Reasoning with Madness
"This is a barbaric yawp, and it will be sounded over the roofs of the world."
Took a few days off to mourn and reflect on my mother's life. Forced myself out of the house to get some much needed time in the trees today. It's where I feel closest to the Divine. Took Kea and the dog to hike up by the hospital where she passed. It's a beautiful place with the city below and Mt Hood in the distance. But going up the mountain you can get lost in the forest where I am most at home. I swear I could feel my mom in the gentle breeze...
Back at the hospital with my dad. The day of passing is today, according to various vital signs. St Patrick's Day. Would be appropriate given my mom's Irish heritage. Maybe St Patrick will be waiting for her with a green beer.
I'm exhausted. Sleep has been minimal for weeks. 3-4 hours a night if I'm lucky. Nightmares. Panic attacks. Hallucinations of phones ringing as we wait for the call. I eat to survive and that's about it. I am on constant alert. PTSD shockwaves hit every 20 mins or so. Triggers from memories, words, people. My tolerance is gone for stupidity. I snap and bark at people. I have been alternating between deep profound sorrow and furious rage that boils over unexpectedly at horrible times.
And with this virus, I am not even able to mourn what is happening as I prepare for the worst possible outcome and I have to take my family east to the desert to camp out for through the summer. The government will not save us with the idiot in the white house. I am worried my dad or I will get sick, given the amount of time we've spent in a hospital that has coronavirus patients quarantined here already (far away from where we are but still). My dad is not very healthy as it is and I'm seeing some concerns I want him to address.
I've had to take significant time off work to deal with this and worry I will lose my job over all the time off (mostly unpaid) because I have not been there long enough to be protected or covered by family leave.
My family and I have begun the process of holding the bastard medical staff in that shithole in Corvallis accountable for all but killing my mother. Medical board and lawyers are getting involved. Much of my anger stems from this. My mom should not have had the strokes or seizures that destroyed her brain. The PCU let her rot. No blood pressure cuff or oxygen monitor. There were no documented notes of the window of time she went south. The usurpations are long. The hospital administration even admitted my concerns were valid and troubling.
Kea has cancelled her bachelorette party this coming weekend due to the virus, I may have to cancel my bachelor party next month and we are now discussing postponing our wedding in June due to all of the things happening. But we also worry of waiting too long, and we'll lose another parent before we do it. That was why we decided to get married this year in the first place, was so our parents would be there. My mom was going to walk me down the aisle. When I think of that I fucking lose it every time. Then the anger floods in. Its like clockwork.
Her breathing seems to changing now. I have to go.
Dad told me he wanted my mom to go out in style. He didn't want her to rot away in some fucking nursing home. It's no Florida beach, but it will have to do. At least my mom's room has a nice view of a pretty mountainside, as she prepares for her journey into the next world. I love you forever mom. I'm gonna fucking miss you.
As we prepare the final days with my mother this weekend and a global pandemic has begun, I was nervous going to see Tool last night in Portland. It just felt...wrong.
But my mother would have told me to go so we grit our teeth and went. I'm glad I did. It may be one of the last concerts in Oregon for awhile.
Shortly after the show, the governor declared a statewide shut down of all large gatherings of 250 or more for the next 4 weeks. My friends down in Eugene weren't so lucky as the show was cancelled tonight due to the order.
I'm very sorry for them, some whom flew back home to see this show.
The world has become a rather terrifying place all of a sudden.
