Posted in Chronic Pain, Family Life, Grief, Palliative Care, Terminal Illness, Uncategorized, Vicky Bruce

Hospice Day 11


 

Last night was an absolute night out of hell.

The subcutaneous syringe driver was halted as Vic’s tissue is so bad.  Vic is now on 100mg Durogesic patches and morphine syrup.  Initially it appeared to be an okay solution.  Then the nausea started…. The pain steadily increased to absolute intolerable levels by last night.

Yesterday morning Vic was great!  She obviously still has some of the intravenous morphine in her system.  (I also gave her extra morphine syrup as a precaution).  She went to breakfast with her friend Angela and had a wonderful time.  She glowed when she got back.  Gill, my BFF, popped in for a cup of tea and was amazed (once again) at how well Vic was looking.  Madam was even wearing a shoe with a little heel (which we made her take off).

In the afternoon Vic started looking grim.  She was nauseous and suffering from abdominal cramping.  Her tummy was distending.

By 10pm last night Vicky was sobbing with pain.  By 11pm she was vomiting uncontrollably.  She has severe intestinal pain and I believe she fractured a vertebra with the vomiting.

This morning I had an early meeting.  Half an hour into the meeting Vic phoned sobbing uncontrollably.  I was unable to hear what she was saying through her sobs.  I just said “Baby, I am on my way…”

When I arrived at home Sr Ciza from Hospice was here.  She had given Vic a morphine injection and an additional 25mg Durogesic patch.  Vic was already looking so much better.  Ciza encouraged me to get a night nurse to assist me… She had written a motivational letter to the medical aid without my knowledge.  I don’t think I am ready for that yet.

Whilst she was vomiting last night I thought of how quickly she “crashes” and how the good times have almost disappeared.  Yesterday morning Angela actually looked at me with a question mark in her eyes when Vic said she wanted to go out for breakfast.  I nodded my “consent”.  You see I had just read a comment from an incredible brave lady.

my husband has expressed the same concerns you have over your daughter pushing too hard when she does feel better. it is so important to me when i do have a good day to get out or make dinner, even doing laundry makes me happy. it is a reminder that i am still me. while i see your point and his, i know how vic feels and know that for me it is worth the price i pay afterward to have that time where i feel like the old me. the me before.  My heart goes out to you all and say a little prayer for your continued wisdom and love. http://thedrsays.org/” 

Today I would also like to quote my “mentor into the world of pain” Tracy Rydzy   http://ohwhatapain.wordpress.com/author/ohwhatapain

The concept of illness as a way of telling you to slow down is frustrating, as I have always lived life in the proverbial fast lane.  Since my first surgery, my life has basically come to a screeching halt.  Any living I do is now in the slow lane, sometimes I never even make it off the shoulder.  I think one of the most difficult aspects of pain, especially during a flare, is the comorbid (I have to use my expensive Master’s Degree vocabulary sometimes) depression and mood swings. 

It’s hard to deal with the slow down.  I mean, generally, this is something that comes with age and is a natural part of life, but when it happens at 33, how the heck do you reconcile that?  Before “all this” I felt so strong.  I felt like I could take on the world.  I used to be busy everyday, all day and the craziness of my schedule was like a high.  Now, I have maybe a quarter of that activity, some days, I have none.  The worst part about slowing down is that the pain slows down my body, but not my mind (thankfully), so in my head I still feel like the woman who can go all day, do it all, run around all day and still have energy left to cook dinner and clean the house.  Nowadays I get up at 1030am on a good day, workout and do maybe one chore, and by the time I am done I want to cry from pain and exhaustion.  But I am still me.  I refuse to let the pain change who I am.

I still feel like I can do it all, but I can’t. The constant drive to push and do more is, at times, a gift and a curse.  I still push  myself to do more, even if it comes with the cost of a day in bed.  When it comes to physical therapy (and the accompanying weight loss), I know that I push myself too far, too often.  That part of my brain that refuses to accept this “new normal” can’t give up certain things.  One thing I can do is physical therapy, so I will do it as hard as I can and push myself, regardless of the cost to my body.  A couple of weeks ago I hurt my back (more) while driving and the surgical nurse, who knows me well by this point, actually said, “I tell most patients to slow down for a little while, but I won’t bother telling you that, I know you won’t.”

