"Begin today and write in it your goings and comings, your deepest thoughts, your achievements and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies. I promise you that if you will keep your journals and records, they will indeed be a source of great inspiration to you, each other, your children, your grand-children and others throughout the generations. Remember, the Savior chastised those who failed to record important events." --President Spencer W. Kimball

November 3, 2012

A woman of strength

These past couple months have been difficult for Ma....and difficult for our whole family.  She keeps having the same pains and problems with her legs, and she's had the same surgery over and over again to try and fix it and it's just not working.  The blood in Ma's legs are thick and clotting....and none of the blood thinner medications are working.  She was admitted to the hospital back in March 2011 and she had two surgeries on her legs trying to help the blood flow.  The first surgery she had was not successful and they had to perform the same surgery again...within 24 hours of each other.  That surgery worked for a little while, but in April 2012 she ended up back in the hospital with the same pain in her legs, only this time it was her other leg.  They did two surgeries again, same situation as the last time....the first surgery didn't work so they had to repeat it.  They gave her perscriptions and several different things that would help to thin the blood in her legs so that she wouldn't be in pain anymore in hopes she wouldn't have to go through any more surgeries.  The blood thinners for some reason just don't work for her.  :(  She started having pain again in her legs in October and Tea took her to the hopsital.  The doctors did not like what they saw.  All the surgeries and attempts to fix the problem didn't work.  Her blood was so thick and clotting and it was really dangerous.  

I know I've mentioned this in several of my posts, but Ma doesn't want us to take her in anymore.  She doesn't want to go through surgery, she doesn't want to have to stay in the hospital....she hates how she feels when she wakes up after being put to sleep, she hates the sedation.  She hates the hospital food, and how nobody can understand her because she doesn't speak English.  She's just done with the whole hospital scene.  She tells us all the time that she's ready to go and she wants to go.  Her husband died when Ova was only 1 year old, that was almost 33 years ago.  She misses him.  She wants to go to him.  It's just so hard for us to see her suffer and not do anything about it.  Its hard for us to imagine our lives without her.

The doctors told us that they didn't want to do the surgery again because they'd already done it so many times and it obviously doesn't work for her.  They gave her the choice of amputating her legs, eliminating the bad clotted up blood and getting rid of the risk of a heart attack or stroke.  Ma said absolutely no way at all.  The doctor explained the risk to Tea and he wanted to make sure that Tea explained to Ma really well that if they didn't amputate her legs and get rid of the bad blood, at any time a blood clot could shoot to her heart and she would die.  Ma didn't care, she was not going to let them cut her legs off.  The doctors did some further testing just to make sure there was nothing else that they could do.  They ran a bunch of tests and tried to find the cause of the lack of circulation to her legs.  They did an EKG and echocardiogram which showed that her heart is not working at 100%.  It's not pumping the blood like it should be, and because of that, the blood wasn't getting circulated to her legs.  He explained it to Tea like this "the blood in your legs should run like water, but Ma's is thick like tomato soup.....tomato soup is not good."  There were really no other options.  She was not going to amputate her legs, and now even if she had opted to go that route, who knows if it would have even helped because now we found out that her heart isn't working like it should be.  That was a very hard day getting bad news after bad news.

The whole family met at the hosptial and cried and prayed and fasted and talked about what we were going to do.  We really didn't have a choice, the only medicines that might be able to help her weren't working.  We decided with the doctors to just keep her as comfortable as we can.....and as pain free as we can until she goes, which could be anytime.....weeks, months, years......nobody knew...

Ma is going to be 90 years old this January.  She's lived a very full life.  She's such a wonderful woman and I'm so blessed to have been able to live these last 9 years with her.  I love her so much...I always tell Ova that she's my gramma too, not just his.  She loves my children, and has helped me raise all 4 of them....how lucky am I!  She yells and them and hits them...and gives them loves and kisses every single day...how lucky are they!  I remember when I was pregnant with Lautala, everyone wanted me to name her after Tea.  I really wanted to name her after Ma.....that was one of the times when Ma was really sick and I remember she called me and Ova to the living room because she wanted to talk to us.  She pulled out her wedding ring and some other things and gave them to me and told me to put them in my safe and give them to my daughter when she turns 18.  She told us that she knows we were already planning on naming our baby after Tea, but asked that we reconsider and name her after her because she didn't know how much longer she was going to be around.  We all cried and cried and cried that night.....but we made our decision that her name wasn't going to be Tea, it was going to be Ilaisaane Lautala, after Ma.  That was when I was still pregnant with Tala girl, and now she's almost 3.  Ma's been sick quite a bit, and sometimes its to the point where we're not 100% sure that she's going to recover, but she always has.  She's such a strong woman! 

The feeling we all got this time around was so different.  To hear the doctors tell us there was nothing else to do was disheartening.  The possibility that we might lose this wonderful woman was real.  That was a hard pill to swallow.

We brought her home from the hospital and made her as comfortable as we could.  The doctors kept up on her pain medications, we had a hospital bed brought in for her so she could sit up or lay down with the click of a button.  We were just trying to make her as comfortable as we could.....that's all we could do.  People found out about her situation and wanted to come and visit her.  Our house was full ALL THE TIME.  People would come in the morning and stay until the wee hours of the morning.  People flew in from out of town....they brought her food and money and just showed their love and respect to her.  She is very very loved and it showed by the amounts of people who came by to see her. 

Throughout the first few weeks after we brought her home, she would have little things happen that just made us feel like the veil was really thin.  She told us that she could see Mosese, he's her son that passed away when he was 18....many many years ago.  He was hiding in her closet.  If the closet door was open, she could see him.  But if the closet was closed, he was gone.  Ova asked her how she knew it was him and she said because he had the deepest dimples in his cheeks when he was alive, and he still does now....and plus she's his mom, she just knows.  Ova asked her if Mosese says anything to her and she said no, he just smiles really big at her.  She likes to keep the closet open, she likes to see him.  She wishes her husband would come to her, but he hasn't for years.  Crazy things like that would happen.

Then, a miracle happened.  Tea took her to one of her appointments and they ran some more tests on her legs and all the sudden the blood thinners started working.  The same medications that she'd been taking for years, that hadn't been working....now were.  The blood in her legs looked so much better!  The doctor told Tea that he actaully can't believe it's the same person.  He was so happy that he decided to just keep her on the same regimin she was on, and to keep monitoring her closely.  They sent a physical therapist weekly to come work with her and help her move to keep the blood flowing, and now she's back to herself.  She can walk (even though she chooses not to very often because it takes so much out of her), she still has a really good appetite and can eat anything....her mind is completely there, she remembers everyone....she reads, she has a good memory and can tell stories, and loves to tell stories of her life.  She's such a strong woman that even when she's at the bottom and we all feel there is no way up, she finds a way up!

Ova and Ma had a conversation the other day....Ma raised Ova with Tea....they were his parents, and they have a very special bond, much different than all the other grandkids.  They talked forever that day, just about anything and everything.  Their conversation ended with Ova telling Ma that it's ok to go whenever she's ready.  He knows that she's holding on so long because of Tea.  Tea has dedicated her life to taking care of Ma, and now Ma is worried that if she goes, Tea will be all alone.  Ova told her not to worry about Tea.  He promised her that he and I would take care of Tea for the rest of her life, just like Tea took care of her.  Ma cried and thanked Ova and told him that she really needed to hear that. 

I don't know if she was holding on because she was worried about Tea, or if there is some other reason.....but what I do know is that I'm grateful that she's such a strong woman and that she's doing so much better.  She's such a blessing to so many people, especially to me and my little family.

Ma & Baby Katea

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