Today was a rough day at work. Sometimes I can only take so much sadness, death and dying. Two days ago a woman who was on my caseload died of Lung Cancer from smoking. I have a new patient that was a smoker for many, many years. This patient now has COPD (shocking) and I can't help but think of my Grandpa and my mother.
My Grandpa Alsop was such an amazing man and the reason I am now an Occupational Therapist. He was very poor growing up, and he worked his butt off to provide for his family when my mother was growing up, working many hours sometimes 90+ a week just to put a little food on the table. He also was a smoker, and smoked for many, many years. I recently found out that he didn't quit smoking until I was 3 (my history might be bad). When he got really sick, it was because of his compressed disks in his neck that paralyzed him slowly. I remember him as a wonderful grandfather, who genuinely loved and cared for my Gramma, his children, his grandchildren and his great grandchild. I also remember him lying in bed with his salt and pepper hair, scruffy face, and a nasal cannula providing O2 in a hospital bed.
I don't have much words for my mother, or words that I want to necessarily publish. Let's just say, my mother is a smoker. She has been smoking since 17, and she is now 56. She stopped smoking when she got pregnant with my and I was born a healthy 8lb 14oz baby. She didn't when she was pregnant with my sister, who was born a small 6lb baby. When she was pregnant with Amy, she would stay up late until well after my father was asleep so she could sneak cigarettes. She promised Amy that she would stop smoking when Amy stopped sucking her thumb. Amy no longer sucks her thumb at 24 years old, and hasn't for at least 22 years. When I was in 6th grade, I spoke to someone about my mom's smoking in the library and she said, why don't you just tell her you love her and wish she would stop. She didn't. In fact she even got mad at me for suggesting it. When I was between the ages of 15 and 18, I would write in my diary that I vowed that my mother would never meet her grandchildren if she still smoked, she would meet her grandchildren because she would be dead, or simply I wished she would fall off the face of the earth. Whenever I would bring it up to her that she should quit, she would get mad at me. Recently, the week before my wedding last year, my mom and I had a screaming match about her health and well being that I still get so upset over. My mother has promised me over and over and over and over again that she would quit smoking and each time I have been disappointed. All these false promises have lead to a lot of heart break.
February 7th, my mom is diagnosed with pneumonia and can't even walk from her bedroom to the bathroom without getting out of breath. February 14th, 2013, the day that I feel my mom has made her last promise to me. I will quit smoking by Easter. Saturday, before Easter, my mom says she is going to quit the Monday after Easter. Bargaining, yet again. More disappointment, more broken promises. May 3, 2013: my mom is sneaking cigarettes behind my dad and my sister's back. MORE BROKEN PROMISES.
What constantly goes through my mind is my mother will be sitting in a nursing home, in her own shit, dying from the choices she has made. Then I get angry at her for choosing this path, when she isn't even in the nursing home yet.
I only hope that this weekend, I can truly enjoy each moment I am given. I hope that I can turn to God for strength. I hope that I can realize that Jesus can share my burdens and help me carry these crosses.
So needless to say, this has been a tough week. I am looking forward to the weekend to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, the Kentucky Derby, and my best friend Sarah and her husband Jordan visiting on Sunday.