Difficult Times

From James:

Short Version: We discovered that So Young has a blood clot in her lung, which is treatable using a blood thinner. Meanwhile, her other symptoms continue to worsen. The kids miss their mom. We’re praying for the best.

Long Version:

Yesterday we discovered that So Young has a small blood clot in her lung, called a pulmonary embolism. She has had shortness of breath and wheezing over the past few weeks, especially when she eats. I told the doctor about it in passing, and he immediately called for a CT scan of her lungs. For reasons unknown, people with brain tumors tend to develop blood clots more frequently. So Young’s lack of mobility may also have contributed. We rushed to Johns Hopkins but did not have to be admitted. Instead, they injected her with a blood thinner called Lovenox.  I will be injecting So Young with two doses of the medication every day, indefinitely.

If there ever was a “down” point in this story so far, I would say that yesterday was it, combined with the progression of the impairments we are witnessing. If you haven’t seen her in over a month, you will be surprised when you see her again.

So Young’s symptoms have continued to worsen since she was diagnosed with the regrowth of the tumor on September 20 and even after her first round of chemo. It has been not quite a month since then. At that time, her new impairments were slight, but the notion of her even using a walker (as the doctor suggested) was laughable to us.

Her motor abilities on her right side have continued to decline. It isn’t safe for her to walk even short distances unassisted, and for longer distances, a wheelchair is required. Her right leg randomly gives out or drags as her brain misfires in trying to send the proper signals to it. It is hard to believe that this is the lady who was legendary for running 20 miles on a Sunday and then proceeding to paint the kitchen the same afternoon.

So Young’s right arm and hand are almost unusable now. She used to be able to write in any “font” she chose. Now she has given up even giving her signature with her right hand.

So Young can’t be alone at home now under any circumstances.  Going to the bathroom, getting dressed, bathing, putting on her contacts, etc. unassisted is extremely difficult for her right now. Thankfully, Mom is there full-time on weekdays and often on weekends, helping out with So Young and the kids over 12 hours per day on many days.

So Young’s speech is notably impaired. She speaks very quietly, and her speech is slurred, so it is difficult to understand what she is saying.

The sight in So Young’s right eye is almost as bad as it is in her left eye now. She frequently complains that she “can’t see.”

She falls frequently. I’m going to be scheduling physical and occupational therapy for her soon. The doctor said that they will help, whether her symptoms continue to get worse or get better.

Cognitively, I think that So Young is more affected now, especially in terms of remembering the names of people and things. For example, she didn’t know President Obama’s name when we watched the recent presidential debate, and she couldn’t remember the names of the vegetables on her plate the other day. She isn’t constantly disoriented or anything. She just seems confused at times. Many people have also observed that she talks a lot less than she used to.

Emotionally, So Young is impossible to read these days. I can’t tell if she is blocking it out or if this area is somehow impaired like so many other things.

The kids seemed unaffected by their mom’s condition a month ago, but today it is clear that they are greatly affected. I have had difficult, tearful conversations with each of them (the older ones especially) as they grapple with the changes So Young is going through and the uncertainty of the situation. I had to be honest with Shannon and Lindsay when they asked (point-blank) whether it is possible that Mommy will die. Yes, it is possible, but we don’t know and can’t know. We can only trust God, pray for the best, and take each day as it comes.

The other day, Shannon said that she misses her mom. They have all expressed a similar sentiment. I’m trying to make sure now that they are all able to spend more time with Mommy, even if it just means lying beside her on the bed or reading her a book.

None of this is to say that we have lost hope or don’t believe that So Young could get better. We simply don’t know. All we know is that we miss the old So Young and are praying that we’ll get her back soon.


13 Responses

  1. Praying for you all day and night. Love you guys!

  2. It broke my heart to read this, though we know the news has not been great. We, including our church, are all praying for all of you. Lots of love, Grandma B


  3. I’m so sorry… this was heart breaking to read. She is in my prayers, thoughts daily.

  4. I too will continue to pray…lots of love.

  5. Keeping you in my prayers…lots of love and hugs.

  6. So sorry to hear about this turn of health. All of you remain in my thoughts and prayers.


  7. James, I know what you and the girls are feelings. Continue to trust in the God who loves you and So Young more than you can imagine and believe and know in your heart that he is carrying you through this and whatever comes next he is right there with you. Let him be your strength. Keep your focus on him and not the storm. You all are in my prayers.

  8. Praying for So Young, you and the fam bro. Peace, healing, unity, strength. Stand strong James, I know how hard it can be. Asking God to be especially close to all of you. You guys aren’t walking alone. Praying.

  9. …lifting my heart up to our LORD on behalf of So Young. Love and prayers for you all.

  10. James, it breaks my heart to read this and am so sorry for the pain that you and your family is going through. I can’t believe how things have changed since the summer. I can’t seem to find the right/comforting words to give you… other than we will pray for you. We will pray that God gives you and your family the strength to get through this difficult time and that So Young will pull through this victoriously. Please give her my best and tell her that I’m praying for her.


  11. Praying for So Young daily. I can see why she has so much love around her. Words cannot express what So Young means to me and what she has done for me this past year as I was going through difficult times. I so badly want my old friend back too. Praying with all my heart for her health to be restored. And praying for the family to have strength emotionally and physically as you all care for her. Many thanks to her mother-in-law for her selflessness. And prayers especially for her three beautiful daughters, who have prayed for mine.

  12. James, I know that prayer works. Our thoughts and prayers are with So Young, you and the rest of the family. I hope her health is soon restored.

  13. Still praying..

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