Saturday, February 27, 2010

Update on Mother

Mother was in extreme pain both Wednesday and Thursday. I texted my brother about her pain on both days. Mom did walk Wednesday; but, she could only do so much. Mike called Mom Wednesday while she was in the middle of therapy it to try to encourage her; but, he found that she was just in too much pain. From then on, he tried getting a hold of her doctor here at Rehab but that doctor never returned calls. So, she was fired late Thursday and another doctor at the facility hired.

It also was discovered by my brother Thursday night (and by me Friday morning) that Mother could not move her left leg much. She was having trouble with that knee.

I have to say that I like the change of doctors. The first doctor seemed apathetic. This new doctor seems proactive. He looked over her charts Friday and wanted to know why she was in too much pain. A nurse came in and asked for Mom’s latest MRI on her back (wanted a signature authorizing them to receive the documentation). I thank God my brother showed up soon after because Mom was out of it and I couldn’t sign anything – it was perfect timing.

The new doctor noticed upon receiving the MRI results that she not only had an old fracture but a newer fracture. He wondered why they didn’t do some kind of technique where they inject something into the spine to support the fractured vertebrae – it would certainly elevate the pain. This was the first my brother ever heard such a thing.

So, after a consultation with various people, including Mother’s primary doctor who basically said “yes, that should have been done last week”, it was decided that Mom would have the procedure done at St. Luke’s. She is going to see a doctor this coming Tuesday and it'll be decided what exactly will be done and when.

My understanding is that they have to bring her down from the pain meds she’s currently taking before doing the procedure on her. I am praying that they'll do this and that it works. If it does, it should provide immediate relief.

The new doctor also ordered X-rays on her left hip and knee. The guy doing the X-rays is killing himself. He doesn’t walk away from the mobile machine – just snaps it there while standing nearby. Mom couldn’t hold her knee up at a certain height by herself. So, he held it up steady for her along with the “film” against her knee and snapped the X-ray – a slow death for sure. But, he sure was a nice old man. As for the X-rays, we won’t find out anything until Monday.

Mom did do some therapy Friday. It went so much better because my brother had a talk with them. They didn’t push her as hard and had her do mostly leg exercises in bed. She even got up and sat in the wheelchair for a bit at their suggestion. She did not do any walking because of that knee. And, she did get a new different kind of pain patch that is time release and will last approximately three days.

Dan noticed what I’ve noticed all along – Mother is terrified of the idea of walking. She’s afraid of falling. Combine that with the fact she’s been having extreme pain recently, it’s no wonder why her hand and arm trembles violently upon the idea/suggestion of doing such a thing (standing or walking).

Oh yeah, did I mention that Dan came in Thursday night? He had Friday off because he was on call the previous weekend. I’m thrilled to have him for three days even though we’re with Mother a lot.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Update on Mother

As most of you know, Mom was released from the Hospital last Thursday and went back into the Rehab facility she was in. They treated her real nice and I breathed a sigh of relief and had a little hope that things would be better.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday were all good days. Mom was treated well. She also got therapy on Friday, Saturday and Monday. She actually walked a little Monday using the walker. She was doing awesome! And, I was beginning to trust that Mom would be treated well again…

Today was a different story. Mom needed to be shifted and changed before lunch and they said “we’ll do it after lunch”. So, she ate with an aching back and couldn’t sit up much for it. She pressed the call button again just after 1:00 and someone came to pick up her food tray. They told her they’d tell someone. It was 1:39pm before someone actually came. And even then, they only changed her. They didn’t bother to shift her.

By the time the physical therapists arrived around 2pm, Mom was in a tizzy. She was hurting (in pain) and angry. As a result, she refused to do therapy. She wouldn’t listen to me. I had to text my brother and he ended up calling her. Mom finally agreed to do it. She was hurting so bad and was so shaky that all she could do was stand.

