I am a wife, sister, grandmother and friend. I started blogging as a coping mechanism during my beautiful daughter's final journey. Vicky was desperately ill for 10 years after a botched back operation. Dying is a lonely journey. Not only for the sick person but also for the family. As hard as we may try to avoid death, the truth is that we do a lousy job of it. Science and medicine will certainly postpone it, even staying healthy might seem to delay it, but the harsh reality is that death does not wait for you, it does not ask you, and it does not listen to you. Death ignores your feelings and wants; you do not matter to death…Death is the only certainty in life! We need to remember that our existence here is fragile, and we never have as much time with people as we think we do. If there is someone or someones out there that you love, don’t neglect that and don’t put off engaging with them because waits for no-one… Vic's Journey ended on 18 January 2013 at 10:35. She was the most courageous person in the world and has inspired thousands of people all over the world. Vic's two boys are monuments of her existence. She was an amazing mother, daughter, sister and friend. I will miss you today, tomorrow and forever my Angle Child.
Somehow 31,536,000 seconds or even 525,600 minutes makes far more sense than 8760 hours; 365 days; 52 weeks and one day or 1 year…
If feels as if a lifetime of sorrow has passed since you stopped breathing. If feels as if it has been a lifetime since I held you in my arms. It feels as if I have cried an ocean of tears.
In the past year I have aged. I have gained weight. I have existed. A year ago my life ended. The boys and I still burn candles for you.
I am still filled with rage. I know you were born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta but doctor arrogance caused you so much pain, suffering and indignity. I know that you would more than likely have died before me but perhaps with less suffering?
I will always miss you. I will always remember your smile, your laugh, your bravery. I will never forget how you fought to live.
Today I want to thank you for my beautiful grandsons. Thank you for remaining my little girl through-out your life. Thank you for fighting for so long. You were such a warrior!
I thank God that you came home to die. I thank God that I had the privilege of caring for you. I thank God that He entrusted me with something as pure and precious as you.
I am grateful that you are no longer fracturing vertebrae from vomiting. As much as I miss your laugh I do not miss your pain filled tears. I am grateful precious baby that your suffering is over.
I miss your company. I miss our late night chats, drinking untold cups of tea/coffee. I miss your text messages, your telephone calls, your shuffling footsteps down the passage… the smell of smoke alerting me that you are awake and sitting on your step…
I miss the boys laughter. I miss the joy that you brought into our lives.
We will continue to honour your memory – every day of our lives. Your legacy will live on in each and every person that is allowed to live until they die with dignity.
I love you Angel Child with every fiber in my body.
Your Silent Dreams by April D. Parker I held you as you were sleeping… All the while I sat weeping…. Gazing at your beautiful features… For you were one of God’s Creatures…
I loved you from the minute you existed to be… Living inside me, Dreaming silently…
You were always a part of my life…
Even before you saw day-light…
Looking down at you, I kissed your warm little hand…
Knowing you had passed on to the Promised Land…
You, my sweet baby, are forever my Child…
The fact you were in my life makes it worth while…
Undeniably I have hope…
The thought of seeing you again allows my spirit to lift…
I thank God to have had what time I had with you…
Love and cherish you I shall always do…
I posted this when Vic’s death was a future event. I did not realise how dreadful the loss would be. How devastating the longing for my child. How severe the physical heartache would be… Today I would give everything I own just to hug and hold Vic one more time.
I know that I would do all things for you.
My spirit would always take care of you.
And when I die and leave this world behind.
You can be rest assured that my love will stay behind.
Even though sometimes we’re far apart.
You have always remained right here in my heart.
I will forever whisper in the wind
Unconditional love that’ll forever stay within.
If only I could go wherever you go
So I could do things I need to do for you.
Since I can’t, the best sacrifice I can give
is keep you in my heart and allow you to leave.
I’m lifting up the burden in your heart
‘Cause I know that you don’t know where to start.
I’m transferring all the pain inside of you
Into my care, into my heart, and now it’s through.
I love you so much and I know that I can bear
This greatest pain to let you go, I swear.
Know in your heart that my love will forever stay
Even though I would seem so far-away.
I’ll be your strength that’s why I’m relieving you
Of all the pain and tears inside of you.
No need to worry for all your pain will be gone.
