Monday, August 31, 2009

Just for Theo!

This is what 12 miles of my 42 mile round trip looks like! Click on them for the full effect.

Monday, August 31

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.

Sunday, August 30

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.

Saturday, August 29

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

Grandkids, just because I can!


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

Meade Again, again

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

Lutheran school and cemetary

View from The Hill

View of The Hill, I expected to find Lucinda Matlock here!

Old Stone School

Sign on the road to Meade, had to stop and check it out

Monday, August 10, 2009

Meade Again

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

Are we leaving Wichita?

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

Lazy day

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!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Step two - oops!

Tuesday, August 4, the afternoon

So this afternoon has been a rollercoaster ride. The doc actually was going to do the TEE and we were finally going to know something. He tried. He couldn’t get the scope down her throat, had another doc come try and he couldn’t either. So they didn’t. The next step would be a heart cath which is really surgery and can cause problems in healthy hearts sometimes, so that wasn’t what he wanted to do. So what we are doing is nothing. They won’t do the pacemaker until all traces of infection are gone, and besides her heart isn’t going slow anymore, so after all this, they are sending us back to Meade on Thursday or Friday.

My first reaction was WTF!! We spent a kazillion dollars airlifting her here for emergency surgery and now, a week later, no surgery yet or ever. What changed. And then, for whatever reason, I remember that her personality came back between Meade and waking up in Wichita. I don’t know why, but it is worth a kazillion bucks.

In the meantime, I found a Laundromat! And even though they are scarce in these parts, when you find one … wowsers! Airconditioned, carpeted, flat screen TVs (notice the multiple), children’s playground and wi-fi! Wi-fit! In a Laundromat! So now I can survive until we get back to familiar territory. I have 4 clean shirts plus one that shrunk (I guess you get what you pay for and a $7 shirt from Walmart is a $7 shirt), and one that I spilled on that didn’t come clean. Oh well. Enough to survive!

Step one - the lungs

Tuesday, August 4

Last night went a lot better, I think because I asked the nurse to tilt her bed so she could have her head elevated without being bent in the middle. She slept most of the night without very many calls to her personal nurse to fix things.

Today they did a thoracentesis on her, and drew 500 ml of fluid from her lungs. They wouldn’t let me stay in the room, but I saw the needle they used to suck it out. Ouch! She says it didn’t hurt, so I hope that holds true when the local wears off. Anyway, now she can breathe better and isn’t coughing. She says the pressure is off her lungs.

The doc said that the fluid was clear, that they would send it to the lab but he cleared her for the next procedure. On to the TEE or tracheal echo electrocardiogram. Dr Stavens said it would be this afternoon. Thank goodness she feels better, because she isn’t yelling at me for her not being able to eat. Nothing to eat or drink after midnight takes on a whole new meaning when they don’t do stuff until the afternoon!

Monday, August 3, 2009

They are wearing us down

Monday August 3

Today was supposed to be the day that something happened, and I guess something did. The infectious diseases guy said she could have the procedure.

But of course, other things happened too. She woke up this morning really uncomfortable and not able to breathe well. The dreaded lying-in-bed-for-too-long pneumonia has probably arrived. So now instead of having the procedure, she is going to have the fluid removed from her lung tomorrow. Then if those cultures go well, they will do the tracheal echo electrocardiogram to see if there is a problem with the heart valves, and if those are okay then they will put in the pacemaker, unless of course something else comes up. Crimenently I am so tired of the experts not knowing what to do. I liked my country doctor who said “let’s fix her”.

Wichita continues to impress me. This side of town seems to be very rich, but it makes for a beautiful city. And every store that you can find in California is here too. Went to Border’s (books and magazines) and Target (laundry detergent) today and then in search of a Laundromat. Guess what! There are two listed in the entire area, and the city itself has 600,000 people, not including the greater metropolitan area. Sigh. So I did my laundry in the hospital bathroom sink so I will have two clean shirts until I can get across town to do a load.

I don’t know what to expect with tomorrow’s procedure. I know that they remove the fluid with a giant needle, and I’m not allowed to be present when they do it. I think I am glad. And I hope that her nights will be more comfortable when it isn’t hard for her to get her breathe.