Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bump in the Road

It has been quite a day...mostly filled with a lot of tears and worry. My mom has been re-admitted to the hospital. She is okay...stable, and mostly there for observation. We think this is more of a "bump" than a setback, but it still came as a bit of a surprise.

Over the past two weeks, my Mom has been listening to Tuesdays with Morrie in audiobook format. She spends a lot of time quoting from the book, and she has repeatedly asked me to read it again. Yesterday, I started to listen to the audiobook on my drive home...but I was in tears the whole way home. I think it just hits too close to home for me right now, and I'm really not sure that I can continue to listen to it at this time. It really is a wonderful book, but I think I'm far too raw to hear this story.

As my Mom and I talk, she always brings up the book in every conversation, usually by saying "Morrie says..." and quoting from the book. We talked about how "Morrie says" that this universe is too harmonious, grand and overwhelming to be an accident. We talked about the circle of life, and a few of Morrie's theories on the birth-death balance. I told her that one of the things that touched me was the story Mitch Albom relayed about the day Morrie got his diagnosis. I don't recall the exact quote, but apparently, he looked outside, noticed the world going on around him and felt like yelling "why is the world still going on when it feels like my world just stopped?" I think that is exactly how I've felt since the day we learned my mother had a brain tumor...sometimes, I just do not understand how the world is going on around me when I feel like my world has just...stopped.

Today, Mom wanted to know if she could steal a line (with a few alterations) from him for her tombstone, or if that would be a copyright infringement. It made me laugh, but I love that the book has touched her. According to my Mom, everyone should read the book. Now that she has finished this book, I might get her Mitch Albom's book The Five People You Meet in Heaven to see if she likes that as well. I also recently added The Alchemist to the ipod, but she seems to be having trouble concentrating on that.

Last night was a rough night. The baby woke up at 5 and my mom started calling me at 6. She was dizzy and not feeling well again. I immediately contacted her oncologist to give him an update. My mom called a few more times over the next two hours, and Micah woke up early, too. I called my father around 8:30 to give him an update, and we started to speak to the doctor at the nursing home to work out the plan of action. We were working on getting the nursing home doctor to at least call the doctor to coordinate the proper tests and hear the recommended procedures.

Micah woke up early, too, and my day was off and running. My father called to say he needed to take the car to be serviced and I had to go up to the nursing home since he was going to be late. I raced around getting ready and had to send Micah to preschool with Megan instead of going with him. I got in the car, stopped to vote, and headed up with Maya to the nursing home. I was there before 11:00, and it turned out, my father was already there. I have to admit, I was a bit ticked that he didn't call me to tell me he was running ahead of schedule so I could have taken Micah to preschool and come up an hour or so later.

We spoke to the doctor, and he told us he was making arrangements for Mom to go to the hospital. SIL, Paige and Peyton came by to visit Mom, but they arrived right at the same time as transport. We made sure Mom had her lunch, the girls said a quick hello, and we all headed out.

My father, SIL and I were all a bit teary - to be frank, we were concerned that my mother was dealing with a brain bleed or significant tumor growth. My Mom was quite clear that she does not want any more surgery. Consequently, we were all worried that this might be the beginning of the end, and we kept getting all choked up. We tried to keep it in check, but not always so well. I was frustrated about what this meant for her rehab stay. I really wanted Mom to have a few more days of rehab before we brought her home. We knew that if they admitted Mom to the hospital, her time at rehab would be over. We debated packing up her things before we left so that we would not need to return later, but ultimately we decided to wait to pack her belongings.

We did have a bit of comic relief before we Dad's jeans split right down his tush!! Yes, his jeans were ripped, and his underwear was hanging out for the world to see. Luckily, one of the staffers told my father, and he was able to take his jacket and tie it around his waist for the day. For the sake of my father's modesty, I will not share the color of his underwear (hey, Dad, note the spelling). We were hysterical!!