It will be with me now, and I shall carry on.
You may think I’m letting you go without a fight.
If you only knew how I fought for you each night.
Just remember that there are signs everywhere.
So look around and acknowledge that they are there.
God said to me that love will always prevail.
And each day there is a tale for you to tell.
If you could already see the signs before your eyes.
Embrace it now. Let it stay. It is your guide.
God said the signs may be a word or two
When you least expect it, it is said to you.
It may also be the people that you have met.
Places, names, or things that you kept.
God told me to tell all these things to you
So happiness would set in and peacefulness, too.
I’m always here, and I’ll always love you.
I never wanted you to be in pain. It’s OK for you to go.
I have been following your journey now for some time and my heart goes out to you and your family. It is NOT EASY to care for somebody that is terminally ill. It makes it even more difficult if that person is your child. I would like to share something with you though. It is vitally important that you take care of yourself in this tiring time. Please accept all the help from family and friends that’s been offered to you. This will give you some breathing space. It will also allow Vic to know that it is okay if Mom is just having a little bit of “me” time. Her energy is very powerful and she proved it to everybody up to now that she wants to survive.
Allow all Angels and guides to assist you with the care that you and your family so much need right now. God allows you to call upon their assistance when you need them. When Jacob was struggling with an Angel he called the Angel Michael to assist him and Michael was there not only to help him, but also to guide him with whatever he was struggling with. There are many stories in the Bible and other scriptures about God’s Angels. What still amazes me is that God found it necessary to create Angels. HE knew that we and all other creatures would need assistance and comfort when we are lonely. It took me a long time to work this out. It was only after my mom passed away and I fell very ill that my awareness of these wonderful creations of God was awakened.
Dear Tersia, know they are there, they are with you. You just need to ask for their guidance and assistance. Please know that Angels come in all forms. It might be your neighbour, your friend, nursing staff or maybe a presence! Nurture yourself. Get all the friends, family and help that you can now and trust people. They will be guided and equiped with the knowledge to help you now. You need to be taken care of now and so does your family.
The angels did come to comfort my child in her most fear-filled day.
We have found many angels in human form. Friends, family, acquaintances, WordPress Friends, Facebook friends…..
Thank you Louise for opening my eyes to the angels. Thank you for the angels that comforted my child in her hour of need and thank you for the angels that came and took her by the hand and whisked her away to a pain-free, joy filled place.
I am so tired. I think it is emotional more than physical.
Vic went to the movies with her friend Tracey today. As she wanted to leave, Hospice arrived. Sr Siza was VERY dubious whether she should go… Anyway the boys went with to make sure she was okay. They are so protective of her.
When Tracey dropped her at home she was so tired she could not lift her feet. She immediately got into bed and I know it will take days for her to recover. I am grateful that she enjoyed the movie. I cannot believe my child went and saw The Twilight SagaBreaking Dawn Part 2!! She is the most anti-vampire person I know!
She said “Oh Mommy, the one part was scary but it was so much fun!”
I have read up on the effects of continued morphine administration when someone is in Renal and Liver Failure. We have no option but to continue the pain medication regime… It will help her live and yet it will certainly contribute even hasten her death.
I don’t care. I want Vic to be as pain-free as possible. It is becoming increasingly difficult to do so. She is literally on a “morphine on demand” regime. She cannot overdose – she is too used to Morphine. The dosages have been titrated over many years…
Vic has had 81 abdominalsurgeries in her life. Vic’s first abdominal operation was at the age of 10 when she had her first batch of endometrioses surgically removed.
Endometriosis is a gynecological medical condition in which cells from the lining of the uterus (endometrium) appear and flourish outside the uterine cavity, most commonly on the peritoneum which lines the abdominal cavity. The uterine cavity is lined with endometrial cells, which are under the influence of female hormones.
Endometriosis is typically seen during the reproductive years and it has been estimated that endometriosis occurs in roughly 6–10% of women.
About 93%–100% of people undergoing abdominal or pelvic surgery will form adhesions, but luckily most do not have complications of the adhesions. Adhesions may also result from infectious processes, such as pelvic inflammatory disease.
