My mom passed away almost three years ago. She suffered with her pain for about twenty years previous to this. And suffer, she did.
The past few days found me going through my mothers' belongings in order to get everything ready to distribute to the rest of the family. Between some old army payroll and ration books, I found a journal she had kept. In it she had described her life from her beginning to near the end of her life. I will incorporate this journal so a better understanding of her thoughts may be known.
She was born in northeastern England in 1923, the eldest of four children.
At age 14, she left school for a number of menial jobs including making cartridges for shotguns, which she loved to do. She flattened her little finger in one of the machines, so that ended that job!
At one time, she was run over by a motorcycle. She was taken to hospital and had head trauma. Her head had swollen up like a balloon, and she said she could push her finger in her head about "two inches, as it was mushy!" Quite descriptive was this lady! She recovered from this accident with no known adverse effects.
With the outbreak of WW2, mom ran away and joined the British Army. Her father was in the British Navy by this time. Her brother and sisters were taken to the inner parts of northern England, away from the coastal waters. They all were sent to different families. At this time, many families were split up, with children going every direction and even overseas for safekeeping.
During her Army days, she had been walking on the docks when out of nowhere, a German plane dove down and started to machine gun at her and her friend. They escaped with only their knees skinned when they fell down to the ground!
The bombings and air raids took their toll. Many families, including mom, lost their homes and loved ones.
The only good thing about the war she told me, was that she met my dad. She became a war bride and sailed to Canada on the Queen Mary in 1946. She always missed her "home". Dad passed away in 1969.
Following the death of dad, mom adapted quite well at being on her own. She worked hard but still missed her home and family in England. I had asked her once, why she didn't just move back, and she replied that her home was now here.
And time moved on. In 1988, mom started complaining of chest pains and pains in her head. I took her to many doctors who could find no reason for these pains.
The Beginning of Hell (in her own words)
"In all this pain and suffering I realize how much I am alone. We must suffer in silence, for no one can understand the full extent of what is happening. When it goes on for such a long time, people get used to hearing it and try to give advice, but when doctors don't know what is wrong or how to relieve the pain, how can anyone understand, except the sufferer? I am alone, alone, alone! I try to keep my tears and pain to myself, but it is hard and sometimes it spills over, then the ones nearest to me knows for that time, but what can they do? The pain goes on, when will it stop? When I die? Then I will sleep in peace. I want to go out and enjoy the fresh air, walk, shop, see people, but I am in my prison of misery, alone."
"My sense of smell and taste are now gone. I am supposed to be in fairly good health. After a stay in the psych ward and therapy, also having so many tests, the Doctors can't find anything wrong. I go out now and then but always with someone. Never alone, except to the store and yet - the pain in the back of my neck, shoulders and back have come back. My dizzy spells returned and now so have my fears. I cry a lot when no one is around. I suffer the pain alone. It must be in my head. I am imagining it?? The pain comes and goes in my left temple and now also the right, I am so scared of what is happening to me. Why can't I enjoy life like I used to, where and when will it all end? The pain is terrible. How can I stand too much more of it??!! My hands and feet are so cold, no circulation I guess, and also not much oxygen in my blood. I still can't taste anything."
"Close to a year has gone by now since I started this journal. I am still in pain, but maybe not as much as I used to be. Still my left side, temple, face and jaw, and also neck into the left shoulder pains. I am still getting dizzy spells too. Quick flashes across my head from left to right, then a dizzy sensation which lasts for hours. My taste is still gone, it's awful not being able to taste. What is the point of eating?? I find myself eating more than usual. All this will probably go on forever so guess I haven't much to look forward to. I am always feeling tired and dragged out."
"Well, another round of xrays and tests, showing nothing! No let up of the pain though. The pain is terrific sometimes. I feel so helpless. Got some new false upper teeth, maybe these will help, but I don't really know. I feel so weak and fed up. How long does this go on? Am I crazy or what? Life just doesn't seem worth living, but I've got to go on. I can't leave my daughter and grand children yet.
"Well, another year has passed. I haven't even felt like writing in my journal. I am so fed up with life. More tests and all turned out normal, again! That's good I guess, but what is wrong with me? Had my cancer check up and it was fine. My nerves are so frazzled, I think I am going crazy, but must hang on. I still have the pain in my neck and the dizziness. I sometimes wear a collar for the back of my neck and it helps a bit, but not all the time. The heat makes me feel so nervous and weak. I am so depressed and just want to lie down and everyone just leave me alone, so I can cry, cry, cry!