"Contagion, I exhale you...Bless this immunity." @ Moda Center at the Rose Quarter
Today our family meets with the doctors to determine whether we continue my mom's care, subjecting her to a tracheotomy to continue her ventilator, possibly sending her to a skilled nursing facility and continue to hope she wakes up or whether this is all a long, painful extension of a life that may not worth living. She had no advanced directive, and there are conflicting "wishes" of hers, including her last words to me that she wasn't going to give up. But depending on the meeting today, we may be very limited to what we can actually do. She needs to have her remaining adrenal gland removed due to a rare tumor that may have been the source for everything that has happened to her, but her body cannot withstand a surgery and it would mean a level of care that is far more profound than possible. There are many other factors I can't discuss here, but I've never experienced something so brutal, so agonizing and so soul-crushing as what we are looking at. I'm not sure how to process all of this. I rely on my sister, father and fiance for guidance and wisdom, but we are all suffering the same dilemma. I don't know what to ask for, what to say or why I'm posting this, other than for my own sort of catharsis and perhaps because maybe someone out there has endured something like this and has advice (if so please feel free to just message me rather than spill your heart on this thread). I'm broken. I'm confused. I struggle to focus and concentrate. I can't sleep. I am losing this war. I may be losing my mother, the most important person in my life, the woman who gave me life, who raised me to be the man I am and who has been there for me through all of my tragedies and misfortunes. I love you more than I can ever express Carla Sundberg. I hope we can make sense of this and I hope if we can bring you back to life, it is worth the battle. And if we can't, I hope you know we fucking tried. And I love you forever.
**Update on Mom from my sister Shannon with a request for prayers. Whatever your religious or spiritual beliefs are, we kindly ask you to use our collective power of prayer, meditation, the force, Law of Attraction, or whatever works for you to send some of that healing power my mom's way. The hour is late, the situation is dire, and we are quite possibly looking at the last chance to save her life. Yesterday we had a meeting with doctors about her condition and we are moving to transition of life conversations. But we still remain hopeful as we have already seen a number of miraculous events with this. The fact that she is still alive despite what she's endured is a testament to that fact, admitted to by medical staff as well. Please friends, family, I never ask for anything, but today I simply ask you to read this post, and keep her in your thoughts and focus on healing her stomach.**
"In the next week, we pray my mothers gut heals, from the damage done when her blood pressure dropped after her last heart attack. This is critical, because now she cannot be on the feeding tube and has to be fed via IV. You can only be fed via IV for a few weeks, before risk of further infection and other complications ensue.
She also requires water through a feeding tube, to balance out the alkalinity and acidosis that is affecting her breathing and causing the need for the ventilator. Everything completely hinges now, on her gut healing in the next week. If this heals, those other things have a chance to resolve, whereby a chance for her to come out of her coma.
My father suspects the coma is related to the bodies way of reserving all autonomic functions for the rest of the body to stay alive. The doctor said she has had numerous small strokes on different part of her brain and one in the visual cortex, so she may be blind, now. It is unclear if that too can heal. But for now, there hasn't been a brain stem stroke, so there is hope she can heal from the others.
Pray in the miraculous name of Raphael, archangel of healing, that her gut be fully restored and healed with the support of Jesus Christ's name. Christ has reported to perform many miracles and still does to this day. I have bore witness to my own and others, to solidify this fact. I will not give up, as the Will of God always prevails and will for my mother. There will be nothing to stop that. So, for now, the Will of God has enabled her to survive two rounds of sepsis, two heart attacks, congestive heart failure, full systemic organ failure and multiple seizures and mini-strokes. She is already a miracle and God's ability to perform them know no bounds; we must call to him to continue to perform them for Carla.
Let us all pray, in the perfect miraculous benevolent name of Jesus Christ, for the restoration of Carla Sundberg's lower intestine to be fully formed, healed and soothed by the hand of Christ's spoken name. All of us, here and now, call upon him together to heal her, in total love, hope and unity. It is in the power of focused energy, that manifests to Christ, with the same cause and vibration. It is why mass prayer has facilitated in acts of miracles.
To this day, many churches and believers witness it. My mother is not an exemption, but a current living, breathing proof of this.
Let us pray. Amen."
Today is day 21 of my mom in the hospital. She has not been able to speak or move, nor has she had any neurological reaction since last Sunday. She has almost died multiple times and every 4 hours is a new diagnosis that mystifies the neuro ICU ward at OHSU, but they, like her, and the rest of our family, have not given up the fight. My dad and I have shared daily visiting duties as she battles for her life.
I have made an oath to donate as much blood as I can for the rest of my days so that I can save another mother's life, since she has received 5 units (over a liter) now due to a lower GI bleed that has since last night at least, been constantly bleeding. Docs can't inspect or operate due to the fragile condition she is in. Really any surgery that is necessary will be fatal at this point.
