Sorry for the absence of posts. Just not been all that writey. This one is another story of how we manage to cope with traumatic events.
OK – so the sort of things I talk about coping with are pretty trivial in the greater scheme of things, but they weren’t at the time.
This one is about coping with personal choices. To my family (blood, inlaws and outlaws) – this might be upsetting to read. Please proceed with caution. It is about the events (from my perspective) around the time Jungie died, and mum nearly did. I just feel the need to write about it. We are coming up to the anniversary of these events.
Going back several years, before I was married (but we were partners) my mother had to go into hospital with an abdominal aortic aneurysm. This after finally gaining her sense of self and strength after a lifetime of being put down. She was to go into hospital to have her aneurysm repaired. She had the pre-op, no eating the day before, admitted overnight, and the next morning surgery was cancelled. It was understandable – they needed an ICU bed for her post-op, and overnight there was an emergency admission. We kinda expected that. So surgery was re-scheduled.
Second admission, the same thing happened. And the third. And the fourth.
By the time the fifth came around, we were told that if this surgery was delayed, she would almost certainly die. So we prepared to say our goodbyes to her.
However, leading up to this, there were two other events happening at the same time. My wife’s mother was dying in Auckland, and we were being evicted from our flat.
We were living in this gorgeous apartment – the first time we actually lived together. It was part of a complex comprising the owners house and three apartments. The owners were renovating the property, but something happened (there is a WHOLE other story in there) and they were splitting up, but both wanted to remain onsite while the renovations occurred. So, the landlord needed to move into our place. They were really very good about it all, and we did eventually find another place.
K’s mother had a carinoid growth on her lungs, and the chest cavity filled with fluid. She went into hospital to have it drained and came out reasonably OK, but the growth was still there. She got worse and eventually was admitted to a hospice. We got the call that she really only had a short time to live, so we tried to hurry and get all our shit sorted. But then K got the call that there were days left, and she had to get up there NOW. This was the same time we were shifting flats.
With all this, my choice was between staying here with my mum, or being with the woman who was later to become my wife and supporting her. The choice was clear. I have three brothers. They can be with my mum. My wife does not have a second partner to support her. There was only one place for me to be – with K. This is pretty much how things played out.
Thursday: K left for Auckland to be with her dying mum. There were problems up there that I won’t go into, but a bad situation was made worse and I just so incredibly wanted to be there to help sort things out for her. I continued preparing to shift, packing everything up.
Friday: My mum went into hospital for the fifth time. We were told that, if surgery is delayed again, she will almost certainly die.
Saturday: Sorted out the move and shifted flat by myself. I was kinda upset about staying in the new place – I didn’t want my first night in our new place – a place truly of our own – to be without my partner. But it was the only thing to do.
Sunday: Booked my flight to be with my wife and her mum. I loved her mum dearly and pretty much felt more a part of her family than my own. Headed to hospital to see my mum, knowing that it may very well be for the last time. Mum understood my decision, and supported it. We said our goodbyes, and as I turned to leave, I just broke down, crying inconsolably. Rashes broke out all over my arms – it was really weird, they just sprung up immediately. The nurses had to sit me down and help me get back control of myself.
When I had recovered, I left to go home, pack my bags for an indefinite stay in Auckland. While packing, my brother arrived at the door of our new place. Apparently Mum was so concerned about me that when he arrived to visit her, she sent him straight out to check on me. I was (just) holding it together. And there was only one reason why – my wife needed me. I was crystal-clear about my role. Support her.
You know – it is kinda funny – this was very much like a crisis. The sort of crisis that I am comfortable with. Where there are no decisions to make. You have one purpose. Everything is so clear – you have to proceed in a certain way. And that is what allowed me to proceed. Everything I felt, everything I knew, it was all redundant, pointless. I had a job to do. No-one else could do it.
It was a little eerie. When the plane landed at Auckland, I really did feel a kind of presence of K’s mum. As it turned out, that was the moment she died. K’s brother left his mother’s bedside to come and pick me up. I felt so guilty about that for years – that he couldn’t be with her because of me. We arrived at the hospice. K’s dad was the only one there. He told us she had died. I left the room to give them space and to collect the rest of the family. I was so conflicted. I didn’t tell them what had happened because I felt it had to be told by “family”. Looking back, I think I made the wrong choice. It was unfair for them to walk into the room not knowing.
But I was glad I was there. I was glad that I was treated as part of the family, included in the mourning. I was glad I was able to be there for my wife, to be her support.
On the Monday, I checked in with my family about how my mum’s surgery went. Normally, AAA surgery has something like a 70% survival rate. It seems the surgeon pulled a few strings and secured an ICU bed. While she was on the operating table, the aneurysm burst. That can take the survival rate down to 3%. Not only did my mum survive, but she came out of the surgery far better than any of the doctors expected. That kinda added to feelings of guilt.
Yeah – I know it is silly, and there is nothing to feel guilty about, but the feelings were there nonetheless. But it is just another one of those events in life where you look back and realise just what you really can cope with.
Thanks for listening.