We were back in the hotel in Denver, two weeks of a brand new trial drug.  It was her last hope as the trial drug had stopped working and her leukemia was now at 100%.  It was a good day for her.  Her first words were “I’m hungry.”  My sister, brother and I jumped out of bed surprised that mom had an appetite as she had hardly eaten in three days.

She continued, “but I need to shower first.”  I took her by the waist and hand and led her slowly to the bathroom.  She was now less than 98 pounds, fragile and unsteady.  This once powerful independent woman was now dependent on us for her every step.   Her body and spirit were weak and breaking down.  We took her to breakfast and to the casino for a few hours.  She had a good day.

The next morning was the opposite.  She was dizzy and fatigued.  As I walked her to the bathroom I seemed to hold up all her weight.  She had been throwing up since 3:30 in the morning.  The congestion was so thick you could cut it with a knife.  She struggled just to breathe.  I went downstairs to a quiet room to attend a meeting online and Christina & Gabriel stayed with her in the room, she had an appointment for 2:30 for blood and platelet transfusion.

An hour later I got a text.  We’re taking mom to the hospital she’s running a fever and freezing.  She was so weak they had to carry her whole body weight as they loaded her in the car.  I received a call an hour later.  Pack mom a bag their admitting her she’s having trouble breathing and her fever is raising. I replied, “Let me do her laundry and I will be there as soon as it’s done.”

I arrived at the hospital to find mom asleep.  They had given her a sedative and two rounds of antibiotics.  She may have a bronchial infection my sister reported.  They think her port for her blood transfusions is infected.

Tests were done and the doctors reported that she had the rhinovirus, the common cold.  Not a big deal for the common person but for my mother with leukemia and no immune system it was deadly.  In addition her body had signs of sepsis from the infection.

She was transferred to the ICU and she underwent a minor surgery to remove her infected port.  As the infection spread through her body her lungs began to fill with blood.  The next three days she labored to breathe as she slowly regained her strength.

She was transferred back to the leukemia floor to be monitored as she recovered.  She still needed her transfusions of blood and platelets to survive.  They had placed a temporary port in her groin until they could find a more permanent location for her new one.

My week with mom was over as I detoured to New Mexico to spend a couple of days with my family before returning home to Tennessee.  Every day we have my mother is a gift and yet when we see her struggling to survive it breaks our hearts.   Some day she will leave us until then we will love and support her on her journey as it makes us more grateful and aware of the gift of life.