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Off Balance

Just when you think life is approaching some sense of balance, something comes along to throw you off kilter. 

At least that's the way it seems lately. 

Many of you heard this week that my mom has been diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma.
My mom...and me at about 4 months
Although she's been experiencing some medical challenges for a few months, it has taken a while to put all the seemingly disconnected symptoms together and discover the diagnosis. Looking back, it's not all that surprising since Multiple Myeloma is extremely rare (only about .7% of the population has a lifetime risk of contracting it) and really difficult to diagnose in early stages. 

Over the last few weeks, I've found myself reflecting with a range of emotions on the entire experience. Here we are again, (almost) eight years later, with a very serious medical diagnosis impacting our family. It is interesting how quickly I can fall back into some of the rhythms that emerge when a loved one is hospitalized with a serious illness. 

It's hard to concentrate. I'm sure I haven't been the best mom/employee/friend over the last few weeks. I'm more easily distracted. I'm less patient. I'm anxious about one thing or another. It all comes with the territory. Thankfully, I have a very supportive husband and a very supportive boss, both of whom have given me a lot of flexibility and help lately. 

The hospital stinks.  Not literally. I mean, I'm sure there are parts of it that smell pretty bad, but mom seems to be fairly well taken care of. Memorial Regional is a lovely hospital. But it's not like home. I wish I could fix all the things that make hospital life frustrating. The noises...the lights...the poorly regulated climate control...the interruptions...the food. Mom's not having that great a time and we're doing our best to shorten her stay. We'll get there. 

Oy! The insurance! It doesn't surprise me that it only took 10 days in the hospital before we had to have a ridiculous conversation with the medical staff regarding insurance craziness. The shortened version is that Medicare only wants to pay for outpatient care if certain diagnostic criteria are met and my mom's situation is more of an anomaly. We're trying to avoid a 30 day hospital stay based on an arbitrary rule when her doctors have pretty much said she could receive outpatient care. The good news is that we are working on it. But the bad news is that we've already had to have difficult conversations with case workers and insurance managers. Sigh!

Gotta take it one step at a time. If our time with Charlotte taught me anything, it is that challenging medical conditions require a lot of patience and you can't always plan for the next steps. We don't know how long mom will be in the hospital. We don't know when she can head back to Florida. We really don't even know much about the trajectory of her treatment or this disease. A lot of factors are at play and it just doesn't work to fret about it. One day at a time, baby. 

Thanks to everyone who has offered their prayers and their willingness to help (whether in FL or VA). Thanks to everyone who has sent cards, called, or offered kind messages. Mom isn't much for extended phone chats these days but she's loving the cards and flowers that have been sent. I also send her very funny political satire from time to time to make her giggle. Alec Baldwin's SNL debate sketches have had her in stitches!  

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