Once was a son of a Mother and of a Father. But now no more than another.
Mom Had Taken Many Photos
As we searched Mom's effects, we continued to find photos - she had taken more than I expected in a time before the convenience of cameras in phones. This one brought back the memories of that time and what a shocking sight she was when I visited Providence.
I was not around much as I was building a fledgeling speed shop in Portland (I'm a car guy). So, I was never fully aware of the full story.
I had forgotten the pic as the years went by
Now as we were looking back through her history, it reminded me that this represented the beginning of the last thirty years of her life. Her medical files filled in the gaps in my memories. She was in no shape to be having long conversations in the hospital. I knew that the doctors had found it had something to do with an allergy to iodine. But how they had come about that finding was not completely clear to me.
My sister knew a lot more and as I searched deeper into the files, I pieced the story together.
Evidently what the docs did - didn't work out so well
Mom worked for FEMA - you know, the people who try to help other people with food and shelter during dire emergencies. She had recently returned from a deployment off somewhere. Perhaps some fire, flood or hurricane. She's done them all. As far as I know, her only ailment was an issue with an ear that appeared to have led to an infection. I have similar issues. From time to time, ears get clogged.
At some point I got the call. She was in Providence. She mentioned it had been dire. Experts were called in from back East. First they feared Herpes Simplex 2 then a rare fungus then one was sure he had seen this rare disease and treatment was started. At some point she improved - then she was back in again.
Some doctors have egos - doesn't always work out well
Michelle mentioned the egos of some of those specialists. They want to be right all of the time. I recalled how Mom had brought up this same subject. In fact she once said that if she should die in some hospital, questionably - I should get a lawyer. I guess mal-practice can take many forms.
Anyway I guess somewhere along the line one of the Docs took a little closer look at protocol and looked into past treatment. Bwala! She was recently treated by an ear doctor after her return to Portland. Oh, and look - he treated her with some outdated med. Sometime later they isolated one of the ingrediants was iodine. Then they determined she was allergic to it .... The specialists were sent back to whence they had come.
So things were eventually cleared up and she was able to resume her life - what remained of it.
Mom resumed her life. She worked in Real Estate, Taxes and FEMA
But it was not all that cut and dry
What I was unaware of at the time was all the further doctor trips that were taking place weekly concerning all the serious side effects. One thing was that arthritis was now running up the side of her leg and affecting her hip. Other strange things were happening.
I continued to look through her files. There were piles of thick ones
Medicare records were extensive from just the last few years
But it was the doctor records from thirty years ago that captured my attention. This indicated a long string of followup visits all through 1987. In addition to the increasing arthritis issues we begin to see Renal issues.
Then later something else weird would pop up. I would remember this ... ingrown eyelashes. I would become involved in pulling those things from under her eyelids back when I had a steadier hand.
I never knew about the Depression - She didn't show it
Reading further, I could see that they were trying all different kinds of meds on her in different dosages. She was undoubedly dealing with all kinds of pain and using up a tremendous amount of time and energy with all these appointments, not to mention missing out on work. I wasn't around much and was not fully aware of the extent of all this or the reasons why.Then I saw the depression. That's new to me. Mom was not much of a complainer about such things. But now I see a good reason to be depressed when I found her legal records.
Attorneys can certainly be very depressing
She had mentioned that she had tried to sue over the negligence of the docs. But I never knew the full extent of their lack of due dilligence. Nor did I know the effort she went thru in tracking these docs across country and submitting for all these medical records and every thing else the attorneys demanded.
Only in the end to have the attorneys bogue out on her. According to the letters, it appears that her case would have been too much bother for them to take on. I guess there must have been plenty of easier work for them out there. I can't help but wonder if they ever saw the pic at the top of this page? All I can say is that these letters do nothing but confirm my opinion of lawyers based upon my past experiences. I don't care for them as far as I can throw them.
I always felt that there is a certain professional level that doctors and lawyers should conform to ... but what in the hell do I know?