Sometimes the slow down causes resentment.  I get angry that those around me have a life and are busy and that adds to the mood swings and depression.  The weekends are the hardest because I want to do so much more than I realistically can, yet I watch friends and family run from event to event with no need to stop and rest.  For me, a trip to Wal-mart requires a rest.

Flares do bring up an interesting realization, though.  Until things get as bad as they are right now, I didn’t realize that I was in less pain before.  So, in essence, flares tell your body to slow down and take it easy, but at the same time, for me at least, it takes something bad to make me realize that before this, I was feeling a little better, at least by comparison.  Now if only I could return to feeling like crap instead of complete crap…

So, the bottom line is, what do you do when life slows you down?  http://ohwhatapain.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/flares

I wish I had understood Vic’s pain-filled world earlier.  I am so sorry for getting angry with her for trying to live.  I wish we had more time.

Posted in Uncategorized

Thank you God! 20.7.2012


Vic and her big sister Esther

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!

Posted in Uncategorized, Vicky Bruce

I am dying 9.7.2012


Vic and JD. (JD = Jared’s Dog)

It is 20:00 and Vic has been fed, changed, powdered and medicated.  She screamed with pain when I changed her.  Seeing my child sick and in pain, every day of her life , kills me.  I am dying, painfully slowly from my child’s pain.

I don’t know how much longer I can handle this.  The chronic pain I am used to but this new pain is pushing all of us over the edge.

Esther called today and wants Danie and I to go to a Spa, close by, and she and Tracey will take turns in looking after Vic…  How nice is that!!  But I cannot.  I cannot leave Vic now.  Nobody knows her body the way I do.   It is too big a responsibility to hand over to anyone.    She needs lots of personal help.  Vic needs pain meds’ every four hours, day and night.  If she misses med’s she breaks through her pain levels and then it is disastrous.  What if she needs help during the night as she so often does?  What if she vomits and needs me?  No can do!!  I cannot desert Vic.  Until she breathes her last breath I will be by her side.  No matter how long it takes.

Many years ago I promised Vic that I would not let her die alone.

When Jesus was praying  in Gethsemane his disciples fell asleep on Him.  I am so scared that I will fall asleep on Vic in her final hour.  I don’t think Vic is near the end.  I have been around dying people enough to know the signs.  But she needs me now.

Posted in Uncategorized, Vicky Bruce

Who is taking care of the caregiver? 5.7.2012


When my Dad was ill with Alzheimer’s, I subscribed to two forums/support groups.  I suppose I am not good at letting go because I have not left the groups despite the fact that my dad lost his fight against AD on the 20th of May 2011.  On the other hand Alzheimer’s is a terminal illness and there is a lot of synergy between my Dad and Vicky’s journeys.  I don’t think I would have gotten through my Dad’s journey if it had not been for the Caring.com group.  http://www.caring.com/home-care.  The practical advice of caring for an AD patient was of immeasurable help.  The members support helped us as a family in understanding the destruction of Alzheimer’s and recognizing the stages of the disease.

So when I received the latest post: “Who is Taking Care of the Caregiver While the Caregiver is Taking Care?” written By Carol Blackwell Alzheimer’s Reading Room, I was delighted.  I am in such a depression and totally at a lost as how to get out of it. http://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/2010/05/whos-taking-care-of-caregiver-while.html

I just knew there would be solid, practical advice in the article.

Carol Blackwell’s opening question is: “Are you taking care of yourself? You can’t be there for them if you aren’t there for ‘you.’ Your mood and stress affects their mood. It surely isn’t easy and life is sometimes stressful and difficult. Here are some things that helped me—you can decide if they will work for you.”

Exercise

Carol Blackwell wrote “I know you may be thinking you have no time to exercise because you are so busy taking care of your loved one and too tired at the end of the day. I say, that is exactly why we need to exercise.”

Right on Carol.  I don’t have time.  My days are very long and I don’t get a lot of off-time.  Last year Danie and I went for a walk every night.  Sometimes the boys joined us.  It was great and I miss it.  But I have decided that I will start exercising today!

