guilty about all the time we spend away when things are ok. Glad you could get back and be there during this time.

Rositta said...

First of all I am glad to hear that your Mom is okay. It was good for you to be with her and I'm sure she will never forget that. I'm also getting abdominal pain and had an ultra sound yesterday. The suspicion is that it is a gallstone hiding in the bile duct. These pains started after the gallbladder came out. Unfortunately I have to wait for Dec 17th to get any results and the ultra sound techie wasn't talking. It's going to be a stressful couple of weeks. My offspring lives 3000 km away and I always worry about who would take care of me the way I took care of m Mom...ciao

christina said...

Oh wow, Claire. I'm so glad it was sort of "nothing" after all and that they managed to resolve things. You just never know what your body is going to throw at you. Since those fibroid tumors can also grow on the outside of the uterus I wonder if it was one of those that sort of went wild and found a new home.

I know what you mean about worrying about parents. I have been worrying plenty lately, about my parents' health issues, lifestyle and financial stuff etc and it's totally nervewracking. One brother is there with them, one in Ottawa and me here so it's hard to get together and discuss stuff.

Frau said...

So glad your Mom is okay and that you were able to be there. I think it is hard to worry about family especially being so far away. My sister is going through a separation and I get calls of tears from her I feel bad not being closer to help with her young children etc..
Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Carol said...

So glad your mom is OK! My mothers story started so much like that -- a call to me after a day in the gym... something on her ovary...

She was not so lucky, as you know.

I'm so happy to read a happy ending here!


Anonymous said...

First of all, thank you to all for their thoughts and prayers. They are greatly appreciated. Most of all, thanks to Matthias and his family for picking up the slack so that Claire could be here. As much as we wished she didn't spend the money to fly home for this, her help was appreciated and needed. She jumped right in and took care of all the daily details of our lives. Your help with K was great. I know that she is going to miss you a lot. I don't think I could have gotten through the week without all of your help. As a parent, you never think twice to be there for your child. You never think that your child should be there for you. I will never be able to express how proud I am of you and how blessed we are to have you for a daughter and aunt.
Love, Mom

LizE said...

I am so happy for you Claire that you got to be with your mom and were obviously such a huge help! It sounds like you had the best possible solution and I'm glad you received such a fabulous early Christmas present. And while I know you missed your cutie pie son, just think what a fabulous example you are setting for him :-)
xox Liz

Carrie said...

Glad to hear your mom came through everything well. I wonder the same thing with my mother and she's only 3 hours away...i can't imagine being an ocean away.

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