The unit manager came at the time Mother was doing physical therapy. I told the unit manager what was going down. She said that it was unacceptable. In the meantime, Mike called the center administrator and explained what I said (in text) went on.

The center administrator came to me a few hours later and asked what was going on. I told her exactly what went down and she also agreed that it was unacceptable. I also told her that I’m not trusting that she’s getting her drugs because her pain levels seems 3 times worst today.

She said that she had a meeting with all the unit managers and they all agreed that it was unacceptable and they all informed the current shift staff that this was no longer going to be happening. They will inform the day shift tomorrow. She also suggested that the weather may be making her pain worst.

The one thing that bothered me was that she said “We’re all human. We make mistakes. We’re all humans taking care of humans”. I thought to myself, “Yes, we’re all human. However, we should not be making mistakes -- especially in the administering of drugs. And, we should be treating patients with respect, with diginity, no matter what state they’re in.” But, I just nodded and agreed with her because I don’t like making waves.

(By the way, I'm not saying that they didn't administer her pain medications. I'm just saying that I doubt they did. They could have delivered it and it was just an extremely bad day due to the weather, not being treated right, etc., & etc.)

My fragile trust in this facility has been shattered. I just don't know. I only know that I most likely will be hyper vigilant once again because I don’t want Mother getting sick again. She was doing fabulously and now this. I just hope it was a very bad day for her concerning pain. I just don’t know.

I shouldn’t have to do this (fight for Mother). I’m scared that Mother just may not get back home – that she’s giving up. My heart is breaking. I can only hope that tomorrow will be a better day for her; and, for me.

I had a migraine while I was still with Mother and downed two Excedrins hoping it would go away. This was probably not safe considering I took one Excedrin about four hours earlier. But, it worked because I no longer have a migraine. I am going to bed right after I post this – earliest I’ve gone for a long, long time. Hopefully, I will get plenty of rest and/or sleep because I know I need it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Update on Mother (Written 2/18)

I’ve not blogged the “ugliness” of the Rehab center. I didn’t want to touch upon it. Suffice to say, they neglect my Mother. And, I honestly believe they missed a few dosages of Zofran, which helps with the nausea. I have no control over that and we’re not allowed to stay with her overnight.

Mom is also having constipation. This can be a result of her pain medications. Combine that with inactivity, you most likely will have a sure fire problem.

The past weekend started from okay and grew progressively worst. Sunday, they were short staffed. She ended up eating lunch lying flat with her head raised because “they were all in the cafeteria and couldn’t help” when she requested to be shifted. By the way, the cafeteria is where many of the residents/patients eat.

Monday, Mom was left on a bedpan for too long. She pressed the call button. 40 minutes later, they still hadn’t come. I had told someone earlier and they said they would tell someone. Nobody ever came. She was in pain – too much pain. I was in tears. I hated to see her like that. It was actually the physical therapists who took care of her. How pathetic is that? It’s not their job to do that – it’s the nurses’ job.

The one thing that bothers me is the response time once the call button is pressed. What if she was experiencing chest pains, heart attack or anything critical? They won’t get there in time.

Anyway, as a result of that episode, along with the fact that they apparently are NOT giving her baths, it was discovered that she developed a major awful rash. I found out she had one before; but, it spread to her backside and that it was horrid. She also developed a rash in the one fold of fat which indicated that she was not receiving proper bathing.

When I arrived at my usual time on Tuesday (8am), Mom was sick. Seriously sick. She was having major constipation issues and couldn’t go to the bathroom (on bedpan). She became majorly nauseous and constantly heaving. I was with her, standing by her side (she was facing the wall and there was no room for me between bed & wall to sit), the entire time because she begged me not to leave her. All I could do was talk to her, give her water at her request, help her with the puke bucket (she hardly puked up anything because she hadn’t eaten much of anything) and just watch her be miserable.

I told Judy (head nurse on duty) and texted Mike. I was in a state of panic and worry. Judy didn’t seem too concerned.