Abdominal adhesions are bands of fibrous scar tissue that form on organs in the abdomen, causing the organs to stick to one another or to the wall of the abdomen. Scar tissue most commonly develops after abdominal surgery, in which organs are handled by the surgical team and are shifted temporarily from their normal positions. It can also form in people who develop peritonitis, an infection that has spread to the membrane that covers the abdominal organs. Vic has developed peritonitis on numerous occasions. Peritonitis usually occurs after appendicitis or another abdominal infection such as Vic first developed after her blotched surgery when her small bowel was perforated. https://tersiaburger.com/2012/10/19/the-albatross/
In most patients, adhesions do not cause health problems. In a small number of people, like Vic, the fibrous bands of scar tissue block the intestines either completely or partially. This blockage is called a bowel obstruction, and it leads to death in about 5% of cases. Sometimes, an area of intestine that is affected by adhesions can keep becoming blocked then unblocked, causing symptoms to come and go. In about 10% of small-bowel obstructions, a portion of the bowel twists tightly around a band of adhesions. This cuts off the normal blood supply to the twisted bowel, causing what is called strangulation, and that section of bowel begins to die. When this emergency happens, the person must be taken to surgery immediately. The death rate is as high as 37% in people who develop strangulation.
Literally meters, of different parts of Vic’s intestines, has been removed. Every time Vic had an obstruction she had surgery. Vic has needed skin grafts to cover open wounds. Vic developed numerous gastrointestinal fistulas. Due to the extremely thin layer of skin covering her intestines the intestines have chaffed through. Vic would lose up to 7 liters of feces per day, through the fistula.
Now we cope with partial obstructions on a weekly basis. We battle with poor absorption because Vic has lost critical parts of her intestines. Vic will not have further surgery. My child has been to hell and back.
As a mother of a terminally ill child, who suffers debilitating chronic pain, I have researched pain extensively. I have argued with physicians and meet with pain specialists at the pain clinic every month. I have bullied hospital nursing staff. I have witnessed and lived my child screaming like a wounded animal from pain….. Doctors telling her that she is a morphine addict and pharmacists double-checking and verifying Vic’s scripts…
This weekend I saw raw resentment towards me in my little girl’s eyes.
We checked into Hospital on Saturday morning at 08:00. Vic was seriously peeved that she did not get a private room as per the doctor’s instruction. Just to aggravate the situation the lady in the opposite bed was truly strange… She was loud and used bad language. She kept arguing with her husband, she would tell him to make a sexual departure, he would storm out of the room and she would shout obscenities at him.
Then she started telling us about this wonderful neurosurgeon that she works for. She and Vic ended up comparing back-op war wounds … Of course Vic won the contest hands down! Vic then said that she had decided no more surgeries…wow! Did this set the neighbour off! She took the moral high-ground and started telling us that we must have faith and God will heal Vic. Vic was in hospital because we keep asking God to heal her. We should only ask once and then have faith…
She laid hands on Vic when I went downstairs for a cup of tea. I would never have allowed it!!
Please don’t misunderstand me – I have nothing against religion. Religion is important. I do have a problem with a person who curses and swears and behaves in the most appalling manner and then think they can cure my child. Jared said to me today “Oumie, I don’t want to be a Christian like that …”
I do not stand in judgement of anyone. It is not for me to judge. I do have a problem with the ultra-religious people who judge others…surely that is the biggest sin? As my friend Marlene used to say “Who died that you think you became God?” If you are a Christian then surely you must believe that the blood of Jesus was spilt for ALL sinners and not only a select, elite group of Christians. If you disapprove of someone’s lifestyle or actions, condemn the sin and not the person…
People who claim to be “deeply religious” have turned their backs on their loved ones because of a lifestyle choice they made. They will not allow their own sons and daughters into their homes because they disapprove of the lifestyle choice. Yes, our loved ones make decisions that we do not condone or support but does that give us the right to turn our backs on them because of that? Surely love is unconditional? Through thick and thin?
I digress… Immediately after laying hands on Vic the lady swore at her son and made a racist remark… I suppose the Jesus she proclaims only died for white South Africans…
Jared sat at hospital with us all day Saturday. He is old enough to want to do it! That young man adores his Mommy. Jon-Daniel copes in a different way. He went to a private coaching cricket lesson at the Club in the morning and then went to Nathan, his best friend. Jon-Daniel makes Vic laugh. Jared makes Vic coffee.
