Now that it is autumn I can officially start wearing jeans again, when it cools down, and I can officially start making FALL food! Chili, roasted root vegetables, pumpkin-cranberry muffins....oh yes! Color me happy. Don't get me wrong, I love summer time, it is my favorite season. And I love the food of summer, all of the fresh fruits and vegetables of summer make my heart and mouth sing! But, I also love the feeling of "starting over" that comes in the fall.
Since today is the first day of Autumn I can now do some fall decorating. I don't like to get ahead of myself. To each season I give their full time! Especially summer. :-) I will be putting my pumpkins and colored leaf decorations out, along with my scarecrow door wreath. I will be changing the scents in my Scentsy's to more autumnal cinnamon/apple spice scents from the fruity and lighter fragrences of summer. I might even get some mums and pansy's to replant my front door planters (they got too hot from neglectful watering in the heat of the summer and I had to yank the dead plants out).
I'm looking forward to fall. I start school monday (ack!!) and it feels good to be heading into a routine and making progress toward a goal again.
On to the gratitudes.
One year ago today, I received a phone call that my mother was in the hospital with abdominal pain. At that point, we were unaware of the problem or the severity. Initially the doctors felt that she had an intestinal blockage, and then they thought it was a kidney issue, and then they thought it was a blockage, and then she basically died.
She had been in the hospital for about a day and a half. They had been doing MRI's and CT scans and blood tests, but were having a hard time figuring out what the problem was. She was in SEVERE, extreme pain. They were not managing the pain. And then, Friday evening when they went to take her for another test, her blood pressure dropped. Her doctors and nurses scrambled to revive her blood pressure and once that had occurred they rushed her to emergency surgery.
In surgery they basically just cut her open to look around in the abdomen and see what the heck was going on. Her surgeon later told us what he saw was "an abdominal catastrophe". She had a perforated intestinal hernia. The bowel had split open and poisoned her blood and she had a large section of intestine that had died from lack of blood flow due to the hernia. In short, she was a mess! The surgeons did what they could, but much of the damage had already been done.
She was sent to the ICU and was given round the clock two-to-one nursing care, which meant that she had two nurses in her room at all times. She was never left alone. She had, I think, 5 of the medicine pump units attached to her with 3 or 4 bags of meds and IV's coming off of each pump. She was on a ventilator. She was filled up with fluids and was HUGEly puffy. She was on multiple blood pressure medications, drugs for pain, drugs to keep her sedated, drugs for infections, and I don't even remember all what else. She also, of course, had all the heart rate and blood pressure monitors attached to her.
Let's just say it was a teensy bit scary. When I asked the 15 year veteran nurse of critical care what my mom's chances of survival were on a scale of one to ten she responded "Maybe a two. Maybe." Not good. On Sunday morning the ICU doc came in and the first words out of his mouth were "Well, I'm surprised we are all still here this morning!" meaning he was surprised my mom was still alive.
What happened next was 6 weeks of stress, anxiety, worry, fear, sadness, worry, fear, stress, anxiety, worry, fear, stress, sadness..did I mention anxiety? And driving. See, mom lives 6 hours away from me by car. So yah, little stressful. Mom didn't recover quickly or easily. She did start to improve in some ways, but then she started having other problems. Her blood pressure would stabilize, but then her heart would stop. Her blood pressure then started skyrocketing. And then her heart would stop. She had several injections of adrenaline to restart her heart through those weeks.
After about 5 weeks she had improved and stabilized enough that they started weaning her off of the sedatives. She had been medically comatose for the preceeding 5 weeks. NO movement, no response to stimuli, nothing. Eerie. She had been off all sedatives for over 6 days before she started to wake up and respond at all. It was during that time that we had to have a family conversation about what would happen if she never regained consciousness. It wasn't a fun conversation, but it was necessary. Luckily, we didn't have to make those choices. She started to regain consciousness.
After 6 weeks in the ICU she was transferred to an Acute Long Term Care facility where they could continue to assist her in her recovery and weaning her off of the ventilator. She continued to improve and make great strides in her recovery. Four weeks later, around the beginning of December, she was released to go home. She had difficulty walking, was very weak, tired very easily, she still had open wounds on her abdomen from the major surgery, her trachotomy wound was still open and healing, but she was alive, breathing on her own, talking and eating, and was able to go home.
10 weeks of stress and worry.
It has been a long year of recovery. Mom has done quite well. She has been down to visit twice this year. She has started swimming as a form of recovery exercise and has been doing her physical therapy exercises. She has gained much strength and flexibility. She still deals with the aftereffects of such a major body trauma, her internist doctor says it could be a year or more before she is "healed" completely, but she is doing very well.
I am very grateful that mom survived, that she is a fighter and a little stubborn. I am very grateful for all of the doctors, nurses, surgeons, and care staff of every level, for their efforts in keeping her alive. I am very grateful that I am able to talk to her. That was one of my biggest fears, that I would never again get to speak to her.
|Chris and mom Christmas 2010 - she had been out of the hospital for about 2 weeks or so.|