Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Today I finally got Mom to agree to go into the house. She seemed quite worried about whether it would work (she has rejected me several times and chosen to sit in the car when we got here), and then when we got inside and I transferred her to her chair, she just smiled. Then she told me to open the door so it would be light (of course), and sort of settled.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
The trees have begun to turn, and the days are getting cool. I had to learn how to protect the pipes and faucets from the freeze that is expected this weekend. Sitting on the porch is still okay but a jacket would be nice. I guess it is time to take the boxes of unworn tank tops and shorts to the basement and reflect on the absence of winter clothes. Since Mom has shrunk and lost weight, there are some sweatshirts that I have appropriated so there won’t be misery in front of me during the fall, but winter is a-coming in.
The nursing home is a scary place in many ways. There are a lot of people who are not there but still there. There are screamers and droolers and recent stoke victims who aren’t sure if they are going to recover. But at the same time, there are many people who simply can’t live alone anymore for a variety of reasons, and some of them are very sweet. Of course there are a couple who make me think of “Mean Girls” the movie, who were angry young people and age hasn’t improved them.
Mom has a roommate who is in the hospital right now (long story) so can settle in at her leisure. Things are looking up and getting better every day. The nightmares are gone, the refusals have ceased to be a problem, and we are falling into the routine. For the last two nights, she has slept through the night except for the mid-night pee break.
We get up, go to the dining hall for breakfast and then have a variety of options, including infusion at the hospital, physical therapy at the hospital or at the home, whirlpool baths, and other (including bingo). I have been taking her for a walk around the walking trail (.5 mile plus 800 yards) a couple of times a day, but this 55 degrees with wind put a stop to that.
Then back to the dining hall for lunch (excuse me, dinner) and after that she takes a nap and I come back home to the porch where I can type and upload my mental meanderings. Then back in the saddle, 42 miles later, I am there for pre supper activities, supper and she crashes for the night. Doesn’t sound too exciting but it is so good to have that routine after the hell that she has lived through.
Friday October 2
What fun! I had been warned that there was a care package on the way, but UPS/FedEx always leave packages on the back steps in front of Mom’s car (the door that is never used) and I had been looking there for it. Imagine my surprise when I went to the mudroom and discovered that this time they had opened the door and left the package inside the mudroom. And what a nice package it was. Lots of letters from kids and friends (thank you) a few little gifties, many of the paper folding variety, some goodies, and Kathy, you rocked my boat! Way to deliver exactly what I needed!
I was deeply touched by the thought (John you are a prince among men) and the carrythrough. I actually packed up the letters and read a couple each day so that they wouldn’t all be gone. I so appreciate my friends of all ages. Thank you all
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
801 E Grant St
Meade, KS 67864
Meade, KS 67864
Monday, September 21, 2009
There are good days and bad days. The good days are the days you have hope, the bad? The days that you ask that if she isn’t going to be herself that she should just be let go. And then the day comes when hope begins to be real.
Hunky doc is changing meds every day. Latest thing is to give her Ritalin. Well, as we know she is incredibly sensitive to meds, so she stayed awake for 36 hours, and then she was so out of it that I was saying “let her go, let her go.” Then the next night, she slept. We both slept. And it was good.
In the morning I thought the sleep would do her good, but she was confused again. Hunky doc then decided to try thorazine, which would make her drowsy but is an anti-psychotic which is sometimes used with Alzheimer’s patients. Nurses found a reason not to use it, but she slept. Next day, not so confused. That night she was given the thorazine and she slept. This morning she woke up herself. We talked about Victor’s steps in his house and how he thought she was silly for counting them until he hurt his knee. We talked about wheat prices. She asked about the planting of the wheat and if the hay had been cut yet. She was her old self again, really for the first time in a month. And I began to talk about the trip to California to get my winter clothes.
Physical therapy came in and they were very surprised. She stood independently for 3 minutes at a time, and did all the exercises they asked her to try. She tired out really quickly, but they will be back this afternoon, probably as I am writing this at home. Doc came in and watched and said he really believed she could make the trip to California with me. Hunky doc rocks!