"Well, Rosemarie has gone to live out of town. She had to move for a nursing job. Now I feel so alone. I have lost my caregiver and my darling daughter. What will I do now? Now the Doctor says I may be having migraines and wrote another prescription! So many pills, yet none seem to be doing me any good. The pain in my neck and shoulders is always there.
"Nearly Christmas, don't know what I will do, but if I am like this, I will want to hide from everyone. One good thing, my daughter Rosemarie has moved home again! At least I will have my caregiver back with me. She knows how to look after me! My back was so bad last week that I couldn't straighten up at all. My neck and face were hurting also. It's ongoing. A pain down my legs now. I am sure the nerves in my face and leg are gone. Also could be blocked arteries and blood clot? I am getting physiotherapy on my back and left neck but it doesn't help.
" Well, Christmas came and went. Was nice to see the grandkids again, they are what makes it special. I wish I could enjoy the visits though. Went for another bone scan yesterday. I am worried. They had to do the left and right side of my face, and also the back of my neck. Was so painful and left temple was killing me. I sure hurt today. I feel dizzy and light headed. I wish I knew what was wrong. I feel so miserable all the time with all the pain, my hands and feet always cold. What the hell is it?? I am fed up!!"
Stopped the physiotherapy on my neck for awhile. My cholesterol is high and also my blood pressure. I'm not surprised. The doctor says my pulse is very weak in my left groin area and also my left and right ankles, so I know now that I really have blocked arteries (maybe blood clot somewhere). Had more xrays taken, nothing showed, just some minor arthritis. Wish I had someone to sit and talk to who could help me, take me out of myself, be my good friend. Wish I lived in England near my family, so I would have some support, at least a little. I'll be alone when I die, I'm always alone! I cant expect Rosemarie to always be here to do everything for me, she needs a life!
My left eye went half blind yesterday, with flashing lights around, this is the third of fourth time this has happened now. I also have a stabbing pain in my left temple again and headache over the top of my head and to my right temple. Awful pain, I feel so miserable! I definitely can't go on with my life like this! All these years wasted, when I always thought these would be good years when I was retired. I could travel, some hope! At least Rosemarie is here now, but she also has her own life. We seem to be dealing with our lives alone, as best we can.
I am still getting weak spells and dizziness, a shooshing in my ears all the time, sudden pains that come and go in my temple and head. I feel so miserable and depressed. I'm absolutely at a dead end now and don't know what to do next. This can't go on much longer. I am fed up, fed up, fed up!
"I am still in my prison. Cannot go out at all now. My daughter does my shopping for me. She insists I go sometimes, she doesn't understand. I cannot do anything, please quit trying to make me."
"Well I can't live much longer. I may as well take all my pills and be done with it. But I can't do that either as my daughter took them all away from me. I cant do anything right. Just live in pain. Deep pain. I guess I will be in my prison until I die now!"
Mom's journal went on and on. It was very sad to read. All we could do for her was to accept her for the beautiful person she was and support her the best we could.
In speaking to doctors, there was nothing much medically wrong with her. She had been under psychiatric care also and diagnosed with depression and anxiety attacks.
As I have had time to think about her pain and suffering, I personally feel it all had to do with her past. She was born into a poor family in which survival was hard at times. Also her time spent in the Army in war torn England, seeing her loved ones die in the bombings all took its toll. Leaving her family and moving to an unknown country to start life anew with her small children and husband was also hard for her.
My dad had health problems also for which she was his caregiver for many years. When he passed away at age 52, I believe part of mom died also.
Life was not kind to my mom, but through out all her hardship, she displayed a powerful love for her family and fellow man. She would never turn anyone away if they needed support. She was always there for anyone. I know she was my "rock" during many bad times in my life. She was the only "constant" in my life and I truly miss her.
It's hard to sit and watch a loved one endure this hurt and there is nothing you can do to help them. When mom passed away, it was under her terms, quietly, without pain. She had collapsed at home, 12 days before her 80th birthday. I got an ambulance and she went to the hospital where she lasted about 20 minutes. The last thing she said was, "Rosie, I knew you would be here. My pain has finally gone. Thank you."
Those words will remain with me as long as I live.