We Had Big Plans for Mother’s Day, but I Ended up in the Hospital

Charlton Harris avatar

by Charlton Harris |

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getting stuck, Mother's Day, aunt

Mother’s Day was a couple weeks ago here in the U.S., but I must admit, I’m not a big fan of the holiday. Let me explain. 

On Mother’s Day weekend in 2003, I suddenly lost my mother. I had just returned to work after having an outpatient procedure to remove sinus polyps. At the time, it didn’t dawn on me that the polyps probably were related to my pulmonary sarcoidosis, since all of it involved my respiratory system. But I don’t recall having been diagnosed yet.

Anyway, my mom was with me during the surgery, which happened a few days after her 64th birthday. When it was over, I remember her telling me that the doctor said they had “removed a lot of stuff.” I remember thinking that finally, I’d be able to breathe much more easily than what I’d grown used to. Finally, a good night’s sleep was waiting for me, I thought.

After coming home, she checked on me several times a day. Some wives would’ve had issues with the extent of a mother’s care, but my wife viewed it like I was out of her hair, and she was cool with that. On the Sunday before I was supposed to return to work, my mother and grandmother came over for dinner.  I was the usual clown, making everyone laugh and enjoying everyone’s company. The following Friday, Mother’s Day weekend, my mother passed away. A few years later, I lost my grandmother and an aunt on the same weekend. 

My family has taught us to never back down from adversity and laugh through hardship. As a family, we would use humor and laughter as character-building tools. If you can laugh your way through a situation, you can overcome it.

On Mother’s Day this year, I was planning to celebrate my wife, who is my main caregiver. We had made it through 2020, a new medical facility was looking into my sarcoidosis case, and both of my kids had found jobs. We had reasons to celebrate. Some of the pandemic rules were finally relaxing, and I was looking forward to going back to the gym to work out. That Friday, my wife and her mother went shopping. They wanted a seafood feast, and I was happy to oblige. 

Sunday finally arrived!

I made her favorite breakfast, champagne included, and within two hours, I was in the emergency room at my local hospital. What I thought was my pulmonary sarcoidosis flaring up and causing me some distress turned out not to be the case. Instead, it was edema.

I’m really good about checking for fluid in my legs and ankles, so I can’t figure out how I missed this. Needless to say, it wasn’t a small miss on my part. It had gotten real for me.

I remember after my mom had her aortic heart valve replaced, she started complaining about being out of breath. When I took her back to the hospital, they found that she had accumulated a lot of fluid around her heart. Thankfully, we got there in time, and they drained the area.

According to my doctors, it was a good thing I came in when I did. I spent the next eight days in the Temple Lung Center in Philadelphia. Eighteen years later, it seems my mother is still watching my brother and me like we’re little boys. I’ll take it. I believe that that weekend, she sent me a special message. 

Having been raised by a single parent made watching her lose her sense of freedom and independence much more difficult. It’s something I have to deal with now, too, given my own health challenges. But I know how to laugh, and I taught my kids how to laugh through adversity.

Living with a chronic illness is difficult, but it becomes more difficult if you let it define you or your purpose in life.

As long as I’m living, I’m laughing. And as long as I’m laughing, I’m living. I’ll shed no tears for sarcoidosis, because it doesn’t share tears for me.

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Comments

Debra avatar

Debra

Sorry you had to visit the "repair" shop. At least it came with a bed. Seriously, welcome to my world....low/no salt diet, Furosemide (diuretic)....you can do it. Just try to stay away from canned, jarred or prepackaged food. Being a cook I am sure you'll enjoy testing new recipes. BTW, you can find pretty good low/no salt recipes on the Fresenius or Davita kidney dialysis sites. You've already come this far, may as well check out more recipes. Your mother is watching. How do I know? I have one too and just because they're not here with us doesn't mean they're not watching. Moms...they've got eyes on the back of their heads! Take care, Charleton!

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