Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Entry #24 - Champion Moms & Addison's

Moms are not perfect, but they usually WANT everything to be perfect, and that's what counts. Lately, I've been looking around, reading about and observing all kinds of moms. First of all, my own mom was spectacular. In spite of being disabled because of Polio, my mother was my champion.

As my body began to melt away because of a serious adrenal failure, my mom was there. Upon diagnosis, my body had become so ill that my organs were compromised, and a long, hard battle with Addison's was waged with my mother constantly by my side. As I lay in a hospital bed for days on end, my determined mother would sleep on an uncomfortable plastic couch/bed by my side. Her aching body rarely found rest. She never listened to my protests, and I am glad. Having my mom with me through some very scary times of being seriously ill was a comfort. You know what kind of mom I'm talking about. Maybe you are one of those never say die mothers. Maybe you have one in your corner. Perhaps you had been blessed, in the past, to have such a champion named, "Mom."

During multiple hospital stays, I wanted my mom to go home to her own bed. I was very weak, but I tried to assure her that I was in good hands. But, she'd ignore me while she put her wheelchair in the corner of my hospital room, then she'd plug it in to charge for the night. After getting extra blankets and settling into the recliner or the makeshift sofa that converted to a panel bed...she would finally start unbuckling, unstrapping and untying her brace so she could lie down for a few hours. From the metal built into her shoe to top of her thigh, she was enclosed in a brace. With one arm, she'd do more than most mothers could do with two able arms. Her left arm had been paralyzed during her childhood after she caught the Polio virus. Her right leg and left arm would both remain paralyzed from five years of age until she died. She struggled to swallow without choking because part of her throat mechanisms were paralyzed and, as a a child, she had spent one long year in an iron lung. Still, she had three kids, earned upper level degrees, worked as a teacher and took art classes on the side. She never stopped.

My mother kept going in spite of her hurdles. Above all, she mothered us and ignored her own pain. My sister, brother and I would watch our mother struggle to do simple things - everything one-handed. Yet, she never complained. When we were young, she got dressed, then she dressed us three kids with one hand; she made school lunches, delicious dinners and always chopped onions, made hamburgers and home-made french fries with one hand. The remarkable feats never ceased to amaze any of us.

During my early years with Addison's, my mother was my voice when I could not speak; she refused to accept mediocrity when it was all that was offered. She actively worked to make sure my children had as little emotional turmoil as possible during my hospitalizations. Forgoing her own comfort, my mother would leave her own home so she could stay in my house during my hospitalizations because she wanted the kids to not have their normal schedule interrupted; she wanted them to be in their own rooms; she wanted them to have as few changes as possible on top of their mom being in the hospital. Few people offer this kind of sacrificial love. This woman was a nurturer by nature. My amazement for her didn't stop there. My mom, with her Master's Degree, was a well-read, thought-provoking, challenging woman to have in your presence. Life with my mother was never boring. When we found out about the Addison's disease diagnosis, my mother went into academic research mode. It was impressive.

After my diagnosis, my mother began to get weaker. Something had changed. Then, she found two lumps in her left breast. The biopsy took place and the morning that the call came in, we were in the house together. I knew the call was to give the results of the biopsy. In the next room, I bowed my head as she took the call. A heavy sense of knowing came over me. As she said, "Hello," I already knew it would be cancer. Quietly, she hung up, and I went to her. She was in her wheelchair. I put my hand on her shoulder and we both mourned the news.

Invasive carcinoma. Her already battle-worn body would not be able to withstand the radiation, surgery, and five chemotherapies. In just over 2 1/2 years from the day of diagnosis, she was gone.

So, I look around at all of these mothers and am fascinated by their bond. I once felt the infinite love of a mother. Now, I provide that infinite love to my daughters. Mothers and daughters can get into a heated conversation and in the next moment, they are laughing and talking about their hair. Some mothers and daughters simply share special look between each other. Then, there are daughters, like me, who look in the mirror and seem to be suddenly facing their own mother in their reflection, but the real thing will never stand before them again. But, I feel as if my own mother's presence had been so powerful that it will last me a lifetime. Addison's tried to take me down. My health was seriously compromised by Addison's, yet my mother never gave up. She educated many doctors, and her strength became my healing ground. Her voice and her determination were so solid that I will always have it within me.

I dedicate this moment to all of those powerful women who take motherhood as a commitment beyond any ordinary vow, beyond any contract or promise. I honor the connection a mom has to her child because it is uncanny. If your motherhood experience gives emotional muscle, then celebrate and cherish each moment.

If you have Addison's disease, Who is YOUR main CHAMPION? How have they helped you?

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