One other thing that bugged me was that one particular nurse would hand me Mother’s drugs to give to her. I felt uncomfortable about doing that. It is not my job. She just couldn’t be bothered. That is why I think they may have not given her Zofran when she needs it (at 6am).

I received Mother’s Zofran from the nurse late Tuesday morning and I tried to give it to her. But, she upchucked it right back up. It made me feel so bad because she really needed it. I told Michael about the situation and he was surprised that the nurse gave me the drugs to give to Mother. I refused to give Mother her drugs when they came around again early that afternoon. I don’t think the nurse was happy about it. I found out Thursday from Gina that it’s against the law when I told her about this particular nurse doing this. I was shocked upon hearing this.

Anyway, Judy arrived a little while later helped her a little; but, Mom still needed to go. By early afternoon, she finally went a little. She immediately stopped throwing up. However, she was very white and definitely not herself. Due to the fact that they couldn’t control the nausea, along with her not eating and drinking good, they were afraid of dehydration. So, off to St. Lukes she went.

At the hospital, they decided to admit her. All I gathered was that it seemed her “Labyrinthitis” issue was worse (developed in the other ear). And, she had a tiny bit of fluid in her lungs.

It was determined (Wednesday evening) that she does NOT have ”Labyrinthitis”. Instead, she has Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). Due to the fact that she doesn’t have constant vertigo, it rules out Labryinthitis. This meant that her dizziness drugs were not helping her. The best thing for this condition is for her to acclimate to the short term vertigo and do “exercises” to help shift or eliminate those dislodged “crystals” in her ear. She will have difficulty doing the “exercise” due to her back pain. But, she has to try. She promised to try.

When I told Dan about the changed diagnosis via instant messenger using only the initials, he immediately knew what I was talking about. Apparently, he gets mild cases of it from time to time. I just know that he gets dizzy once in a blue moon. However, I never knew he had this condition. Interesting!

Anyway, Mom improved considerably and was discharged Thursday back into the Rehab facility she was in. I felt sick to my stomach and disappointed upon learning she would be going back to that place. Mom was scared and didn’t want to go back. But, she knew she had to because she couldn’t go home. My experience, and hers, was awful. I am already mentally blocking it all out.

I am a lot like my sweet Grandmother. I hate to have to twist people’s arms to do their jobs. I hate to see my Mother suffer unnecessarily. I hate the responsibility that seemed to have been heaped upon my shoulders. I have to admit that I thought I was only going to be there to keep her company and to help her out when she needs it. But, it turned out to be so much more.

Anyway, she is now in a different room in a different portion of the facility. When I arrived and discovered this, they were treating her well. She was given a thermos and filled it up with one of her own cans of Sprite Zero. And, she’s eating again. She really doesn’t have an appetite; but, she’s eating even though she doesn’t want to. I breathed a little easier and the stress loosened up a bit. Maybe, just maybe, things will be better this time around. I have a little hope now.

The key thing is to make sure she gets her drugs, especially Zofran, so that she can do her physical therapy. And, to make sure she eats and drinks plenty of fluids. We all want her to return home. As I mentioned before, the physical therapy part of the Rehab is fabulous. I really like the therapists themselves. We’ll see what the Rehab care is like this time around since she’s in a different place in the same facility. I hope it is better – much better.

Addendum (2/19): Friday was better. Mom is so much more herself. And, she was in a MOOD early afternoon. That is so typical of her. The staff is treating her better. There was one incident where the PCA left her on the bedpan after putting Mom on it. Mom was in pain due to the angle or something. Mom pressed the call button when she was done and it took the girl 18 minutes later to return. My personal feeling is that it should be within 15 minutes max. 10 minutes is better. I personally think it should not take that long (18 minutes). However, it is better than the 40 minutes, which was a nightmare.