Note about hunky doc: High school in Annapolis, MD. College at Florida University where he was on the swim team and still swims (I can tell from the green tint to his hair). Med school in the Philippines. Is a KU dad. While working on his thesis isolating soil fungus, learned to isolate THC as a powder which could be used in place of snuff inside the lip.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Monday, September 14
Well this time I locked Lovey in for two days. But we know he didn’t get hungry because he is the one that can get into the barrel of cat food. But a litterbox change is in the wind.
We are living on a roller coaster. After the pacemaker was installed, she looked so much better, in fact better than I had seen her in a couple of years. Guess she needed one for a long time. But she isn’t coming out of it like she should. Sunday night/morning I was convinced was my last Sunday with my mother, and then that afternoon, Dode and Marian came over and she talked to Dode while Marian and I were out of the room and responded nicely and stayed awake for almost 5 hours.
Then the aides came in to do stats and weigh her at 4 am, and discovered that her IV was leaking. The nurse came in to put in a new IV and couldn’t find a vein, so called in another nurse, who couldn’t find a vein. I had talked to someone who said she should have a pik line (or whatever) that didn’t have to be replaced on a regular basis so I told them we had talked about it and they decided to let her rest and wait til they talked to the doc. Day nurses came on and three of them tried. I think there is a code that says the nurse can only stick them 2 times, so that adds up to 10 attempts to place an IV.
Doc came in around 9 and ordered an IJ line which goes in the side of the neck into a main line, but it has to be placed by the anesthesiologist who was in Cimarron for the day. He finally came in around 2 and did the dirty deed so now she is fixed for a very long time as far as the IV goes. But it looks like something that could be irritating to have hanging on the side of your neck so we will see how she tolerates it.
But in the meantime, she is being recalcitrant. She won’t open her eyes or mouth, and when you ask her to, she says mnnn-unh (no). She responds to questions, even told hunky doc “goody” when he told her she was going to get better and walk again, but she is having no part of today’s activities. Not even the chocolate pudding. Mnnn-unh!
Had a second cousin (that’s a connection three generations back kiddos) come by to watch her sleep for a while and then go back to Edmond Oklahoma. It was Gert’s daughter; Mom and Gert were great buddies. Gert’s mother was Aunt Lilly who was Boss’s sister (Boss is my grandfather). So
Boss and Lilly were brother and sister
Mom and Gert were first cousins
Jacque and I are second cousins
It was nice to meet her, or see her again. She looks so much like her mother, I am sad Mom didn’t get to see her as she does talk to the prior generations in her sleep.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Wednesday, September 10?
So, the Wichita doctors said they would take Mom and put in a permanent pacemaker, but after the ambulance came the hour from Dodge City, Wichita doctors told us that there was a bed problem, so the nurse in charge sent them back to Dodge. Hunky doc called Wichita and yelled at them and in the meantime, the head nurse said (wink,wink) “There are other good cardiologists who are closer, and if you want, we can search” I told them to go ahead, and 10 minutes later, hunky doc was on the phone to Dodge, had gotten her a slot that afternoon, and the ambulance was called to return. The same guys were just arriving back in Dodge, and turned around and came back. I learned that some ambulance drivers do not have great respect for doctors.
Anyway, we loaded her up, hit the road and 40 minutes later she was in ICU at Dodge, the cutest cardiologist showed up and talked to me and 15 minutes later she got her pacemaker. We spent the night watching her little heart go ka thump ka thump at a nice 70 beats per minute and early the next morning we headed back to Meade. She is still asleep sort of and I am constantly worrying that the real Mom may not be in there any more. She was so out of it by the time action finally took place that I just don’t know. The good news is that this morning she made a few mumbled comments that were appropriate responses. So now I’ve come home to feed the cats and shower and sit on the porch, only to discover that I had locked Tippy in the house for two days. Good thing these cats are house appropriate, even if they are outdoor cats.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Monday Sept 7
A week has gone by and so much has changed. Looking at the last entry, I can hardly believe that was only seven days ago.