Mom had a ton of energy
It seems like she probably resigned herself to her fate realizing that she would be devoting much of her time to doctors from then on out. Also, I think she knew that there would be more coming and that she would just have to deal with it as it came. She would have to live a day at a time and not be bitter about the mistakes made.
The mistakes did something to her blood and her immune system. It is all a bit too much to comprehend. Michelle has a better handle on it all. In fact she had something in common with what was next.
Things start getting more complicated
Here is where things get more difficult for me. Trying to keep it all in order. The arthritis settled on into her hip and she ended up with a plastic joint. And I know there were issues with the ankle and knee. My sister was closer to that as she has unfortunately had a number of her joints replaced.
No doubt age and injuries contributed to some of the arthritis but not so for her next challenge. The original damage eventually led to her kidneys and proceeded to destroy them. But not after a couple of years of grueling Dialysis visits ..... Like I said - doctors every week.
She finally found a matching blood type
Things were getting pretty tense over the kidney thing - those things can be killers. Turns out her FEMA friend cared about her more than I knew - and she was the matching blood type ... so, it happened.
It was a complete success and Mom said she was turning over a new leaf and would appreciate life more. And she did. Her and Mary recovered nicely and went back out to travel the Nation. Hurricanes and typhoons and floods. Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam Hawaii and points in between.
A Month After Publication, I Receive This
Many doctors were amazed at how she kept going
It was some time during these latter years that the next wave came after her. One day she said something to the effect that she probably had been cheated out of 10 yrs. of life because of that "ear treatment" because our family has the long life gene. And that was true. But you know, there was a time before all of this ...
Mom was quite the active sportsman once
So Mom and Dad settled into west coast life after I was born. They lived a religious life up in Tacoma. Mom worked as a waitress and went to College. Dad was a Chief Radioman in the Aleutian Islands. The religious part didn't work out. I won't go into it. Mom got me out of there and we landed in Portland. She served up those gravy fries at Yaws. She was pals with that tootsie roll cop. He helped keep a man away from her once. More husbands came.
Some years later, Mom would make the statement that she thought she would have to swear off men. They just weren't working out for her. It seems like men were her achilles heal. But she threw herself into other things - like bowling.
Lou Langlois was her second husband, my sister's Dad. He was a semi-pro bowler. They travelled around the alleys at night searching for marks. Bowling for money was big back then. Maybe that's where she got the bug when she later shifted to shuffleboard. She took a lot of money off a lot of people all around town as well as in the tournement circuit. She was a sober player and she kept at it for years and years.
Then she was inducted into the Shuffleboard Hall of Fame
For the last two years of her life she ran a tournament she founded at the Rumpus Room. They came from Northern WA. to Northern CA. to play in it.
When it comes to sports, I do have another memory.
While in grade school I was in the majors little league. One day they had Mother's Night. Mom came to practice. I was showing her my famous? submarine pitch and messed up her hand on the catch. Later they played and the Mothers took the field. They used a softball of course. Mom hit an automatic double ... one bounce over the home run fence (I never even hit a hardball that far)! It was the long hit of the game.
Later on after the game, we found that my earlier submarine pitch? had broke her finger.
As the years went by
The years went by and some time in her 70s, she got took down hard again. I remember this one as by then, I had fallen into a pattern of driving her to the hospital for emergencies and her harder appointments. See here's the thing; ever since the "ear infection" something was set in motion inside of her that travelled around inside of her, spreading damage all around. I really can't cover all of it. It is too much.
Many times the doctors were experimenting on her, finding out the hard way when one new drug reacted adversely against another drug that was treating something else. It was just never ending. So this time I left her at the ER, expecting an overnight stay for her. But that rarely ever worked out that way. One night would lead to another and another.
Again it developed into nights on end. Then there was another emergency up there at Providence. Something went wrong inside of her during the procedure. Room crowded with doctors, bells and lights. Again she barely pulled through. They ended up cutting up her innards. That wound up in another long drawn out round of hospital visits and procedures and operations. She ended up with a colostomy bag then an ostomy bag.