Volunteer for service to others.
Carol Blackwell wrote:  “I imagine you are now thinking I am really weird. How can we find time to work for others when we are struggling ourselves? For me, initially, I found it was easy to sit in the house and feel sorry for us. We didn’t sign up for this disease invading our lives, we had just had gotten to the point where we could be free from work constraints, etc. Etc. Unfortunately, sitting in the house feeling sorry for us didn’t help much. It wasn’t fun and served no purpose except to make me crabby and Bob depressed. No one wants to be around crabby people.”

Carol you are weird.  I don’t have time to sit and do anything.  I have a career, a household to run, two grandsons to fetch and carry, Vic to take care of…  For many years I was very involved in working with the less fortunate.  I however believe that in the Chinese Proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”  Done and dusted.  One day I would love to do some community work again but for the time being I have to concentrate on my family and their survival.  Selfish – maybe…  For now that is the way it has to be.

Do things you enjoy—you deserve it. 
Carol Blackburn wrote:  “What do you find fun and what gives you pleasure? It is different for all of us. I enjoy Wii games—I love the Wii Fitness Plus activities. They are fun. “

Tick.  I love my Children and grandchildren.  I love the patter of little children’s feet in the passages of our home, the sound of children’s laughter, and their little arms around my neck.  I desperately miss my UK grandchildren.  I am permanently miserable when I think of them.  I miss them with every fiber of my body.  Sometimes I am so weepy that I cannot even Skype with them.

I am so happy that Lanie and Tom have moved to Johannesburg.  Now we see them and the girls on a regular basis.  We spend a lot of quality time together.

Yuri, our youngest grandson asks his Mom whether he can’t come visit his Oumie every day before school…

Liza (the youngest daughter) and her husband have finished sailing around the world.  I look forward to flying down to Cape Town to visit with them.  As soon as Vic is able to cope without me we will fly off…

Vic finds the noise a little distressing.  But the little ones know Aunty Vic is ill and are so good!

Carol is right.   I enjoy having the grandchildren around and I deserve to have my grandchildren around me.  Grandchildren are the joy of my life!  And I love playing Cityville on Facebook.

Consider meditation/yoga.
Carol wrote:  “Research has found that taking time to meditate and to engage in yoga is beneficial in reducing stress.”

Maybe one day when I have time… and the energy.

Don’t be a martyr.
Carol wrote:  “Martyrs may be noble, but they really aren’t much fun. You can’t do it all and you shouldn’t have to. Find help if you need it.  Are you in a support group? Check the Alzheimer’s Association link to fine one near you. Join it—it will help to find others who are going through what you are. “

“Is there someone who can come in for a few hours and let you take a break? Someone from church?  A friend? There are people who would love to help us, but we don’t ask. Ask. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones!”

My dearest friend, Gillian, wrote:”I would like to half your work and cares.  Put you in a bed for sleep therapy.  But I know you won’t trust a soul with your family”.  Few people know me as well as Gillian does.  I cannot leave Vic.  There is that beautiful John Lennon song “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother”.  Vic ain’t heavy she is my baby.

I am trying to get Hospice involved.  Danie does help a lot and so do the boys.  Esther bathed Vic on Tuesday whilst I was at a meeting.  The church and I deserted one another some time back.  I don’t have many friends.

People have their own lives.  We live in a world where we don’t have time for other people’s problems.

Only a mother who has watched her child suffer will understand the despair of another mother.  Will understand how difficult it is to face every day, the depth of despair when you cradle your vomiting child in your arms….to say “Just one more hour baby” when she begs you for pain medication…

Smile or laugh each day.
Carol Blackwell wrote:  

We do.  Today I watched Rango with the boys.  It was so funny.

Cut yourself some slack.
The wise Carol Blackwell wrote:  “Everyone has ‘blue’ days. It’s OK to have a ‘pity party’ once in a while. It just doesn’t help to let those days happen too frequently. Also, don’t beat yourself up. We can’t always be calm, patient, understanding and saint-like. We are all just doing the best we can. Wallowing in guilt for occasional impatience won’t help either.”

This week I am truly wallowing in self-pity.  I have been guilty of impatience, I have lacked understanding.  I am petrified that Vic’s pain and suffering will continue for many more years.  It is strange that Vic is having a better week than she has had in three months.  As Esther said, her eyes are bright and she has mobilised pretty well.  She is less tired… What if this vicious cycle of pain and suffering continues?

