16 November 2009

Kind of Freaking Out

My mom has had a cough for about a month now. Nothing serious, but not connected to any illness. Just a dry cough, relatively infrequent, not getting better, not getting worse. It doesn't prevent her from doing anything she likes to do in life. It's just kind of annoying.

My stepdad has been asking her to go to the doctor and have it checked out. We're not really doctor-goers, my mom and I. She was married to a doc and I'm the child of one, and in general the family members of doctors don't go see their physician unless they are bleeding out or have a compound fracture, and even then they skip their family doctor and just go to the ER. But last night, when my stepdad mentioned to me how long my mom has been coughing and how he wishes she'd go to the doctor, something clicked for me. "Mom," I said, "GO TO THE DOCTOR. Sometimes people who have a random cough like this have lung cancer, and I need you to prove to me that you're not one of those people."

She e-mailed me today to say that she had an appointment for next week, which makes me happy. Not a moment too soon, I say. And I was calm, and hopeful that it will be nothing, a wasted visit, an unnecessary copay, and then we can all rest easy for Thanksgiving and the arrival of my stepbrother's new baby and my mom's birthday and all the rest of the holiday fun that lies ahead.

Then I read this.

And now I'm kinda freaking out on a lot of levels. I've read Melissa's blog for a while now, so I'm freaking out for her, hoping that it's nothing but feeling an awful twinge of the familiar. And I'm freaking out for my mom, because wow, well that cough could actually be something. And I'm freaking out for me because since John's death, I've been acutely aware of the fact that my parents are ageing, and that I don't know how I could live without any of them. They are all healthy and vibrant and unbearably important to me. They aren't allowed to get old, and they are most certainly not allowed to get sick. And no one else close to me, certainly not the person closest to me after my husband and my children, is allowed to have cancer.

It cannot be so, not for Melissa, not for my mom. Mom, prove to me next week that it's not so. And thank you for going to the doctor.

27 comments:

Haitian-American Family of Three said...

Well, you are freaking ME out, because my mom has also had a bad cough for a long time. I am going to insist she goes to the DR.
Hope your mom is well and healthy.

Elaine said...

Of course you're freaking out. Of course telling you not to freak out until you have word is useless. However, your mother IS going to the doctor next week, and you'll know then. I hope everything's okay.

Logically, if she hasn't been a smoker, the chances of lung cancer are fairly small. But again, none of the numbers help until you know. So, best of luck.

elaine said...

my neighbour has a persistant dry cough, she went to the dr.. it is a result of a low grade post nasal drip, she felt better, i felt better cuz i was always on her to get it checked out.. will hold out for positive results for your mom as well

Megan said...

I'm relieved to hear your mom is going to the doctor. It's tough to know what's serious and what's not, but after that period of time, it's always better to error on the side of caution. I'll be thinking of you two next week.

Keen said...

I'll be thinking about you and your mom. So glad she'll be going to the doctor. Good for you for pushing the issue.

I had a physical today and my doctor ripped me a new one for neglecting several health issues, one of which is causing me a helluva lot of pain. So I'm the last person who should be preaching, "We need to take care of ourselves." But we do.

Also, thank you for pointing me to Melissa's blog. I used to read it, but hadn't for a while.

kris said...

i just read melissa' blog too. hope both your mom and melissa are fine.

Anonymous said...

I learned recently to not take the little, annoying things for granted... my mother-in-law's six-month "sinus infection" turned out to be non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. She's being treated now and I hope she'll be ok, and I hope your mom will be too. And I hope more than anything this will be a reminder to us all to not take good health for granted... all too quickly a perfectly "healthy" person can be diagnosed with a terrible disease.

Single Parent Dad said...

Hopefully it is something simple. Could be seasonal asthma, which is nothing to worry about. Fingers crossed.

Diane said...

My tenacious cough didn't go away for months and months. Turned out to be an easily treatable cough variant form of asthma. Used an inhaler for a couple of years--it's been gone for quite a few now. The only time I feel like I'm having a relapse is in London. Coal heat, diesel buses, lots of mold, lots of pollen--it comes racing back and gets beat down by a steroid and a couple of puffs on the ol' inhaler

Catherine said...

hoping everyone is well. sending healthy thoughts your family and friends' way!

Emily said...

Snick,
I would tend to freak out, too, but I'm trying to live differently. (And have been having practice, as my dad has scary liver enzyme issues that could - but so far don't - indicate any number of awful diseases.) However, once I read something about how much more energy it takes to envision the worst-case scenario and how much better you feel if you don't do it .... save the stress for when you really need to stress, when you know you can stress (because, of course, those times will come - hopefully FAR FAR into the future). Try to envision how you'll feel when the doctor says, "All's OK!" since that is much, much more likely. If it is the worst case, you'll deal with it then - but there's ONLY a tiny tiny chance of that.