Then more problems. They had to cut more. Eventually they removed a bunch of her stomach which removed her ability to control her bowels. So that was hell. Then the Diarrhea came. There was not enough stomach left to process her food properly. So it came more and more often. Sudden and uncontrollable numerous times in a row. More incredible hell.
Things start winding down
Even after all of this, I believe she managed to make it out to one final deployment with FEMA. By then she was past 80 and getting very frail. She was gathering supplies from a desk and some stock boy left a low slung cart right behind her. When she turned to take a step and there was no room. She sailed over it onto her face. Again breaking all kinds of things. She was there only a couple of days - then, again flying home in a wheelchair.
And all because another FLOGGING IDIOT made a dumb mistake. My mom has had so much bad luck in her life. Me too.
I mean where does it end?
Again, like always, she recovered from all those damages. But not after a long battle with Homeland Security, bills, Workman's Comp and so forth. Not long after that I watched her slam to the floor after tripping over her keyboard cord. That one required an ambulance. Broke her femur. She recovered. Oh there were other things. Her broken ankle. Howabout her heart. She ended up with a pacemaker. But as always, she survived all that stuff. She hung on tightly to life.
At some point, her doctor began seriously talking to her about hospice. But she was not ready to go off and die. She went home and was right back up on her feet again walking around. By then though, she was done driving. She couldn't navigate the porch on her own any more. I drove her everywhere from then on.
Inside that home however, there was no stopping her. She took care of all of her needs. She could stay in contact with her family back east and friends around the Nation thru social media and phone. And cook like crazy! She followed the news like a hawk and she would sit in her computer chair for hours on end playing computer card games. She did this to keep her mind sharp but ...
Its All About The Blood
Then she ended up with more problems with her lifeblood. What with all of her meds for all her different maladies including her now failing kidney and wrecked stomach and defibrillating heart, blood thinners and all the rest, she came into issues concerning blood clots. They had begun to show in her left leg. Just one clot traveling to her brain and well, you know! Eventually it came time for another ER visit to OHSU. That is where her specialists were, that we had been seeing for years.
Again, one night turned into days and she ended up getting another risky operation for a stent. This allowed the blood to bypass the clogged femoral artery. Another two week stay in a rehab facility and I dragged her back home where the next morning she was back up on her feet cooking away. And all was good - yet again.
A few weeks later pain was back and swelling was happening. Back to OHSU ER. After many consultations, MRIs and med adjustments they released her. We were sitting down at a restaurant a little later. Docs told her the stent was clotting however they had managed to open it some and - they observed that the blood was flowing around the stent thru smaller veins. Sometimes the blood finds its own way, oddly enough.
Keeper was a way chill cat
Running out of options
And so it was for a few more weeks. She cooked like crazy baking all kinds of stuff and making do with everything including nausea that was often induced by her prescription regimen and dealing with her diarrhea numerous times a day. Then Friday the leg pain returned , then the swelling. Again it came in the evening after spending hours in her computer chair. For the first time I felt the chair might be contributing to a circulation problem and suggested she leave it. She just had to look at a few more groceries online. Later she said, we got to go. I long ago learned not to question her when it comes to matters of her condition.
This time she said to take her to Providence. I asked her if she were sure. As that hospital had not been good to her through the years. But it was much closer to us than OHSU. I think she just wanted to make it easier on the both of us. As it was, we waited in that ER till midnight. Once we new they would keep her overnight, I left as usual. "Could you turn down the lights?" She asked as I exited the room.
That was March 3, 2018
Final Cell Phone Conversation
This time I had the foresight to grab the cell and we charged it in the ER. I think it was the following day we talked on it and they would be keeping her over the weekend of course. The docs there would have to share notes with the ones at OHSU for a few days.
Conversations get more serious
As the week wore on. She communicated with myself and my sister. As usual, she needed nothing from home and said to just hang on. Then her cell went to phonemail. So it had not been charged. Her room had changed. I got the # and dialed it. She answered and said she was just coming out of a surgery. She said, "They hurt me!"
