Sunday, April 26, 2009

An Ordeal 

*Cough* *Sneeze* It’s a little dusty in here! It has been too long since I posted.


Where to begin?


Much of the past couple of weeks has spent dealing with my mother’s hospitalization. It has been quite a ride.


Two weeks ago my mother called me and a minute into the conversation it was apparent that something wasn’t right. She wasn’t keeping up with the conversation and some of her words were slurred. I became concerned enough that I told her I was coming over to see her.


I found her sitting in her chair with a number of empty Coke cans around her. My mom is diabetic and I haven’t seen her drink regular soda in years. Nonetheless she was guzzling away that night. She told me that she had been to the doctor the day before, been diagnosed with bronchitis, and sent home with cough syrup and an antibiotic. When I suggested that I might run her up to the hospital to get checked out she emphatically refused….”I just went to the doctor yesterday. I’m not going again. I’m fine and just need to rest.” I wasn’t convinced, but my mom is the most strong willed person I know. I told her I would come back the next day.


My niece called the next day and said that she couldn’t get into my mom’s house. The screen doors were locked from the inside and phone calls, banging on the door and windows didn’t rouse her. I quickly drove to her house with a sinking feeling in my stomach. We managed to break into her house and found her laying on the floor next to her bed. She had slipped down and was too weak to get back up. She once again tried to dissuade me from calling a doctor…”just put me back in bed to get some rest..I’ll be fine.” I told her, “not this time mom. I’m calling 911”.


We managed to persuade her to go to the hospital via ambulance and it is a good thing we did. After being checked into the E.R. it was obvious the doctors and nurses were very concerned.


A doctor from India gathered us together and told us, “I’ll do everything I can for your mother, but I’m just a doctor. The rest is up to God.”  He informed us that she had very severe pneumonia and had experienced a heart attack.  She was sent directly to I.C.U.


After we pieced all of our information together we believe she might have had that heart attack five days before hospital admission. She had not eaten during those five days and had spent much of the time sleeping. She was seriously dehydrated and the pneumonia and heart attack had taken their toll as well.


I thought it was very possible we would lose my mother. That in itself was a stunning thought about a woman who hasn’t been in the hospital in forty years. Other than her diabetes she never had any serious medical problems.  You would have to know my mom…a vigorous, strong willed, always-on-top-of-things woman. I know no one else like her.


The next day were informed she was to be intubated. Her breathing was not supplying her body with enough oxygen and her carbon dioxide levels were dangerous. She would remain tubed and heavily sedated for seven days. There were some brief moments when she was awake, but not many. She wasn’t responding to the antibiotics and it seemed her life was hanging in the balance.


On the 8th day they lessened her sedation. I went to work that morning and showed up at the hospital around noon. There was a crowd of nurses standing around my mom’s I.C.U. room staring at her. I asked what was going on and they informed me, “Well, your mom just extubated herself!” She somehow managed to get her hands on that tube and pulled it completely out. I was told this was difficult to do…the tubes have a blown up balloon at the end to keep them from being pulled out accidentally. It is very awkward and painful to pull it out.


Well…that’s my mom.


She said later that she was uncomfortable and was unable to get the attention of any of the nurse, so she, “did something I knew would get their attention.”  They tested her and she was able to tolerate being off the tube. Her pneumonia was now responding to a different antibiotic. The next day she was moved to a regular hospital room. A couple of days after that she was moved to a rehab facility at a nursing home. She’ll be back home by the end of this week.


Truly amazing.


She has no memory of any of the days before being hospitalized. She doesn’t remember me visiting her. She is shocked that she was drinking regular Cokes. She doesn’t remember falling or being transported by ambulance. She doesn’t remember the emergency room…none of it.


There are still some concerns, but she is obviously doing much better. I knew she was improving when she started bossing us around again.


I’m very relieved. I was definitely not ready to lose my mom. Of course, when is someone ever really ready? I’m glad to have her back.


There are silver linings in dark clouds. My brothers and I worked seamlessly together during all of this. We talked constantly by phone and in person at the hospital. We made decisions and each of us took care of different things. We carried things on for mom the way she would want us to.  We took care of my niece, paid her bills, mowed her lawn, etc.  My brothers are such great guys and I am so gratified by the trust we have in each other and how we were able to work together during such a time of crisis.


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