Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Another World

There is, out there in the netherworld, a group called "bloggers". These are random people who go online writing about their areas of expertise or complaining about motherhood or simply chronicling their lives. And then those of us who write web logs end up stumbling upon other people's blogs that intrigue us and we end up commenting upon each others entry for the day and eventually we create a long distance acquaintance.

While I have seen some instances of vitriolic comments from malcontents on the web, for the most part when a person writes of a personal problem or is stumbling on the sometimes rocky footpath of life, fellow bloggers are there with advice, prayers, offers of personal assistance and/or money. It is a strange and wonderful phenomenon that is uplifting and gratifying, especially when you are on the receiving end of it. And this week it is I on the receiving end.

Over the past few weeks I have been writing about my mother's health and habits as we try to care for her and more recently my posts have been of her surgery. Fellow bloggers have reached out in support and lifted my spirits when I needed it most. These are people I have never seen nor spoken with but they have been there for me and Denny from the get-go.

So all I can say is, watch out you guys, because when Denny and I hit the road once again you may find me ringing your doorbell for a long overdue hug. Fair warning.

P.S. The doctor took Mom off the ventilator yesterday and she's doing okay on her own with just oxygen. She's alert enough to complain--that's a good sign!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Status Quo

After a rough bit yesterday evening when my mother's heart rate once again soared and fluttered, she calmed down and had a relatively peaceful night. When I left at 9:30AM this morning after spending the night she was still pretty sedated and motionless. I'm hoping this all works out.

Thanks to all of you who have commented and written--your words help more than you will ever know. Hugs to you all.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Playing God

DNR. Do Not Resuscitate.

That's what we had on file for my mother. And when I got the phone call at 2 AM that her breathing was getting more labored, the nurse wanted to confirm that my mother wasn't to be placed on a ventilator. TJ (the nurse) said she discussed the ventilator option with my mother and Mom said "no", so I told TJ she had her answer.

At 5:30AM they placed Mom on 100% oxygen and TJ told me I could come in even though visiting hours are 11AM to 8PM. The respiratory therapist changed masks to one that had a rubber seal that was much tighter and didn't allow Mom to be understood easily as well as looking very uncomfortable, so when the doctor came in and pushed for placing Mom on a ventilator for a couple of days to allow her to get some rest from her struggles to breathe, my brother and I once again asked her if she wanted the ventilator. No, no, no. So I asked her what she DID want, and she said she wanted to go home.

"Okay," I said, "if you want to go home, how about allowing the doctor to put you back on the ventilator so you can breathe more easily, and then they can give you a sufficient amount of pain medicine so your "stomach" can heal" (they were limiting her pain meds due to her shallow breathing and low blood pressure). "Then," I said, "I can take you home and feed you some bacon and eggs". That's the only thing she has been asking for since she arrived. This time she agreed and we changed the code and now she looks horribly uncomfortable with the tube down her throat and my brother cried when he saw her and how in the h*ll do you get over the guilt of coercing your mother to do something she didn't want to do?

I came home and got sick.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Slight sepsis. More difficulty breathing. Obstruction in colon, with tearing of the colon walls leading to air bubbles in the abdominal cavity. Ventilator, emergency surgery, colostomy. Somewhat awake and stable today but still in recovery due to lack of rooms at the hospital. Still on the ventilator. But she's hanging in.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

From Bad to Better

The abbreviated story; cancelled the trip to the gambling casino, went to doctor, went to the ER, transferred to the hospital pending surgery, moved out of the surgical ward, on antibiotics.

All of this involved catheters and cat scans and terms like "free air in the abdominal cavity" and probes. The final decision was air bubbles instead of free air, keeping a watchful eye out and pumping huge amounts of antibiotics into my mother for an apparent variety of infections. At least they are working on a solution and the initial diagnosis of a possible perforated something has been changed. Still my mother will be in the hospital for the next few days so we'll both be grumpy. She, because she wants out and me because I have to keep explaining why she needs to stay. We're beginning to perfect this bit of stand-up.

So, little sleep, lots to do, but a little more peace of mind at the moment. I can live with that.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Going from Bad to Worse

Last night my mother started having severe stomach pains and she had a slight fever. She refused to go to the hospital and spent all evening as well as the night on the couch. This morning the pain has lessened, the fever is down but she's still not right. The back pain is still there, but at least she has some color to her face this morning. I look at her and think, "what next?"

On a different note, so far the only pictures I've taken with the new camera have been of items I'm putting on eBay for my mother. The weather has returned to its typical winter dreariness and there's no color in my world right now. Years ago as a surprise for my father, Denny and I secretly planted a ton of crocus bulbs all over the front yard. In the spring they popped up and looked wonderful peeking up through the snow, but the squirrels discovered the bulbs and the following year there wasn't a crocus to be found. I would love to see a crocus right now--I need a photo op.