Mom began to deteriorate, sleeping way too soundly again. Her heart rate was dropping into the 20s. Hunky doc ordered a culture of her toes and said when it came back on Monday (today) that if it was clear, he could do an “emergency pacemaker” and then the cardiologists would have to finish the job. He kept saying that Mom was determined and still had a brain, and that made her a good candidate, even if she was 90.
In the meantime, my first cousin, once removed (yeah kids, it’s a real measure!) his wife and daughter came up from Houston to visit. The significant issue here is that his wife, Kathy, is a cardiac ICU nurse and knows what she is doing. We had been talking regularly and she gave me advice and consultation from the beginning. Having her there during this weekend was good. She talked to hunky doc and approved of him and his plan. That took a big load off my mind. Then they left to return to Houston.
For the last few nights, Mom had been moaning and complaining in her sleep so loudly that I didn’t sleep at all. Kathy took one look at me and told me to go home, she would stay with her. When I came back, she told me she didn’t know how I did it. Last night after they left, I sat next to her bed and really made the decision that if they weren’t going to make her better, I wanted to take her home for as long as I could.
During the night, she suddenly started gasping and arching her back. I pressing the call button and told the aide what was happening. She said that she would tell the nurse, and I heard nothing. She did it again. Nothing. I thought it must be nothing, because they were watching the heart monitor in the nurses station. When the meds arrived, they asked her if she would take her pills. She moaned no and they left. Then another nurse arrived and asked if she could put Mom’s eye drops in, she moaned and said no and I said NO, because they were EAR drops, hydrogen peroxide based. That would have been a disaster. I spent the rest of the night worrying that Mom wasn’t getting her magnesium which is what keeps her heart pumping regularly.
Morning shift came, she wanted out of bed so they moved her into a chair. Suddenly she started the gasping and arching, and then her head dropped. There were nurses all over, shaking and calling her name. She had had another torshads episode. They forcefully told me I needed to make up my mind about the “Do Not Resuscitate” order. I told then not to do it, because I knew that they would break her frail old body with the hammering and shocking. They moved her into the bed and a few minutes later she did it again. This time they turned to me and told me she was gone. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it. A minute later she moved her head and was back. They called the doc, he ordered a giant push of IV magnesium, and while he was there she did it again, and after lots of activity, he turned to me and told me he was sorry. But then she recovered again. He told me that if we were going to do it, now was the time. That she was obviously determined to stay alive and he was going to honor that.
In the meantime, I called Marian and told her I needed her and she was there sooner than dressing and driving 15 miles should have taken her. We watched, and cried and waited and talked.
Hours and hours later (not really but it seemed like it) he came in with the pacemaker kit, explained that there was a question about the pacemaker itself but he was going to go ahead, because he could hear it working, even if the sensing dial wasn’t registering. He thought perhaps the sensor didn’t work until it was hooked up, but the owner’s manual didn’t say that. The nurse, Donna, told me he was really good at this, and I chose to believe her.
So there in her room, hunky doc and wonderful nurse Donna put in the pacemaker. He threaded the lead into the heart and hooked everything up and her heartbeat climbed steadily to 75 beats a minute. He had called the X-ray lady in from her holiday festivities and she waited in the hall until he called her in to X-ray her chest. The lead was in too far and coiled. So he adjusted, she X-rayed, better but not exactly where he wanted it. He adjusted, she X-rayed and this time it was just right. He sutured her up and there it was. As we watched, she went from pale to healthy looking, her lips rosied up, and she stopped moaning. Hunky doc talked to her the whole time, and asked her questions. He told her she was looking good, pointed to the monitor, and asked if she saw what her heart rate was. She looked and said “75”. We cheered. He watched her a bit longer and then climbed into his silver SUV and rode off into the sunset.