For a woman who had lived thirty years of pain, I had never heard her say that, "I'm on so many meds I don't know where I am or what day it is." There was a nurse fussing with her, "I have to go now."
I called Michelle ... Mom had an operation unbeknownst to us.
Saturday, as I prepared to go to work, a dr. called and said it was time for conversations and decisions. They had put another stint into her leg and she had survived nicely. But suddenly it also clotted. I told him, they needed to call my Sister. Michelle went there and told me Mom was in pain and all the docs wanted to meet with us Sunday. So I took the day off and waited for her call.
When I arrived, the five specialists were in conference down the hall. I was prepared to tell them there would be no amputation of the leg. Do the risky bypass operation.
I walked in to find Mom propped up in bed awake, Michelle beside her. Mom was enduring waves of pain while calling out for Wanda (family back east). Mom was heavily doped up but speaking with us, in between spasms. But poor Mom could not finish her sentences. She was amazingly calm, considering everything. She spoke like she was having a pleasant conversation. She looked at us and said, "Michelle, Chuck - we need to ...
The Team of Doctors Lay It On The Line
As Michelle had warned me - the Doctors were not optimistic. Five specialists each had their say. Her kidney was down to 10%. Her pain was here for good. With a bypass, she would end up bed ridden in hospice, in constant pain, unable to care for her needs and doped up on meds. Or we could choose to just let her be comfortable. I kept glancing at Mom's eyes and I could see that she was intently following the conversation as well as she could.
We had the doctors leave the room and continued with Mom. She remained unusually calm. One time, she got agitated and said, "I can't say the words." We asked her if she wanted surgery and she said no. But that was not enough for us. She had something to say. We tried and tried. Then she said, "Rob Peter to pay Paul."
We have pondered over that ever since.
Eventually, Michelle dialed up her best friend, Mary and best kin, Wanda. They had their final words ... that was very hard. Mom had remained awake all day amazingly, with all that Morphine. But then that was Mom. We felt she must need rest then she might be more coherent. We told Mom to rest and we would come back and talk in the morning. We gave the docs our decision - keep her comfortable.
Michelle returned in the morning. Mom slept. One time the orderly was re-arranging her and Michelle asked her if she was cold because she had been shaking. Mom blurted out, "Yes." So she got another blanket.
When I arrived they were working over her and she had an oxygen mask and tubes and I freaked out for a bit, "What happened to her?" But she was just sleeping.
Turns out neither of us were fully cognizant of what "keeping her comfortable" fully meant. Apparently it meant turning off all of her life saving meds she had depended on for all these years. Mom was dying fast.
Later Michelle's husband, Bill arrived and Michelle went home to get some rest. Mom slept the whole time. Bill and I remained with her until midnight. We said our goodbyes to her.
I will just say this last part the way it is. I tried to sleep as much as I could that night. I awoke the next morning too early March 13, 2018. I was crying and decided to go ahead and get up. I wandered around the house for a bit. The call came in about five minutes. It was Michelle calling from the hospital. Mom breathed her last breath about five minutes ago. About 10:10.
I would discover it was a long, long road for Mom. She lived one hell of a life!
So my sister heard Mom's last word and her last breath. Myself, I continue to await her familiar call I received so many times in her last years - "Ok, they are done with me now. I will be discharged. You can come pick me up."
As I have continued to search through all of Mom's records I have uncovered more of her life as well as her life and times before the "Ear Treatment." For the benefit of those who came before, I will be posting up some more of these pics down below. These include friends and relatives, some of which I do not recognize. Sign on below for updates or to make contributions to this story.
Mom has a large family mostly back east and friends spread around the country, we hope this reaches you all. This story must suffice for her services. Soon we will be picking up her urn.