I know- so much easier said than done. But I'm trying to do this, too, and some days it actually works. (Night times ... well, those are harder.)

XOXO

Madelyn said...

If it eases your mind at all, every other person in the DC metro area has this cough. Lasts 4+ weeks, dry, annoying, and relentless. Delsym helps, but most people I know just get through it. I suppose a z-pack may be in order, but I do think that this is a pretty common virus.

Sonya said...

Emily is right. So incredibly right. It's worth the effort to try and focus on other things, which you have a lot of! Years ago I had a dry scratchy cough as well. Turned out to be nothing. It went away by itself.

Kizz said...

Melissa's post freaked me out too. I'm so scared for her. Glad that your mom is getting checked out, too.

Karen said...

My mom has been coughing for a year. She's been to the DR a few times, the diagnosis is chronic sinusitis. She's been treated with every antibiotic, steroid, nasal wash, etc. She's been needing sinus surgery for the last 6 months and instead took a cruise on DeNial.

Finally her ENT told her that she would likely develop COPD (??). I was worried she'd pass that sinus bacteria into her brain. She apparently thought until recently that my dad, a retired pediatrician, was the one to give her the most appropriate medical advice.

In July I told her to stop talking to me about her cough until she was ready to deal with it like an adult. In October she scheduled her sinus surgery, for early Jan.

My mom is a cancer survivor and has ongoing issues with platelets from her radiation therapy. It is going to be a risky procedure, cleaning out those sinuses of hers. But good lord, am I glad she is finally taking care of it.

I hope your mom stays focused on dealing with her cough and that it turns out to be simple and treatable. We are at the age where we will be caring for our parents more and more, and it is not going to be easy.

Christine said...

Always take a persistent cough seriously. My father coughed for a year, doctors blew it off as 'allergies', it wasn't until we noticed distinct personality differences and forgetfulness that we insisted he go to have scans. We thought maybe he's had a stroke. Stage IV non-small cell carcinoma, (and he was a non smoker) metastasized to the brain, spine, ribs, and adrenal glad. He managed to survive 18 months, even with it that widespread, but I can't help but wonder, if he'd gone in sooner, where would we be right now?

Susan said...

Same here, not the cough but the part about parents not being able to get sick or older. My mom has recently had a few issues, minor in relation to others her age, and that had me freaked out as well.
I hope the cough is nothing and everything is fine.

Angela said...

I am so glad your Mom is going to the doctor. Glad she listened to you and her husband, sending good thoughts that it's something very minor and treatable.

Anonymous said...

Hope your mom is OK.

Love,
NoelleZie

Watercolor said...

Don't forget to breathe. hugs! You all are in my prayers that all is well.

OTRgirl said...

I'm having trouble finding words right now. So scared for Melissa. That's awful. I used to read her blog and had lost track of it for a while now. I'm glad your Mom is going into the doctor's office. I hadn't heard about coughing as a possible symptom for lung cancer.

I do hope for both your Mom and Melissa that it's not what we're fearing.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Elaine, 20% of people who get lung cancer are non-smokers (a pretty large percentage in my opinion) and a lot of people don't know this and ignore lung issues. Snick - I'm glad your mom is getting this checked out - keeping my fingers crossed for your family.

Elaine said...

Point taken. Though even with that 20 percent, that's 80 percent who don't....

I have to admit, this whole thing will get me back to the doctor; I've had a cough myself for a month that was diagnosed as allergies and improved with allergy medicine, but it's not all gone yet.

But no question, parental health issues are scary.

Cynthia said...

I hope all turns out well with your your mom and Melissa.

I had a cough for 6+ weeks. I went to the doctor at 4+ weeks. He thought it might be allergies and told me to try Claritin to see if it cleared it up, then to go off of it and see if the cough came back. Nope. It was not allergies. The cough stuck around. The doctor said to call if the cough was still around a week later and he would prescribe me an antibiotic. It was and I did. He did. Cough cleared up.

Sarah V said...

Sending prayers and crossing my fingers...

denise said...

I sent Melissa an email wishing her the best of results and sending good things her way, and I do the same for your Mom. Good thing to get her to have the cough checked - better to be safe. If there is ANY question, get a second opinion - wish someone had insisted that for me.

Y'all are in my thoughts and prayers.
denise
Surviving breast cancer...
http://TeamDenise.org

Sara said...

My mother has had a cough for the past couple years, that is indeed allergies. It it helped with a couple of antihistimines used together. It gets worse in highly scented areas like stores with scented stuff or those scent infusers around. My father in law has a long term cough that is basically a mold allergy but there is no way they are moving out of thier house. So it is dealt with simliarly.

But parental health scares are no fun at all. My dad had to have emergency brain surgery for a subderral hematoma earlier this year after falling off his bike and breaking his collar bone and fracturing a hip. They also found a benign pituatary tumor in the MRIs, which he is having removed Friday. But two brain surgeries in one year is more than enough for me.