The nurses and aides descended on the room and told us she was going to the ICU room, and suddenly everything was moved. Every time I said anything, she would wake up and look for me. I told Marian that maybe this was the time to go home and do the cat/shower thing so she would sleep and when I came back I would be ready for transport to wherever. She walked me to the car and told me to stay home and sleep, she would stay there for the night. I accepted. I am so tired. But when I tried to take an afternoon nap, I started crying so I got up and worked and watched recorded 30 Rock episodes in hope that I would doze off. Didn’t work, so here is the very long tale of my labor day. Sigh.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
Today is the first day of school, but not the first day for the kids. All the excitement of a new beginning! Sigh.
Today was better. She was more aware in the morning, went to PT and averaged 35 steps per minute on the nu-step (we started at 9 steps per minute) and then they were going to try walking with her in the afternoon. Best laid plans… Doc prescribed a unit of blood for after lunch, so we ate, and put her to bed with the IV delivering blood. (I wanted to say sucking blood, but it didn’t work) When she woke up, she was better yet. Apparently new blood is good? And then he made an appointment to see the heart doctor on Wednesday because as he repeatedly says, “we sent her to Wichita for a pacemaker,” but today he added “and I don’t see any reason why we should wait any longer. And a pacemaker would give her more ambition, maybe wake her up a bit.”
Hope again. Leaving the depression behind, again.
Anyway, Lonnie is spending the night in the hospital and I am at home with the traitorous cats, planning on not being waked up every two hours and seeing if one night of good sleep will make the cleaning ladies stop looking at me and sighing.
The trip home wasn’t what I had hoped it would be. She never really perked up, And in fact was sort of dozeu dazed the whole time. And then when we got there, the cats would have nothing to do with her1 Rotten cats! I hope it didn’t break her heart, because it broke mine.
Lonnie came over and sat in the driveway with us and talked to her and he was shocked by her demeanor. So was I. Sadness and sorrow.
Oh dear, it is so hard to deal with her confused state. The hunky doc is trying to wake her up by adjusting meds, but it scares me that she might not come back. I just keep holding on to the idea that she came back once before when she got enough rest, and she will do it again.
We just had a long talk about that lady that she gave Daddy’s clothes to who threw away one of his socks because there wasn’t a mate for it. Daddy died in 1987.
Today I took her for a walk outside and she was rational the whole time. I think the room is driving her ditzy. When I came back the doc was there and I asked if I could take her away for a couple of hours. He said yes. I just signed the permission-to-travel papers and tomorrow if all goes well, we will load her in the car and take to see her kitties. I hope it doesn’t make it worse.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Friday, August 28
The drive is becoming numbing. Or maybe it is just the result of no sleep again last night. Before I used to pace off the time, “top of hill, quanset hut barn, silo house, playset house on the corner, tire truck house, rodeo ranch, stone school, end of pavement, etc”. Now I look around and say, “Am I that far already?”
Another day on the porch, all four cats again. I had begun to worry if there were still were four cats when I hadn’t seen Tiger for four days and one day before he disappeared there were vultures circling north of the house. But I was wrong and Tiger is back.
Hunky doc came in and looked at my sleeping mother who would not wake up even for him and looked at me and said “ we sent her to Wichita for a pacemaker”. I asked if that was still in the plan and he said yes as soon as the toes healed. The silvadene is making a difference, the escar (sic) is beginning to go away (that is a determined scab for you lay people) and once that is gone and there is no more ick, then we will talk pacemaker. In the meantime, her heartrate is down to 40, as Cody the PT guy says, “about the rate of a hibernating bear”.
Time to get the laundry done and get back on the road. It is 93 today and not nearly as fun to sit outside as yesterday.
Thursday, August 27
Here I sit on the porch, surrounded by cats, looking at Texas, with no sound but the wind in the trees and various bird and insect song. It is so peaceful that I can hardly believe that school is starting and all my kids and all my friends are about to face the new year. This is such an exciting time, and scary. What are classes going to be like? Am I going to do a better job this year? Who is going to suddenly become my friend or my enemy? And instead I am wondering what is my year going to be like without all that excitement.
