Roles Reversed

I’ve been chronically unwell for the last 30 years. During that time I’ve endured 20 surgeries, 40 bowel obstructions, a permanent ileostomy and for the last few years pancreatitis attacks. Through all of it from my search for a diagnosis at age 11 through to my last stint in the hospital in May of this year, my mom has been there for me. Now I’m getting to repay a small amount of the debt that I owe her. Our roles have been reversed.

In September she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, has had a mastectomy, a removal of her reconstructed breast, tens of doctors appointments, a port put in and had her first chemo treatment last week. Her surgeries, her chemo treatment and her doctors are in a hospital that’s right across the street from the hospital I’ve gone to since I was 11. Now I’m the one driving her up north to some of her appointments to north of Atlanta so she can get well.

Helping mom heal has been just as healing for me.  Over the years mom has invested so much of her time and energy into my mere survival that I’m grateful I’m able to help her now in her time of need. One of my biggest fears when she was first diagnosed was that I wouldn’t be of any help, and I would be unable to step up and be at least a partial care giver. I was struggling horribly with debilitating pain when she was first diagnosed. I was in the midst of months of pain due to pancreatitis caused by a gallstone.

My GI doctor during this time wanted me to have surgery but I refused. Instead I started a course of cannabis capsules and in about ten days the pain was gone. I’d had that horrible pain for at least two months straight. Before I started the cannabis, I would sleep in the bathtub  at night because the hot water along with oxycodone was the only way I could find some relief. Then one Saturday it just stopped. And this was a couple weeks out from mom’s surgery. I knew if i had surgery I’d been unable to help her. I’m glad I made that call.

I owe my life to my mom not only for giving birth to me but for helping keep me alive through all the trials of surgery and chronic pain over the last 30 years. This year I became a Primal Health Coach and mom was my first client. I live with mom and I do most of the grocery shopping and I’ve cooked the majority of the meals since I’ve moved in. Mom has lost nearly 100 pounds in a year. Her doctor told her that for women who are overweight it’s harder to detect small tumors in a mammogram.

Her cancer was super aggressive and if they hadn’t caught the tumors when they did it could have been a whole different outcome. Her doctor said that losing the weight could have saved her life.  I’m grateful I’ve been able to play a small part in helping get her cancer detected as well with her recovery and ongoing journey now with getting through chemo.

Love isn’t about a scale to be balanced. It’s not about clearing up a “debt”. Mom taught us all that love is unconditional and that it’s not a word, it’s an action. During her recent bout with cancer all of our family have been able to show mom how much we all love her by helping take her to the doctor, sit with her during chemo, cook for her and help her get through the nights of bone pain and nausea. We are doing nothing more than merely acting as a mirror reflecting back a small amount of the love she’s always shown us.

Experiencing the care giver role recently has given me a new respect for what mom and what my family have gone through during these many years of my surgeries, illness and all the uncertainty that goes along with it. In the end we do what we must in the midst of the uncertainty of illness and pain, and we are able to endure because of those that love us most.

2 thoughts on “Roles Reversed

  1. I’m sure your mom is forever grateful and appreciative to have a wonderful son like you. Just make sure you take care of yourself too because, like I constantly tell myself (I have chronic pain and multiple chronic health conditions) you can only help people as long as you are able to and you can’t do that if you don’t take care of yourself first. Wish you and your mom the best of luck!

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