Don’t lose hope.
Carol Blackwell wrote:  “There IS a cure for this awful disease. Out there—somewhere, someone is working on it. We just don’t know it yet. It will come. Keep the faith, baby!”

Just as there is no cure for Alzheimer’s at this stage there is no cure for Osteogenesis Imperfecta.  But there may just be a cure for the adhesions that I believe will ultimately cause a fatal obstruction.  Today I found a website where a doctor who claims great success with the treatment of frozen abdomens.  On the surface it seems very positive.  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/5/prweb9432209.htm

Anyone who has ever wrestled with God can understand the bargaining prayer. I have bargained with God all of Vic’s life.  If there is a cure I will do this or that…. For MANY years I have put the Church and God ahead of Vic and my family and yet all my love and commitment has resulted in further pain and suffering.  I know this paragraph will result in many emails or comments but I ask of you “Do not judge me if you have not walked ten miles in my moccasins!”

So for today and maybe the rest of the week I will hold onto my new hope.  “Hope removes the blinders of fear and despair. Hope opens up our minds and allows us to think positive under dire circumstances.”  Until I receive a reply to my enquiries…

To all my friends, cyber friends and family thank you for your support and love!  Yesterday I considered stopping the blog as it has opened up fears that I have suppressed for so many years. I however think it is something I must do – for myself.

Posted in Uncategorized, Vicky Bruce

“I’m tired of living but I do not deserve to die. I am motivated by nothing yet I move on… “


“I’m tired of living but I do not deserve to die.  I am motivated by nothing yet I move on.  I have nothing but I have everything.  I just don’t want to understand.

Muriel posted this message on Vic’s Facebook page.  Today it echo’s my feelings.  I am so tired of living.  I am so tired of this miserable existence that we call life.  Surely, there must be more to life than breathing!

Today was a day out of hell.  I had to leave home early this morning as we were testing some systems that are critical to a contract that we are negotiating.  I got up with great difficulty, showered, and made Kreemy Meal for my family.  Both Jared and Vic need soft foods.  I left on time with strict instructions for Danie as to where and when to collect Vic’s morphine syrup from the Pain Clinic.

Within 5 minutes, I was stuck in terrible traffic.  Five lanes reduced to two…

Once we reached the test site, the subsystem manufacturers arrived 2.5 hours late!!  I phoned Vic to check on her only to be told that she had gotten ill all over herself!  She had to bath and I was not home to help her!  I told her to take anti-nausea tablets, lie down for 15 minutes, and take morphine tablets again.  Once she felt better, she would have to ask Primrose, the helper, to help her bathe.  I could not leave the test site.

Danie phoned to tell me – “No Morphine Syrup – come back next week”.  Some good news was that Esther came to visit and helped Vic bath.  That girl is an absolute saint!  Esther also took Jon-Daniel to the movies.  I am so grateful that he could get out of the house of gloom and illness.

Then the system failed…  The shipment would be delayed by at least another 5 weeks!

Another traffic jam to my next meeting…

An hour and a half later, I left the meeting for home and was stuck in the 17:00 peak hour traffic!  A 20-minute trip became a 1.5-hour trip!  Arghhhhhh

At home, I quickly prepared dinner. Vic has to have dinner by 18:30 as she must take her medication at 19:00.  In my haste I forgot poor Jared is only allowed pureed food so I started cooking (a second meal) some gem squash, potatoes, and carrots for him.  I put it through the strainer and rushed off to his room with a tray and his pureed food.  I do not know what I did but the next thing pureed vegetables and broken Noritake was all over the floor!  I just burst into tears.

I cannot believe that something that I would normally laugh off as an accident set me off.  Poor Jared had to eat soup for dinner.  He is so tired of soup!

Well today, I am fed-up with life.  I am tired to the core of my soul.  I do not want to hear that I am doing a great job or that I am strong.  I do not want to hear anything!  All I want is ONE carefree day in my life!! One day with absolutely NO responsibilities.

Oh dear God, the boys offered to do their Mom’s tablets tonight so I can have a full night’s sleep…What am I doing with my pity party?  I have Vic in tears because she is feeling guilty because of the stress her illness has caused me, the boys feel guilty because I am tired and Danie wants to take me away for a weekend so I can rest and relax…How can I ever relax whilst my child is so ill.  I do know I cannot afford to cry.  It distresses everyone around me.