She is on a ventilator, feeding tubes (now intravenous due to the bleeding) and MRIs have shown significant (yet impermanent) cellular damage in her brain as well as several mini strokes. Possible causes are blood clots from the heart, shock, sepsis, high blood pressure or any combination of those. There are many more details I'm just too tired to write about here.
Some good news is that her vitals have finally seemed to stabilize, there are no signs of infection, no organ failure, no fevers, very little meds. Last night I spoke to her for a couple hours and I swear she could hear me and physically responded to significant things I told her. Nurses and doctors said it was simply coincidence and reflex, not conscious movement or reaction.
I refuse to believe that now. Her soul is in there, trapped in that monkey suit with her wiring all fucked up. She's in there. I know it. Tonight, her eyes moved more, reacting to bright lights by closing them, and yet again agitation when we brought up significant events.
I pray to Raphael to bring her healing and wisdom for the medical staff.
This is a physical, mental and spiritual battle for life itself. I am not leaving her side. I am not giving up on my mother.
We've come too far.
Tonight my mom was finally transported to OHSU in Portland via life flight helicopter following a hellish night and day in the ICU at Good Samaritan Corvallis, where her health was on a nonstop backslide toward death.
I have had to battle with this hospital to get her the care she needs, begging them to simply send her, finally, to OHSU. There is far too much to this story to simply explain here, but it is far from over and I am now confident that she will get proper care finally. I continue to pray for her recovery and she's in pretty bad shape still, but the ICU docs in Corvallis (who were great) finally conducted the MRI that I begged her dismal sleezebag of a PCU doctor to perform days ago (who refused), and what do you know...it found she had multiple mini strokes and she is suffering from PRES, which I am still trying to understand, but explains much of her cognitive impairment.
There is a lot more going on but those are some of the primary issues to address. She should not have suffered this greatly. Friends, please, never let a loved one alone in the hospital, especially in dire situations. And advocate for them. It became clear my mom would have died without my intervention and aggressive pursuit into what care she was truly getting (or not, which is more the case). For now, my mom has arrived safe in Portland and we don't have to make that 1.5 hour drive to see her.
My dad will be coming up to stay with us and we will learn more soon. For now, on this Ash Wednesday, the Mayan Day of the Dawn, one of our biggest prayers were answered.
Don't be afraid, just believe.
Another day at the hospital, this time with Kea joining me to visit my mom. First the good news. My dad was discharged today and is feeling as good as he did before he got sick. His vitals are back to normal, he's feeling good and is back to his old self again. Also in the good news bucket, my mom is not on a ventilator, her lungs seem to be recovering, the pneumonia is on the outs, her fever has been gone for days, and she's been moving her bowels somewhat regularly. She's also potentially over her long history of opioid requirements and the detox phase, which she was using to combat the pain of rare neurological disorders that have plagued her for nearly two decades.
The bad news. My mother's bladder is still not functioning without a catheter, she's having trouble swallowing and her cognitive functioning has taken a profound and hellish turn in the wrong direction. She can barely speak all of a sudden, is having significant memory impairment and she's having trouble forming words for some reason. She knows who I am, she remembers our talk about that "Stephen King show on HBO" we talked about last time, she knows who the president is and still hates "the fucker" (love my ma) and she is still worried about missing the wedding. But she has trouble remembering her grandchildren's names, she has to be prompted to know where she is and she gets frustrated that she can't talk. The doctors aren't entirely sure why she's having this happen and will be performing tests tomorrow to figure it out. We aren't ruling out stroke, MS, parkinsons or perhaps this is a bit of ICU delirium that the doctors see quite frequently. But it really worries me and seeing her in this condition really shattered me today.
I lost it in that room. I sobbed like a child and held her hands and told her I loved her repeatedly. I told her to keep fighting. She shook and fought to continue to form the words to say she loved me too, while my dad and sister and fiance talked with nurses and we talked to the doctor with our list of questions. It was one of the most difficult days yet. They think she will be headed to rehab for some weeks after she leaves here, but they need to identify the cognitive issues she's dealing with. It's fucking heartbreaking and I'm struggling very much with all of this.
My temper is short, my mood is dark and I am doing everything to hold it together. I am really not ok, but I must stay intact. I have to be there for her and my family and I pray that she comes back.
