A glimpse of 'before' Mom today. Before the heart 'incident' that has so turned my world upside down. She was sitting up in a chair when I walked into the room this afternoon and gave me a big smile when she saw the vase of one dozen pink roses that I brought for her; she can have flowers now that she has been transferred to a Progressive Care Unit instead of the ICU. "Oh, babe, they're beautiful...." she whispers and then her head drops down to her chest. Speaking four words takes an unimaginable amount of energy for someone who's been hospitalized for so long.
Forming each word, let alone a sentence is something that you or I may take for granted; even the simple act of sitting upright in a chair or brushing your teeth may seem so mundane. For Mom, they're tasks that must be thought out and deplete all of the energy from an already-taxed body. She has not suffered any neurological damage during her hospitalization, however the large amounts of sedation has made talking quite the chore. Walking is another story- she has lost most of her muscle tone and cannot support herself in an upright position sitting. Yes, she was sitting in a chair today, however she was secured to the chair with a Posey belt with an attendant not too far away. The 90-minutes of sitting left her spent- which is actually a good thing as she might get some much needed rest and will not suffer from anxiety the rest of the day.
We found out yesterday that she is weeks away from the heart surgery that she needs to replace the valves. She won't survive it in her current condition- it is a surgery that a somewhat healthy person will have problems recovering from so that option is completely off of the table. The surgeons are going to reevaluate her each week; the nurses and support team will be providing her with aggressive therapy to help get her on the road to recovery much faster. "If it were my mom, I wouldn't do it," states the surgeon. I understand that and appreciate that- I just wanted the doctors to be straight with me. Her primary pulmonologist and cardiologist weren't telling me part of the story- for each internal organ that is not working correctly, it lessens recovery by 25%. With low functioning lungs, hear and liver, there's only a 25% chance of recovery at this point- wait it out and odds will improve.
Fine, we'll wait this out day by day. In the meantime, try to provide her with the moral and emotional support that she needs to cope with her new 'living arrangements' (at least it's a private room!) and be her advocate. I'm so thankful that an acquaintance is actually an RN in that unit and has called dibs on my Mom whenever she is on shift. She's a great nurse and takes extra special care of mom and goes the extra mile for us. Another little blessing in this adventure- I'll take each one that we find! Especially because things are so difficult.... trying to return to some sense of normal at home outside of the hospital. We'll see- it will have to be after my own surgery (yeah, really- I have to have my gall bladder removed- nice timing, eh?) next week. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention this is on top of the news that a very close family member has been diagnosed with lung cancer (nameless right now as most of the family doesn't yet know); and my 93 year-old paternal grandfather is currently in hospice care with bladder cancer. This year has been a dozy--- that's why we are just surviving life one day at a time right now. We're not the first, nor will be the last, family to overcome adversity but sometimes it's a lonely journey......