Monday, September 26, 2011

What's been going on? Ok, here goes. . .

I have been so overwhelmed by the changes in our lives that I just couldn't bear to face this blog and start the long process of explanation. I decided I'll just do a synopsis and hope it will satisfy anyone out there that is still checking every once in awhile.

--On Christmas Eve, my Mom was taken to the hospital because she was extremely disoriented and not communicating well. After speaking with our family, it was decided that I would go (with Jack--then 6 months old) to help her get to SLC to have brain surgery. Since I am pretty useless with a humongous baby always on my hip, we also decided John should come with us. We were able to go the next day (yes, Christmas) and get her out of the hospital and back home for a few nights before we took her to Salt Lake. Funny side story: Mom was really disoriented from her tumor and was constantly up and down during the first night at home. I slept on the couch so that I would hear her come into the kitchen, which she did every hour or so, puttering around looking for things, trying to wash the dishes, take her medicine, press random buttons on the microwave, etc. At one point I was awakened from my uneasy slumber by a VERY loud alarm, followed by a voice calling from the darkness: "Mrs. Rust, what is your emergency?" I spoke to the voice, "Let me check on her!" expecting the worst and I went in her room and she was putting on lipstick. At 3 am. I guess she was messing around with the things in her purse and she pushed her alert necklace that goes to the call center. I told them it was a mistake and took Mom's necklace away from her while she continued to get dressed and put on earrings and makeup. It was a very surreal experience. We got to see my Dad while we were there in St. George. His Alzheimer's had progressed a lot and he barely even looked up at all while we were there. He did, however, acknowledge baby Jack by wiggling his fingers and smiling at him once. I will forever be grateful for that tender mercy.

--We flew with Mom to SLC and met my sister there where she took over her care (including her insulin shots which I made John do while we were in charge, seriously I was useless). She had the surgery and we stayed one more day, seeing her before we left. She was still very disoriented, but also extremely agitated. She chanted things that made no sense, her voice rising in pitch and intensity so that it was heartbreaking. My sisters who took care of her after I left were wonderful, I don't think I could have borne it for long.

--A few days after we got home, my dad fell. They think he may have fainted. He broke his cheekbone and was pretty bruised. He had a great physical set back, and "lost" his ability to swallow. We kept him on iv fluids for several days, hoping he would rebound, but it soon became apparent that he would not. His advance directive clearly stated that he did NOT want to have his life prolonged in ANY way, including feeding tubes and iv's. So we unhooked the iv and he passed away a few days later. It was a very emotional time for me (obviously), and the kids took it pretty hard too. But with lots of encouragement and help from our wonderful friends, we got through the funeral and felt better after.

--After much debate and many hours of conference calls with my siblings, we moved my Mom to North Carolina to be closer to family, specifically my brother Dayle. She was doing a little better, and now understood that Dad was gone (she was not lucid at the time of his passing or his funeral). We went to visit her in April, and she was content, peppy, and quite lucid, almost her normal self. We went on long walks in the spring sunshine. She played with Jack and carried on (somewhat disjointed) conversations. We were sure she would last several more years in that state, and went home very happy. I will also forever be grateful for that wonderful week we were able to spend together.

--A few weeks later, she started acting strangely aggressive, and Dayle took her in to get an MRI and they found several small tumors. She had been quite clear that she did not want ANY more treatment--no radiation, definitely no surgery, and not even steroids. We prepared to watch her slowly deteriorate. She saved us that burden by slipping away quietly in her sleep just a week later. Only four months after my Dad. It really was a blessing, but I still haven't quite come to grips with the fact that I'm an orphan. All ten of us children without the guidance of a parent anymore. I will have to be content with the fact that they had a long, productive life and they taught us so much and now we all just have to lean on each other.

That's about all I want to say about that for now. I'll try to post again soon, giving the whole story about how we landed in Virginia.


Karin said...

Oh Lajuana, (and the rest of the Sapp's)

I am so sorry to hear about your parents. I can't even imagine the sorrow.

We are thinking about you.

We didn't know you were in Virginia. I'll have to tell rapunzel. Last week, she was having friend troubles and said that the next time we move, it has to be to chicago so she can be with Hannah. :-). It has been so many years in her young mind, but she remembers the happiness and lack of drama, and I believe it will be her ideal friendship for a very long time. :-)

Carolyn said...

So sorry for your loss. My grandmother passed away last year from Alzheimers and it was so good to know she finally could remember important things. It was also sad/happy for the family to remember her wonderful life. I'm sure you are going through all those same emotions. I'm thinking of you!

Sarah H said...

I'm sorry you had to go through losing both your parents so close together. Thank you for sharing the experiences. I have been thinking about you and all our friends back in Illinois. In fact, you were in my dream last night! I hope you're doing well in Virginia and I look forward to hearing about that in another post!

I have a good life said...


I am so sorry for your loss. My heart aches for you and your siblings. How grateful we are for the Gospel.

I can't wait to hear about all your adventures in moving. Virginia is very pretty.

The Cooks said...

Dearest Lajuana,
I came here to see your beautiful family for the first time in years and I was overwhelmed with love for you after reading this post. I had tears streaming down my face as I read of your loss. I knew I could not leave without letting you and your family know how much we love you guys. What a special blessing to have them go so quickly together. I know it is hard on the rest of you left behind but they will be with you and I have no doubt you will have many experiences where you will feel of their love and spirits. I think they knew how perfect you were and they left in peace knowing they had nothing else to teach you. :)Again we love you and know your strong family will be blessed.
Love, Tracy