Total Pageviews

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Do we know how to celebrate, or what?

Some events are hard to put in to words and some posts are very difficult for me to relive as I tell our story.  Please be patient as I struggle to spare you some of my very raw emotions on this subjects.
Many posts are written (and re-written) several times as I attempt to capture the meat of the story and leave some of the seasoning behind!
For those of you just tuning in and wondering what I am rambling about, I hope you will read my earlier posts and catch up with our story.
For those of you who have been along for the whole wild ride, thanks for hanging with me!
I would very much appreciate your thoughts and helps to know someone is out there!

Do we know how to celebrate, or what?

I was awake, but just barely, when my phone rang at 8:00am on August 30, 2013.  I thought about not answering; anybody that knows me would not call me at 8:00am, unless it was an emergency.  By the third ring, I panicked; what if something had happened with mom?  What if it was an emergency?

“Hello”, I finally answered the “unknown” call tentatively.  Minutes later I tapped out a text message to my family, moms surgery had been moved up two hours.  Even though it meant I really had to get a move on, I was glad for the earlier time slot, which meant it wouldn’t be quite as long for mom to be NPO.

An hour later I met my brother and older sister at the Skilled Nursing Facility where our mother had resided for the past 30 days.  Since we had removed so much when we thought we were going home a week earlier, it took us less than thirty minutes to load the remaining items in to our vehicles; another 30 minutes and we had mom safely loaded in to the car and began our caravan to the hospital.  It was just after noon, when moms’ name was called; the time had come for the painfully slow task of preparing my mother for another surgery.

Due to the severity of moms’ Rheumatoid Disease and the limited mobility of her neck, she had to be intubated while awake and in a sitting position.  I sat with mom in the pre-op area as they tried (and failed) several times to get an IV started; thankfully, before the forth stick, an ultrasound machine was brought in to help locate the vein so a fifth stick wouldn’t be necessary.  Mom was busily breathing in the lidocaine mist as I chatted with the anesthesiologist about her prior procedures.  Once they were satisfied that mom’s throat was numb enough to get the tube in, the anesthesiologist said to her, “I’m going to give you something to relax a little”.  “Versed?” I asked and upon confirmation I told mom to “have a nice nap” and that I would be here when she woke up.

The anesthesiologist then inserted the femoral pain block as we chatted more about moms’ history; what medications she was taking; what her prior history was; etc..  I don’t know if it was that I sounded smart or if it was simply because I knew what VERSED was and could pronounce METOPROLOL without tripping over my tongue, but it surprised me when he asked, “Are you a doctor?”  I assured him I was not a doctor, or a nurse, or any other kind of medical professional; just my mother’s keeper.  I had not worked direct care for nearly 30 years until I took over as my mother’s full time caregiver in 2012; I had learned a whole lot in the prior year and a half.

Once mom was wheeled away to the operating room, I joined my sister and brother in the waiting room; a short time later we were joined by my younger sister and my aunt.  As you can imagine, there was a lot of silly senseless chatter among us; we were all nervous and afraid of the outcome of moms’ surgery.  The surgeons’ appearance in the waiting room less than an hour after mom had been taken back startled us all; it didn’t help that his usual soft eyes and welcoming smile were noticeably absent.

“What’s wrong”, I quickly jumped to my feet when the surgeon appeared; by this time all five of us were on our feet huddling around the doctor.  The surgeon explained his concerns about mom ever regaining use of that leg again; once again stating that amputation was the only absolute way to assure the infection would not attack her knee again.  A decision had to be made and it had to be made right now regarding amputation and as my mother’s medical proxy, I was the one that had to make that decision.  Crap.  I asked a couple more questions and remember vividly the doctor saying, “I just know that if we had amputated back in July, you all would most likely be sitting on the patio having a glass of tea right now”.

My mind started to wander; mom does like her tea.  I was all too aware of my siblings and my aunt staring at me; waiting for an answer.  Part of me wanted to tell him to just go ahead with the amputation, at least mom would be alive; the other part of me knew what my mother would want, she had voiced it many times.  I had one more question before I could make that dreaded decision, “What about a prosthesis”?  The surgeon explained that due to the advanced stage of Osteoporosis, moms’ bones were mush and would never hold up with a prosthesis; anything we did to save the leg at this point would be considered a “salvage” limb and there was no way to know how long it would even last……A month? Six months? A year?  Five years?  There just wasn’t any way to be sure.  In fact, the only thing that I was sure of was that I wasn’t sure.

Really, I guess it didn’t matter if I was sure or not; mom had been sure and she trusted me to honor her wishes.  I reminded the surgeon of my mother saying over and over that she would rather “die on the table” than to lose her leg; that her crippled hands and lack of upper body strength would prohibit the use of many forms of ambulation; that she would likely die soon if sent to a nursing home and I wasn’t sure I could take care of her without at least being able to transfer her.

“Please, do what you can to save her leg” I said through my tears “I have to at least be able to transfer her to the bathroom and bed”.  The surgeon nodded with understanding and gave me a sympathetic hug while assuring us he would do everything he could, but couldn’t “guarantee” the outcome.  “Thank you, we really do appreciate everything you’ve done and I trust you” I wanted him to know that I didn’t blame him for our current predicament; I just wish we would have gotten mom to him sooner.

After the surgeon returned to the operating room, the five of us sat silently, each lost in our own thoughts.  I’m not sure what everybody else was thinking, but my brain was struggling to remember something; something important.  Thinking maybe I had made a note in my phone (as I sometimes do) about an important event, I scrolled through the “notes”; nothing.  What in the heck was I forgetting?  Whatever it was, I knew it was important.  I was silently panicking as I tried to make my brain think of something other than the possibility of mom losing her leg; I could feel my blood pressure going up and my heart was pounding so hard I thought maybe everyone in the room could hear it.  I was afraid if I didn’t remember whatever it was I was suppose to remember soon, I was going to have a heart attack.  Stupid brain, THINK!

Had I called to make all moms’ follow-up appointments?  Yes, I think so.  Did I tell the hotel I needed to extend my stay?  Pretty sure I took care of that.  Had I called to put mom on the active prayer list at church?  I wasn’t sure, but I was pretty certain they would keep her on there until we returned home.  “Today’s the 30th, isn’t it?” I asked no one in particular while looking at my phone to confirm the date, “I’ll be right back”.  I hurried to the car so I could charge my phone while I made a call; I couldn’t believe I had forgotten.

I was almost to the car when my phone rang in my hand; I knew who it was before I even looked…..damn, he always beats me to the punch.  “Happy anniversary, babe!” I offered as my greeting to my husband of 27 years.  Do we know how to celebrate, or what?

No comments: