(I know crocodiles don’t live in the sea)
This week I thought I was having to prepare myself to lose my Mum.
It all started with a standard MRI scan – her bones were hurting and we needed to find out if it was her hips or her back, or both. At the scan Mum had to change into orange scrubs – she came out of the changing room all Orange is the New Black, and I was all like Judge Judy proclaiming that I sentenced her to life for crimes against haircuts during my childhood – and she crossed her legs protectively and was all “Shut up I’m going to pee myself.” and we giggled stupidly like teenagers.
On Monday Mum went to collect her results – which revealed a lump. But the bone doctor couldn’t deal with her, she needed to go to Gynae.
In the interim Mum had blood tests and whilst there, given the card of a cancer specialist nurse. She would be seen by the doctor on Friday.
Was this really happening?
Monday night I sat in the bath and cried – of course, my poorly brain told me that my Mum was dying. My poorly brain also told me to make plans. So I did. I’d go and stay with her and I’ll care for her. She’ll never be alone again. My poorly brain also reminded me of every-single-thing I hadn’t done to make her proud. My poorly brain gave me images of her funeral, and how I’ll wake up every morning and for three seconds everything will seem perfect until I remember she’s gone. My poorly brain started to shut down.
On Tuesday morning, my Harvey dog got sick again (he’d been poorly the week before, but blood tests had told us he was OK.) Too early to call Mum to check if she was still alive, I walked Harvey, because walking is Harvey’s second most favourite thing to do.
But my usually boisterous crazy cocker spaniel didn’t want to walk. He shlopped along beside me like a 20 year old dog, and my poorly brain told me that this was it, everything’s fucked – all the living breathing things I love most dearly are going to die at the same time. I broke down in tears again, and to add to the awkward – this time publicly. People walked passed me staring – the crazy woman speaking out loud to her dog telling him he had to walk and can’t die because right now is not convenient…not now and not ever.
The crazy woman in her wellies and morning hair and I don’t blame them for walking past me either.
I called Bernard because when it gets bad, that’s what I do. I told him that I hated my brain and how it makes me think of every worst case scenario in every situation and I wanted it to stop. He told me that everything was OK and it wasn’t my fault, that my brain is poorly and when he gets home he’ll unscrew my brain and make the bad go, and I was happy with that. Bernard knows how to snap me out of terror and make me smile.
But Harvey got more poorly. And I was still convinced that Mum was dying.
Tuesday turned to Wednesday and I tried to keep it light with Mum. She was scared too. I called her lump Tarquin. I told her that we were going to make Tarquin fuck right off – that he wasn’t invited to this party and how bloody dare he show his face around here. She smiled and that’s all that mattered. I never told Mum I could see her funeral in my head in graphic detail. She didn’t need to be worrying about my poorly brain too.
Harvey wouldn’t poo though. He’d had blood tests, he’d had injections – he just wouldn’t poo. I began endless loops of dragging him around the block and cooking and feeding him chicken breast willing him to poo. The vet told me to give it another day. My poorly brain told me that he had a blockage in his intestine and if I kept feeding him and he didn’t poo his intestine would burst and he’d die and oh yeah, my Mum’s got a lump called Tarquin that’s killing her.
Friday morning came around. 4am I was wide awake. Mum’s appointment was at 11am – I drank 4 coffees and waited until it was 6:30am to walk Harvey again whilst willing him to “do a fucking poo for Mummy PLEASE.”
At 6:45am Harvey did a poo. I rejoiced. I sang to him, and skipped and he wagged his tail and trotted beside me and the relief poured through me from the top of my head to the tips of my toes and my poorly brain told me that maybe he wasn’t going to die after all, but don’t forget – Tarquin’s still gatecrashing the party. Filing that thought until the end of my walk, I saw my friend with her two dogs, and swang the precious poo in it’s bag around my head in a circle of victory and she whooped in celebration too because she knew that Harvey wasn’t right and how badly my poorly brain had been treating me.
At 10:50am Mum and I entered the gynae department. We sat waiting for the doctor. In front of us a rack of pamphlets, every single one documenting information about every kind of female cancer there is. Mum grabbed my hand, I squeezed it and smiled at her. “Either way Mum, it’s all going to be OK, I’ll make sure of it, don’t you worry.” I had no idea how I was going to fulfill that promise, but at that point – I could have fought a lion and won.
The cancer specialist nurse called us in. The doctor, a handsome chap of around 12 years old it seemed told Mum he was going to examine her – she asked if I could be with her – I, in my nervousness blurted “Yeah, as long as I don’t have to see her foomph.” Mortified I closed my eyes and heard my Mum snort and the doctor laugh telling me there was no need for me to be at the ‘business end’ if I didn’t want to be – the tension broke. Mum prepared to be probed by a 12 year old.
Turned out Tarquin is 98% probably a cyst, the horrid little bastard. If I thought that nothing could top the relief of seeing poo come out of my dog’s bum I was totally wrong – for I could have squeezed that doctor until he squeaked for the comfort he gave us. We got Mum back in her undies and skinny jeans before you could say “speculum” and out of there.
She’s booked for an op to remove her ovaries and I shall be there to nurse her afterwards. I’m pretty sure she’s going to ground me for sharing stuff about the innards of her va-jay-jay but I shall take the hit and surely she’s used to me and my ways by now?
Happy Mother’s Day my lovely Mum – here’s to at least 50 more!
1) Wake to sound of rain. What if it’s like this on wedding day? Spend next thirty minutes preparing Plan B, C, D and E in case it rains on wedding day.
2) Wake with jolt. Where’s Harvey (dog) and is he suffocating under the duvet? Oh My God I’m a terrible dog mother. Grapple around under the duvet. Find Harvey. Establish breath. Fall asleep again.
3) Wake to check time – have I overslept? (it’s 1am). Find Jasper (other dog) in Willow’s (other dog) bed. Worry where Willow is. Find that thing thrust into lower back thankfully isn’t Bernard* saluting me, but Willow’s leg strategically placed to eventually kick me out of bed when I finally sleep. Cowbag.
4) Wake to Willow abandoning the kicking-me-out-of-bed scenario, but now attempting to bury her head in my hair. Turn over whilst avoiding getting dog-snotted hair in mouth. Make mental note to wash hair in the morning. Remember there is no shampoo. Note ‘buy shampoo’ on shopping list in head knowing full well that shopping list in head is highly unreliable.
5) Wake. That’s DEFINITELY the sound of a serial killer walking up the stairs. Calm down knowing all three dogs would bark so much and make serial killer’s ears bleed so bad he’d kill himself before of any of us.
6) Wake wondering what day it is and if I ordered the sterling silver bolt rings for the chain for my latest commission? I did. Sleep.
7) Wake…shit, I must have forgotten something, anything, that’s what I do…I forget things, what is it?
8) Wake. Seriously, it’s so going to rain on my wedding day and everyone will be really pissed off and leave early including Bernard, and it’ll be just me and Mum dancing to I Did It My Way whilst stuffing shed loads of fancy pastry and wedding cake in our gobs.
9) Wake. Jasper is barking…THE SERIAL KILLER IS HERE…realise it’s Bernard getting up for work and Jasper is protesting. Loosen grip on heavy lamp to fight serial killer with.
10) wake up. Start day.