I was up at 6:30 a.m. this morning. Jet lag is getting better!
I did end up getting to work at 6 a.m. on Thursday morning. LOL. I drove in and left promptly at 3 p.m. and miraculously got home without killing myself. I did steal a solid hour of nap later in the afternoon though. How solid? I started the nap laying on the couch. When Brandon came in to wake me up, I was sitting and I had no idea how I got there. Yeah…interesting, isn’t it?
But a sleepy Thursday worked out to my advantage as I slept through the night and woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed right before my alarm went off on Friday. Yey! The day at work was quite normal except for massive sleepiness in the afternoon. Thank god for the bus as I slept like a rock all the way home.
I have been talking to some people about this recent trip. While I was in Bangkok and still the same way since I returned, I felt as if I have always been there. You know, since my last trip in July. I tried very hard to remember what all happened between my last trip and this one, and that two months don’t even register in my brain.
I mean, I have to look at the blog to remind me that I really was here between July and August. The last thing I remember was the day of fun at San Diego Zoo. It seemed, much like me sitting up on the couch in my sleep, I sleepwalked through a few months of my life and I didn’t even realize it.
It has been odd being back. I came home to many, many cards. My coworkers left one for me at work as well and got me crying my first day back. Heh. The outpouring of sympathy and support is more than I expected.
At the same time, I suddenly understand what I have read in many books about how everyone around you who knows seems to be tiptoeing. I know people mean very well when they ask how you are doing. But when some of them returned my “I’m fine” with “Really? Are you sure?”, that starts to get a little irritating.
I understand that if my mom’s death was sudden, I could be a lot more devastated that this. But with my mom’s long history of the illness, it seems I had the time to come to terms with her death.
Every time the phone rang and I got news that she was worse, I cried my head off. It almost felt like I was putting a deposit into an account. By the time we got to the actual death, that Bank of Sorrow was full. And I could hurt no more.
Like I told a few folks, with me and my mom, it seems that we had said our goodbyes when I left her after her very first chemo. I still have that image of mom, standing on the top of the stairs, looking at me leaving in my mind. That was the last time I saw her whole.
We had said all sorts of things to each other then, solving some of our issues and perhaps starting a few new spats. But it was us, being us as if there was to be no next trip. Ever the practical one, I want to believe she wanted to make it so that just in case something happened while I was gone, neither one of us would have any regrets.
Regrets? Oh, I have plenty. More like a heap of guilt topped with anger, really. Angry at the way she was treated. Angry at the shenanigans that was her final hours. Guilty that I wasn’t there for any of her ordeal since the discovery of the cancer all the way down to her last breath. (Actually, outside of Kob the Caregiver, none of us were there.)
Guilty that I never aspired to be the dutiful and glamorous daughter she could really be proud of.
When I received the call from my dad around noon PST on August 20, it was 2 a.m. August 21 Bangkok time. My family and Aunty Sida along with her daughter and son-in-law were getting to the hospital after receiving a call about mom’s rapidly worsening condition.
The week leading up to her death, mom’s jaundice had slowly settled down but it was the infections she was fighting off that made things more complicated. A few days before, her digestive system started to shut down, her stomach started to swell, and her breathing became more labored. They finally started her on morphine, but it had been a blessing that up to that point, mom wasn’t in any pain.
The day of her death, the nurses were doing the routine suction to clear my mom’s air way. And as always, mom put up a little fight. But this time, her tooth was knocked loose. Having been on many medications including a blood thinner, her tooth bled quite profusely and in turn her blood pressure dropped to a dangerous level.
That was when the family was called in. They said that if they couldn’t stop the bleeding, this could be the end. If they could stop the bleeding and add some platelets to her in the morning, we could extend her life for a few days.
The platelets were unavailable at that hour because Monday was a holiday for Thais. Stupid “Go home and vote on the new constitution referendums over the weekend and we’ll give you Monday off” policy. So they couldn’t get to the blood facility for the platelets, nor the equipment to make new ones even if the family was to offer their blood right then and there. Oh, and there were only med students on the duty as the “real doctors” were off on holiday so they didn’t have the authorization for the platelets anyway.
Another thing for me to be angry about. But my dad told me that, like they said, even if mom held on through that morning, the platelets would only give her hours or a day or two. It was better that she went the way she did.
By 4 a.m., her bleeding stopped and blood pressure stabilized. The “doctors” on duty told everyone to go home. Now they had to just waited for 8 a.m. office hour to get the platelets. Everyone said their goodbyes for the night and went home.
Around 6 a.m., mom took her last breath. Kob said she was just laying there, breathing. But then she took in her last breath, and that was it.
At my mom’s wake, Kob told me she wondered why everyone went home that morning instead of staying around. Well, for one, I told her, if the doctors said there was nothing to worry about, then there wasn’t anything to worry about. And for the other, if mom had anything to do with it at all, I think that was her way of once again, being the gracious host. Everyone got out of bed in the wee hours to see her once, she wasn’t about to have them out again. Not wanting to cause trouble or inconvenience, as Thais call it Kreng Jai, she’d rather go quietly than having everyone rushed back out.
In my head, I have played that recount of my mom’s death several times. Feeling again angry and disappointed at Thailand’s health care. It’s been that way since the very beginning when the senior surgeon declined the younger oncologist’s request for chemo follow up for my mom after the surgery to remove the malignant tumor from her lung. “I got it all. No chemo is needed,” that mother fucker said. And guess what, asshole, you did NOT get it all. The cancer spread and eventually killed her.
Anyways. At the same time grateful that mom has gotten the best care she could. I have a picture in my mind of what happened that morning and I was happy that mom went peacefully.
Her long journey has wrapped up. My journey without her has just begun. But funny how her lack of physical presence in my life is opening up all of these memories of her. Everywhere I look and everything I do, there is her story. There is a thought of her.
I miss her more now that she’s dead and maybe perhaps a plane of existence away than I have ever missed her when she was alive and merely half a world away.
And ironically, my own prediction came true that “Your head stinks” is REALLY the last thing my mom would ever said to me. (See 3rd from last paragraph.)