Saturday, April 14, 2007

Brain Surgery, Day Two

My mother is alive and reasonably compos mentis in Littleton Hospital today. Thank Goddesses. God, The Light of the Universe, Allah, and anything else out there with positive powers. And thanks to all who prayed or send thoughts and energy or whatever spiritual practice anyone does. Today was also long and difficult, but so much better than yesterday that I am not complaining at all.

She actually looked worse when I got there around noon, eyes blacker, bruises running down her left cheek, occasional bloody "tears" running down her face from her swollen shut eye and neck and a "turban" of gauze which has all sorts of fluids leaking through. But she was propped up in bed complaining about all of this, sounding very much herself.

Dad had been there in the morning, Luke and Mary were there when I arrived, trying to "cheer her up" with lame jokes (Luke) and optimistic chatter (Mary.) I know how much Mom hates both kinds of attempted diversions, because she told me so yesterday morning after the possibility of surgery came up. She said it took too much energy to be polite to them, even though she loves them dearly. They finally left about 12:45 PM, and Mom slept.

It was clear she'd had a bad night, for she had long gauze strips tied to her hand and feet, and a wrap around her chest securing her gently to the bed. Luckily Allison (my father) didn't notice, and I learned later from her nurse she had been very agitated during the night, trying to yank out her catheter, and climb out of bed. After she kicked a nurse in the face, they had to restrain her. She would be so horrified by her actions that I'll never tell her this.

I spent the afternoon getting her off to sleep, so that as soon as she started snoring, some nurse or tech could arrive bedside to do something to wake her up again. Sometimes hospitals make no sense to me at all. Actually most of the time. She has the added burden of being profoundly deaf, and was unable to use her hearing aides. For her to understand people they had to lean close to her left cheek (the one blood was trickling down from the smashed, sutured eye) and speak slowly and clearly into her (still bloody) left ear. Nobody really did that except her nurse and I.

So I spent my afternoon hanging over her bed, translating what the doctors and nurses and dietitians were asking or telling her. At one quiet moment she asked me why she was so tired, and I leaned down to reminder her that she had just had major emergency brain surgery last night and was entitled to feel a bit spacey. It came like a revelation to both of us. She had not taken in all the explanations about surgery during the day, and I couldn't figure out why she had seemed so confused about it all afternoon.
Her co\mment? Gee, I am so glad to know it's over, I've been worrying when it was going to be done! She asked pertinent questions-who did the surgery, what was done, why didn't she remember (I told her it was because she was so heavily medicated, not that she disintegrated in front of my eyes over a terrifying 40 minutes), and no wonder her head and eye hurt so much last night. No wonder indeed!

So for most of the day her personality and sense of humor was intact, though she did have trouble understanding what other were saying to her, mostly because of her hearing, or lack there of, I think. Around 5:00 PM, however, she began to go down hill again, getting agitated and trying to climb out of bed. I began to experience the anxiety and fear of déjà vu. Luckily the neurosurgeon (who we all like a lot) arrived and said this happened to many elderly surgical patients. As the day ends they seem to recede or lose ground, just like Mom was doing, Then perk up again in the morning, with no memories of having had a bad evening or night. They sometimes refer to it as Sundowner's Syndrome.

After a shockingly brief debate with myself about staying to make sure she ate dinner, I decided to spare myself a second ordeal (though I could tell she was less confused than the night before) and bugged out. I do believe I am finally living out the recognition that taking care of me take precedence over taking care of others now and then. It's a healthy step which I took with no second guessing myself, and I am pleased.

Tomorrow still unknown. We seem to be living hour by hour at this point; at some point we'll move to day by day. She is still in critical condition, and quite unaware of the struggles which may lie ahead. But we had her for several hours today, loving us as we do her, and I am grateful.

Blessing on all of us, Margo

1 comment:

Judith HeartSong said...

Dear Margo,

You continue to take care of yourself in this very difficult situation.... it is so easy to put ourselves last.

Love and blessings to your mom and all your family as you journey through this... I am thinking of you.