Please, friends, family, keep those positive thoughts and prayers coming. She can use all of them. Today I showed her how many reactions and comments this has gotten and she started crying and asked me, "these are for me?" I said yes mom they are. They are not going unheard and they all serve to heal a beautiful woman, a kind and loving soul who should not have to suffer like this.
If there is anyone reading this who works in the medical community who might have some thoughts or ideas about her cognitive issues that I could relay to the doctors, please private message me your thoughts. I am not looking for medical advice per se, but just some things they could be looking at to help identify potential issues. Forgive me for asking that, but perhaps it could lead to a discovery on her condition that could help her turn the corner.
Never take this life for granted and share your love with those closest to you and let them know how much they matter. You never know when shit will get weird or when that person might leave this earthly plane or need you by their side to stay here.
And remember, try to be kind. You never know what someone is dealing with. Good night.
I'm exhausted. It's been a brutal couple weeks. I don't have the words, the energy or the mindset to give a full update on my parents right now, and I know many of you have been checking in and sending your love and kindness and prayers and I can't begin to thank you all for the unbelievable support. It seems all that positive energy is working because what you're looking at is quite possibly a miracle...
I'm pretty emotional right now so instead of trying to write my own update, I will leave you with a picture and words from my sister Shannon, who has been making her own hour long drive, following her own spinal surgery just a few weeks ago herself, to make sure my parents are ok.
Here's what she had to say:
"Mom and dad are ok. Mom's spirit is amazing right now; laughing, ready to get out of the hospital, cracking jokes--I haven't seen her this happy and lively in years. Dad is struggling to breathe, but doing much better on the CPAP machine. They say he did have a heart attack.
I guess they are just making sure mom and dad's heart issues weren't all just related to the pneumonia, before they finish their tests to make sure they weren't cardiac.
There are excellent cardiologists there and I am so happy they are ok and there.
I sent all of my love from everyone to mom, when she was coherent; individually and she cried and said she loved all of you and who you were to her and the stories of you all.
Mom and dad have a room together, too, now. Is this not the sweetest picture you all have seen in so long?
46 years married, in the hospital together fighting the same conditions."
My mom was sent to Corvallis this afternoon after the fever returned. She remains in a medically induced sleep, still on ventilator, with congestive heart failure, COPD and wild blood sugar levels. Still little bowel movements and extended gaseous stomach. But the fever is gone and they believe the infection has cleared. Tests on her heart, lungs and cognition will be done tomorrow. They expect to remove the breathing tube, but they expected to do that Monday, then today. There are more specialists at this hospital. She is stable, but the situation is very critical and totally up in the air at this point. Doctors are sure her life will be very different if she makes it. And tonight, my father headed to the hospital himself due to heart pains and having trouble breathing. Things are not ok right now. In fact, this has been a total nightmare.
I've been hanging with my mom today in the ICU, giving my dad a much needed break as he's been here pretty much every day this week from 8a to 8p. He has started to struggling with his own heart and health issues over all of this and he needs to rest himself. I've been struggling to sleep too, but I can handle it a bit better than my 70 year old dad.
My mom had a bit of a setback late last night and earlier today. She's back on the ventilator and medically sedated again fighting off a new fever, which peaked today at 103.7. Its now at 100.7 thanks to a couple rounds of tylenol.
She is suffering from a nasty return of significant pulmonary endema from the pneumonia and weak heart. But she's on two of the more powerful antibiotics (they still have many options above these if need be) to get the lung infection under control as well as probiotics, a feeding tube and a bile discharge, which is finally looking "the right color" (further detail is not worth discussing).
The doctor remains optimistic that she will recover. His worry is side complications like full heart failure, lung failure or infection that does not heal, septic issues, dementia (apparently she had some episodes of confusion yesterday I learned about today), or a whole laundry list of potential issues that could occur. It's a delicate situation and we've moved a little backwards earlier today. The good news is she seems to be responding well to the treatments since then and her vitals remain stable.
By Monday we should know where things stand better. If she is not seeing some solid recovery by then, we will be looking at a new approach and potentially a move to a new hospital in either Portland or Salem. That would mean things are pretty troubling. We aren't at any hospice scenarios by any means, but that could be a conversation Monday. I refuse to accept that tonight.
