Happy Tuesday! Here we are, my Mom and I, still writing from University Hospital. She is getting her “meat and potatoes” as the nurse called it, but it’s really liquid nourishment pumped into her arm via a newly installed PIC line. PIC stands for “I Don’t Know What It Stands For” but basically it is a big needle stuck into an artery that injects nourishment directly into her system and bypasses that troubled gastro track. The docs decided that 10 days without food might be a little extreme (it’s kind of like she’s on the TV show Survivor) so they are pumping her full of chow until she manages to keep things in. Honest to God, enough is enough. Let’s get her home already. I will report that she improves every day, especially since her el crappo night on Saturday night. It’s fun to use variations on pooping words. The other day I told her something was a “crap shoot” and she glared at me. It was enjoyable.
Speaking of crap shoots, we still don’t now when she will be coming home. I am going to just discharge her myself if she doesn’t get sprung by Wednesday. I have to go back to New York on Wednesday night (I have work and, oh yeah, I MISS MY FAMILY!!) and my goal all along was to be here until she got home. Everyone please take a moment and say a quick healing prayer. Focus on her extremely angry colon.
Now let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming. I left off with Chuck and I heading into the ICU to see my Mom soon after her surgery. To give you an idea of what a tight ship it is back there, the door is kept locked, you have to wear a badge to get in, and you must soap up before they will let you in. As we followed procedures and walked back to Mom, I can’t say how Dad was doing because he was his typically jolly self, but I was pretty nervous.
She looked good in the sense that she looked like herself…..plus a lot of tubes. The worst thing was seeing her in pain. I don’t know how much she remembers and here’s what I want to say about it. I don’t need her to remember and I’m not going to write about the details. Let’s just say the evening was spent with a lot of concern about pain management. We all took turns going back and spending time with her, and clearly, as people were coming out…..well….Maryday said it best, “Sharon, you were white.” I was. We all were. Eventually everyone left and the decision was made that I would spend the night with her, which took special permission. Susan stuck around so I could grab some food, and I jogged to a nearby Chipotle. I knew it made the most sense for me to eat at the restaurant, but frankly, I just didn’t want to be that far away. Instead, I ran back and ate quickly in the ICU waiting room. As I started to eat, I sent my sister a text saying I was there, I was going to eat, and then I would come in so she could go. Weirdly, I didn’t hear back from her, and she is almost as compulsive about her phone as I am (almost). I ate quickly, grabbed a tag, washed my hands, and headed back to see what was up.
As soon as I got there, my sister started laughing nervously and said, “Well you missed all the fun!” The night nurse, Renee, was
in the room, and I won’t kid you, she looked freaked out. It turns out, they gave my Mom a pain killer called Dilaudid, which some of you regular subscribers to My Own Space might remember from the famed Pancreas series. It turns out that while it was a-ok for Rob and his painful pancreas, it is too strong–even a small dose–for my Mom. As in, she stopped breathing. My sister said one minute she was sitting there sending e-mails on her Blackberry thinking Mom was fine and sleeping peacefully, and the next minute the room was full of people, they had a bag on my Mom and they were all yelling “Mary Jo! Mary Jo! Wake up!” My Mom did come right back, but that is as scary as it got.
And I was eating Chipotle.
I asked my sister why she didn’t return my text and she said, “Well, I read it out loud to the room, and we all decided that I just shouldn’t answer you.”
When I got back there and found out what had happened, I said to my sister, “You know you aren’t leaving me, right?”
And she replied, “I’m not going anywhere.”
Turns out we were both wrong because even with additional oxygen in the form of an oxygen mask (it looks like a sleep apnea mask), she still wasn’t getting enough oxygen. They made a quick decision to intubate her and Renee (kindly) tossed Susan and I out before they started the procedure. Renee said, “You don’t need to see this. I wouldn’t want to see it done to my Mom and I’m a nurse.” Renee was already our new best friend and the new ruler of our family. She’d started our Moms breathing again. If she’d told us that joining the Church of Scientology was a good idea, we would have done it. Just take care of our Mom, new best friend and sister.
So we left.
Fortunately, the rest of Mom’s ICU stay was much less eventful, even if it was a little longer than we’d planned on. Nurse Renee continued to be Mom’s night nurse for the next few nights, and she would hug Mom every time she started her shift saying, “Mary Jo, you scared me. I’m still upset with you.” Mom would smile and pat Renee’s hand. She didn’t remember any of it (thank god).
It’s funny how quickly you can acclimate to new conditions. We started a routine we’ve continued to this day, where my sister gets up and goes over before she goes to work, generally staying until around noon. She likes this because it means she is around for the doctors rounds. I usually come over around 11am, we spend a little time together catching up, and then she heads off to work. My brother pops in when he can, and many other people (Nancy, Pat, Mom’s church group, Sr. Carole) swing by during the day. Susan comes back in the evening for a while after work, and I stay until 9pm and do a lot of the moment to moment care. You want ice chips? I’m the queen of ice chips. You need more pain medicine? I’ll get the nurse. You’re cold? I’ve got a blanket. You have to run to the bathroom? I’ll pull your IV plug from the wall. I was also in charge of the visitors. For the 6 days in ICU, we could only have 2 at a time, so there was a lot of managing who was coming when (remember, my Mom is popular), plus some surprise visits from her co-workers who are just a few floors away and wondering how their well-loved Mary Jo is doing. I was like a bouncer at a bar. If my Mom didn’t feel like seeing you, you couldn’t get back there. It was fun for me. I got to be really bossy. Well, until my Aunt Nancy said, You’re being so bossy!” and then I calmed down (a little).
I can be bossy. I know you are surprised. But I have been told I am nice/ bossy, and I was told that by the ICU nurses, and they would know. So there.
I tried to save the majority of my bossiness for my Dad who is really bossy himself. I have to say, I have had a great time with Chuck. Every night, he comes over to the hospital around 4 or 5 and then he stays with Mom and I until closing time (the end of visiting hours), and then Chuck and I go out to dinner. For the first several days while Mom was sleeping the majority of the time, Dad watched movies on my iPad. It was fun to watch someone who poo-poos computers (another poop reference) become so smitten with Netfix on my iPad. He watched all kinds of things.
One night we were in her room and the nurse gave her medicine for nausea. As she was giving it to her, the nurse said, “This might make you a little drowsy.” Cut to my Mom being totally knocked out for four hours (she was breathing, but so totally asleep) and then had a very hard time waking up. She kept asking me, “Why am I so sleepy? I hate this!” as her eyes rolled in her head. Speaking of rolling, she also said her bed was rolling all over the room (it wasn’t). Turns out she has a sensitivity to phenergan. Add that to Mary Jo’s “do not take list”.
At this point, hopefully, we can finish this little Brown Eyed Girl story Thursday, if she gets the pathology back from the lab (it STILL isn’t back), if she can get that PIC line out, and if she can get the pooper under control enough to get discharged. I will write my SMASH Fact or fiction blog tomorrow and finish this up on Thursday.
(SMASH Fact or fiction appears tomorrow. The conclusion of BROWN EYED GIRL appears Thursday. Maybe a Vlog with Jaaaaake on Friday? We’ll see, we’ll see….)