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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Update on Mother


As most of you know, Mother underwent surgery, a procedure called kyphoplasty, to help alleviate her back pain. Basically, this procedure injected bone cement into/onto her fractured vertebrae to help stabilize it. My understanding is that she not only had an older fracture, she also had a newer fracture. We were told by the doctor (surgeon) that she is a prime candidate for this procedure. Here is a recap of our week:

She went to St. Luke’s last Tuesday morning. The ambulance service messed up. They were supposed to arrive at 9:45am; but, they did not show up until 10:30am.In spite of the ambulance being late, we managed to arrive around 11:15am – not too bad considering. Mom’s procedure was set for 1:00pm. However, it was delayed because she was fibrillating. The initial examiner wanted a cardiologist to check her out and give the okay. A Doppler machine arrived to take images of her heart. Eventually, the cardiologist arrived, checked her out, and gave the okay.

However, an order was given to check out her legs for blood clots. I do not know who gave this order – Most likely the person who gave her the initial pre-op examination. So, she was taken down to get Doppler images done on her legs. That alone took an hour.

She checked out and was finally given the okay for the surgery. Both Mike and I were relieved. Mom, however, was terrified. By this time, she was over tired and wanted to go home. She had lost her courage. She is way too much like me – scared of any and all things surgery-wise. I guess I inherited that from her. Anyway, she was encouraged to hang in there and to think about the ultimate result – freedom from pain.

She was eventually given a little morphine while waiting to take away the pain as she had been weaned off certain pain meds. They finally took her in for the actual procedure around 7pm. She was out and in recovery a little after 8pm. The doctor said “it was a textbook procedure” and “it was successful”. He also said that “he’d be very surprised if she still had pain after the surgery”.

We did not get to see her until after 9pm and she was doing real well at this time. She smiled at me real big and that did my heart good.

She was eventually taken to a private room a little after midnight and we all saw her to make sure she was settled. I was more than a little surprised to see she was in pain because I had seen her earlier and she was doing fine. She was begging to either go home or for one of us to stay with her. It broke my heart to see her like that. A nurse came in with a pain pill and that kicked in about 15 minutes later and she was doing better. She eventually calmed down and started sleeping. So, we all went home.

I had to hitch a ride with my brother and his wife because I rode over with Mother in the ambulance. I also stayed at their house overnight. By the time we arrived, I was so tired that I was beginning to feel sick myself. I slept deep. So deep that I found myself being awakened by an earthquake – I realized it was from my own snoring. I rarely snore. I’m sure of that. Ha!

I got up; left for St. Luke’s, and arrived a little after 8am. I have to tell you that Houston’s rush hour traffic is an absolute nightmare! Anyway, Mom was doing well. She was conversing and in very little pain. I was encouraged by this. I sat in a chair beside her, caught up on the ‘world’ with my laptop and chatted with Dan via Instant Messenger. My brother was there all morning working from the room (he had to leave after lunch to go to the office where he works). Another brother showed up later in the morning and visited with Mom quite awhile.

Mother was discharged around 3:30pm and was sent back to the Rehab place. I watched them load her on the stretcher. Other than her dizziness problem, she had very little pain. That was an awesome sight to behold. I had to let her go by herself as I drove myself to the hospital. She was fine with that – another first. She arrived at the Rehab facility just before dinner and was in good spirits.

Thursday was a very good day for her. She was sitting up somewhat when I arrived that morning. She was very nervous and scared about therapy though. She didn’t know what she should do or not do. Doctor told us that she was free to do anything she was capable of doing. The therapists encouraged her to sit up and get into a wheelchair. I could see the difference. It was like a miracle happened. She was no longer moaning in pain. She was actually sitting up straight and conversing with the therapists and me. It was an amazing difference from before her surgery. She even wheeled herself a little around the room. It did my heart good to see that. And, there is hope now. She even said “she’s going to walk out of this place”.

She started to feel ill later in the afternoon. I didn’t know what to make of it. She really did seem “off her feed” so to speak. I texted my brother to let him know Mom was not feeling well. I did what I needed to do for her after dinner and let her sleep.

I arrived earlier than usual on Friday because I was worried about her. She was not doing well – feeling nauseous, crampy, and dizzy. I texted my brother. It dawned on him that she may be experiencing withdrawal from Fentanyl – a pain medicine. Sure enough, all her symptoms match the symptoms of withdrawal for this medication. She is still getting another pain medication – a patch on her back. My brother is going to talk with the doctor about these things.

She did okay in therapy – still not experiencing pain, which is a very good sign. She didn’t do as much on account of feeling yucky. Once she gets to feeling better, we hope her progress in therapy will take off. She’s a very stubborn old lady as she refused to do the second reps of warm up exercises saying “it’s dumb”. Neither Mike nor I could convince her otherwise.

So, here’s hoping that things will continue to look up for all of us.