So let this be her final legacy. We like to feel hospitals are safe. But the fact is that the U.S. has a dismal record. Be on your guard. Sometimes it can be just the smallest little oversight. If anything, hopefully this Story Of Mom will underscore this:
... Always Keep Fighting : Never Give Up ...
The pics and letters Mom saved really told the story of her active life. Smiling all through the years
As shown here, Mom did many things. It is only after she is gone do we discover it all. So she was a bowler and a shuffleboard champion. She was a softball power hitter. She went to the horse races and the dog races. She was a gambler and a bookmaker. And all of these endeavors included a revenue stream for her. She lived a full life even in her final chapter.
So many conversations to be had. So many questions unanswered ...
She was a very busy, active woman in her early years, the first chapter of her life
Keeper the Kat was some character and she was fast. That sometimes caused problems
Keeper was quite the Kat and loved by the few who knew her. She left us last Fall after twenty years
I started to write a page for Keeper when she died but two broken harddrives later, it sad ly didn't happen. But here is another vid
Anyone with pics to add can leave a link in the Comments below and I will add them
They can be emailed to Revemup1@aol.com
A Month Later We Are Uncovering More Pics
Additional Photos we have found
Chuck Fasst (author) from Portland, Oregon on April 18, 2018:
Appreciating the comments from Paula and Shyron. As far as I can say, this will be the last resting place of the Story Of Mom. I just hope this site lives on for a good long time. I have been adding to this as the days have gone on and the pics and such surface. Eventually all will rest here silently. Mary Murphy was her longest, bestest friend who had the life saving kidney and she was one of the last to hear Mom's voice over the phone just before the end. A very difficult time. She provided a new pic that is inserted up top. I hope more of her FEMA friends manage to find this.
I am disappointed in the Moderators of this site. They have ruled this unsuitable for advertisers. Not that I care. The revenue here doesn't hardly amount to pennies anyway. But I happen to know that when monetization is removed, the story takes a hit in the search ranking, making it harder for people to find. I just think it is sad the way this PC World has evolved these days. Obviously because of the pic of my Mom, this story gets discriminated against because of the wants of the big corporate advertisers. Well, this is the way of the world, it seems.
Mary Murphy on April 16, 2018:
She was my friend, my sister and my soulmate! Love you through eternity Ruthie❤️
Thanks Chuck for the incredible bio. Meant so much to me.
Shyron E Shenko from Texas on April 07, 2018:
Chuck, thank you for sharing your mom with us, she was such an amazing person. You really should think about turning this into a bio of your wonderful mom and put me on the list to buy the first copy.
This also shakes me up, hubby has been in the hospital most of January, half of February, and two weeks of March.
I hope that you find peace in you life.
Blessings my friend
Suzie from Carson City on April 06, 2018:
Chuck.....An absolutely fabulous tale and tribute to your "fascinating" Mom! What a woman! You have me loving her like an old friend.
Your talent amazes me. Thanks so much for sharing this intimate story with your readers. The pride & devotion you, your Mom and sister had in one another has touched my heart. Paula
Chuck Fasst (author) from Portland, Oregon on April 06, 2018:
Thanks for your comment. Seems that Mom had friends all over the place. More than I knew about. And it seems she was all over the place in her car, traveling to games and all the rest. And that went on into her 80s along with the doctors and FEMA and all the rest.
Jim and Michelle Foran on April 03, 2018:
Jim knew Ruthie from the beginning of her shuffleboard career and I believe I met her in the early 80"s. Everybody loved Ruthie and she was well respected by her shuffleboard family. She was a quiet gentle person with a competitive edge. She was very good at shuffleboard and so loved the game. It seemed like every time I saw her she was getting ready to go to the hospital, just got out or was getting ready for a FEMA trip. It took a lot to keep her down. Jim and I never made it to one of her tournaments at the Rumpus Room. She called us one time and personally invited us to come down to one of her tournaments. We had our young grandson and were not able to go. Which makes me sad. Ruthie was so sweet even when she was whippin' you at shuffleboard. RIP Ruthie. Love, Jim and Michelle