Also, I have to tell you that Mother is improving in the physical therapy area. She is sitting and standing up quicker. I asked Alicia (The occupation therapist) outside Mother’s room if she was improving. She said yes, she’s is doing better. She is going to work with Mother today doing bed exercises to strengthen her upper body. I was relieved to hear that because two days of inactivity in that bed is not good for Mother. And, there is hope that mom will get off the bedpan soon, which will be good because she’s absolutely despises it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mother and Rehab Animals (written 2/15)

Mother is having both good and bad days. Both Wednesday (Feb. 10th) and Thursday were bad days for her. However, she did show improvement. She walked more each day.

Friday was a better day for her. The physical therapists were wise enough to bring the walker and have her workout within the bedroom. Before, she would refuse to use the walker due to her dizziness – I think she was honestly afraid she would fall. She is also a very private person. On this day, she used the walker for the first time and did pretty good. The most horrid part of the physical therapy was making her sit in a wheelchair for about 1 ½ hours – she was in constant pain. But, I honestly think she did well overall. And, she showed a little improvement every single day.

Monday was bad for her in general. In spite of her pain and dizziness, I think she did well in PT. I think she is getting stronger. She is now trying to get up under her own power. Dizziness is still a major issue. If she continues to have this problem, I fear she will not be able to return home simply because she doesn’t handle it well.

The Rehab place was okay. I’m not impressed with the care; but, the physical therapists are awesome and very patient with her. And, there are animals present here. Residents can have them with approval. There are several animals that seem to belong to the Rehab facility. An old lady goes around on her scooter every morning to take care of the cats – there is an enclosed courtyard where she would let them out and feed them. She also takes care of the plants some evenings.

I took the time to snap a few pictures of them with my camera phone. They’re not great pictures; but, they show the various animals present at the rehab.

This is the first cat I met at the Rehab. For some odd reason, the coloring is off in this picture. He’s an orange kitty; but, not that orange. It’s one tubby cat and has a limp. It seems to belong to the facility. I never did figure out what the cat’s name is – it’s simply “tubby” to me. :-) This one hangs around at the opposite end of the hall in a TV/meeting/waiting room and is often found on a nice blanket in an empty bedroom.

This fish is in a HUGE tank in the same area the orange kitty can be found. It is one big fish and the mouth looks like it has lips. *shudders* There is a smaller version of this fish, two huge algae eaters, and one other fish in this tank.

This cat is missing an eye and also seems to belong to the facility. She hangs out in a slightly different area from “Tubby” and can often be found sleeping on a pillow in another empty bedroom. She was once called “one-eyed Jack” until they discovered she was female. Her name is Marie and is awfully sweet. She often appears to be longing for something which tugs at my heartstrings.

This is Boots. She stays in the opposite end of the facility and has a bed in the main lobby. She is beautiful and chubby. She is also very friendly.

This cat actually belongs to a resident and is extremely shy. I was lucky enough to snap this picture of her. She will let you pet her; but, you have to get down to her level (squat) and let her come to you. She is also odd eyed – one yellow and one blue eye – and a beauty in my opinion. She slowly and cautiously follows her owner every time she leaves the room – a very loyal kitty.

This is a Chinchilla that hangs out in the activity room. There are two Chinchillas, four doves, and a couple of parakeets in there.

This cutest little dog also hangs out in the activity room. It has the freedom to wander around if it is so inclined to do so. I think most of these dogs (breed) are of a happy hyper nature. This one is not. It’s the calmest and most depressed dog I ever seen – tail is often low and almost dragging the ground. So sad and breaks my heart. But, if you pay attention to it, it’ll wag its tail a little and the ears will perk up just a tad.

That is all the pictures I manage to snap. There are more fish tanks and I believe canaries. Or, are they finches? I don’t know my birds. :-) These birds are inside several wonderful glass enclosures. Boots will sit in front of the one in the main lobby and watch them. I bet she would like to get one.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


My goal was to post Tuesdays and Fridays. However, life has interfered.

