Thursday, October 15, 2009

Good news

Yesterday I got the dreaded call that no one wants to get. That middle of the night call from my Mom saying my Aunt Margaret wasn't doing well and could I please come up to the hospital. My cousin wasn't there yet and Mom really wanted me to come up. She asked if it would be OK for me to take the day off. At that point, I realized I had perfect clarity on what she was saying and what she wanted from me, but for the life of me, I couldn't remember what day it was. I remember my brain thinking is today Saturday? So I asked her "What day is it?" She said "It's Wednesday" with a little hitch in her breath. I said of course, let me get dressed and I would be right up there. I called work and left several messages to let everyone know I would be out and then headed out.

As I was driving towards the by-pass, I saw a speed limit sign that said 25 and looked down to discover I was already at 45 and edging towards 50. I had to consciously make myself calm down and slow down. When I got on the bypass, I set the cruise control so that I wouldn't have a problem.

When I got to the hospital, I realized I couldn't remember what room my Aunt was in. All I remember was that Mom said 2nd floor. I felt so scattered. I asked and was told she was in ICU on the second floor and to take elevator A. My Mom and Tracy (Margaret's daughther) were in her room waiting for me. Tracy had gotten the call around 3:30 that her mom was having trouble breathing. Her oxygen level had dropped and her carbon dioxide level had risen. Her BP was sky high and they were having trouble getting it down. She was disorientated and delirious. She's lost so much weight over the last couple of years. She looked so tiny laying in the hospital bed. They had a B-pap mask on her that was helping her breath. Everytime she takes a breath, it would force more oxygen in, but she still wasn't getting enough.

She kept trying to take the mask off and pulling her blankets off to try to get out of bed. One of us took turns removing her hands and covering her back up. At one point when I was holding her had, she looked right at me with these huge panicked eyes. She tried to ask me something but with the mask on we couldn't understand her. If she took the mask off an alarm would sound. We got the nurse and they came in to check on her, but she had drifted back off. A bit later another nurse came in to do a breathing treatment. And once the mask was finally off, she was able to ask what was going on. That's when I realized that I think I freaked her out when she saw me at her bedside. I think she worried that we were all holding vigil for her to die and she was scared.

She was originally admited for an infected feeding tube. Then she got bronchitis. On Monday they did one of those throat stretching procedures, because she has a lot of scar tissue in her throat from Kemo/Radiation due to Laryngial Cancer. Her esophagus is only as big around as my pinky finger where the scar tissue is. Once past that it's wide open. While they were doing the procedure, I guess her throat started spasming and she almosted coded. But they were able to stop it by stoping the procedure and removing the anistheisia.

In essence we were sitting vigil, because the hospital didn't know what was causing her sudden lack of oxygen. But we sure as hell didn't want her to think that. We were expecting the Dr. to come in around 8:30, because that's when the nurse said he was coming, but we figured it out after that thas was when he started his rounds. He didn't get to her room until after 11am. In the mean time we figured out that when Aunt M. was pulling at the blankets and restlessly moving her legs that she hadn't been trying to get out of bed. The poor woman was HOT! And every time she tried to get rid of the blankets, we all covered her back up. Of course we didn't realize this and we all had a real good laugh over it after the fact.

In the afternoon they stuck a scope down her throat to see if there was a reason she couldn't breath. They were specifically looking for another tumor that might be restricting her airway.
Thankfully, there was no tumor; the reason she couldn't breath was because she had a mucus plug stuck near her lungs. Because her esophagus is only as big around as my pinky finger, she couldn't cough it up. They removed it and she is doing really well.

They are planning on doing surgery on Friday to install an new Feeding Tube and they will probably keep her in for another week after that to make sure everything is going OK.

I realized after the fact, that her Dr's obviously don't talk to each other, because the woman has been cancer free for 3 years and can't gain any weight. She's currently 91 lbs. The one Dr. decided she hasn't been getting enough calories because they thought she was getting at least 1/2 of her caloric intake by mouth and the rest through the feeding tube. However because she has been aspirating things that she eats/drinks into her lungs her other Dr told her not to take anything by mouth. But he obviously didn't think to let the other Dr's know that he told her that, so they could adjust her feeding tube feedings. So while she is in there over the next week or so they are going to be re-evaluating what she needs. About Time.

But I wanted to thank you all that kept us in there prayers and thoughts yesterday and let you know that she is doing well. I'll keep you posted if anything else happens.

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