Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Impending loss

Preparing for my mother's death, has evoked thoughts about who she was as a young person and who she has become and how she arrived there.

(My mother was diagnosed in January with a cholangeocarcinoma that has proven to be unresponsive to chemotherapy and radioactive micropellets.  She is in hospice care now beyond treatment options and has just been advised to prepare for her last weeks.)
A bed similar to my mother's.

Sitting on my mother's antebellum family heirloom bed in her childhood bedroom, a teenager, visiting my grandmother's house at Christmas time, I guiltily read her diary from high school and LSU years while listening for footsteps in the hallway.  I recall the smell of the leather diary, yellow-brown pages, faded blue fountain pen ink as dry and sweet.  The diary smelled like another time.  A time I never knew but was hungry to understand and picture.

The antique furniture and lace curtains of my mother's childhood room are no longer there because thieves broke into the home several years ago with a truck and emptied the house of rooms full of antique furniture, silver and family heirlooms.

My mother is there now in that very room--now austere, curtainless, no headboard, no ornaments.  She likes it that way--it is her style.  (The robbery never seemed to anger her as it did me.)  Where is the young lady from Effie, Louisiana who attended LSU medical school on a Betty Crocker scholarship? 

How does the quaint vision of my Mom at LSU in the 1950s, wearing heels and dresses at football games, photographed astride her bicycle in The Gumbo (LSU yearbook) as part of LSU's promotion of biking on campus, connect with who she is today?  

I remember a lamp, much like this one but larger, on my mother's bedside table (all lost in robbery)

I am thinking about how as a PA, I may interact with patients and families going through what I am experiencing now and how one connects clinical care with compassionate care and makes those one in the same.

I know that I do not want to be the kind of clinician who does not return phone calls and who delivers bad news abruptly and coldly.

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