Part 4: The final February with mom

Promise me that you’ll live your lives. For me. For the family. Promise me.” ~ My Mom.

It’s 1 p.m. on February 25, 2021 and we just finished “kidnapping” my mom from Abrazo Hospital. She’s now resting comfortably and in good hands with the ER doctors and nurses at Mayo Hospital.

A team of doctors – about six of them – quickly attend to my mom, evaluate and order every test imaginable. A team of nurses, one for each doctor, quickly put in their doctors’ orders via iPads.

I step aside to watch doctors and nurses swirl around my mom’s hospital bed, giving her their undivided attention. I see the hard looks of concern in their eyes. I’ve caught a couple of them shake their heads. As in, “I can’t believe the condition she’s in.”

So many questions start to swirl around in my head. How did she get so sick? How long has she been sick? Did she know she was sick? Did she know and didn’t tell anyone?

My Mom, My Wonder Woman

And then it hits me, it really hits me. My mom is really sick.

I flew into Phoenix on Feb. 20, but Abrazo Hospital, citing Covid precautions, wouldn’t allow visitors, not even family. So this is the first time I’m seeing my mom in a year and a half. She looks incredibly frail and weak. This is hard to take in.

I had lived my entire life as if my mom was immortal. I heard her say, “I’ll always be here for you,” so many times that I took it literally. I had never entertained the idea that I would someday have to live my life without her.

My mom was only 4-feet, 11-inches, but she stood so tall. All my life, I saw her as an incredibly strong woman, my Wonder Woman. She had a big personality with a loud, hearty laugh. She was bigger than life, at least to me and my brother, and she was a force of nature.

She once went whitewater river rafting with friends in Colorado. This may not sound like a big deal, but it is… because she couldn’t swim!!! Yet she threw on the life vest, tied herself down to the back of the raft and in her words, “Just went for it.”

My initial reaction went something like this: “Mom, are you crazy! You can’t swim! Why would you do that?”

Her response? “Hey, you only live once.” That’s right, my mom said YOLO.

My mom, Rickey Henderson and me.

Here’s another example. She once dragged Baseball Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson across the room to meet me. I repeat… She dragged Major League Baseball’s greatest leadoff hitter and baserunner across the room. She then handed her purse to Henderson’s wife and said, “Here, hold this.” His wife chuckled and happily took a photo of us with her husband, “The Man of Steal.”

So to see her now in this state is a reality I’m not willing to accept. Yet, here it is, punching me in the gut and slapping me in the face.

Missing tests from Abrazo Hospital

“What tests did they do at Abrazo?” The doctors have asked me several times now. I repeat what I was told by Abrazo. Ultrasound. MRI. Colonoscopy. Liver Biopsy.

“We’re having trouble getting all the test results from Abrazo. Are you sure they did a liver biospy?” I repeat the list again. Ultrasound. MRI. Colonoscopy. Liver Biopsy.

The second liver biopsy was a bone of contention with Dr. Ponduchi. She repeatedly told me how they needed a second biopsy. How they needed to biopsy a different area of the liver in order to “get a better understanding of what’s going on.”

The Mayo doctors came back in. They said they had received everything from Abrazo. The results for every test I listed were now in their hands. Except for the liver biopsy.

Finally, one of the doctors pulls up a chair, looks me in the eye and says, “We don’t think they ever performed a liver biopsy. Can you repeat for us, one more time, what they told you?”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The didn’t even do the first biopsy!

Yet, Dr. Ponduchi was adamant about doing a second biopsy. What kind of bullshit game was she playing? Why would she play with my mom’s life like this?

“It’s become clear to us that the first liver biopsy was never done. So, we think it’s best we start from the beginning,” another doctor explained.

“Unfortunately, for your family, you’ve gone a whole week without seeing your mom, and basically, it was a week wasted because you didn’t get any answers. What we do know is that your mom is very sick and now we’re going to find out why.”

“So she lied to me? Dr. Ponduchi lied to me?” I ask the doctors.

They paused and looked at each other before one doctor finally says, “It looks that way, yes, based on the information you’ve provided and the fact that it’s not in any of the records they’ve sent over.”

I want to drive back to Abrazo Hospital and confront Dr. Ponduchi. But I can’t. I have finally been reunited with my mom and I’m not letting her out of my sight.

Four-year-old me with my Wonder Woman.

To be continued…

Soy hija de Gloria. Hija de guerrera. Esta es la historia de mi mamá. Y también mi terapia.

I’m Gloria’s daughter. Daughter of a warrior. This is my mom’s story. And my therapy.

3 thoughts on “Part 4: The final February with mom

  1. You fought so hard for her, Suzi. You pushed for better diagnostics and more attentive care. You wouldn’t take no for an answer and moved her in order to get er diagnosed and treated. No one could have done better. Sending hugs your way, dear friend. ♥️🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I replay all of it in my head over and over, thinking about what else I could have done. But it was cancer and it was everywhere. I just hope she knows that I tried and that I did my best to make her last days as comfortable as possible for her. Thank you for always being there for me. ❤


      1. Suzi, I promise you, she knows. You did all you could for your mom and then more on top of that. The shock of her diagnosis and the short time you had to process it were insanely hard. The poor care she received at Abrazo before you could get her moved to Mayo. The reality of how widespread the cancer was, and what options for treatment were available at that point. Mere mortals would have crumbled under the pressure of all that. She raised you to be strong, resilient and to handle everything that comes your way in life with the same determination and fierceness that she had. This blog, and you telling her story are proof of you doing exactly that. Being there is just what friends do for friends. Love you, Chica. ♥️

        Liked by 1 person

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