I need a stronger anti-depressant.

I am going to bed.  I am going to feel sorry for myself in the privacy of my room where I cannot cause more stress in my family’s lives.  Life is already so hard for them.  Tomorrow is another day and we will face whatever life throws at us!

“I’m tired of living but I do not deserve to die.  I am motivated by nothing yet I move on.  I have nothing but I have everything.  I just don’t want to understand.

A lifetime ago…

Vic regrets not going to Italy 2.7.2012


Nothing in the world can ever prepare a parent for that moment  when the death sentence is pronounced over your beloved child.   I remember it as if it was yesterday.

Thank God Vic was in ICU and heavily sedated at the time.  Brendan told us in the passage of the Donald Gordon.  Colin and I went into shock.  We did not ask a single question.  We just looked at him … Mute for that dreadful, heart wrenching, moment.

Later that day Colin and I went to Brendan’s consulting rooms and spoke with him.  I had so many questions and he had so few answers.  He basically said that with the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Vic’s tissue had been affected very badly.  The intestines were very poor and she had very bad endometriosis and abdominal adhesion’s.  The adhesions were the biggest threat…it would almost certainly cause blockages of the gastrointestinal or urinary tracts.  There would come a stage when they could no longer operate or her little body could not take the strain anymore…

Strange Vic knew…when she eventually came round she knew that life as she knew it was over.

When I broke the news to her she was calm.  See, all her life she knew that eventually this day would come.

The doctor recommended that we get in touch with Hospice.  We did.  We had a family meeting.  Colin parents, Danie and I and Vic and Colin.  Colin went through an anger phase.  He felt let down… he thought they would grow old together.  They had two little boys aged 3 and 5…  So many challenges!  So many emotions.  So many medical bills!  In 2002 Vic’s medical costs were R3.2m.  ICU Pharmacy accounts ran into the hundreds of thousands of rands!

With terminal illness come HUGE medical bills.  As long as there is money the doctors will operate and treat, hospitals will admit and treat…   Colin and Vic eventually lost their home due to medical bills and Danie and I started taking additional bonds against our property.

When faced with the news that a family member has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, many people worry about what they should say and do. They want to help, but often don’t because they are afraid they will say or do something that will further upset the loved one.

Terminally ill persons have the same physical, emotional, and spiritual needs as everyone else. What they need most of all is to be cared about, not just cared for.

Someone said that they do not see Vic anymore as they had already said their goodbyes…they could not handle the emotional trauma of going through the goodbyes time and time again.  In their lives Vic no longer lives….

When the time comes I wish I could have a “by invite only” funeral for Vic.  If you cannot care about Vic whilst she is alive why on earth would you want to attend her funeral?  It has been 10 years and Image

Physical Care is certainly the most difficult part of the dying person’s journey as far as I am concerned.  The control of acute and chronic pain is the biggest challenge that we face.  Medication every four hours is a challenge.  The days are fine but the nights – well that’s a different matter.  It is easier to stay awake until 03:00 and then go to sleep.  Danie or the boys are up by 07:00 so I sleep in.  Getting enough pain medication prescribed is the BIGGEST challenge of all.  Vic’s medical is exhausted within the first two months of the year and thereafter is a nightmare!

The other issues that we have to contend with is constipation, nausea and weakness.   Often Vic is too weak to get out of bed on her own and needs help to get to the bathroom and back.  Showering and shaving her legs is a challenge.  Almost the biggest challenge is Vic’s hair!  Vic has a thick bunch of hair and she will not wash and towel dry it!  Her hair must be blow dried!

Vic went through many stages –  anger, sadness, anxiety, and fear.  It is strange that at first we all go into denial.  Even now I still do.  Vic said earlier this week:  ” Mommy, I am so happy I will be around for Jared’s confirmation.  I know I won’t be at Jon-Daniel’s confirmation”  I immediately retaliated and said “Of course you will be baby.  You just have to keep fighting”   Why did I feel compelled to make an empty promise?

Vic’s emotions are real.  Touch is comforting to her.  She loves being hugged, touched, kissed.  She appreciates the truth.

