Morphine the Yin the Yang

She told the nurses I was forcing her to sit in her own shit for a whole day, that I would not clean her. She told them that her skin was burning, that she could feel her own shit eating her skin. 

She told them that I was not caring for her, not feeding her, not dressing her, not not not…

Mom told her care team that I was trying to kill her with neglect. I wasn’t. The trying to kill her came later.

The morphine that was keeping her from living in an unbearable, excruciating, physical hell, was also wreaking absolute havoc on every other system in her body. 

Mom was not capable of evacuating her bowels on her own. I learned through doing her palliative care she had been enma dependent for years and now she was bedridden. Oh. For. Joy. Good times ahead.

The cancer that started in the marrow of her bones was destroying everything in its path. Including any hope of her shitting herself in bed, unaided. I will never forget the day the hospice nurse informed me I would have to digitally remove her stool. 

I’m sorry, what the fuck?

I am seven months pregnant and I have to do what now? Until she dies? When will that be? 

God I wish she would just die. This is torture for everyone. 

Nurse went on to explain that all the enemas had weakened her muscles but that even if that wasn’t the case, the morphine is incredibly constipating and she’d likely have needed some assistance regardless.

How is this the reality of my life at twenty five and hers at fifty one? Shit and morphine and looming death and imminent birth. Fucking twilight zone.

As mom lay there wailing about my neglect and her shit scorched flesh, I stood in the hall listening to her conversation with Nurse. I stood quietly crying, listening to my mom tell Nurse how awful and uncaring I was. The things I heard my mother say about me were awful. I was devastated.

Nurse reassured mom that I was taking spectacular care of her, that her skin was intact and as healthy as could be expected. She told mom that I was a wonderful daughter and that mom was fortunate to have such a loving family that was doing so well with her care. Mom was very quiet.

I cried harder.

As I walked Nurse out to her car she explained to me how long term morphine use affects the brain. That mom wasn’t in her right mind and would likely continue to say horrible things to me as she deteriorated. We also think the cancer had begun to make its way into her brain. So cancer and morphine in the brain. 

The good times had arrived.

She would continue to say increasingly horrible things to me. And only me. Not my brother, my husband, friends or anyone else on her care team. Just me. Maybe it was because she was most comfortable with me? Or because I was her daughter. Or because I did the lion’s share of her care… I’ll never know. 

The morphine worked for the pain, that is true. But it also made her mean. So fucking mean.

The night she died, the last words she spoke were to me. She said, I love you.

Thank you mom. Thank you for that little nugget of healing. I love you too.

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