It's now been a little over three weeks since mom had her triple bypass. Her heart seems to be doing well, but now there are a whole ton of other complications. She actually has not been home since February 25. She had the bypass on March 1, after which she had a prolonged stay in ICU because her lungs were not recovering the way they should. Mom apparently has pulmonary hypertension, which combined with the diabetes has meant a much slower recovery time. Plus, being a 34-year veteran of the hospital you are staying in does earn you a break in the whole, "okay, you're not openly bleeding so off you go" sort of approach. Eventurally, mom was discharged from the hospital and tranferred to a rehab center for continued PT and OT. We were just about ready to take her home when she wound up with a fever and a quick trip to the ER.
Essentially, mom wound up with an infection in her sternum. There was some erosion of the bone, so right now her chest is open and she has a pressure pack keeping the area closed off from the air. She's back in ICU and the doctors hope to close her up on Monday. Unfortunately, they won't be able to bring the bones back together, so there will be something called a muscle flap, which is essentially grafted muscle bringing her chest together. I am cringing even as I type this, and needless to say mom can't quite imagine how the whole thing is supposed to work either.
For the most part, mom seems to be okay, she's being given drugs for the pain, but she can't sit up and she drifts in and out of consciousness. I was pretty near to collapse on Thursday and couldn't stop from crying when I spoke with her during my lunchtime visit. I had to sleep close to 12 hours on Friday to get myself back together. Of course, it's now allergy season, which leaves me in a constant drippy state which is not very conducive to visiting the ICU. I must have washed my hands 10 - 15 times today.
Mom is still insisting that we leave for Las Vegas as planned this Friday. I am a little scared to go, but I almost feel as though I need to. Never have I been more grateful for cel phones and the instant connectivity they bring.
There is so much to do, so little time. Mom will be okay, I know it, but it makes stupid insignificant things seem even more asinine. And big, important projects feel almost overwhelming in light of what little mental energy I have. Of course, in times like this, it is the love of family and friends, the aid of coworkers, and the solid partnership of my husband that keeps me from true dispair. I am grateful for all of my blessings.
Friday, March 03, 2006
Oh dear, what a long two weeks since Valentines Day!
First off, our office found out that a dear colleague had suddenly passed away from a heart attack. We will miss you, Guy, and the work will continue. Put in a good word to Ganesh for me!
The afternoon after the funeral, one of our best men from the wedding called to say he and his wife have welcomed Abigal Dee-Ann into the world. Everyone is now home and resting comfortably. Much like the Jewish way of celebrating baby showers, the baby will be able to go to the party next weekend - I have a choir concert that afternoon, so we'll be sending along our gift with an additional bonus.
But then, in the wee hours of Saturday morning, my brother called to say my mom was having chest pains. Mom's a nurse, which means that she tends to ignore a lot of her own symptoms, so something had to be seriously wrong for her to ask to be taken to emergency. This was also the weekend I needed to be at work from 8:00 - 12:00 Saturday and Sunday, so I dressed for work and met them at the urgent care center. You have probably heard a lot of ERs advertising 29 minute or less waits in the lobby - which is true - they just can't guarantee you won't spend 5 hours once you are in one of the beds and waiting for a doctor to come and diagnose the problem. And in this case, mom needed to be admitted so they could make sure nothing was wrong and run a whole lot of tests. She had had a stress test late last year and knew there was a blockage, but I guess she figured it was fairly small and could wait. Now seemed to be as good of a time as any to get that taken care of.
So I spent the weekend bouncing back and forth between work and the hospital. On Sunday, Alex called to say that there was a lot more blockage than expected and mom would require a triple bypass. Yikes. Monday and Tuesday were spent getting paperwork together (mom had recently met with a lawyer to document her estate and draw up a will) and make sure that if anything drastic happened, we would have said what we wanted to say. It was very emotional and heart-wrenching, but I think it was good. To be sure, mom was in very good hands - after all, many of her friends and my brother work there. The cardiologist and heart surgeon both had good reputations amongst everyone who worked there. Mom was pretty popular - with each shift change a new wave of well wishers would pop through the door. One of my cousins came by - she and several other members of our extended family are expecting in the next six months. We're still trying, so keep your fingers crossed!
The surgery went decently well. It took from approximately 10 am - 2:30 pm. Geoff has been calm and supportive and I have received lovely notes and e-mails from friends. Mom spent an extra day on the ventilator, but it's finally out and she can start to talk, though it is very quiet. I didn't like all of the crazy machinery noises, so I brought in a cd player and some quiet music to play continously. Since everything went well (thus far), it's hard to truly grasp the surreality of the situation, even as this portends what it will ultimately look like when we do have to say our final goodbyes. But thankfully, it looks like mom will be around for a good long time and I would be willing to bet she comes out of this feeling better than she has in years. Her heart blockages were at least 80 percent or higher for three of the ventricles - she was essentially a walking time-bomb.
So, I am still bouncing back and forth between work, home and the hospital. It's actually very difficult to concentrate on any one thing, but that's an easy problem to have compared to how tired my mom is at the moment. I'm pretty much ready to sleep at the drop of a hat (more so than usual!!!).
All I can say is, thank God she's ok, and that we have amazing friends and family to show their support and love.