Colorado Journal 3/10-3/17

March 10, 12:30 PM
St. Francis Hospital
Surgical Waiting Room
Mum arrived in anesthesiology bay around 10:15 AM. Her anesthesiologist is a smart fellow who worked around her various allergies. She did her best to confuse him (not her fault at all) by trying to relay what the last anesthesiologist told her regarding her trachea.

I have some concerns regarding the various invasive medication delivery options. She will have an epidural (semi-permanent implantation in the spinal column) as well as a main line.

Her anesthesiologist did explain the possibility of a pneumothorax, and chest tube during the main line insertion but I had the feeling that Mum didn’t really catch on. Her eyes were glazed from nervousness (or outright fear). I had some concerns (unspoken) regarding the potential for infection or spinal cord damage.

These are normal risks of course. I also had concern over secondary infection caused by her current roommate who, being diabetic had open wounds that would not heal. The daughter has been tending (worsening) her condition and this woman would handle the bandages and then touch the bathroom door handles, the faucet handles and the walls. The only thing that she did not touch was the soap dispenser.

Mum’s anesthesiologist and surgeon both feel that she needs to be away from anything that can complicate her recovery. I do not know if this means a new room or a private room. My hope is that she will have a private room.

Mum received communion this morning, a nibble of a crumb of the Eucharist. The same nurse told her it was ok. Perhaps she meant it was ok to pray? The anesthesiologist was indignant over the whole thing; that tiny crumb could cause her stomach to react (to the food stimulus) by producing acid. I trust him.

The nurse appeared miffed when Dad and I went up to the room to pack up Mum’s hoard, er… things. (Mum packed enough spiritual reading material to last her a month in the hospital.) I think that I’ll stay the night to help Mum have a better night.

1:00 PM
We are waiting for the surgeon to arrive. He predicted a two to two and a half hour surgery. I think we need to add a half hour or more to that in order to count the anesthesiologist’s procedures beforehand.

Dad and I had lunch downstairs (it’s Mexican Menu today.) He’s snoring and I need to keep an eye open for Dr. Fischer. The waiting room is very large and interspersed with electrical outlets, cushioned chairs and live plants. It reflects the decorating scheme found throughout the hospital complex. In ten years it will be as cheery as a bad 80’s waiting room.

Thursday, March 12
5:30 AM
St. Francis, patient room
I have not been able to update for a few days.

Mum’s surgery went well. Dr. Fischer, our miracle worker, evaluated as he worked and, much to everyone’s pleasure, he was able to resection the sigmoid portion of her bowel without needing an “ostomy” of any sort, colostomy or otherwise. She had sigmoid diverticulitis and that portion of her digestive track (containing the diverticular disease) was removed. There wasn’t any ulcerative colitis present (thank God.)

I have spent the past two nights functioning as Mum’s “whatever”. I’m technically not qualified to perform nursing duties and I refuse to perform any function that would place me or the hospital at liability risk, such as tending to IVs. I have been her O2 jockey switching her between her nasal cannula (her “nose guard”, as she calls it) and her CPAP mask. Her respiratory therapists are all outstanding; we enjoy visiting with the gentleman resembling Henry Winkler. I’ve been the verification buffer between Mum’s new med administration and her allergy list. I’ve relayed her pain and concerns in a concise way (as the pain medications cause her to rattle on – and on and on and on – leaving too short a window for them to treat more than one problem, and the problem may not even be addressed if the staff can not work out what needs to be done.) I’ve networked with the nurses and CNAs and they now understand that her deathly low diastolic reading is actually her norm, her norm body temperature is always below 98, and her cough comes from years of smoking (the lungs are now clearing out the sludge.)

For her part, Mum grumbles at me. That is an understatement. Let me try again:

Mum bitches at me, due to her high level of pain, and tends to take her frustrations out by not wanting to listen while I attempt to untangle her from her narcotics pump, her PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter), her bladder catheter, and all other things "tubed".

She is in a lot of pain so I shall overlook a lot of what she says. She is depressed.

Tuesday, March 17
Parents’ house
It has been a while since I’ve been able to sit down and journal. I have people emailing (and Better Half mentioning) that they are worried as I did say that I would update here. All is well, as well goes.

Mum moved over the hump. She shrugged off her pain, vomited twice (which helped ease the gas buildup in her stomach), stated that she wanted food, was pleased to see the bladder cath and leg cuffs removed, and has been in a much better temperament.

I have been staying each night. I do not sleep at night (I do cat nap) and I average four hours during the day. Tonight Mum wants to go it alone. YES! I’m looking forward to sleeping like the dead.

She has an infection. The locus is in the incision closure just above mons veneris which is not all that odd considering that it’s encased in a fold of skin when Mum sits. Ubi pus, ibi evacua, I say. “Where there is pus, there evacuate it.”

Dusty, her dog, has been pining. I placed her on a suicide watch and hid all the knives. (I took the dog to the vet today as Dad worried about her ears. She has a slight infection in her left ear. I still plan to hide the knives.)

I have a load of laundry in and Dad will pick up her freshly laundered robe this evening. I have some of my own laundry to do. I packed a pair of workout pants, a pair of sweats and my jeans. Add to those five white tee-shirts, two men’s dress shirts, my green shirt and Better Half’s Olympic Shooting Team shirt and really, when you stop to think about it, my wardrobe is painfully lacking.

I miss Better Half. I worry about Better Half. The family promised to check in on him. His blood pressure was very high last week and he called a cousin and asked if she could come over to keep an eye on him (translated: please make sure I don’t fall over, begin to slur my words or have a dynamic change in my coloration.) Said cousin bitched him out for not being there when her mother was sick. My peace of mind is gone. I fret over my husband’s well being. He relies on our neighbor for transport and support and that neighbor can not dedicate a lot of time to Better Half.

Perhaps people think that Better Half’s health problems are in his head. It might very well be likely that they assume that he needs to “learn to stay by himself.” Better Half is perfectly capable of staying by himself but he can not drive (thanks to his drop attacks/pulmonary hypertension) and will need a ride to the store for bread, milk and dog food. Better Half’s health problems manifested over twelve years ago and they are well-documented and certainly not in his head. Better Half has a diagnosis of Gulf War Syndrome. It is a myriad of symptoms and ailments common to troops who served during Desert Storm/Desert Shield. I do wish the family would get that through their heads.

My friend the Ox had ACL surgery. He’s in agony from it. The man is very muscular and heavy so this type of injury isn’t easy to deal with on his frame. He’s also pushing 50 and his age hinders quick healing. My mother is going through the same healing handicap. Ox’s wife sequestered him in their main floor sitting room and he is frustrated. He has an old laptop that refuses to work. I logged on to find three email and two IMs begging me to walk him through fixing his problem. Dude, your problem is that your laptop is a dinosaur and does not support anything older than AOL 3.0. His wife laughs over his predicament (he’s a chat junkie) and his brother refuses to let him borrow his work laptop. Awwwww, poor fellow.

Optical mouses do not work on glass tables. I felt the urge to point that out.