If it had not been for Vic’s positive attitude towards life and determination to bring up her boys herself, she would have died many years ago.

Vic is now tired and ready to die.

Vic regrets not going to Italy.  She desperately wants to go to Chaka’s Rock one more time.  She wants to see her boys grow up.  She wants to make a speech at their 21st birthdays!

As a family, there is nothing unsaid.  We love Vic and she knows it.  She will continue to live even after she stopped breathing.  We will honor her wishes for the boys and keep her memory alive.  Vic may stop breathing one day but she will always live in our hearts.

Posted in Uncategorized, Vicky Bruce

A Mother’s Love for her Sons


I have been researching the effect of a mother’s illness on her children.  The boys are two beautiful, well-adjusted, honest and compassionate young men.  Vic’s illness has certainly deprived them of a childhood in the true sense of the word and prematurely matured them into compassionate, caring, young men far too early in life.  At the tender age of thirteen Jared was cooking for the family…  This must certainly have an effect on how the boys perceive relationships with people.

Now according to my research the boys have become what is called ‘parentified’ children. These children solve the problem of sick and inadequate parenting by taking care of their parents. They in effect become parents to their parents, giving to the sick parent what they need from the parent. Now the roles are reversed. This seemingly creative solution is unfortunately too self-sacrificing to be healthy in the long run.

“‘Parentified’ sons who take care of their sick mothers in order to cope with their inability to parent, struggle to suppress obvious needs for love and feelings of loss. They learn to work hard taking care of the needs of others and living off of the scraps that come in the form of reinforcements for their competence and reliability. Their needs for love are overlooked and overshadowed by everyone else’s needs.”  The boys, especially Jared, falls into this category 100%.  When his little girlfriend was hit in the eye by a hockey ball, he immediately went into caregiving mode,  At the time I thought it to be extremely unhealthy that he already has this caregiving character trait.  He used to always make the tea and offer to do so much around the house and for his Mom.

I have put a stop to this.  I pray it is not too late for the boys to adjust to a “normal” household…

It is however important for them to realize that death is a part of the circle of life and that it is not something dark and something to be feared but rather, if happening in a timely fashion, something that one can embrace. The boys appreciate and respect Vic as their mother.   Vic has raised her sons to be respectful.

“The power of a mother’s strength comes from her heart, from her unabashed, unconditional, and unwavering love for her child. There is, as J.K. Rowling wrote in her Harry Potter books, a magic in that love. No matter what happens, a mother is always there for her child. A mother’s love is never to be questioned, and – though she may not know it at first – neither is her strength.”

Vic literally rose from her deathbed to be there for Jared with his operation on Wednesday.  When my Mom died I related her final moments to someone jumping from a diving board into a deep pool, reaching the bottom and kicking to rise to the surface of the water for one more breath… only to sink again.  This is what Vic does.

Before Jared was wheeled into theatre he whispered into his mom’s ear.  She took his hand and said “I promise”.

Vic, drip in hand, walking with Jared to theater!

The surgeon said the operation would last two hours.  Vic dutifully went back to bed and rested.  One hour and forty-five minutes later she was, IV drip in hand, standing outside the theatre door, waiting for her son.  I begged her to at least sit on the chair but she refused.  “Mommy, I promised Jared my face would be the first thing he sees when he comes out of theatre!”

It took a superhuman effort but Vic’s love for her son drove her to keep her word.  It is true that no mother wants her child to suffer in any way, but life is unfair like that. So, we as mother’s do what we can to provide support, comfort, and protection. And we grow strong enough to bear their hurt as well as our own.  As Vic did.  As I do. Motherhood cuts deeply, brings you to your knees most days; but it also brings a strength that may surprise you.

The vicious cycle of anger truly rose to the occasions on Wednesday.  I got angry with Vic because she was not putting her health first!  I KNOW I would have done the same but it was terrible seeing my child do herself harm to be a Mother.  I want to wrap her in cotton so she would be spared that extra day…

Yesterday Vic said she doubted whether she would see the end of the year.  She is however adamant to be at Jared’s confirmation…one more goal…

Go Girl!!!

Well, Vic is home.  I am so grateful.  She is conceding that she is too sore and ill to go to hospital…Saturday Jared comes home!!

