MATRIS REVISITED: Update

I haven't been able to update. No apologies from me. I've been swamped.

Mum's slowly but surely recovering.  I visited her briefly after her surgery. She wasn't cognitive, of course, though she did flinch at sounds.  They kept her intubated and on a pacemaker for the rest of the evening.  Those things weren't needed after midnight. We visited again yesterday.

She's very confused due to her pain medications.  This is normal. To be without them would be subjecting a human to horrific "discomfort".  Given the discomfort Mum was in before the surgery (the catheter, the IV site, the swelling in her leg), it's no small wonder that that she's been given a stronger (for her) means numb everything.  Yes, she will continue to be in discomfort. The pain will be associated with the surgical site, and that will remain. However, it's been dulled, and the minor pains are now tolerable (or not registering on the mind at all).

The lack of cognitive reasoning has left her in a state whereby she hasn't any control of her environment.

"They gave me old soup," says Mum once I pick up the phone.  It hurts to inhale. It hurts to exhale. Half-breathed words slip from her tongue with all the strength of a feather kept captive by the wind; if you aren't paying attention, you will miss them as they sigh by. "They won't bring me dinner. Did dad eat his soup?"

I made tortellini soup for us tonight. "Dad's already eaten. No, not hospital soup. He's at home, not the rehab facility. It's not the same soup. Someone else is making your soup. I didn't bring you any soup today. Dad's eating his ice cream now. I don't know where your ice cream is. You can ask the nurse for some, though." (There was a lot of soup confusion conversation at this point.) I assure her that I'll call the nurse's station, especially as she suggests she can't reach her call button.

Her soup wasn't old. It was her dinner. She ate only half, so they took it away. She ate her breakfast and lunch. She can reach her call button. Her vitals are good. Her anemia was 8 g/dL (which isn't bad, though higher is better) so they gave her another transfusion; this is a typical treatment for patients that have had surgery.

"They won't let me walk," Mum says once I call back to explain the Soup Situation.

She can't walk the halls. She may not be aware of it, but she'll be exhausted just walking to the door of her room.  Even if she could walk the halls, she's currently filled with tubes. Catheter, IVs and a mainline, and so on. I wouldn't dare try to tango with so much clutter attached to me.  I explain all this as best I can.

"Okay?" I ask, knowing that she'll say yes and then call my dad a few minutes later to voice the same concerns.

She calls him, of course.  He doesn't have answers. I haven't had a chance to walk from the dining room to the living room yet.

My mother is an odd creature. All the world is defined by her perspective. If she thinks it isn't so, it just isn't. I'm just her kid. What do I know? I'm old enough to be a grandma but I'm also considered too young by my mother's thinking to have ailments.

Gruff is too old to not have ailments. My immune system reacts to my stress by attacking me. I can ignore the crop of blisters on my hands, I can ignore the fluid in my joints, and I can deal with the fatigue by turning into the Snapping Bitch of the Tenth Hell ("Can't you men do anything I ask when I ask of it???! RAAAHHH! How do you expect me to keep this house running?!")  I can't ignore my blood pressure. It was threateningly high. My body is very adamant: rest or suffer; you'll be no good to anyone either way. 

"Mum, I'm not driving to Steubenville today," I say as patiently as possible. "Not even to drop off Dad. He wants to be there at 10 and stay until 5."

She refused. She reminded me that his Parkinson's and chemo make him unsuitable for "sitting with her".  She wants me to come alone.

"Mum, I can't. I need to take medication to get the fluid out. I have a pounding heachache. My blood pressure is extremely high. I don't want another TIA."  Been there, done that. Hurts like fucking hell, and the facial droop complicates conversations.

"I need someone to sit with me.  I think I had a stroke," says Mum without missing a beat. Her voice may be feathery sighs but she still has power behind them.

I'm not trying to one-up someone who has just had open heart surgery. I'm just being proactive regarding my own limitations and pace.  After all, she's in an ICU and surrounded by nursing staff; Dad has only us to take care of him.

