This is a continuation of my sister’s story…she would’ve celebrated her 38th birthday this week.
Lea returned to the hospital the following day. We thought that she was going to remain admitted for a while, but were surprised to hear that her doctors were discharging her. She’d had a good night at home and they felt that she would be better off there.
Before being discharged, the main doctor who was looking after her, finally drained the ascites that had accumulated in her grotesquely swollen abdomen. As Clem described it, it was quite the thing to see. He sent me photos of the 2 and ¾ filled containers that held the freshly drained milky, bloody looking mixture. That’s about 2.75 liters of fluid or 84.5 U.S. fluid ounces.
Apparently, fatigue is common after having ascites drained, and with that much fluid gone from her abdomen alone (she was still draining about 1 liter or 33.8 U.S. fluid ounces a day from her lung), I can only imagine how exhausted she was. I knew that she was very happy to finally be comfortable and rid of all the fluid pushing on everything. Needless to say, her body began to do its thing not long after.
The beginning of the long road
Clem had taken Lea to the hospital, while my mom and I made sure the kids were sent off to school (it wasn’t summer break yet) and taken care of. It was a long day of waiting to hear when she was finally out the doors and free. We all just wanted her home where we could take care of her and move on.
My mom had basically been living with Lea and Wade for over a month by that time and I was thankful that she was there to help out with the boys and Lea. I couldn’t imagine what living under that roof for that long would’ve been like. I know that just running over and attempting to get the minimum done on the daily, was a frustrating and challenging ordeal, but living there was probably much harder.
I have to say though, I watched my mom grow in ways I’d never thought of, and if I can, I’d like to say how proud I am of her for that. For a woman who I thought would never drive in a city, she impressed me! The desperation of needing to get out and away from the solemn situation, forced my mom out of her comfort zone and made her attempt the things I never thought she would, like driving in the city. You go Mom!
Adult supervision required
Being the time of year it was, I was on many field trips with my kids and attempting to upkeep my household for the sake of my family’s sanity, so I wasn’t always available to get out with my mom. She eventually had to take matters into her own hands, and I found it funny to hear the stories about her escapes to the city. It sounded very much like someone left the gate open, ha!
I can’t say I blame her for getting out, but there was this one particular time that my sister shouldn’t have been left alone after she was finally discharged from the hospital…
It was only 2 or 3 days after Lea returned home, that Clem and I decided to pop in for a short visit. I knew that my parents had both taken off for the city, leaving Lea at home with Ash (who wasn’t quite 3 years old at the time) and Wade had taken Finn out as well, so it was just the 4 of us at the house left to visit. And what a visit it turned out to be.
As it was, Lea was on a Fentanyl patch and a cocktail of other pain medications as well. On top of it all, she was still vaping marijuana, as needed, for pain and to inspire an appetite…if you will. I think you see where I’m going with this. If not, here’s a painted picture for you…
Giving new meaning to staycation
Upon our arrival, Clem and I let ourselves in and announced it was us while ditching our shoes at the door. When we rounded the corner into the living room, the first thing we saw was my sister all sprawled out across her couch, covered in Cheezie dust (her orange mustache suited her perfectly), and half-baked out of her ever loving mind. Ash was sitting contentedly beside her, covered in a mask of thick, orange Cheezie paint all over his face and hands, gleefully watching cartoons. This may be a good time to tell you that my sister’s couch is…well was…white.
So, upon entering and witnessing this amazing discovery, I wondered just who the fuck thought it was a good idea to leave a small child at home with a half-baked stickperson covered in Cheezie dust who alternated between which of her 2 eyes remained open? Yeah. Maybe not the best idea in the world to leave those 2 at home together…you think?
As Clem and I took a seat across from Lea, I asked where everyone was and she groggily said they all left but would be back soon. Ash, captivated by the cartoon flashing across the tv, was climbing all over his mother and plugging Cheezies into his pie hole at a rate of four per second. The couch, well…it was getting the Cheezie treatment let’s just say.
Should I stay or should I go?
Clem and I thought it wise to sit and have a visit while waiting for the fully coherent and responsible adults of the house to return. Our girls were at home together, Lola was 11 and had taken a home alone course, but we really hadn’t left our children at home for any length of time and all by themselves, so we were sort of counting down the minutes. We were sure they’d be fine for the short time it sounded like everyone would be gone for, so maybe this would be a good learning experience for them…I’m a mom, so I still worried.
As the clock ticked and the cartoon episodes continued, it was evident that no one was in any hurry to get back to Lea and Ash. I was starting to wonder about how our girls were doing, as 3 and a half hours had easily elapsed by that point. I looked at Clem and he looked back at me and together we shifted our gaze to my sacked out sister. She made me want to nap just by looking at her, and I was beginning to look for a free space to lay my head on her couch beside her…sans Cheezie dust/paint.