We arrived at the hospital and Mom was taken to the ER. My father and I took turns in the waiting room for a while watching Maya while the other one sat with Mom. They immediately took a CT scan, ordered a platelet transfusion, and decided to admit her. The nurse took some pity on us...and got permission for us to bring Maya back into the room with Mom. While there, she dictated an email, I read her the blog and your messages, and we had a few chats. We talked about what a great visit she had yesterday with her childhood friends, and we laughed over a blog message to Mom. It was funny to listen to them talk about the huckleberries...and boy, do I miss my Grammy's huckleberry pie! I also loved hearing all of the stories of when they lived together.

My mom and I kept reminiscing today. I have to say, I wish I had been taking notes, because we remembered a bunch of funny stories, and I remember laughing and smiling a lot while we were waiting. Perhaps my mom will be able to remind me tomorrow when I read this to her, but I think I'm just so tired that I remember the feeling, not the details. My mom also asked my Dad to bring a few of the Dr. Seuss books to the house so that she can record them for the children. As we were talking about the books, my Mom turned to me and told me that we needed to write our own Dr. Seuss book about Dad. She thought that we should use the book Green Eggs and Ham for our book, and suggested it include lines like "Dad can sleep in a house, Dad can sleep with a mouse. Dad can sleep in a boat and Dad can sleep without a coat. Dad can sleep here or there, Dad can sleep most anywhere!" We then started to substitute other shop...and thought the book idea just got better and better!

Before the CT scan, they warned us that CT scans are challenging to read post-surgery and radiation. Often, they look far worse because of the swelling from radiation, and they did not want us to be upset if they told us things looked worse. Luckily, we got good news about her CT scan right major brain bleeds! That was a big relief - they were concerned that was the source of Mom's problem. Even better news...Mom's "midline shift" (the portion of her right brain that is pushed into the left side of her head due to swelling) had reduced by .6 cm - fairly significant! That is really good news because they usually expect things to be worse at this point, not better.

We were there for maybe 2 hours before they transferred her to a room. She is actually now in the Weinberg building, and will remain there for a few days. Because we have run out of insurance days for rehab, Mom will not be readmitted to a rehab after this hospital visit. We asked the hospital to make sure that they can keep Mom until Friday (since we have no way to take her home prior to Friday), and they said it would not be a problem. We asked if they expected her stay to be longer than a few days, and right now they are still anticipating that she will come home on Friday. We will need to work with everyone to get her equipment ordered...we are not sure if they ordered everything at the nursing home or not, so we will need to figure that out in the morning.

Mom was in good spirits today. She really is fine, minus the occasional bouts of dizziness. There is a 1 nurse to 2 patient ratio on her floor, so we decided not to get an aide. She is in a large private room, and the nurses seemed fantastic. They were not concerned about handling any of her bathroom issues or the transfers, and they were very much on top of her medications. Mom says she feels safe there, so we were relieved.

Once we got to her room (around 5), I spent time with her nurse giving her information about Mom. She was quite kind, as was the doctor. My brother arrived around 6, and we stayed with Mom for a while longer. Dad left around 7 to drive back to the nursing home to pack up her room, and my brother and I stayed to sort out a few things at the hospital.

Mom was actually fixated about something she kept seeing outside her window - she was very insistent that she could see a bank sign with the temperature on it, and wanted to know if anyone else could see it. We all took turns, but we kept telling Mom that she was looking at some stoplights, not a bank sign. She was quite funny, though - at one point, I was trying to figure out what she was seeing, and I said "Mom, I'm looking, but I just don't see it." "Did you look to the left?" she asked. "I'm looking left...oh, you are snarky, aren't you? Very funny, Mom." Yes, it dawned on me that Mom was teasing me because we always ask her if she is looking left when she is having trouble seeing something. When I turned to look at her, she had a big grin on her face and her eyes were dancing at me.

It was 7:45 when we left to come home. It was a very long day, but I think my mom is in great hands again. I hope that things stay on track and we are able to move on Thursday and bring her home on Friday. I made a bunch of phone calls tonight to give everyone updates. Mom called a few times to tell me that she is doing well and that they already took her for her MRI. It is now 12:15, both children are asleep, and I think things are okay with Mom for right now. I hope we have an uneventful evening.

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