Friday, November 20, 2009

Reversing roles

Back in August my mom’s eye doctor discovered a problem in her left eye. The lower lashes were growing inward and he thought she might need to have them cauterized.

Turns out the problem is more serious than that. The lower lid of her left eye is turning inward. This is causing the eyelashes to poke her in the eye. The lid issue can be resolved with surgery, but unless the underlying condition is treated, the eyelid will begin to turn inward again and within one to five years she could be right back where she is today.

My sister and I took Mom to Portland, Oregon, about three weeks ago to have specialists at the Casey Eye Institute look at her eye. After two consultations and a myriad of tests, including a biopsy of the tissue inside the eyelid, we headed home. Last week we found out the results of the biopsy were inconclusive. It showed something the doctors did not expect. They want to do a second biopsy.

One of the diseases which can cause this is an autoimmune disease the doctors call OCP. It is similar to rheumatoid arthritis only it attacks the mucus membranes instead of the joints. If this is what she has, it must be treated with mild, oral chemotherapy drugs to prevent the white blood cells from attacking the mucus membranes. The other possibility is something which can be treated with eye drops. Because there is such a huge difference in treatments, the doctors want to be very certain what we are dealing with and so do we.

My mom has never been sick a day in her life. She was only ever in the hospital to have her children. The woman is 68 years old and takes not a single drug. She takes a multivitamin and a glucosamine chondroitin supplement. That’s it. The result is this problem with her eye has her totally freaked out. I think she has now seen five different doctors and we are now trying to figure out how to get her back to Portland to see one of them a second time.

Mom lives 285 miles from me and I live 180 miles from Portland. Normally she drives herself wherever she needs to go, but with the vision issues she is having with her left eye, she is not necessarily comfortable driving all the way to my house, and driving herself to Portland is completely out of the question.

I have been struggling all week to coordinate a trip to Portland for her. Getting her here and then on to Portland when the doctor who can do the biopsy is in and when the pathologist who can read the biopsy is available, because if the tissue sets too long it is no longer viable to show what they need to see, and when I have someone to watch my two-year old and on a day when I don’t have work to do for my own business. Argh!

I told my husband this is very stressful for me. He asked me what part exactly was causing me the most stress. After thinking about it for a bit, I realized the most stressful thing about all this is the role reversal that has taken place between me and my mom.

My mom has always been a strong person, able to take care of whatever needed to be taken care of. This is the first time in my recollection she has ever seemed unable to cope.

Having to take on the adult role in our relationship has been an uneasy transition, and not one I’m particularly enamored with. I suppose it is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. It is not that I am incapable of doing the job, so to speak, but it feels very strange.

She’s the mom. Seeing her vulnerable and incapable of making the decisions that need to be made is disheartening and a little scary for me.

I’m not lovin’ it and I do have to wonder how Mom really feels about all this.


Doozyanner said...

Janie, sending healing thoughts to you and your mom. What a stressful situation! I pray that her doctors can identify and treat her condition--and soon! (The word verification for this comment is "hormick," but when I glanced at it I read it as "homesick." I think it's possible for us to be homesick for the days when mom was mom. Period.

CMR said...

There just aren't any words I can offer besides "love" and "hugs" and "jeez, that really sucks."

Healing thoughts being sent all the way to Bonners Ferry...and to Hermiston. Love you guys.

mags said...

Inconclusive results suck.

Praying that you'll be able to coordinate what needs to happen with a minimum of crazy, and it will all get figured out. I continue to be awestruck by medical professionals who discover and fix what's wrong with those I love; now, it's your mom's turn.