Lea had taken a few hoots over those hours and was enjoying her trip to who knows where, as she drifted in and out of cognizance. We’d speak for a short time, followed by a long drawn out silence. It was like she was taking mini naps which included mini snacks in between.
Where did she put all that?
She went through who knows how many bags of potato chips and chocolate bars in that time. It was kind of funny to watch her jump up and out of a peaceful looking slumber, prance over to the kitchen to grab her vaporizer, and then shuffle out the patio door to take a hoot. She’d come flying back in all happy and rummage in the pantry where she’d continually pull out bag after bag of every flavor of potato chip known to man.
It felt like the longest, never-ending snack that ever existed. At least she was eating…Ash seemed to be enjoying the garbage indulging escapade as well. I imagine he probably didn’t feel all that great afterwards, but who was I to argue with his mother after the both of them consumed the 3rd bag and continued on?
At the 4 hour mark, Clem and I were starting to wonder if anyone was coming home and worried about how our 2 kids were doing. Lea finally cracked an eyeball and told us that she was fine and that we should get back to the girls. Clem and I didn’t think that was a good idea but we couldn’t really get a hold of anyone. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place, stay with my spaced out sister and my young nephew or go home and check on the well behaved and responsible (at that time they were, ha!) 11 and 9 year old at home?
Sharpies would’ve been memorable
After 4 hours, Lea’s meds that she’d taken earlier, must’ve begun to wear off because she seemed a little more aware then she had been when we first arrived. I felt a little safer with her being there by herself with Ash and hoped that either Wade or my parents would make an appearance at any time. What I should’ve done, was given Ash some Sharpie markers and told him to go to town on his mother’s face after she came back inside and passed out after her next dose of pot…that would’ve been hilarious! I believe I sent a text to let my mom know that we were leaving and hoped she was somewhere close by as Wade never answered any of our calls or texts.
Upon our return home, our girls thought we’d abandoned them. It was kind of funny, but they did well being at home by themselves. The house was still standing and they were both alive, so we had no complaints. Lea and Ash weren’t by themselves for long, Wade had arrived within minutes after our departure, thankfully.
Now, I’ll be honest in saying that I’ve never actually touched marijuana, but I have been privy to some second hand smoke at concerts and the like, so I can’t speak as to what it’s truly like to be high on it. In the small town that I grew up in, marijuana was common amongst many kids but I never felt inclined to try it. Since then, I live in a country where it’s now legal and freely available, but I still don’t feel like indulging.
Am I opposed? No. To each their own. That said, I wonder if any have discovered anything about its effects that they may not have previously known, like my sister did.
Lea was adamant about using marijuana in her treatment protocol and she had applied for a medical marijuana card immediately upon diagnosis (it hadn’t been legalized yet). She had been ordering THC and CBD online and tried many different things for a while before it seemed to fall by the wayside when things were going well. For a time, she thought that it was a miracle drug that cured cancer and provided a magazine article or 2 as a testament to this.
Unfortunately, marijuana didn’t cure my sister’s lung cancer. It did however, cultivate an appetite, help ease some of her discomfort, aid in a brief escape of her reality and control her nausea somewhat. Other than that, she didn’t derive any special super powers, unless you consider the consumption of an entire pantry unit in one sitting an act of super human talent.
We’re all different
I think one of the things that struck me the hardest, was the day that she confided in me about the severe depression she faced, after she began to recover from her rapid decline. I have read that people can go through this, after going through these kinds of experiences, so I’m not entirely certain if marijuana had a hand in her severe depression or not. All I can remember, is Lea saying she eventually had to wean herself from it because she felt that it contributed, in her case. She was on quite a few meds, so it could’ve easily been any one of them, but she specifically seemed to target the marijuana in regards to her depression.
Talk about learning something new everyday. After hearing her concerns, it makes me a little more wary about marijuana and its possible effect on the brain. Being sisters and sharing some genes makes me wonder if I’d experience the same. That said, perhaps the Fentanyl or any of the other drugs she was using could’ve been causing the same…we’ll never know.
Lea’s determination to recover as quickly as possible and enjoy the life she had, became the focus. I wish I could go back and tell her how much she inspired me. She launched herself, full force into the healing of her mind and body and her comeback was nothing short of Balboa-esque.
She was going to take control of this second chance, and she was going to play her cards strategically to get the most time that she could. She was determined to live to see her boys graduate high school and beyond. I think she had all of us convinced that she was still going to kick her cancer, just by charisma alone. To have us all rounded up and assembled with the same fight instilled, confirms the power and inspiration she exuded as the exceptional and hopeful human being that she was.