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Saturday, August 10, 2013

In Good Hands For anyone "just tuning in" this post may leave you wondering what the heck I am rambling about, I hope you take the time to go back and review my earlier posts so you can catch up with our story. For anyone who has been along for the whole wild ride - Thank you!  Your thoughts and comments would be much appreciated!

Mom was taken to the Surgical ICU after her 12 hour spine surgery.  She was still pretty out of it, but we were allowed to go in to see her two at a time.  My brother and I were the first to go back.  I knew mom wasn't going to even remember us being there, but I felt better seeing her. Obviously, mom was in good hands.

My brother was very quiet as I chatted with the nurse; he stood and stared at mom.  I asked about her vitals, questioned which medications they were giving her and why, and made sure the nurse had my number so she could call me when they got ready to take mom to a regular room.  The nurse told us it was "usually" within a few hours, but the length of the surgery and the use of Ketamine could impact the timing some.
With assurances from the nurse that she would make sure she called me when they got ready to move mom, I decided I should go try to get some more sleep.

"Ready?” I asked my brother.  He still had said very little.  "It looks like mom is OK, for now", I said as we walked.  We chatted as we walked down the hall to "tag" the next team in.

My brother was overwhelmed at how mom looked.  "She's so.....bloated", he said with tears in his eyes.  I told him I knew and was glad they had warned me about her likely having quite a bit of swelling.  With wide eyes he said, "You could have told ME"!  I guess I should have warned him, but I hadn't thought of it.

Before we sent the next two in to see mom, I figured I should give fair warning to the rest of the group about the swelling.  I am not sure, even with the warning, anybody could be fully prepared.  Mom looked awful.  Mom didn't look like mom; it was as simple as that.

I was exhausted when I finally returned to the hotel.  I wasn't sure I would be able to sleep, but I was out like a light before I knew it.  I must have been sleeping fairly soundly because I had a terrible time waking myself to escape the nightmare I was having.

In my dream I was being asked by a bunch of doctors to identify my mother.  She was in a room full of bloated patients, all wearing the same gowns and laying very still.  I was wandering in this room looking for a familiar face.......they all looked the same.  I then started checking their wrists for the name band........there were none.  The doctors were all laughing at me.  I had to get out of there FAST.

"WAKE UP!” I literally yelled myself awake.  I looked at the clock and grabbed my cell phone.  I was afraid I had slept through the call about mom being moved to a "regular" room on the orthopedic floor, which was suppose to be "just a few hours".  It was 5:30 AM.  There were no missed calls.  I thought about calling the hospital, but decided I didn't want to take the nurse away from mom and/or other patients to take my call.  Since I was so close to the hospital, I got dressed and headed over there.

Mom was still in the SICU.  It didn't look like she had moved all night.  The tube was still in to help her breathe, there were cords and wires running everywhere.  I was assured mom was doing "reasonably" well.  They had decided to keep her in the SICU until she was breathing on her own.  The nurse said, "It shouldn't be more than a few hours".  Where had I heard that before?!

Trying to maintain my composure, I said in a choked voice, "That's what they said HOURS ago".  I couldn't help but think they were keeping something from me.  I was already past my patience limit with doctors and other health care "professionals" who didn't give correct (or any) information.  I was tired of being given rote answers.  I was just tired.  And scared.  I had to remind myself of where I wasn’t.

I wasn’t at home.  Mom wasn’t in the hospital where we had almost lost her several times.  She wasn’t being taken care of by the doctors who had, in my opinion, decided she wasn’t worth saving.  She wasn't being ignored by the nurses.

I got a pit in my stomach every time I thought of what we had been through.

I must have looked as bad as I felt.  "Are you OK?” the nurse asked me, "Do you need to sit down"?  I sat in a recliner next to mom while the nurse got me some water.  As soon as I thought the nurse wasn't looking, I snuck a peek at moms’ wrist and was relieved to see the name band.  I felt better just knowing I could identify her if I had to.

"I was going to call you soon", the nurse said as she handed me the water.  She told me mom was doing "better", but instead of going to a regular room she would be transferred to "step down" ICU.  She would be moved as soon as the tube was removed and they were sure she was breathing on her own. She also explained that they still had her pretty sedated and wanted to wake her slowly.  "Some people really have a hard time waking up after the ketamine", she continued, "and with such a long surgery, we want to watch her very closely."  A short time later they removed the tube and mom started to stir.

"Hi there", I tried to sound cheerful as mom looked at me with vacant, swolen eyes, "welcome back".  She just stared at me, she looked confused.  She looked scared.  “You made it!”, again I tried to keep my voice from cracking.  I was rewarded with a slight nod before she closed her eyes again.

Her eyes were still closed as they rolled her bed out of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit to the Step Down ICU.

My sister had arrived just before she was moved.  We walked together behind mom.  Once we had found where she was going to stay until she was stable enough for a regular room, we introduced ourselves to the nurses who would be caring for mom.  We sat quietly and watched them re-attach cords; switch the O2 from the transport tank to the wall feed; checked her vitals & make sure she was clean and as comfortable as possible.  It was hard to tell if she was comfortable or not.

How can anyone be comfortable when they are swelled up like a blimp?

She’s not going to be that was forever, is she?

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