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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Stick to the routine If you're "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. I very much appreciate your thoughts and comments.
For anyone who has been along for the whole wild ride - Thank you!

Stick to the routine

I woke feeling rushed at 6:00 AM on May 30th, 2013.  Mom’s appointment for her culture wasn't until 9:15, but it was a long way across town in rush hour traffic and let’s face it, there was no “rush” about it!  Since mom’s back surgery, some things had gotten much easier and quicker to get around in the mornings; some things were more cumbersome and took longer.  The pain in her spine was all but gone and she was almost completely off of the massive doses of morphine she had been on just a few weeks prior.  Still, mom had a morning ritual that would upset her whole day if it wasn't at least somewhat followed.  I do my best to stick to the routine.

By 6:15 AM I was in the hotel lobby gathering several items that mom “might” want to munch on and a morning news paper; her coffee had already been made and was sitting in front of her at the table.  Although the spine surgeon had told mom she could start to wean herself from wearing the back brace that she so despised, she had found that her back became tired very quickly without it – those muscles simply hadn't been used for quite some time – so, even though it was very cumbersome, we took the time to snug her into both the back and the leg braces.  At 7:45 AM we were in the car and on our way for the culture that would determine how we would spend our next several months.
The results of the culture and the amount of tissue damage would determine if the knee could be resected and replaced during the same surgery or if it would require two separate surgeries; one to resect and another 6-8 weeks after to replace.  Of course we were hopeful it could be done in a single surgery, but I don’t think either of us were very optimistic.  With the cultures drawn and surgery scheduled for July 12, 2013 with only a 2% chance for a single surgery, we were back in the car heading to the hotel by 9:30 AM.

By 10:30 AM I had gotten mom a snack, helped her to the bathroom, and got her laid down.  With the promise of bringing something back for lunch in a couple hours I left mom at the hotel.  I had made sure her cell phone, water and any medicine she might need while I was gone were accessible; I still worried about mom walking on that knee even just to the bathroom, so I placed the bedside commode at the foot of the bed.  I had to believe mom would be OK alone for a couple hours; she had to be.  I tried not to speed as I looked at the clock and calculated the time it would take to get to the hospital; I prayed I would make it on time.

I guess I should have been more specific with that prayer - I should have prayed that I would make it on time to see my daughter before they took her to surgery; I didn't.  I did, however, make it on time to greet my new granddaughter when they brought her in to the nursery.  As I adored this new baby girl, I marveled at how many miracles God had wrapped in this child; how many prayers had been answered with her birth.

My daughter was doing fine; the baby was healthy; I had been able to be there; mom had lived to meet the newest of her great grandchildren (achieving the second of her goals) – these had all been prayers that I had spoken in the past few months.

Within hours after my granddaughter was born I had taken lunch to mom and we returned to the hospital for a proper introduction.  Mom beamed and with tears in her eyes, she said “I made it this far”.  Both mom and my daughter wore out pretty quickly and I took mom back to the hotel to allow them both some time to rest.  We had decided to stay a couple extra days to enjoy the baby and make sure everybody was doing well before heading back home.

On the way back to the hotel I was chatting about the things we needed to do in the next six weeks before moms’ surgery; I could tell something was on moms’ mind and it was making me jittery that she wasn't saying much.  Mom remained fairly quiet all evening and nothing I seemed to say or do inspired her to open up.  I knew from past experience there was either something weighing heavy on her mind or she was not feeling well; I really hoped it was the former.

Deciding there was little I could do to change moms’ mood or demeanor, I spent the next two days with my daughter as much as I possibly could.  Mom seemed to fair OK at the hotel and I checked in often; she was still quiet, but did not seem to be ill.  I knew she would share whatever was on her mind when she was ready, not before.

On Sunday evening June 2, 2013 mom was ready to share.  Shorty after she had taken her evening medications, mom turned to me and asked, “When did we do the last morphine reduction”?  BINGO!  That’s why mom had been so quiet; she had missed her 3rd goal – to be off of the morphine by the first of June.

I explained to her that I had decided to not do the final reduction (which entailed the elimination) of the morphine while we were traveling as there could be “unpleasant” side effects, but that if she thought she was ready then the dose she just took could constitute her last dose; I really hoped I didn't regret that decision.  It seemed amazing that just three months ago she was taking 500-700mg a day of morphine.  On June 2nd she officially took her last 15mg of the mind numbing drug.

On June 3rd mom seemed fine as I headed out to see my daughter, son-in-law and the babies.  She still seemed OK, but not as perky when I returned and started packing for our trip back home.  On June 4th it was obvious mom wasn't feeling great, but she wasn't complaining as we headed across town and into the mountains towards home.  Luckily we at least made it over the passes (but still 2 ½ hours from home) before things got ugly.  Remember those “unpleasant” withdrawal symptoms I mentioned earlier?  I’ll never forget them!

