801 E Grant St
Meade, KS 67864
Meade, KS 67864
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.
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.
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.
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.