This Mommy Runs on Caffeine

This Mommy Runs on Caffeine

March 31, 2012

Day 24

     It’s been 24 days. A very, very long month. I’m still having the hardest time processing that my Mom is in the hospital- and then it hits me. I’m driving to pick up my daughter and tell the hands-free to “Call Mom,” and then hit the cancel button on the steering wheel just as quickly. It’s habit; I ALWAYS call my mom on my way home so we can share a few laughs, especially if they are over something silly that MiniLatte did last night; or vent about something going on elsewhere in my life. She can’t answer right now, she’s laying in an uncomfortable hospital bed in the ICU surrounded by wires, tubes and cords; a ventilator is helping her breathe; between three to six drugs are stabilizing her heart rate, blood pressure, pain, etc. The staff at the hospital really is amazing- they are doing everything within their power to provide support and comfort until surgery. And I mean everything- she is helpless. But I’m tired of seeing them almost more than I see my husband and daughter.
         Her heart is in really rough shape and isn’t going to get any better without open heart surgery to replace at least one valve. Unfortunately because she keeps running a fever; some days high, some days; low grade, the surgeons won’t even touch her. She has to be fever-free for a minimum of five consecutive days. Five very long days. Days in which other complications could crop up- pneumonia, MRSA, another infection and prolong yet again the procedure that she needs to recover. It’s driving me nuts.  However, this week my condition has been upgraded from survival-mode- just doing whatever the bare minimum is to get through the day- to functioning.
          I put on make-up again on Wednesday; even cooked dinner and worked a few days this week (I’ve been off of work since she was admitted to the ICU). I’ve not been much of a partner to my husband; he’s holding it together for me but it’s starting to take a toll on him as well. I have tried to focus some energy into being a Mom- my daughter adds pure joy to the end of a long and draining day. When I’m spent, she throws her little arms around my legs and says, “I miss you Mommy. You not sad anymore.” It breaks my heart with both happiness and sadness. I’m trying not to let my sorrow and stress affect her. She knows that Mommy’s Mommy is sick and in the hospital trying to get better but wants to kiss her boo boo. I tell her that I am sad because of that but she makes me happy. She’s wise beyond her 32 short months and has more empathy than I can believe.
         My step-dad today told me that he was worried about me. I am too. I worry that I won’t have the strength to get through another day of waiting. I want to take care of myself- my appetite has resumed within the past week- that might be curbed by the Zoloft though- it makes me nauseous. Yep, Zoloft.  I’m seeking a little help from my prescription-strength friends; Atavan, Zoloft and Trazodone. They were probably necessary before this extraordinarily stressful event, but even more so now that my anxiety and insomnia are through the roof. Are they working? Well, I’m resting a bit better. I haven’t had an anxiety attack in about a week; not sure if it’s because Mom is stable, or I am. The Trazodone makes me sleepy, but I still wake up at 4 a.m..  (BTW, have you ever read the entire warning label on a prescription? I think my before symptoms might have been more manageable than the side effects- crazy!) Sometimes in the morning, I remember the dreams I’m having about her; they’re realistic and make me sad. And then my sweet little girl rolls over and says, “Hi Mama,” and I feel a little better but I hope she won’t have to go through this some day.

March 27, 2012

A Really Bad Dream

My Mom almost died two weeks ago. Seriously. And I've been living one of my worst nightmares since. A roller coaster ride that I'm happy to disembark from any day now....
      My mom came up to visit to help take care of my MiniLatte while her other Grandma goes on vacation. We had planned on her 'babysitting' for three of the five weekdays, being off on the Monday so she could recoup from the drive- trust me, it's a drive, and I knew Mini would put her through the ringer- in a good way of course. They had a fabulous time together, but Mom was exhausted; okay, so, I get that--- LOL.  Mom just wasn't quite herself. By Friday, she thought that the 'bug' that she was fighting had finally got the best of her and she was down for the count for four days. (Although, we did manage to fit a mani/pedi into the weekend) By Monday, I was really worried that this wasn't the average bug and told her that she was going to the clinic- even if it was kicking and screaming- tomorrow. And the clinic is where this horribly stressful past few weeks started to go downhill.....
    The cute little nurse took her history, listened to her lungs, etc and called in the doctor.... the doctor listens to her chest for two seconds and orders an EKG; once he read the results, he quickly moved us into the trauma room and called 911 to get her to the ER. Whaaaaat???  We just stared at each other trying to process what was going on; each one of us putting up a brave front.
She was loaded up into the ambulance to a local ER (I being local, went to the wrong one) and was eventually diagnosed with something called A-fib. Her resting heart rate was 177 BPM (normal range for her age is 90-123) in addition to a really high blood pressure. The hospital was having a difficult time trying to stabilize her so they admitted her for observation.
  The next day, Wednesday, we went to visit her in the hospital and she was stable yet uncomfortable and begging to go home. Some time during the middle of the night she became very agitated, her blood pressure dropped, heart rate went right back up, so they gave her a CT scan for a further work-up. The contrast dye caused her system to crash; her kidneys, liver and spleen all lost function; additionally tests determined that her mitral valve and tricuspud valve were in need of repair. By Friday afternoon, she was on life support in the Cardiac ICU and her condition was incredibly grave. The cardiologist told us that the next 48 hours were going to be tough.
   I was shocked and devastated; what the hell was happening? This was so sudden. It broke my heart to realize that I might lose my mom; it also pissed me off to no end because I thought the valve issue was something that might have been detected earlier if she would have had health insurance. I've not had the misfortune of losing someone close to me in my adult life and I wasn't prepared for that journey. I cannot even put into words my emotions. I don't think I've ever cried so hard or so long in my entire life.  Or prayed and hoped so hard or long either.
   Answering our prayers, on Sunday her kidneys were beginning to function again therefore narrowly avoiding dialysis. Liver and spleen started to function as well. Her body was healing well and by Tuesday (a week since arriving at the hospital), her breathing and feeding tubes were out and Mom was making us so proud and happy. And then she developed pneumonia.
   By Saturday, she was intubated again due to the pneumonia; pulmonary edema and some recurrence of the A-fib. That was actually a blessing as they were able to finally perform a cardiac catheterization to see how badly her heart was damaged; we had to wait for her kidneys to function fully for the test to ensure she would crash again. The good news is that the cardiologists determined that she wouldn't need any bypass surgery, just the aforementioned valve replacement/ repair.
  On Monday, she had developed a severe blood infection and her condition was once again critical.  On Thursday, we received word that tests came back positive for H1N1. She did have a 'bug' after all, which might have been what triggered the A-fib.  She also received a dose of a very powerful antibiotic called Vancomycin which caused an allergic reaction resulting in a head to toe rash. She was intubated for the third time this past Saturday; the bad valve is causing pulmonary edema. The only thing that will help this is to have open heart surgery.
   As if that isn't some scary shit right there. I can't even imagine how she is feeling about that. I'm petrified; but I have faith that she will feel like a new woman when she recovers, whenever that may be. Today was the first day that I didn't leave the hospital with a huge knot in my stomach wondering what the night would hold for her. Tomorrow marks three weeks that she has been in the hospital; I've been at her bedside every day to will her to get better; to watch over her. My wonderful husband has been my rock; comforting me and drying my tears and picking up the slack around the house and with MiniLatte.  So has my Dad, Step-mom and in-laws. So many wonderful people have offered help, but I'm not sure what help to take them up on.  We missed our wedding anniversary; we'll celebrate when we feel that there is much more to toast-  I'm looking forward to celebrating with both her and my love; Mom was my Maid of Honor on that day 10 years ago.