Posted in Uncategorized, Vicky Bruce

A vicious cycle of nerves


I thought Sunday to Wednesday was a nightmare but boy oh boy come Wednesday morning and my child became a terror!  The “my son really needs me” adrenaline kicked in and Vic was uncontrollable!

She was out of bed, marching into Jared’s ward as if she was the healthiest person in the world!  I was at a total loss.  My dearest friend Gillian wrote me a message: “What a wonderful mom.  Her child comes before her illness. WillVic Accompanying Jared to theater. not let go until her kids are okay. You can be very proud of your daughter”… My reply was: “Yeah – too cross with her to give her any credit at this stage”

Vic cannot pace herself.  Like on Sunday, she will be like a jack-in-the-box and when the moment is over, crash!  In this super human effort to be there for Jared she causes so much stress to everyone around her.  Jared stresses because she fusses around him, I stress because she is overdoing things again and I know there is a severe penalty to be paid for that, Jon-Daniel stresses for both them!  Danie stresses for me… I get irritated with Danie for trying to protect me…. It is a vicious cycle of nerves!

Jared’s operation went very well.  The poor baby was in so much pain but stoically brave!  Not a whimper!!  I am so proud of this beautiful boy.  I was a little concerned for his emotional well being after Sunday.  He cried with fear and frustration for his mother.

Vic was up and down the passages last night checking on her son!  This morning Jared said “Oumie I am so tired.  Mom kept coming in and touching me…”  Vic means so well!  She wants to be there for her children but often does not understand that she is the sick one.  Her actions stress us out.  On the other hand, I must admit, that I was more at ease knowing that Vic was in the same hospital as Jared and able to check on him…

It is such a heart wrenching situation.  Vic wants to be a mother and I want her to be a child!!  When she is okay she can be whatever she wants’ to be.  When she is ill I want her to become my baby again…  Vic is an amazing mother.  She loves her boys with every fiber of her body.  She has fought to stay alive for the boys.  Who am I or anyone to deprive her of this wonderful privilege?  At the end of the day it is her reward for surviving the odds…

On Monday the physician cancelled the bloods he had ordered and agreed that palliative care was the only route to go… I don’t think he thought she would leave the hospital alive… On Wednesday Vic was looking out for her son…What a brave woman my child is.

Vic was discharged from hospital this morning.  It is Thursday.

Vicky is super-human!

Posted in Uncategorized, Vicky Bruce

37 years on death row 19.6.2012


Today was a day out of hell for Vicky.  She is deadly pale – she actually has a ghost like appearance.  She was so ill that she was unable to take pain medication and now her pain is out of control.

If I am having a hard time with this how must this poor child feel?  HOW CAN SHE CARRY ON???

Jared has withdrawn completely!   Rene, Jared’s councillor managed to speak to Jon-Daniel today.   He is in total denial!  He said “My Mom is a miracle.  She was not supposed to live past the age of 12 The doctors said she would die when she fell pregnant with my brother and me and she is still alive.  Lots of times they said she would die…She will get better again”

At first I was filled with disbelief and then I realized with a shock that Jon-Daniel is right!  A couple of weeks ago I bumped into an ex-business partner.  When he inquired after Vic’s health I said that she was desperately ill and that I thought that the end was near.  Frik laughed and said “that is what you said 15 years ago when she was pregnant with her eldest son…”

Reading some of the pre-blog stuff that I wrote and when I look in my Bible there are markings “Vic ICU“, “Vic critical”, etc etc etc.

Vic has been on death row all her life.  I know we start dying the day we are born but for most of our lives we are oblivious to the fact.  At funerals we may think of our own mortality but for the rest of it we think we are invincible.  Jon-Daniel thinks his Mom is invincible.

A colleague asked me earlier today what he should pray for when he prays for Vic.  I replied “Mercy”.  When I got home tonight and I saw this tiny, pitiful little bundle doubled over from the pain,  I panicked and thought to myself “What if Jon-Daniel is right and she gets better again?”

If there is a God He will release my poor child from this dreadful life!  It is an inhuman existence that not even an animal deserves.  If Vic had been an animal she would have been put out of her misery a long time ago!!  God does not have to heal her.  He does not even have to take all her pain away.  If she could just have SOME quality of life…some pain free time with her boys… Please God hear my prayer!