There are a lot of things I’m sure I don’t know, but what I DO know is morphine withdrawals can make that 250 miles of highway seem a LOT longer!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

We Needed A Miracle If you're "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. I very much appreciate your thoughts and comments.
For anyone who has been along for the whole wild ride - Thank you!

We Needed A Miracle

With my younger daughters’ wedding behind us and the first of the goals accomplished, our sites were set on what was to come.  The future held a lot of uncertainty for us; it also held a lot of hope and promise.  With absolutely no control over our collective futures, I reminded myself daily to “Let go and let God”; of course we all know that is sometimes easier said than done.   All I could do was follow the instructions the surgeon had given to mom and pray.  We needed a miracle.

Mom had to be off of the antibiotic for at least 2 weeks before the surgeon would culture her knee for infection, once that was done the surgery would be scheduled to remove the prosthetic knee that my mother had been sporting since 1987.  It was decided that mom would stop taking the Levoquin on May 6th 2013, which would more than prepare her system for the culture that would be drawn on May 30th.


 “Last time it was only a matter of days before you got sick and ended up back in the hospital”, the infectious disease doctor reminded mom, “I’d much rather you stop it on a Monday so I will be more readily available if there is a problem”.  I prayed hard that there wouldn't be a problem, but after mom stopped the antibiotic I was worried sick that there would be.

I also worried constantly about my daughter who was nearing the end of her second pregnancy and was starting to have some problems; her first pregnancy had resulted in an emergency C-Section, and a delightful baby boy.

I was still holding out hope for mom’s surgery to be scheduled just before my daughters’ baby was due to arrive, which was June 15th, 2013.  Since my daughter lived in the same city we traveled to for moms’ surgeons, I might have an opportunity to spend some time with my daughter and the baby while mom was in rehab.  My hopes were dashed when I received an email from the surgeon explaining that the surgery would likely be done six weeks after the cultures were drawn - which would make it the middle of July before the resection of her knee would be done.

On the 27th of May I was feeling disconcerted and out of sorts as we made our five hour trip for moms appointments on the 29th and 30th; I was heartbroken that I wouldn't be there when my granddaughter was born.  I was still trying to figure out a way that I could make another trip in two weeks when my daughter was due.  I didn't know who could take care of mom for more than a day or two if I left, I also knew I would worry about her endlessly and that wouldn't be a help to my daughter.

As we drove over the mountains I chatted with mom about possible scenarios of who could care for her while I was away.  We finally decided mom should just make the trip with me.  After all, there was no law that required us to have a doctor’s appointment to go; we could go for fun!  Besides, living long enough to meet her newest great granddaughter had been another of moms’ goals; it gave her something to focus on.  We had a plan!

Although I was pleased that mom had agreed to make the trip, something seemed to be nagging at me; I just knew we would not be traveling in another two weeks.  Something was wrong but I had no idea what it was.  I tried to put all the negativity out of my mind; I needed to focus on mom and the business at hand.  I didn't have time to give in to the tears that wanted to flow as I realized I would not be there on my daughters due date in mid June; the lump in my throat was so big it was painful.

I reminded myself to be thankful for what I had and felt some consolation that we would arrive with a full day to spare before the battery of appointments mom would have to endure.  The extra day would allow me some time to spend with my daughter, her husband and my grandson, which softened the blow that I wouldn't be there if my daughter needed me; that my granddaughter would likely be a full month old before I would meet her.

I prayed for a miracle.  I should qualify that, I prayed for ANOTHER miracle.  No, that’s not right either; I prayed for a LOT of miracles.

As we pulled in to the parking lot of the facility where moms first set of appointments were on the morning of the 29th of May, I thought it was a miracle we had made it in time.

As we finished the day’s appointments just under three hours later, I thought it had been a miracle that we had gotten through so quickly.

As we drove back across town through traffic, I realized it had been a miracle that mom seemed to be doing so well after quitting the antibiotic.

When we arrived back at the hotel I called my daughter to let her know we were done for the day and how things had gone.  She listened to my report of moms’ condition and the outcome of the days appointments before telling me her own news for the day.

With tears in my eyes I returned to the room to explain the new turn of events to my mother.  My daughters’ news would definitely change our plans.

“I don’t think we’re going to be able to go out to lunch after your appointment tomorrow, we’ll just grab something on the way back”, I knew mom would understand that I needed that time with my daughter; my mothers’ resilience and adaptability never ceased to amaze me.  I’m sure she might have been a little disappointed, but I had a plan to make it up to her!
As I lay in bed that night I prayed for yet another miracle.

I lost count of the many miracles The Lord had already blessed me with as I fell asleep that night.

Was it selfish of me to pray for more?