My mom has had bleeding problems off and on ever since she went through menopause, about 20 years ago. Several D&C's and endometrial biopsies came back clear.
She started asking her doctors for a hysterectomy when my youngest brother was still in high school. He's 40 now. They kept telling her she didn't need one. Three years ago, she finally saw a gyn who agreed that she needed a hysterectomy. When he did the pre-op exam, he noticed a problem with her heart - she was in A-fib. She got referred to a cardiologist.
Two days before that appointment, she was taken to the hospital by ambulance.
The Small Town hospital near where she lives nearly killed her due to extreme negligence. The night she was admitted, they had her hooked up to an EKG but nobody noticed that she was in A-fib until my brother, who's an R.N., arrived and pointed it out to them. They admitted her with a diagnosis of pneumonia and started treating her with antibiotics. She should have been given blood thinners, to reduce the stroke risk from the A-fib but Dr. Quack didn't do anything to treat that.
A couple of days later, Brother R.N. returned to visit and realized Mom was a lot sicker than they said she was. He asked to have her transferred to Sioux City. The doctor refused. He had failed to diagnose her bowel obstruction even though (we learned later) it was clearly visible on the CT scan he ordered the night she was admitted.
My brother called in one of the paramedics who agreed with brother's assessment that she was near death, and the paramedic and my brother basically had to wrestle the staff to get my mother out of the hospital into an ambulance. She stopped breathing in the ambulance on the way to Sioux City. They resuscitated her. I met her at the emergency room there. Her heart stopped shortly after she arrived. They revived her.
She spent a few days in ICU and then a few more days in a regular room at the Sioux City hospital. They did all kinds of tests. Nobody bothered to look at the CT scan she'd had in Small Town so her bowel obstruction remained undiagnosed. The Sioux City hospital dismissed her when the insurance company said they wouldn't pay for any more days even though she was still sick and they didn't know why.
Mom went to stay with R.N. brother at his place down by Omaha. The next day, her abdomen suddenly bloated to the point where she couldn't even get out of bed. Brother recognized the symptoms of a bowel obstruction and rushed her to the Omaha hospital where he worked. It was her third near-death experience that month. They suctioned her stomach and gave her antibiotics and waited for her bowels to fix themselves.
Her intestines had somehow become tangled up then somehow untangled themselves but she still had A-fib. Her cardiologist in Omaha wanted to shock her heart back into normal rhythm but the rest of her treatment team overruled him.
So Mom was sent home with A-fib. She had spent almost 2 months in 3 different hospitals and still couldn't get her hysterectomy. Her primary care nurse practitioner referred her to a different cardiologist, he zapped her, her heart went back to normal rhythm and she was cleared for the hysterectomy.
About a week before the scheduled surgery, the hospital in Omaha called to tell her they wouldn't admit her as a patient until she paid $950 toward the balance due for her previous hospitalization (her total balance due was between $2000-3000, after insurance.) She didn't have $950 so she cancelled the surgery.
She didn't want to go back to Small Town hospital that almost killed her or Sioux City hospital that failed to diagnose her even though the problem would have been obvious if they had looked at the CT. Her vaginal bleeding had stopped, all three endo biopsies she had during that 2 months came back clear, and she was tired of dealing with doctors. She decided she didn't need a hysterectomy.
In the 3 years since then, she had a few episodes of mild bleeding but was worried about how much it would surgery cost and even more worried that something would go wrong so she kept putting it off.
Then, two weeks ago, she started having heavy bleeding. She went to her PCP who did a pelvic exam and quickly referred her to a gyn.
Last week, she had a D&C. The gyn told me he'd found a large mass in her uterus.
Today, I went with her to get the pathology results. She has cancer. Endometrial adenocarcinoma, grade 1. The same diagnosis I had. We're going to the gyn-oncologist next week. It's the same practice where I go but a different doctor.
I know how hard it is to be in her position. It's possible the cancer is contained within the uterus and surgery will be the only treatment she needs.
But I keep thinking about the nagging cough she's had for a long time. The lungs are the first place this type of cancer usually spreads. She's been having all kinds of bowel problems, so maybe it's spread there. She's also been having chronic problems with her legs, aching so bad it's hard for her to walk. The cancer could be in her bones.
I'm worried about her and want to help. But here's the part where I sound selfish.
I am pissed off that I'm the one who has to help her. I have 2 brothers who live just as close to her as I do and a third brother who's down by Omaha, where the gyn-onc is. But she doesn't even want to tell them what's going on. She expects me to handle everything.
I resent the hell out of the fact that no one in my family was here to help me when I was going through all this - including her. It was 9 months from my cancer diagnosis till end of treatment, and I didn't get a single card or phone call or visit from any of my brothers. Mom rode with me to gyn-onc appointments in Omaha but everyone there always thought she was the patient because I was the one catering to her.
The day of my 5-hour cancer staging surgery, Mom and my sister-in-law came into my room right after they brought me up there. I was still half out of it and the nurses were taking my vitals and trying to get me situated. Mom stood at the end of my bed, complained that nobody had told them I was out of surgery, and informed me that my nephew had a baseball game that night so she was going home with my SIL.
I spent the night alone and in pain. The next day Mom refused to eat lunch at the hospital even though she could have had anything she wanted delivered to my room for $5.00. We had to stop at McDonald's on the way home. Twenty-four hours after major surgery, it's a 2 hour drive home, I wasn't given any pain meds when I left the hospital, and I had to walk into McDonalds and sit there and watch her eat.
When we finally got to my place, I was under strict orders not to lift anything but Mom started complaining about all the stairs so I carried my own suitcase up to my apartment - as well as hers! Then she sat on my couch and pissed and moaned that her knee hurt and that there was cat puke on the carpet.
So I'm on my hands and knees cleaning up cat puke, then scooping out the kitty litter and spraying air freshener while my mom - who's supposed to be there to "help" just watches and complains that she can still smell it.
She was supposed to spend the night but I knew I couldn't take another minute of listening to her problems. I told her I was feeling great and didn't need her after all. After she left, I drove myself to the pharmacy to get my pain meds, even though I wasn't supposed to drive.
I went through 6 rounds of chemo alone. Twenty-eight radiation treatments alone.
Once when I was talking to her on the phone, she cried and said she felt bad because she couldn't do anything to help me. I said I needed a ride to my next chemo treatment. I was just throwing her a bone because I could have driven myself and I had a couple of friends who would give me rides. I thought it might be nice to have some company while I sat there for 5 hours. But she just dropped me off at the cancer center then went shopping. She came back at the end of the day to pick me up then dropped me off at home. She didn't even come in.
Now dealing with the fact that she has cancer is bringing all that back. I was just getting to the point where I was starting to believe that maybe I'm not going to die from cancer. Now I have to deal with the fact that maybe my mom is.