I've kept her company and told her stories and learned much from the exceptional nursing staff here. I shall remain vigilant that my mother will battle back to good health soon. Thanks again for all the well wishes and support. It means more than I can express. I intend to share all the comments and likes with my mom when she is awake again. It's time for a trip to the cafeteria. I'm starving.
Thanks to the outpouring of support from everyone. Sorry if I am slow to respond or just haven't yet, it's hard to keep up on everything, with work and life on top of this difficult situation with my mom. An update here to make it simple: she is in stable but critical condition. Not much change since Monday night. We're staying hopeful despite the waves of fear and heartache. They tried to remove the breathing tube yesterday but she was too anxious. They will try again today. They also collected a sample of fluid from her lungs to test to make sure they've got the right antibiotics in play. They said they can make a custom antibiotic if it's an uncommon strain. She hasn't woken up yet, no opening of the eyes, no reaction to anyone talking to her, everything has been autonomic function only, so we are worried about potential brain damage. I assumed it was due to the medication she is on, but based on my conversation with my dad, that might not be the case. She has been down this road, though, and perhaps I'm just forgetting how long she tends to rest. Last time it was a few days, so perhaps we are just worrying over nothing. Docs aren't concerned though and expect her to recover so we are keeping that in mind. We will be following up with them on this issue today.
My family and I are hanging in there. I went to work yesterday. Went home to get some rest last night since I have barely slept. Feeling a little more strength this morning but the lingering cloud of worry remains thick. I'll be going to work today since that keeps me from going too crazy. My feeling is if I'm at work, things are ok. If not, then I go into grief and serious worry mode and fight panic and anxiety. And hospitals are hard for me (like airports). Sitting there, watching machines keep my mom alive with nothing to do, no way to help, just feels awful and it's very difficult for me to endure long periods of time in this situation. Plus the ICU is small, only two visitors at a time, and it's not very comfortable or pleasant to be there.
I keep thinking of my last conversation with my mom about a week ago or so, which was a nice long talk on the phone about a lot of different things. She was happy and peaceful and we had some laughs.
But she still needs to walk me down the aisle of my wedding in June. I have a song that chokes me up every time. So she can't be going anywhere anytime soon.
Had a bit of a meltdown last night but it's from holding it together all day. It just came flooding out. Anger, sobbing, heartbreak, worry, fear. All of the shitty feelings. But it was necessary. I plan to go back to the hospital probably tonight even if not much is changed.
I'm praying and hoping and feeding the energy with positivity that today is the day she wakes up and wants to to watch Ancient Aliens or something.
Sitting bedside in the ICU with my dad watching my mom battle pneumonia and heart failure after an ambulance trip last night. Hooked up to an oxygen machine, an octopus of hoses running in and out of her mouth and arms, she is unconscious, but fighting like the warrior she has always been. I know she will make it through this, as she has before. But seeing her in this state is terrifying and heartbreaking. I will remain positive and hopeful, but it has been a long 21 hours.
More often than not, life is not a binary experience.
Take Kobe Bryant's death. It's absolutely possible to feel conflicted, since he was one of the greatest athletes of all time, but that he may have also raped a woman. It's ok to feel both disgusted and sad. Same with Aaron Hernandez, Louis CK, Michael Jackson or any other "celebrity" who has been wiped off the map by uber woke cancel culture kids for being someone we looked up to until we learned they did something terrible.
You can have both thoughts at once, it's ok to feel both (or multiple thoughts and various emotions). It's odd to me that people can't just express their feelings without someone having to instantly scorn them over it. I'm not excusing wretched behavior by any means.
In fact I'm saying it's ok to feel upset with someone but also appreciate other contributions they've given. I'd venture to say that virtually every person you look up to or respect has probably done something you'd be angry or disgusted by. I'm sure YOU have.
I used to feel like I had to pick one side or another. Like, you can't listen to Thriller or Bill Cosby anymore because that indirectly supports the work of a monster. And there's nothing wrong with that feeling if that's how you honestly feel. I guess it's impressive that you can be so pure, so clear with your stance. But I think many have lost their sense of nuance and are forced to have to pick a side and that anyone who doesn't is equally terrible. I think thats absurd honestly.
