Tuesday, July 14
After the first post from my long hiatus this week, I'm sure you don't believe me when I say that I'm about to get back on schedule. I know I promised cuss words. They are coming, I swear. If you've found your way to my blog, chances are good that you like 'em. SHIT! HELL! DAMN! I hope that will tie you over.
Although Mom was definitely still sore, she went home from the hospital on Friday. Albeit slowly, she was getting around. However, her recovery took a turn for the worst on Saturday and she was re-admitted to the hospital. Her tummy was extended as though she was several months pregnant, throbbing and tight from an unexplained blockage. Her skin wrapped firmly around her slim frame. To say she was uncomfortable is an understatement.
As excruciating as threading that plastic tube up through her nose, then looping it back through her nasal cavity and down her throat into her stomach was, Mom more than willingly accepted this treatment if it were a means to an end. Of course, this is not a natural path, so one of the many unsavory side effects was a bloody wound at its entrance. Her throat is now raw and her ears and teeth hurt. But, a full container of murky green bile, a sickly Everglade swamp broth, pumped out of her body within five minutes. Another followed within three hours and, by the end of two days, the nose tube had produced nearly six.
The relentless tormenting pang in her abdomen has steadily remained, at times being worse than the day after the surgery. Of course, each inch of her body that laid in the treacherous path of the nose tube was an avenue of agony. Days and days of laying bed left her back stiff and strained. It's been difficult for me to watch my mother in this endless bounty of pain, but it has been even harder for her to live it.
Each time I've left the hospital, the situation has been in utter disarray when I returned. I'm certain that's a coincidence, but that is the truth, coincidence or not. So, for that reason, I insisted on staying when they re-admitted her early Saturday evening. Cousin Stephanie fetched me a cot and other amenities. She proved quite useful since she was practically reared within the Great Plains Regional Medical Center. Now, if you know me well, you are probably surprised that I'm not belly-aching about the sleeping situation. I am, after all, more attached to my knock off Sleep Number bed than I am to the Bud Light. And you know how I love the Bud Light. Interestingly enough, I woke up Sunday morning bouncing from the spring-riddled cot, undoubtedly the first one ever made and recently stolen from torture chamber in Estonia. I expected to be stove up like an arthritic octagon, but oddly, my body was flowing freely like a trickling creek. Either way, I'm sure my concern for Mom has given me the energy of that drum-beating bunny with the jolted adrenaline of a skydiver. I am fully aware that Mom's care runs smoother when I'm there, so I push forward without even realizing that I am. I
cannot explain it, but I am invigorated by, well, just being needed.
Sometime around noon yesterday, Mom started perking up. Just two hours before that, I remember thinking that she seemed to be making no noticeable progress and then almost instantly, new life was somehow breathed into her body. I had been at the hospital, living in the cot in the corner, for almost three days. As much as I hated leaving, I missed by man and my boys. Oh, while it's on my mind, I need to brag on Rowdy. An appendectomy veteran himself, Rowdy recalls the wicked misery of his own vicious surgery. Plus, Mom likes my company, I suppose, and I fall slightly in the control freak category. He and his mother Glenda have been tremendous in caring for the boys so I can care for my mother. I am never, ever away from Ridge and Rolan, so their absence is tough enough for me. If I had to fret over their welfare in the midst of this, I would feel like a rag doll, torn at the arms in two different, but equally urgent directions. So, kudos to my hero, my man, my Rowdy. At times I forget that a marriage is basically a team and, during this horrific week, I wouldn't want anybody else taking the world on with me.
Though craving kisses from my children was drawing me home like a moth to a faint copper fire, I knew if I didn't return soon Mount Laundry, whose summit is impossible to conquer under regular circumstances, would overtake my ceiling. Around Hacienda Little, socks are mystic fibers, capable of total evaporation literally in front of your eyes. Regardless of the small fortune I spent on these woolly undergarments, I have to keep these bitches constantly washing for Ridge and Rolan to have some barrier between their soft feet and their muggy boots. With Mom's slow, but steady improvement yesterday afternoon, I headed north to baby cuddling and spin cycles.
Of course, I knew I would come back to the hospital today, so I stayed up late tackling the ominous pile of our filthy wardrobes. When I called the nurses' station at 2 am, one of my favorite nurses, Merrilee, told me that Mom wasn't sleeping much. As much as I feared for what this day might hold, I remained optimistic. I never would've imagined this outcome.
Because my little sister broke her hand on Saturday, she had an appointment with the bone guy, Dr. Ahn, to schedule her surgery to repair the vertical break. That fun will go down tomorrow, time unknown at this moment. Anyways, Katie was over here, so I knew she would stay with Mom until I tidied my cluttered home into relative hospitality. But then Katie got here. The dreadful tube had been removed from Mom's nose yesterday, but the physician was informing Mom that it might be installed again to combat the problem in her belly. As a surgeon who receives rave review from all my surgical nursing friends, I was impressed that he admitted that he really wasn't sure what exactly was our nagging culprit. He ordered a cat scan, but also said that he would probably perform a surgical procedure called a laproscope to better pin down the menace. When I told my friend Miranda, a surgical RN, that the doc would be doing this procedure, she informed me that this was a big surgery. The incisions from Mom's first operation would be reopened.
With my step dad, grandmother, aunt and bandaged sister with me in the waiting room, we all watched as the surgical nurse Dawn, a true testament to her profession, rolled Mom away, back behind the double doors and into the cold, sterile world of surgery.
After an hour or so in the waiting room, most of which was spent absorbing the cleaver charm of our grandmother, Dr. Horrileno came out of the operating room. Apparently her intestine had a small kink, just like a ornery water hose, and an unexplained hematoma on her left side was the cause to our obstacles. He cleaned this up, straightened out her kink and patched her back up.
Wednesday, July 15
We got her settled back into the mauve and taupe room that now seems to be our home. Although the nurses hooked Mom's morphine pump back up, they also gave her an extra shot of pain and sleeping medicine to lure her weary body to rest. God knows she needs it. From the unrelenting grips of agony, Mom stole about two hours of sleep. At about 2 am, the partial numbness wore off and Mom was up again for a bit. For two more hours, she hit the morphine pump every 15 minutes, which is what it's timed for, so that it could build up for more slumber. At 4, the nurses pumped one more round of the good stuff, which under normal circumstances I would be totally jealous of, and that put her out for another two hours. Four hours of choppy sleep typically wouldn't be something to celebrate, but it is by far the most Mom has gotten since this mess started a week ago.
As I said before, last night's procedure basically reopened her original wounds, so we know that today and tomorrow will be essentially the same as the first two days after her appendix was removed. But, with the intestine straightened out, we also are confident that by Friday, she should be sailing through the healing process. She finally sees the light at the end of the tunnel, which until today seemed like an unreachable desert abyss. Of course there will be pain as her body mends, but she now has a revitalized hope that was all but extinguished yesterday. To me, that's the most exciting recovery from yesterday's procedure. With each day that brought no new progress and often ushered in regression, I was starting to see my mom resign almost to defeat. It was truly heart-breaking.
I pulled her shades open this morning and the amber dawn cascaded into the room, across my cot and onto her face. It's a new day.