Days here are all melting into one long undivided time. There is dark and there is light. Sometimes we sleep, sometimes we don’t. But it all runs together. I worried so much about being bored at the farm and now it is where I go to find myself. I love the people at the hospital. They are all so nice and helpful (well most) and friendly. The kitchen staff, the cleaning staff, even the maintenance guys all know me and stop to chat. But I miss friends and family.
The weather has taken a change for the different. Cloudy, possible storms, but only 83 while I crossed the pasture and I am happy on the porch in my jammies while the laundry whirs away inside.
Mom? She is tired. PT guys and I were discussing it when the doctor arrived. We all agreed that when she isn’t tired she makes terrific progress, but when she won’t wake up, nothing gets done. There was great effort to slow her heart down from the 120 beats per minute that she had in Wichita, and hunky doc succeeded. But now perhaps it is a little slow. Meds are changing, PT is ignoring her today and she is sleeping. I need to do that too. The cleaning ladies told me this morning that I should take a nap today, and when they saw me this afternoon, they said I obviously hadn’t, because apparently I looked like hell.
Question? In what world does waking someone up every two hours make them get better? The 6 a.m. routine goes like this. Vampire visits and draws blood. Turns out light as she/he leaves. Aides come in and put her in a hoist to weigh her, put her back in bed and snug her in and turn out lights. Aides come back and empty trash, check fluid input/output, take vitals, snug her in and turn out lights. (Shift change) New nurse comes in and checks her heart and lungs and asks questions (are you feeling any pain? No! she is freaking sleeping! ) New aides come in and check on her, introduce themselves, write info on board, turn out lights and leave. Then they reappear with breakfast. By this time people are rumbling up and down the hall, calling to each other, doors are slamming and it must be time to get up. I get up and go get coffee and come back and try to get her to eat. Some days she scarfs it all down, some days she falls asleep with a piece of toast in her mouth. I think I need to take her home for a few days rest and then come back and resume medication.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Saturday, August 22
Let’s talk about Meade. It is a really pretty little town, big trees, old houses with big porches, wide streets, hills and creeks running through. The high school is on a hill across the creek/valley and really new. I haven’t visited yet but I drove around it. Nice facilities. The nursing home is a big old spread (that is really new and open and lots of windows and no old people smell. Just lots of wheel chairs. The school mascot is the buffalo and everyone in town seems to have at least one purple buffalo shirt.
People are friendly and apparently reliable. The oil change people came to the hospital, picked up the car, changed the oil, and brought it back. The people in the grocery store know I’m the California lady, because someone told them so. People in the hospital ask me if I belong to that California car, and then they ask me how my mom is.
Funny story. When I called in for my appointment for the pedicure, the lady told her daughter that I wasn’t from around here because I had a funny accent. Her daughter asked where she thought I was from and she said “She was French or Venezuelan or something.” Hmmmm
However I am hearing myself become a local. I heard me say pee-yul instead of pill. Every one syllable word here seems to have two syllables.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
\Miss me? Routine is the name of the game. Every day is a little bit better, small improvements are being made. They took her off of IV fluids and meds, so she is only hooked to the pump once a day for the IV antibiotics. Yesterday they took her off of oxygen and her levels are still good. Hooray.
The PT guys have her stand up for 4 minute stretches, three times in the morning. She is tired by the time she finishes, but does it. And yesterday she went to the PT room and got back on the bicycle. Today I was impressed, when the nurses moved her to the chair, she took steps and the nurses said she was bearing most of the weight.
See! There is hope!And I got my haircut and a pedicure so I am feeling more human. Tomorrow I get my oil changed. Wonder if it has red dirt in it? Last night was a night of rain and thunder, all night long. I am sort of thinking about going the extra 13 miles through Mocane to avoid the 12 miles of sandy river bottom for the daily catfood and shower trip. That means 55 miles each way. But I have to slooooow down for the riverbottom. After the last rain I drove it at 30 miles per hour. Me! On a open road! Not fun! And last night’s rains were much heavier.