Two different boys with two different ways of coping and two different ways of expressing their love. Yet united in their love and despair for their mother.
Vic ended up going into theatre just before 19:00 Saturday night…she was starving!! Poor little poppet! I was really annoyed that we had to wait from 10:00 to 19:00 to see the inside of the theatre. HOWEVER, this is where there is a twist in the tale…a second surgeon appeared in the waiting area and looked at the x-rays. He was most impressed by the complexity of the fracture…He is a humerus specialist who has in-depth knowledge and experience with Osteogenesis Imperfecta! I must add that he too had never had an OI patient as old as Vic. So Vic had two specialists operating on her little arm.
By 21:15 the anaesthetist came through to tell me the operation went well and that he was sending Vic to ICU – mainly because they are petrified of the high dosages of opiates that Vic is on and how it may counteract with the medication that Vic’s on.
History was made Saturday. A doctor wrote on Vic’s file “Mother of patient to stay with her”! In the past doctors would make U-turns in the passages to avoid me and here is this wonderful man telling the ICU staff “This mother must stay”. What a bright and intelligent young man he is even if he charged double medical aid rates.
Vic was however extremely angry with me because she was sent to ICU. Vic is petrified of ICU and does not appreciate that her pain control is so much better in there than in a ward. She cannot be given the amount of opiates that she needs, for pain control, out of ICU.
I am delighted as I told the anaesthetist that the Jurnista is new and although I did not give her one Friday night as I was scared that it may adversely affect the anaesthetic and post-op pain control. (Thank you Google for the fact sheet). When he said that it is better for her to go to ICU all Vic kept saying was “No Mommy, No Mommy!” She cried. I saw the resentment in her dark, sad eyes when she looked at me.
For once I did not care. I love my child and I will do anything and everything to spare her pain.
I have to find out which anaesthetic they used. The last two procedures at the Union resulted in terrible aggression in Vic. Vicky is normally a meek and mild little soul but boy, did she rip into me and her ICU sister. She told me exactly what she did and did not think of me. It was a horrific experience. I hope and pray that it was the anaesthetic and not actual resentment towards me that triggered her hate speech.
Vic ended up spending 2.5 days in ICU. I never left her side but to go shower at home and take Jared to the urologist this morning. The ICU at a standard hospital is actually not equipped to handle someone as ill as Vic and in such a pain control programme. I also think they were too scared to be left alone with her after the tongue-lashing she gave them whilst I was showering on Sunday morning.
Well this is now behind us. We will hope and pray that the sepsis in Vic’s abdomen and spine will not attack the pins in her arm. That Vicky will get better and enjoy some Jurnista quality of life!
I want to blog on ICU’s and what we subject our loved ones to next. I am just too tired and emotionally drained to even attempt it today.
We are seeing a GP tomorrow morning regarding Vic’s arm. Both her arm and hand are so swollen that I am concerned that she may actually lose her arm. It has now been more than a month from the day that she fractured her arm. When I bathed her tonight I removed part of the dressing that is protecting her arm. Her arm is still black and blue and horrifically swollen. I am convinced that she has pressure sores under the cast.
Today was a truly exciting day… (Relax, I am being facetious)
We phoned the Orthopod that treated Vic in hospital. Sorry, he (Dr Y) can only see Vic next week! We then phoned her original Orthopod (Dr V) with the permission of Dr Y. Dr V’s receptionist informs us that Dr V will only see Vic with the written consent of Dr Y. We tell her that Dr Y is too busy to write a letter but has advised us to get Dr V to phone him (Dr Y) if he needs to speak to him. “We will not even allow you into Dr’s rooms without a letter. Doctor V is too busy to phone. Get a letter if it is so urgent for you to see Doctor!”
Well!!! What the hell do you do? You cannot force a receptionist to allow you to see a doctor. Even if you force your way into the consulting rooms you cannot force a doctor to see you.
The fact that Vicky is terminal does not give any doctor permission to wash their hands off her. It is written into our Constitution that every citizen of this beautiful country has the right to medical care!! “In terms of South Africa’s constitution each person is entitled to human dignity, equality and freedom. This should also be the case when a patient receives medical treatment in the private and public sector.
The Government has an obligation to protect the life of every person in South Africa. The patient has the right to receive medical treatment.”
