Colleen's Journey

Taken by Surprise…

Hi friends,

Things have changed pretty dramatically since we left for this gorgeous island.  Our Mom, despite all of her health issues and having been drained only the day before leaving, was vibrate, relatively energetic, and a picture of health and beauty as we headed west over the Pacific. 

We arrived in Kaua’i on Thursday, January 10th.  Thursday night, Friday, and most of Saturday were so much fun.  We were able to enjoy nice dinners, ample pool/beach time, and great food and drinks together as a family.  Towards the end of the day on Saturday it was clear that our mom was slowing down and feeling much more pain.  On Saturday night, she woke up in the middle of the night and tried to sit up.  She experienced breath-taking excruciating pain in her left side which really alarmed her, Billie, and Kathy, who were thankfully in the room to assist her. 

On Sunday morning, her pain and shortness of breath had increased significantly.  With the help of Nicole and Billy’s dear friends, Fawn and Eric, we were able to get mom into the Wilcox Medical Center ER quickly.  At this point, she was still independently mobile and insisting on walking on her own.  Heading into the ER she even walked out of her way to take photos with the roosters lurkering around the entrance.

The doctor we met in the ER was wonderful.  Not only was he thorough, he was empathetic and showed our mom sincere compassion.  Ultimately, he ruled out a possible pulmonary embolism and concluded that her increased pain was from a newly developed pleural effusion in her left middle lung which matched closely the one on her right. 

Once we returned to the hotel from the ER, mom still insisted on walking to her room.  However, such exertion caused a horrible coughing spell and panic attack which left her nearly vomiting over a balcony. 

Since returning from the hospital on Sunday, mom’s pain and fatigue has dramatically increased.  She now requires round the clock pain management and is unable to walk more than 10-15 feet.  She then agreed to travel via wheelchair from that point on.  Mom was able to leave the room twice yesterday, once to join us for a breakfast and a second time to sit by the pool.  We were able to set up an over-stuffed lounge chair by the pool with enough pillows to make her comfortable.  For the most part, however, Mom spent the last two days sleeping and, when awake, enjoying her gorgeous view of the ocean and resort grounds from her bed.

Last night was another rough night.  She decided this morning to go back to the emergency room to see if her lungs have filled to the point where they can be drained and she can gain come relief.  We are there now.  It’s a busy day in the ER so we know it could be a while before we have answers and a better idea of her status.

In light of the rapid decline in our mom’s health and strength, she is trying to decide the best course of action from here.  Our plan was to go home tomorrow night.  If we can make her more comfortable and increase her ease and ability to breath, she will head home as soon as possible so we can make her comfortable in her own bed, surrounded by her family and friends.  However, unless her condition improves, she does not think she can fly.  If she cannot fly home, we will stay here in Kauai and make her as comfortable as possible.  Dani and Dan, Billy, our Grandma, and no doubt a handful of other loved ones, will make their way to Kauai when possible to be with her.

Mom does not want to live in the discomfort and pain she has been experiencing.  We do not want to live a single day without her but have promised many times that we would not allow her to suffer any longer than necessary simply because of our own selfish desire to keep her.  My sisters, our husbands/boyfriend, will stand by her side, respect and honor her wishes, and live in every moment with her until the end.

We will keep you posted on her decisions and changes in condition as time goes.  You are all on this journey with us and we will do everything possible not to keep you in the dark.


  • ASK


    My sister, Mom and I had to let my Dad go in March, and your comments and thoughts are so similar to ours at the time. It is difficult to let go of someone you love so they can be at peace, but so much worse to watch them suffer. I am thinking of you an your family. Your Mom is lucky to have all of you by her side.

    Anndi Kawamura (Randy Aoyama’s wife)