This is Melissa, Patty's daughter. My Mom passed peacefully yesterday afternoon around 3:45pm. She has been incredibly dedicated to being open with details about her life and her dealings with cancer. I am not an expert, nor am I as intimately acquainted with everything as she was. I do not know the majority of you guys, but will do my best here.
Her last post on April 7th was made from a hospice facility. I can't remember how long she was there, but she did go home from there and my Grandma continued her care, as she had been doing. No one could ask for a better or more dedicated caretaker or Mom than my Grandma. The last few weeks were weeks of general decline in her physical health. Weight loss was dramatic. I don't know how many of you know my Mom in real life, but she is a true Amazon warrior woman. 5'11, broad shoulders, with a happy weight of about 180. She was down to about 100 pounds. For those of you who were also friends with Jayne over at Shopping Kharma, there was a picture that she had posted where her pain pump was incredibly large underneath her skin. My Mom was similarly small in the last few days. The pain was at a point that eating had become an impossibility. The last two weeks my Mom had been completely sustaining herself with Coke and Smart Water, as they were the only two things she could stomach.
As far as medical going-ons, she had the colostomy bag placed sometime in January, if memory serves. I know she wrote about it, naming it Stella :) In addition to that, another bag was connected to the PEG tube to collect stomach contents. My Mom would sit there sipping on water and would laugh as it went down her throat and then, a few seconds later, out the tube. She said in her last post that the tumors secrete their own fluids, and I believe (though again, I am not a medical professional) that this bag was also there to collect this fluid, as it was a primary cause of the overwhelming nausea. A few days ago she also had a Foley catheter placed, as getting out of bed became too difficult.
Last Tuesday, the 19th, her bed was replaced with a nursing home style bed. Getting into a position that was comfortable was becoming more difficult, and the bed allowed her to more easily get into a comfortable position. So, we're getting caught up now. If you're still reading, you're a saint! One thing I did not learn from my Mom was brevity. Mentally, we could see her becoming a little less connected to the world. She began to sleep long hours, though sleep is a word I use loosely, as it was more of a heavily-medicated rest. I don't know anything about exact dosage, but I do know that both the methadone and the dilaudid were increased by the members of her hospice team to try to keep her pain under control. Saturday night was a long one. Her anxiety up to that point had been increasingly extreme. My Mom was upset, nervous, worried. My Mom was uncomfortable, tired, in pain, and was incredibly agitated. The night was spent around her bed, with us holding her hands, stroking her hair and telling her we loved her.
Yesterday, Easter Sunday, was more peaceful. Hospice came in sometime early, in the wee hours, and she was given Haldol, a strong anti-anxiety medication, to try to help her relax and to rest. The Haldol worked, and gave her a little more peace, giving her the chance to actually rest. At that point, it was just waiting. My Grandma, her Mom, was at the head of the bed holding her hand, and myself, one of my Uncles and my Aunt were around the bed as well. We were all holding her, making sure she was comfortable. While she was sleeping we all watched her breathe and around 3:45 she took her last breath. Everything was as she wanted. It was very peaceful.
This blog has been something so important. My Mom was dedicated to sharing her life and her experiences, both as a means of release and as a documentation of her trials with cancer. The support, love and friendship that she gained from this blog were of tremendous importance to her. All of your thoughts, words, prayers and vibes have been received by her and by our family. Thank you for loving her and supporting her, for being there for her and for us all. We are all truly blessed to have known Patty in whichever way we knew her and now, she is out of pain and, I have no doubt, is already up in the sky having a party with those that passed before her.
I have been asked about donations by a few people. If anyone would like to make donations in her name, please make them to Hospice of the Valley in Phoenix, AZ.
Thank you again for all of your love and support.