I promise anyone who cares to read this or hear me: if there is permanent damage to Vic’s arm, I will sue both doctors, regardless of her overall medical condition.
Tomorrow we will see Vic’s GP and hopefully she can get Vic into an Orthopod’s rooms! Why only tomorrow? She is too fully booked today to see us today…
Today I had a message from Dr Jaffer Hussain asking whether the Jurnista is working. Not only did he care enough but he asked whether I wanted him to ask Prof Froehlich to motivate Hospice?
I received a message from my brother today that read:- Often when we lose hope and think this is the end, GOD smiles from above and says, “Relax, it’s just a bend, not the end!”
Is there hope after all? I am cautiously optimistic!
Tomorrow afternoon we see the Urologist. Strangely I am at peace about Jared. God cannot be that cruel so I trust in a positive outcome!
JD (Jared’s Dog), is 15 years old and suffering from 3rd degree congenital heart failure. In human years JD is at least 105 dog years old. She has been such a healthy little dog but is now starting to battle. She coughs throughout the night and end up sitting upright to breathe easier. When I get home she is so excited that she has a coughing spell.
JD follows me where ever I go. If I step back I step on her. She sleeps in my room. JD and I have a system worked out. When I come out of the shower she is already waiting for me. When I go downstairs, with her in tow, her little tail is wagging and she is clearly very excited to see what little snack she is going to have. I know she is not supposed to have little snacks but heaven helps the person who tries to feed me hard, dry biscuits when I am 105 years old!
I do not want JD to suffer any further. Tomorrow morning she will go to the parlour one final time. In the afternoon she will have an injection at the vet and gently drift off to Doggie Heaven. Vic and Jared want to go with her.
I am a coward. I do not have the resilience and strength to take her.
It was with fear and trepidation that I gave Vic her medication last night. Esther, (Vic’s big sister and a pharmacist) asked me whether the Jurnista replaced the morphine and was just a little surprised that it was in addition to the Morphine, Neurontin, Degrenol and Stilpayne. My research really scared me yet strangely I was at peace.
By 24:00 Vic felt no difference and her pain was at a solid 9. By 02:00 her pain was a little easier. Vic had a fairly good night. But she is having a very good day!!! The Jurnista appears to be working! Vic rested well this morning and went out for coffee with Tracey! How absolutely amazing is that!
Last Sunday, Frik, a Christian colleague phoned me after church and asked me to give Vic a message. “Please tell Vicky that God wants me to tell her that He loves her”… She was too ill and I only told her on Tuesday. I missed the Tuesday Pain Clinic appointment… On Thursday the Pain Clinic doctor is a wonderful, compassionate, young Muslim man who showed mercy and compassion …
My faith has often wavered over the past ten years. Not in God but in a God of Mercy. The actions of the church, Christians, doctors, nursing staff, radiologists, Hospice, family and friends, mostly reflected a cold, loveless society that does not begin to understand what compassion means
When we first received Vic’s death sentence there was an absolute outpouring of love. But I suppose she did not die soon enough and people slowly and discreetly disappeared out of our lives. My blog is three months old and most of you too may get tired of the waiting game and stop reading it and disappear into cyberspace. Well, this time you cannot hurt us because you are faceless.
I am digressing. This week we were reminded that there are still angels around. A compassionate man who prays for pain relief of a young woman he has never met, a doctor who prescribes palliative care medication… The Jurnista could hasten Vic’s imminent demise but I don’t care. I would rather she spend one pain free day with her boys and family than a lifetime in the pain that she lives with.
Many people have left wonderful caring messages on my email, comments on the blog and Facebook. Thank you! It really does mean a lot to us. Vic does not read my blog neither do her boys. But Vic has truly appreciated the contact some of her old school friends have made. As I said before, dying is a lonely business!
But today we celebrate the wonderful new drug! I thank God for sending angels along our way. I thank God for His message through Frik, when I was at the lowest low in my life!! I thank God for Dr Jaffer Hussain! I thank God for your messages of encouragement and above all I thank God for Vic’s good day! Thank you, thank you, thank you God! Even if it is only one good day!
Some people take their time and linger. Some people get it over with quickly. For some dying is hard work. But all of us are heading towards the same destination. Passing through our physical stages of dying. Into death…