Rush Limbaugh's recent travails have me thinking about my mom a lot lately. Sometimes her face comes to me in the middle of the night, not in a dream, but when I'm half-awake as I roll over.
Last year, I lost my mom to the evil that is cancer, and although I feel blessed to have been holding her hand, lovingly stroking her hair and whispering words of comfort and prayer to her as she suffered through the last hours of her life here on earth, the memory of her agony on one of her final days continues to haunt me.
Thank God, the period of agony was brief. But it will forever be etched in my mind – it was as if I had seen someone being tortured. It happened one evening when I left Mom's room ever so briefly as a nurse came in to administer her pain medication. I was exhausted and hungry after sitting by her bedside for hours on end over a two-day period. It seemed safe to slip out and take my little girl, who tenderly helped me comfort her dying grandmother, to a quiet place where we could grab a bite to eat and I could check to see how my 10-year-old was holding up through the life-changing experience.
When I returned about 45 minutes later, Mom was thrashing and moaning in pain. She couldn't talk, and she kept struggling to reach her legs. I'm still not sure what specific message she was trying to communicate about her legs – all I know is that she was in tortuous pain. I ran into the hallway to find a nurse. Back at her bed, I was horrified to find the small white cup of powdered pain medicine that she should have been given 45 minutes earlier tangled in her sheets, still half-full. The IV that delivered a constant stream of another type of pain medication was flowing much slower than usual. No wonder she was suffering so.
Mom's body was wracked with cancer – the cruel evil had eaten its way through so many of her bones, cracking and crumbling them as it feasted relentlessly on the marrow. The overstressed nurse, in an under-staffed facility, finally made her way in to administer the double doses of medicine I demanded. The next three hours seemed like an eternity as I tried desperately to calm my sweet mother and make her as comfortable as possible – all the while fighting the invisible hand of her tormentor. It took four hours to return the level of pain medication in her bloodstream to the place where she could once again fall fast asleep in blissful numbness.