As I mentioned before, My Mother fell. They really do not know what caused her to pass out and fall. She remembers getting up to make some toast and that’s it. She was admitted to the hospital Monday (February 1st) with a heart monitor because of some atrial fibrillation.

The cardiologist on Tuesday did not think the problem was her heart or atrial fibrillation. After various testing, it was determined that she did not have a blood clot in her lungs – a good thing. She does have labrythitis which is causing her to be so dizzy which makes her nauseous.

MRI/MRAs on Wednesday came back clear – no stroke or other issue. She couldn’t withstand the back MRI the same day due to being in extreme pain. So, she had that done Thursday and it was finally determined that she has a lumbar compression fracture – L3. All during her stay in the hospital, she couldn’t do much of anything or refused to do so.

The doctor also changed her meds and gave her a pain patch for her back – Vicadin. The doctor said this was common and that she can recover; but, she must try.

She was disoriented and experiencing hallucinations Thursday night and Friday morning. The doctor said Friday morning that it is not a good situation because she is not making progress and is going backwards -- she is refusing to stand up. She is on powerful pain meds and oxygen. She could suffer from pneumonia and/or blood clots. So, it was not a good situation.

My brother had texted me the above information Friday morning. I instant messaged Dan and he didn’t respond right away. So, I called him and he answered. I asked him if he could get off work ASAP because I wanted to get home (to Houston) ASAP. He managed to get off work right away. I hurried and finished packing for the long haul (I was going home that night to stay long term anyway). We were out of there and on the road around 9:30am.

About two hours before we arrived at the hospital, they managed to get her to stand up for about 10 seconds. That was a miracle considering she wasn’t feeling well. My brother said it took a bunch of coaching and help; but, she did it!

She did not look good to me when we arrived at the hospital -- she was white as a ghost. But, I imagine that standing up and taking a bath exhausted her. However, she was lucid and responding well to conversation. There were times when she wasn’t quite all there though. That could be due to the various meds she was taking and being exhausted.

She was prepped and traveled approximately an hour via ambulance to the Rehab facility late that afternoon. It was a rough ride for her; but, she was lucid even though she was in pain. But, she still had moments of weirdness.

Saturday morning was not good. She was sick, nauseous and in pain. But, they got her to stand up again for about five seconds that morning. The physical therapists wanted to evaluate her before starting Monday. But, she was somewhat okay that afternoon.

Sunday was the roughest day for her and on all of us. She was constantly nauseous and she hadn’t eaten decently for days. She is taking meds for the pain and dizziness. The nurse got approval from doctor for a special nausea meds that will work better with other meds she’s taking. We’re convincing Mother to take the anti-nausea meds as it does help her. It was a real bad day. My poor nieces who came down to see her for the weekend were upset. This was the last view they were getting of her before they had to leave to return to their homes. It was not looking good for any of us. As for me, I was feeling devastated because she just was miserable and wanted to die.

My brother is awesome because he made a special effort to be there real early Monday morning (4:30am) and got her to take those anti-nausea meds. She’s did a LOT better. And then, he managed it to where it is given to her on schedule via Doctor’s order Monday. Before, it was that they ask her and she’d say ‘No’. Now, she has to take it no matter what.

She had her first physical therapy session Monday. She did a lot more than expected. She got up and into a wheelchair. They wheeled her into the therapy room. She did ‘leg lifts’ and she managed to stand up for approximately 15 seconds. I was thrilled. She was so exhausted from the session that she pretty much slept the afternoon away.

The Nutritionist came in Monday afternoon and basically fussed at her about not eating. Mom said she doesn’t like sweet food. I piped up and said she can’t eat pineapple because it makes her mouth sore. (She was served pineapple at least twice that I know of). The doctor made note of that and then said she has to eat a least half her dinner. Thank God someone of ‘authority’ said so because she wouldn’t listen to us. I had fussed at her during lunch and basically said that she needs to eat to have strength to do the therapy sessions and ultimately, get out of there and back home. That is the goal anyway.