"You didn't have a stroke, Ma. Your pain medication is causing you to be confused," I soothe. "It's going to be okay, okay? Give it a few days and you'll be back to feeling in control again."

She balks. Epic Level.  I explain again. She balks.

"Okay," the voice at the other end of the call sounds hopelessly forlorn and slighted. She hangs up. Then she calls Dad. She wants the number to the church. Obviously, one of the ladies can fill the role I'm too inconsiderate to fill.

Seriously.

Guilt overwhelms me.  I decide at that point to stop giving a fuck about my health. Fine, I convince myself, I'll drive over and sit downstairs while Better Half takes Dad up to see her. I won't have a TIA. I'm just lazy or something, or making excuses. She needs me!

Better Half scrubbed those dark aspirations.  "You're not driving." He calls the nurse to ask if Mum had a stroke.

"It's her pain medication," sighs the nurse, "She is going to feel weak after open heart surgery. The medications will make her groggy."

As someone who has had one too many Dilaudid Floaties served up by the ER or during post-op recovery, I can attest to the fact that the medications can make people groggy or high. I mean, there's a reason why we have an opioid epidemic right now, yet?  There's a reason Better Half and I stop at Taco Bell after these ER visits - nothing make a high person more happy that three taco supremes and a large sugar-rush drink.

"I'll take the hit," says Better Half in reference to the unholy hell that could potentially be released over this decision..

I suck down my meds before climbing into the welcoming embrace of fleece and fabric softener. He goes downstairs to update Dad.  Nobody is happy, of course, but life is what it is.  He returns to lie beside Gus and me. I doze off, though I'm intermittently awoken by the house phone, my mobile phone, and the Jitterbug ringtone on Dad's phone. I currently have more voicemail than Trump after a Tweet-storm.

Now we re-touch upon that Soup Situation.  I could not understand what she meant by "you brought this soup?" et al.  Apparently she thought I had visited earlier today.  Or something like that?

Bear in mind that there's no concept of the passage of time. Mum's meds make it difficult to gauge what meal she's on, let alone the day of the week. Absolutely none of this confusion is her fault. She's not trying to behave like this on purpose. I have overwhelming sympathy for anyone in this state of mind.

I somewhat wonder if my father is confused by all she's saying. Is he taking their conversations with a pinch of salt. In his unspoken line of thinking, is he taking into account all the days she spent with him while he was in skilled nursing? She was there from 11AM - 5PM. Six month's worth of visits. His was a tough journey and, even now, we all can admit that he would not have recovered as quickly had Mum not been there to stimulate his mind. Of course, he wants to repay that effort by sitting beside her.

The exertion could cause him to relapse. He's not able to do the stairs at home without feeling like hammered shit. A shower does him in. He can't possibly keep wheeling himself into the hall to ask the nurses to fix Mum's immediate needs. He's no good to Mum in that environment. His strength is his capacity to love and emotionally support. She will see his presence as a means to solve immediate physical needs such as getting her fresh water or finding a vending machine.

The problem is, if he's exhausted, he might forget where her room is (or where he is. We don't leave him by himself at home.)

All of this will change once she's off the meds and working towards being active again. Yes, she'll still have pain/discomfort. She will still be exhausted. Her mind will be aware, though, and she can apply reasoning skills once more.

Meanwhile, we do our best to keep things running smoothly here. DemonDog (aka my brother, Raindog) came into our room the night before last. Dad was in the shower, so Dante hopped into my lap to watch Stephen Colbert.  Maybe he's secretly a Democrat and only watches Fox news because of the 'Rents?

Just kidding. It was a clip from last week featuring Sen Jeff Flake.  Dante seemed engrossed by it.


Raindog is happy.

_________________________________________
Yes, yes, the Gruff knows she's bastardizing Latin. It's a lame pun, and it really does indicate the possessive singular, ergo run with it.  I mean, "Condicionem matris" is a better way of expressing it, but where is the fun in that? Why are my companions grammar and word nazis?


As for Dr. Miracle's dosage quandary:  I called them Friday afternoon. It wasn't 2.5.  It's 1.5mg.

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