Today is the first day of Link Crew. Sigh. I am missing it all, and I miss it. But I am making friends here in the hospital. All of the staff knows me, and there are 3 other ladies who are here all the time. We are considering Stitch’n’Bitch sessions in the hallway.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Monday, August 10
We’ve settled in nicely at Meade. The nurses/aides expected us, and our room was set up this time. My bed was made and pushed against the wall, furniture moved so there was a big space in the center of the room. And everyone came by to welcome her back.
Dr Feldmeyer stopped by twice a day over the weekend and adjusted meds. Put her back on IV antibiotics until all the redness is gone. Started the magnesium again. Said that the Wichita doctors don’t realize that 90 isn’t old for this part of the country and that they should have fixed her, but probably didn’t because they didn’t feel that it was worth it on someone so old. Kathy was right. She said they weren’t doing anything because she was 90, and now hunky doctor says the same thing.
Our first night back was a little difficult. Her blood tests showed she was anemic so doc ordered two units of blood. Apparently when it isn’t an emergency, blood sucking takes a long time. They started around 7 and it took 4 hours per unit. As they begin, the nurse has to stay with her for the first 15 minutes watching her vitals, and then they visit every 15 minutes to take vitals again. Not a good sleeping night, they didn’t finish until almost 4 am. So Saturday was a sleep and complain day.
Being back was very different. The real Mom is here now, and I introduced her to Dr Feldmeyer. He didn’t realize that she was as out of it as she was. She didn’t know who he was while we were at Wichita. Now she flirts with him.
And after sitting alone in hospital rooms talking only to nurses and doctors and housekeepers, we had company. Lonnie came after church with his little buddy Noah (senior in college, marine officer’s training),
Goldy Barby came after church, Shel and her god son William came and stayed way long. Glen Husted came by after seeing his wife at the nursing home. And Mernie came by on her way from Independence KS. Yesterday passed a lot faster. But she was really tired by the time everyone left.
Today we go back to routine. Physical therapy twice a day, baths and shampoos (for both of us) doctor visits several times a day. Visiting the cats on a daily basis.
Friday, August 7 – the evening
So here we are in Meade Kansas again. Except for the internet issue (THERE IS NONE!) this is a good place to be. People are friendly, doctor is concerned and visits often, and it is close to home (42 miles through the pasture), The Wichita people weren’t kidding when they told me how I was going to get her home. They said, and I quote “We’ll help you get her in the car.” We got in the car around 12:15, stopped at Sonic on the way out of town, and drove the 180 miles to Meade. Stopped twice to adjust her position and pulled into the hospital before 4. Now she is curled up in her bed, sound asleep at 8 pm. I feel like I would like to do that too.
It was 100° for the trip, but in Wichita, it was 90° and v e r y humid. I remembered why I don’t like humid.
Friday, August 7, 2009
Friday, August 7
To leave or not to leave? We will find out sometime today.
Dr Evans told me something interesting. I asked why Mom suddenly became herself and he told me about “CCU psychosis” which is caused by a traumatic event followed by 24 hour poking and turning lights off and on. When the victim, oops I mean patient, finally gets a good night’s sleep, they suddenly become themselves again. I guess the zanix experience paid off, even though it didn’t feel like it when we couldn’t wake her up.
Anyway, I have started packing and taking stuff to the car, so I guess I believe. And then it will be back to no internet except when I go to the house.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Thursday, August 6
Hmm. What happened in the last two days? I don’t know. Yesterday came and went, as did today. Only new and exciting thing was that Mernie came through on her way to Independence KS for her great grandson’s wedding. I feel like an underachiever. I only have grandchildren, and young ones at that. And here Mernie is only 7 years older than I am. Oh well.
Anyway, tomorrow we head back to Meade. The discharge nurse came in and asked me how we were going to get her back, that there was no coverage for return trips. I asked what she recommended and she said they would help me get her in the car. Hmmm. Need to talk to the doctor about that.
Today was a nice day in the outside world, gentle rains all morning, steaming heat all afternoon. But it is pretty out there. Mernie stayed here past the end of cafeteria hours so I may have to make a Sonic run for dinner. Poor me!