Saturday, November 20, 2010

Things I'm Learning

1. I'm taking much better care of myself lately. I'm more centered and stronger physically and mentally.

2. I know this because when life happens to throw things out of whack, I feel it distinctly. It may not totally throw me off my game, but it's evident in how I feel after I take the time to take care of me.

3. They don't keep people in hospitals long enough after procedures.

It appears that Mom's surgery was a success. However, the doctor and hospital absolutely should've told us more about potential complications. They assumed that we'd understand/remember that all the complications they've mentioned before, during her trials and tests, also applied to her actual surgery. The discharge instructions are irresponsibly generalized, and IMO, they did not leave her flat nearly long enough after her surgery; she was given free rein to move the bed up and down by degrees as much as she liked. The headache kicked in the evening after her surgery, but because there was no Tylenol ordered on her records by the doctor, they couldn't give her any. (Tylenol! I should've just run to a convenience store, but I was more concerned with always being there for her.) Post-surgery, all the meds in her system, morphine or otherwise, caused her BP and respiration to drop enough where they weren't crazy about giving her anything for pain. The morphine made her itch to high heaven, and her head was killing her...they gave her a Percocet around 4AM that only dropped the pain about halfway, and they loaded her up with Benadryl. Also, she has a really sensitive system when it comes to medications; breakfast came back up the next day, but lunch stayed down, so we got her home in the late afternoon, because the itching and headaches were making her miserable and she just wanted to be in her own bed.

However, getting her home brings with it a false sense of recovery. We tried soup last night, and she was moving around from bed to john to dining room and living room, when she should've been staying flat (which is nowhere in the discharge orders). Nothing, medication or otherwise, stayed down last night and her head was killing her. Lil Sis, bless her heart, did what I usually do, got on the Internet and found an article about the surgery, with specific information about the complications that could result. As she was reading this stuff to me, the lightbulbs were going off in my head big-time, because when they did the discogram especially, the docs warned that she would have to stay flat for X period of time, because when you puncture the spinal cord at all, to place leads, wires, medications, whatever, the patient then needs to stay flat for X amount of time, because weeping of spinal fluid around the puncture sites means a decrease of spinal fluid going up and down the cord, which causes blinding headaches and a host of other complications if you're not careful. For her procedure, they would've placed a catheter into her cord, then the leads which administer the medication from the pump, and then removed the catheter and left the leads. The gap left around the leads closes on its own, so long as that area's given the correct convalescence. Yesterday's upright movement put the kibash on that.

Through all this, she has NO pain in her back and legs, thanks be to the gods!

So, today's a little better. She's stuck in bed, trying out crackers, soda, etc., her head's a little better, the itching is subsiding (thank goodness!), and we're taking care of her every need. I don't want her up for more than john visits until Monday, and we'll call the doc first thing on Monday to schedule a follow-up, confirm our diagnosis, complain, etc., provided she doesn't go any further south in the meantime.

Those first 2 points at the beginning were my usual self-centered ah-ha! moments. When you're charged with the 24/7 care of a loved one, you go on auto-pilot. I drove her to the hospital Thursday morning, armed with knitting, books, snacks, and coffee and stayed with her. Her surgery ran 12 noon to 2ish, another hour-ish in recovery (that should've been longer too, IMO), and then she got a room. A nice one, thank the gods, with a recliner and fold-out couch, so I stayed all night, only escaping when Les came by to spell me off so I could grab some real food and fresh air. Also, we were blessed with friendly nurses...probably could've been a pinch more attentive in spots, but I'm sure they relax a bit when there's a family member there to take the heat off them a bit. The CNAs were drones, but the RNs were pros.

Lil Sis was scheduled to come home Friday for a week's vacay...she surprised Mom by heading out from Charlotte in the wee hours and getting to the hospital early afternoon, which raised Mom's spirits nicely. I was going to head home last night, but Lil Sis had a deer-in-headlights look, so I regrouped and stayed overnight at Mom's last night. LS had a day trip planned for months to check in with pals in Orlando, so I'm at Mom's tonight and then she'll take over tomorrow night....thank goodness, because getting time off this week proved kind of impossible. I'm working Monday thru Wednesday, but Les will be available during the day too if anything goes down.

This morning I got outta Mom's place early to go home, rest, reconnoiter...crashed for 2 hours, showered, ate, had coffee...I'd woken up with a headache that finally cleared out early this afternoon, and I'm feeling 100% better after that little bit of "me" time. I'm doing laundry, keeping an ear out for Mom, and looking forward to some more knitting and reading.

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