So many of these folks grew up watching and praising The Sopranos, Dexter, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, The Joker and other stories depicting the conflicted protagonist. But then these same people turn into a self righteous defender of morality and decider for YOU about how you should feel about things.
Just remember, every time you point a finger, there's 3 pointed back at you. And the world and it's human inhabitants are not perfectly categorized as good or bad people. We all fuck up. We all do bad things. If you choose to ban that person over it, so be it.
But we all get to make that decision for ourselves.
And if we choose to keep watching highlights of Kobe and we can tuck away his crimes for awhile, then so be it too. How about letting other people feel how they are going to feel.
No one thinks rape or murder is ok. But it's absolutely possible to feel disgust at that but also be impressed at the work of a potentially awful person.
Today, while many folks reflect on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr, "militias" geared up in war cosplay outfits and armed themselves to the teeth, while our impeached president ripped through another day of nonstop gaslighting of the American Republic.
So it's even more important to remember the fundamental tactic of Martin Luther King Jr: nonviolence.
Personally, I find this tactic to be increasingly difficult to employ in the face of hate-filled trolls and loudmouth racists who take pleasure in the suffering of the downtrodden and the weak, but I employ it nonetheless, because I believe in it as much as I believe in Ghandi's words of "being the change I wish to see".
There has been a daily parade of horrific shit that has gone on in the past few years that has truly challenged my sanity and calm, but I actively choose to stay above the fray as much as possible. This nonviolence goes with communication (online and otherwise) as much as it does with physical action.
Do not confuse my silence in times of darkness for weakness or apathy. I deeply feel the pain of this dark era, but as often as possible, I choose not to engage in the gaslighting and prodding to aggression. I learned many years ago in martial arts that disengaging an opponent is always the better solution and you will never regret NOT resorting to violence.
There are many ways to get your point across and many tactics to win over a potential opponent. Fighting is a last resort, and personally if I am forced to use that tactic, I will win. Sadly, in my youth, I had to resort to it, and despite it being for survival, I always regretted it.
I have learned that the tactic of nonviolence is far superior. I want to be an example of who we can be, and walk tall knowing I am better for it.
I know this era will end, and I hope that we can all come together again and get past this hideous fragment in our history and become more than the hateful few than drag us down.
I thank MLK for his wisdom and his lessons, but none more so than the art of nonviolence.
I'm constantly streamlining and weeding out my connections on social media to a pretty close group of friends and family due to the violent political idiocy, aggression, trolling and horrific disinformation sharing that I have seen. I don't need trolls in my life. Flame wars aren't funny or entertaining to me most of the time, even from well-intentioned friends.
If you're reading this, I implore you to start trimming your social feeds. Stop adding strangers (many are fake profiles). When you see bullshit from someone you don't actually know on social media, don't engage, just delete and block them. Report them if it's bad enough.
There is a psychological war happening against you and every one of us, and it takes skepticism and restraint to fight back. If you find yourself getting depressed or angry BECAUSE of social media, that's the war I'm talking about. I'm not gonna be that guy who says to get off of social media (although it's good to take breaks and if you can get out entirely more power to ya).
Just know as we head into 2020, there are very powerful dark forces at work and they're attacking us constantly with disinformation, lies and half truths.
I'm not talking about "fake news" like the NYTimes or WaPo (actual news services). I'm talking about fb groups run by strangers, memes that fire you up, click bait bloggers whose sole job is to manufacture unrest to get under your skin and chisel away at your peace of mind.
It is literally a war against your mind, your thinking and your sanity and their goal is to divide us, hurt us, make us stupid and hate each other. The forces are wide reaching from our own insidious government to foreign agents to the very owners of these social "media" sites.
With one of the most brutal presidential elections on the horizon, there's a lot at stake.
Don't just mindlessly scroll.
Be critical of what you see, who you are "friends" with and what you choose to embrace or chastise.
Be kind to people you care about. Eject anyone you don't know, especially if you find them constantly shitposting or attacking your own circles.
Friend counts don't matter in real life. Don't be a head collector.
Quality over quantity.
Be critical, compassionate and don't let the bastards win.
Who Am I?
I am Ahab.