The end times and extraordinary life of Phyllis Joy Andersen
This book stems from a series of columns I wrote diarizing my mother’s end times. She was victim to a genetic illness known as polycystic kidney disease (PKD), and spent her final 3.5 years under an ‘in center’ dialysis program… and all that that entails.
The rest of the story—Part II: The Life—came to me as I was putting together a special remembrance reception for her. What a life! The waves in the sea of time caused by Mom’s rolling ‘stone’ are a beacon to us all.
Summary of Contents:
- Part 1: The End Times: Omamacare
- 1: The System Decrees: ‘To the Pods’
- 2: Henry Ford Hospital ER Downtown
- 3: Happy Birthday Dear Mama
- 4: Scary Halloween 2011
- 5: Stroke and Rehab
- 6: The ER Visit 1/23
- 7: Parting and Taps
- Part 2: The Extraordinary Life (1926-2013)
- 1: Sturdy Stock with Imaginative Potential
- 2: The 50s and 60s
- 3: The 70s
- 4: The 80s
- 5: The 90s
- 6: The 00s
- 7: The 10s
The End Times: What’s Wrong and Right with Omamacare?
These were the times before Obamacare was actually approved and foisted on us by the dim and vicious political class… as usual with the aid and comfort of the media and various professional organizations who stood much loot and power to gain. So contextually, then, (approximately the 2008/2009 timeframe) my mom was in a pretty good situation vis a vis the ‘American Way of Diddling’ with chronic afflictions. [Today, with the so-called Affordable Care Act, my 83-year-old mom would have been shunted into the pain and comfort management bin rather than being eligible for full-blown in-center hemodialysis. Ironically, in retrospect, she may have been better off by going the hospice route prematurely.]
There’s another factor that I hate to bring up because it makes me feel horribly guilty to have not been more proactive at the outset. I explain it briefly in the latest edition of Mother’s Stone:
“An alternative [to in-center dialysis, which uses a complex system involving blood-vessel shunts; needles; a fleet of doctors, nurses, and trained technicians; and expensive machinery] we would surely have adopted had I become more aware and insistent early-on is called peritoneal dialysis (PD). [Indeed, now I can wring my neck that I didn’t learn and convince Mom to go this way! I honestly think she would have lived for another 10 years.]
“During peritoneal dialysis, a dialysate (cleansing fluid) is circulated via a tube (catheter) inside part of your abdominal cavity (peritoneal cavity). The absorbs waste products from blood vessels in your abdominal lining (peritoneum) and then is drawn back out of your body and discarded. Figure:
BIG advantage: No f***ing needles! Another even BIGGER advantage: you are not weakening the heart muscle by using an additional pump to circulate blood. Other advantages: it’s more natural, cheaper, uses gravity instead of a machine, you do it at home more or less on a schedule you choose, you retain more kidney function longer…”
But what’s done is done. And the story of Mother’s Stone is what was done. Because of my integral participation in Mom’s care—and because my nature is to document things—I wrote a series columns in my Coffee Coaster website describing the ordeals from a humanitarian perspective:
- entering the dialysis center for the first time
- surgery to insert a fistula between the arterial and venal vessels
- the ins and outs of dialysis, esp. those awful needles
- dealing with the doctors, nurses, and technicians of the dialysis center
- being on hand through my mom’s two heart attacks, a stroke, and rehab
- conferring with heart specialists, neurologists, hospital staff
- life in the rehab center, what we used to call a nursing home
- how the other half lives: the facilities if you only have Medicaid
- dealing with family members who have abandoned/excommunicated your loved one
- just the modern ins and outs of hospitals, dialysis centers, rehabs, and hospice
- the right and wrong details of modern health care, getting much worse now with ACA
- prognosis of health care after we ditch ACA for the sake of civilization
As such, the story of my mom’s end times has much to offer for anyone facing the failing health of their loved one for whom they choose to step up and exercise responsibility. This is a universal story with many helpful tips for family care persons, regardless of whether their senior has a congenital kidney disease and regardless of how far into the Obamacare horror chamber their senior has advanced.
The Life: An Inspiration to Women… and Everyone Else
I know Mom is happy to share her trials and joys with others, just as she was always encouraging the other dialysis patients or those undergoing medical treatment. Heck, Mom was always cheering up the doctors, nurses, techs, and even custodians who happened to pass by during sessions. As the ‘every mother’ who inspires us with her own life while encouraging us and loving us for who we are… and who we might be.
The rest of the story—Part II: The Life—came as an afterthought, as I was putting together mementos from Mom’s collection to share in a special ‘remembrance reception’ a month after she died. It occurred to me during the process of discovery and presentation that we need to think of a person as his or her whole existence. It had become routine for me to regard Mom as this weakened individual needing special care. To the point even memories of her robustness 5-10 years previous were fading.
Mother’s Stone is of universal relevance. From the epilog:
“I feel the world today desperately needs the message my mother’s life conveys. The waves in the sea of time caused by Mom’s ‘rolling stone’ blend simple benevolence into the most sublime struggles of humanity. Her myriad quiet accomplishments, her love of Nature and Nature’s forms, her towering courage and grace under the Byzantine bloodletting of modern medicine….
“Tom Brokaw wrote The Greatest Generation, but curiously left Mom out of it (maybe yours, too). She’s the paragon of that era. Why? Because for one thing she never parked her mind in the slot that masquerades blind obedience to authority as patriotism.
“Most of all, she shows us how to connect with others and with the warm spiritual center of life. I doubt anyone can read her story—part I or II—without feeling her joie de vivre springing directly into the reader’s soul from the pages. With Phyllis we’re all one big happy family on a voyage of adventure aboard the universe’s Love Boat—even recovering prodigals… she’s exactly how Jesus would ride.
“At Mom’s remembrance reception I played a benediction, simply the scene from the John Wayne movie Rio Bravo—Mom adored the Duke—where Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson croon “My Rifle, My Pony, and Me.” The song wholly captures her spirit. Some night when you feel quiet in yourself, grab the DVD, find the track, and press play. Her eternal ‘everymom’ presence will saunter by and brace you with a smile.”
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