Tuesday, December 22, 2009

what we know

At present, we know very little about Mom's condition. She remains sedated and on a ventilator, and is septic. Beyond that, here's where we stand:

Mom is currently suffering respiratory failure and is unable to breathe on her own. She's on a ventilator, and might remain so for the next few days, or forever. If it turns out that Mom will never breathe again on her own and that she's been reduced to a vegetative state, we seriously have to consider a "do not resuscitate" option-- a very sudden end after a long, drawn-out, and painful process.

But we're not there yet: the docs haven't ascertained what, exactly, is wrong with Mom, so I don't see any reason for us to cut Mom off from the world until we know for certain that things are hopeless. Once we know more, we'll have to make some hard decisions-- whether to cease resuscitation efforts, whether to transfer Mom back to Virginia, etc. A lot depends on what we learn over the next day or two.

We did hear that Mom's suffering from a great deal of intracranial pressure, probably the result of multiple edemas from all the cancer inside her head, as well as whatever infection or infections she's acquired. A lumbar puncture was deemed too risky; it seems that the docs are still trying their best to stabilize Mom.

I'm left not knowing what to think or do. Just yesterday evening, early on around dinnertime, I was alone with Mom and spoon-feeding her some Korean soup. She was quietly accepting it between attempts at coughing her disturbingly rattling cough. She and I looked at each other a few times between mouthfuls-- long looks. I had no idea what she was thinking, but because I was alone with her (Dad and the brothers had left the room), I decided to expose my heart tto her. I told her how utterly sorry I was for being a bad son. "Eomeomni-hantae jalmot han gae neomu mana-seo jeongmal, jeongmal mian-haeyo," I told her. "I've done you so much wrong, and I'm truly, truly sorry." And I held her close and sobbed. Poor Mom; she had lost so much affect that she was unable to respond with tears of her own, or even to understand why I was crying. She sat still in my arms as I wept, and her immobility made me weep all the harder and more bitterly.

Eventually I finished crying, and I looked at Mom again, unashamed of my tears. She was staring at me again-- really looking at me. "Do you know why I've been crying?" I asked in English and Korean. She didn't nod; she didn't shake her head. She just stared. And somehow I managed to shake off my sadness and finish feeding Mom her dinner.

Only a few hours later, we had paramedics in our room, strapping a rasping, hyperventilating Mom to a gurney and rushing her off to the hospital. No good-byes, no I love yous, just a whirlwind of activity as Mom was taken away.

Fast-forward to this afternoon. We'd slept from about 6:30AM to 11AM, though some of us (like yours truly) were harder to rouse from sleep than others. We've booked another night at this guest facility, but we've also had to move to a different room. Luckily, we were given the room next door, so the move wasn't all that painful. At around 4PM, Dad and David left to see Mom; Sean and I will be joining them soon.

I've occasionally published photos of Mom during her treatment at any given hospital. I hope you'll understand if I refrain from doing that now. The sight of her with all those tubes running into her, and with her so small and helpless on her gurney, wearing a protective helmet that at this point serves almost no purpose, is beyond heartbreaking. No one deserves this fate, least of all my mom.



Susan Honeywell said...

Kevin, our thoughts are with you. I've been down this exact path. My hopes are for the best, for all of you. Sue

Gitte said...


thank you so much for this honest blog, and for this post especially. it is so touching to read.

i've wronged my parents too many times, and your blog made me realize i better show them how much i love them right now.

my thoughts are with you. all the best to your entire, incredibly admirable family.


bob koepp said...

Kevin - Again, I have to say "Thank you!" for sharing your family's journey with us. Know that you are in the thoughts and prayers of many, many people.

Kevin Kim said...

Thank you all for your kind comments.