And today at therapy, Mother was awesome! She did so much. She walked! She did a lot more than expected. So, there’s hope. She is so funny – fussing, cursing and telling the therapist(s) off making all of us laugh. She is back to her normal self, which is so good to see. She also ate decently this evening.

As I mentioned before, I will be staying here for the long haul. I will be here with her at the Rehab facility during the day and she will be here at least three weeks. The one thing this place stinks about is that it has no wireless internet capability. So, I cannot get online. I could take short trips to McDonald’s down the road to get online if I have to. But, so far, there is no need. I’ve been slowing going little nuts without getting my daily news, blogs, and facebook fix. But, I’m surviving. I brought the scanner to scan in pictures and slides. I also brought books to read and some ornament kits to work on.

I chat with Dan every evening and I got to see my kitties last night! We can see each other via webcab if we choose to do so.

So, I’m doing well. Mom is currently improving and doing well. We all are glad of that because we were so worried there for awhile…

Note: Maxine is my Mother's favorite character. So, I'm using this is in honor of her. And, it's so true! :-)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

"Give Sorrow Words"

"Give sorrow words.” ~ William Shakespeare

Sorrow, or grief, is strange. Sometimes, it is triggered by something that reminds me of the person. Sometimes, a memory just comes over me. And other times, grief will just wash over me without rhyme or reason. For each situation, I’m suddenly overwhelmed with a deep, deep sorrow – I can’t help but sob and silently cry out to God.

They say that time heals all wounds. I have to say, that is a lie. It never goes away.

I think the biggest part of my troubles is that I have not allowed myself to grieve. I did not allow myself to grieve upon my Grandmother’s death years ago. I did not allow myself to grieve over Big Rotten Yellow cat’s death. Then, when we had to put Little One (another cat) to sleep. I had to allow myself to grieve for them all and more. However, I refused to grieve long – another mistake. Grief must be processed and endured.

Life went on and then, Daddy’s passing was devastating. Everything hit me hard. I’m a Daddy’s girl and I felt incomplete upon his passing just over a year ago. And, life changed. I’ve changed; and yet, I continue to live.

What hurt me the most was that Calvin (cat) got so sick so suddenly two months later. I was still grieving deeply for my Dad. And, for Calvin to suddenly get sick like that – I knew in my heart he was dying. We took him to the vet and discovered he had diabetes and congestive heart failure. I felt the deepest guilt over Calvin for the longest time about the way he got sick suddenly. It bothered me. I felt so guilty because I missed the signs.

Granted, there was nothing we could have done. Cats do have a way of hiding their sickness until the very end. He had regular annual checkups with the vets and more – even they did not catch it (diabetes). What gives me solace is that he was very happy kitty since we moved here in San Antonio – it was a good move for both of our cats.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; “

~Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

There is a time for everything. It’s okay to grieve. It’s okay to laugh. It’s okay to enjoy life. It’s okay to cry. And, there is no order for any one thing. Well, for most anything – the exception is that a person is born before they die. I often find myself mourning in the midst of enjoying life – It cycles.

I thank God that nothing else major happened since Calvin’s death. I needed time – time to grieve fully for all things. And, time to return to laughter and joy of life.

And now, worry has entered my life with a single phone call about my Mother. She was taken to the ER yesterday after a fall – it was apparent that she is very sick. They admitted her to the hospital last night. She is having atrial fibrillation and there is a possible blood clot in her lungs. A cardiologist said he does not think the problem(s) she’s having is due to the atrial fibrillation or her heart. They are now waiting for a neurologist.

She did not have a good night – dizziness, nausea and is uncomfortable. She says her back and everything hurts. I am still awaiting word about her from the doctor. I am ready to leave at a moment’s notice if I am needed and/or wanted. Dan is ready to drop everything to take me. Thank God the company he works for is very understanding.

I feel so helpless being here. I wish we still lived in that area. And, I am worried. And, sad – because there is nothing I can do here but pray.