It is always hard to watch an elderly loved one going through discomfort and pain, and eventually pass away. But when one woman named Cathy Free was preparing for her mother to die from a blood infection, she would not allow anyone to tell her it was her mother’s time to go.
She recently wrote about her experience to People and explained that one night at 3:00 a.m. she woke up, went outside to look at the sky, and thought, “What if my mother was not actually dying?”
It all began when 77-year-old Joy Anderson had to enter a rehab center, because she had injured her left knee while moving heavy boxes for a yard sale. It was there that the family found out she had pneumonia, and her condition soon worsened.
“She was finally taken to a hospital where it was discovered that she didn’t have pneumonia after all, but sepsis—a deadly blood infection that had spread from her injured knee and was attacking her organs,” Cathy wrote.
Cathy was told she had to prepare for her mother to die.
“After a couple of emergency dialysis treatments to boost her kidney function, doctors told us there was nothing more they could do. Our mother needed to be released to hospice care, they said, and she would likely live no more than two or three days,” Cathy wrote.
Cathy decided that the family should celebrate Thanksgiving early in her mother’s hospice room before she passed. Every day, Cathy spoon-fed her mother lemonade and chocolate milkshakes and read to her from a book she loved: “A Year in Provence.”
As Cathy slipped into this heartbreaking routine, she cherished every day that she was able to spend time with her mother. During her drive back home, she would think back on the recent conversations she had with her mother.
“’Mama, I love you — this is hard, but I’ll try to be brave,’ I’d told her, resting my head on her chest to feel her warmth and hear her heartbeat,” she wrote.
“’I love you too, darling daughter,’ she’d said, reaching for my hand. ‘Think of the happy times. Remember your pink canopy bed? I can still see you smiling and sleeping there.’”
Time passed, but Cathy couldn’t shake the feeling that her mother still had hope.
She explained that she could see that her mother was “slipping away,” but “something about this new ‘normal’ seemed very different. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off.”
Although her mother was not doing well, she still had signs of life. “My mother still had a strong grip and she could lift her head at odd angles to take sips from her water cup. The swelling on her hands and legs had gone down.”
Cathy soon began to do some investigating into her mother’s health. She remembered asking for a sepsis blood test for her mother to confirm she still had the infection three times in two days, but no one complied. Cathy then took the matter into her own hands.
“If a doctor wouldn’t order a blood panel for my mom, I would order one myself and pay for it privately,” she wrote.
It turned out Cathy was right to get the blood test. Joy’s results came in, and besides having low potassium, being anemic, and her kidneys not functioning at their best, “her white blood cell count — the number that should have revealed her sepsis infection — was normal.”
It was not Joy’s time to go yet.
When Cathy received that good news, she took her mother out of hospice and to an emergency room.
A doctor that used to run a hospice center told her, “Your mother never should have been sent to hospice care,” he said. “It is not yet her time. I can’t explain it, but her sepsis is gone and she can be successfully treated and get on with her life.”
This was great news to hear, when Cathy had assumed that her mother was going to die. She explained that one word expressed her feeling and that was the same as her mother’s name: “JOY.”
“Thank you, my dear daughter,” my mother had whispered with shining eyes, “for saving my life.”