Final quiet night…

24 Jan

Monday December 23, 2013

After the doctors removed my mother’s ventilator, I filled her in on what happened. She didn’t seem confused – just a bit, shall we say ‘ornery’. The nurses told me to expect some lingering delirium while she was fully coming out of the sedation so I wasn’t concerned.

I told her that Sandy was on her way – that she’d be there just after lunch – and that Greg was flying in first thing in the morning. These initial hours, post sedation, were pretty hard for both her and me. Not only did she believe she was going to die, she seemed to have given up a little bit. “Why bother?” was her reply to most of what I said.

“Maybe just one more day in the ICU to stabilize you, then we can get you back into a regular, quiet hospital room…” was met with “why bother? I’m dying.”

“Do you want me to wash your face?” was met with “why bother?”

I know she was scared. She said so. She was scared and angry. Two emotions I rarely saw from her. But she was also very ill. About 30 minutes after removing the intubation, she asked for water. At first, the doctors allowed small sips of water to see if she could keep it down. She couldn’t. Within minutes, she quickly vomited. She couldn’t keep ice chips down either. What was coming up was not water or food either, as she hadn’t eaten food since Saturday. The nurses assured me that her lungs were just clearing but to keep my eye on the amount of fluid, viscosity and color. I didn’t mind – she’d taken care of me my entire life, holding my hair back as I got sick. It was the LEAST I could do. Hold her and comfort her, blow her nose, wash her face…

I took a much needed break when my sister got there. I knew all of this was very serious and I needed to alert others in the family. My Mom has one sister and they’d been estranged for the better part of a year. I dialed my Aunt’s number (so strange I can still remember by heart their home phone number!) but got their answering machine. Left a generic message because who wants bad news delivered on a recording device?

Next, I called my cousin, Laura. She called me right back and I told her the news. Sort of played it down – no need to worry anyone. She asked if they should come see her and I felt it would be too much for my Mom that day. Told her maybe Tuesday…

Next call was to Mom’s best friend Inga. I’d been keeping Inga apprised of the changes daily and discouraging visits as well. There was NO way I was going to let Inga see Mom on a ventilator. I told Inga the same thing as my cousin. Maybe Tuesday…

Later that afternoon, without knowing it, my sister reunited Mom with Aunt Sharon. It was a gift she was not aware she was giving. A very appropriate and healing gift, considering we wouldn’t have Christmas this year. We didn’t know we weren’t supposed to use our cell phones in the room, but Sandy used hers – and let Mom and Sharon mend the bridge that separated them. Mom was so relieved. Aunt Sharon said she’d come see her the next day. Mom was all smiles.

Shortly after this call, my sister and I commented on Mom’s delirium. It seemed more marked, not lessened. Surely, the sedation medications had worn off by now? We detected subtle shifts in her speech, things her nurses wouldn’t notice, but we did. She started misplacing words in sentences, and using wrong words as well. Mom even noticed. She said “I know I’m not making much sense…”

Still, we suspected she just needed a good night’s rest.  It had been a very hard two days for her and she was in such discomfort. The nurses were trying everything to get her nausea under control. On top of that, her blood glucose was too high as was her blood pressure.

Even so, it would be a quiet night for Mom. The last quiet night she’d ever have. What we didn’t know then was that Mom had already suffered three strokes.

LindaBetlan

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4 Responses to “Final quiet night…”

  1. Rose January 24, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    You are giving your mom a wonderful tribute here. My heart goes out to you and your family.

    • Lisa January 24, 2014 at 11:18 am #

      Thank you – she was my everything. I still can’t believe she’s gone…

  2. Denise January 24, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

    Thank you so much for sharing your story Lisa. I hope it helps you to heal 🙂 Sending you hugs and good thoughts.

    • Lisa January 24, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

      Thanks Denise. There are a few more parts to the story that will be posted over the next few days. It is definitely helping to get this on virtual paper – while I’ll never forget those days, it helps provide some clarity.

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