Falling Down and Getting Back Up

Mom fell the other day and let me tell you, every time it happens, it kills me a little bit. She’s had quite a few falls since having chemotherapy, because the cocktail they gave her can cause neuropathy in your extremities, which may or may not affect everyone who takes it. However, for someone like my mom, who already had issues with peripheral neuropathy, it’s bad; really bad, which means it’s bad for me too.

So please excuse me for not posting my blog on the usual day. My head has not been in a good place. Plus I’ve been trying to get back to doing my job, which means I need to get back to a regular writing and working schedule, which might mean that until I figure something out, my posts won’t be as timely as I want them to be.

By the way, and much more importantly, mom is fine. She has a badly bruised toe, but it’s not broken; just purple.

She fell on Saturday, well to be honest her first fall happened on the Friday before. I remember once in junior high, a teacher asked us which one of our senses would we be willing to do without. I remember selecting “touch,” because by then I’d already survived physical and sexual abuse and was living with chronic pain as a result. So the idea of living without touch sounded glorious.

Now I see the importance of touch, because mom can’t feel her feet. Her Friday fall occurred because she didn’t see a medicine bottle on her bedroom floor and slipped on it. She thought she just kind of slipped down and wasn’t aware of the bottle until I pointed it out to her. It wasn’t a bad fall and she was strong enough that she was able to get up with just a little assistance from me. When she was doing chemo, I had to call 9-1-1 because she was too weak to get up and I couldn’t lift her. So I tried to concentrate on that instead of the fall. Mom is stronger than she was before, and that is something to celebrate. I told mom to do the same, because this is extremely frustrating for her. Mom was always the dynamo who rarely got sick. Mom was the one who completely enclosed the second-story porch of our old house with zero assistance. Growing up, and even throughout most of my adult years, I fully believed she could do anything.

I think she believed it too.

Now those beliefs are fading into disillusion, and I’m fighting it because once you begin a cancer journey, you have to keep fighting forward and beyond every obstacle.

The second fall happened outside of the beauty parlor. My dear friend Sue was in town to help us with a few errands and one of them included mom and I getting our hair done. Such vanities have become important since mom’s hair started to grow back. I guess it made her feel good to have a reason to go and for me, it gave me an excuse to get some much-needed pampering.

I had gotten out of Sue’s van and had placed mom’s walker on the sidewalk. Sue had mom on the other side of the car and walked her over to the curb. This is essentially the same way we’ve helped mom up the stairs since the chemo; one person in front of her with the walker and one person behind, who stands there in case she loses her balance. This highlights just how weak she’s been, and it’s something we’ve done many, many times before with no problems at all. In fact, the Sunday before she’d been able to get up the stairs without any assistance at all and was quite proud of that.

So anyway, Sue got mom on the curb with no problem and mom grabbed the handles of her walker. (I bought her one of those ones that has four wheels, a seat and a basket in front where she can place things.) Then suddenly, she lost her balance and I could see this look of fear on her face. She started backing up, which is what she always does when she loses balance. Seriously, she did it once on an escalator and I had to catch her in midair. Killed my back, but she didn’t get hurt and hell yes, I am that strong.

I have the biceps to prove it.

Just the same those biceps failed me on Saturday.

At first I thought Sue caught mom as she began to walk backwards off the curb. Sue’s pretty strong too, and it seemed that she’d somehow gotten mom propped up on the front of the van, but mom’s face didn’t have a look of relief on it, she suddenly started falling again. Sue and I were able to slow her fall down, so thankfully she didn’t land hard, but just the same she fell.

Thankfully she’s OK, but I can’t shake the feeling that I failed her. I suppose this is a feeling all caregivers have at one time or another. We want to make things better and the truth is that sometimes, despite all of our best efforts, we can’t.

In Native American storytelling the journey is usually more important than the destination, and this is how I view this journey. I have no idea what the destination is, outside of my mom being completely healthy and OK, but the journey there is the thing. Each step we’re taking together has begun with measures of fear and uncertainty, yet somehow we have managed in spite of that.

My cousin Barbara is a nurse, and she said that some of mom’s neuropathy symptoms may improve as the chemo drugs leave her system. It will take months to know for sure, so until then, it’s mom and me, going step-by-step on our cancer journey; sometimes falling down, but always getting back up.

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10 Responses to Falling Down and Getting Back Up

  1. NL Gervasio says:

    *hugs* You and your mom truly are an inspiration even for me and what I’m going through. Never think you failed her. Look at how far you’ve come now. That’s not failure, sweetie.

    Right now, I’m enjoying having my mother here taking care of me while my roommate is out of town. So much so that I don’t want her to go home. We take care of each other, her and I. That’s the way it’s been, and I have a feeling that’s just the way it’s going to be.

    • Blackbirdsong says:

      Thank you for the words of encouragement Nichelle. Glad you have your roommate and your mom. They sound like great ladies.

  2. Diana says:

    The previous replier is right. You HAVE come a long way and it took months to stop the cancer. It will take months to get strong again. How can you say you have failed, when you are both still here and both still moving forward. The key is not to blame yourself just because you don’t have wonder woman reflexes. That is not realistic and not fair to you or mom. You have done so much for her and look out for her needs. When we go shopping, you are concerned with what she likes, things she can tolerate…not many daughters will do that for their moms. Give yourself more credit, sister. Don’t think you have to do this yourself. If you need more help, by any means necessary, ask for it.

  3. James K. Blaylock says:

    It seems so many of us have to go through the burning flame of others selfish actions in this life. Then we’re left to slowly heal, with God’s help, or suffer lifelong sorrows. I choose to embrace the brightness over that of pitch darkness. It’s simply better to remain loving and kind, instead of bitter and full of hate. No one finds betterment if they cling to the black negatives of their past.

    Rach don’t blame yourself for anything that happens… we can’t control everything. As human beings we all have our frailties, even if we want to face them or not. All of us have our secret sorrows and sometimes even shames. We just have to put on our toughest face and then pull up our sleeves and dig right in.

    I’m so glad to know that your mother suffered little to no harm… that alone is a huge blessing. I believe God is with the sick, hurting, and brokenhearted. So, He’s standing right there with you both through everything that is, was, and shall be happening. Just don’t lose hope, faith or your caring spirit. He’ll see you both through this tiring journey of twist and turns.

    Be blessed!


    • Blackbirdsong says:

      James, your comment really brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for everything you said.

  4. Carol says:

    I am so sorry that Mom has fallen again. How frustrating for you and her..That would make her unsure on her feet and break her confidence. How can you prevent it? I am not sure you can, short of watching her every step or clearing her room out to remove every possible obsticle.

    Well, my dear, my love and prayers to you and Mom. We will talk soon


  5. Les says:

    Thanks for taking us on the journey. I’m glad your mom is ok.

    • Blackbirdsong says:

      Les, you’ve been such a good friend through this. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment.

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