And a mother who feels better.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Follow Up on the WagonTeamster

These are the most current articles: "Supporters" "Sister" "Investigation"

No word on the condition of the two horses that were not killed at the scene, nor if Clementine the dog has been located.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Different Kind of RVer

For the past couple of months I have been following the blog of the Wagonteamster. This gentleman built himself a small RV of sorts (kind of like a gypsy wagon) and then hitched four powerful Percherons to it to explore the country. Wandering the back roads, meeting the good people of our country and just taking the time to smell the roses, Bob brought a different perspective to the idea of full time travel.

Today on Tioga and George's blog I found this. Be sure to read the comments following the article also. The dog commenters are referring to is Bob's dog Clementine who was traveling with him and has apparently been taken by someone. This is a horrific end to what was an incredible journey and I hope Bob and the two surviving horses make it through okay.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

More of the Same

The last two days have been quiet here. Denny spent most of yesterday putting in a new cat door to replace the one that Patches broke when I accidentally shut her out. Naturally, the tools he needed to do the job properly were missing so the installation took four times longer than it should have and involved a lot more work. Me? I spent the day researching the items I was going to put on eBay for my mom, since she's still suffering intense pain from muscle spasms in her upper back. Unfortunately, she's self-medicating with booze and sleep, so I've had to try to come up with appropriate prices on her items by myself (she does have good antiques).

We're due for heavy rains and high winds gusting up to 65 mph today so I'm crossing my fingers that we don't lose power here. Obviously this will be a good day for housework or starting the massive job of clearing out the basement. *heavy sigh* Our favorite campground in Myrtle Beach sent us a flyer yesterday advertising their camping specials--which is a cruel thing to do at this point in our lives! The goal is to either get my mother back into a physical condition where she can take care of herself or have her settled into some sort of group housing where she can be monitored by this fall. A lot of it is up to her and I don't think she's all that interested in living right now.

In the meantime, we just keep on keepin' on.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Mental Health Day

Today was a mental health day for Denny and I; we not only took ourselves out to breakfast, as is our norm on Sundays, but we met with friends for dinner too. It was nice to get out of the house and away from the smell of smoke and the responsibility of another person's care for a few hours.

That's not to say we didn't get some work done today, since we did pull down the venetian blinds in two bedrooms and scrubbed them down and washed the windows as well. I also tried out the macro setting on the new camera by taking closeup pictures of items I'm going to put on eBay for my mom once I get her to write the ad (since she's the one who is knowledgeable about the antiques and collectibles--I just do the scut work). The camera is the same one as my old one, but with some upgrades like facial recognition and "intelligent automatic mode". As opposed to "stupid automatic mode" I guess. There are times when it would be nice to have one of those little slip-it-in-your pocket cameras, but I like the feel and heft of this "I'm-almost-a-digital-SRL-camera", along with the 18x zoom. Because the zoom means that I don't have to walk so far to get the shot I want--heh.

Now I just need some faraway place to photograph....

Friday, February 06, 2009

Sad Times

In the last year Denny and I have attended a lot of funerals. It's weird to realize you are at that age where friends and family members are beginning to succumb to illness and the accumulation of years. What is worse, however, is when you have to attend the funeral of a child of a friend, even if the child is a young adult. As Denny's father once said, "no one should outlive their child".

I don't know of anyone who is comfortable in the presence of death and I, for one, am never sure of the "right" thing to say. I can only hope that by being there Denny and I express our support, affection and sorrow at the pain our friends are suffering. I can never find the words, but they are there.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Status Quo

For the moment things are quiet in southern Ohio and I'm hoping it stays that way for a while. Mom is still suffering with muscle spasms in her back and chest but she's trying to tough it out. Denny and I have started moving Mom's bedroom furniture from the small bedroom to the big one in preparation of making the smaller room a laundry room. However, after seeing her property tax bill that arrived in today's mail, I'm thinking we should start pushing independent living housing again--it's expensive to own a stick-built house!

The weather forecast was for another heavy snowfall this afternoon, but it appears we're going to dodge the bullet this time as it all seems to be passing by to the southeast. Even better is that weekend temperatures are going to be in the high 40s to possibly the low 50s, which means we can haul out the large venetian blinds from the master bedroom to the back yard to be sprayed down and washed. It's amazing how yellow everything gets when there is a smoker in the house. Denny also can replace the cat door that Patches destroyed when I accidentally (oops) closed the back door while she was outside. She somehow managed to worm herself through the cat door in the screen door but then was stuck because the house door was closed. And she just stood there squeezed between the two doors until I finally heard her collar bell jingle. My bad.

I think humdrum days are a nice change of pace.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Hospital Redux

I was up early today and when my mother came out of the bedroom it was obvious to me that she was in intense pain. She told me she thought her lung had collapsed because she hurt so bad in her chest and back. This she told me as she was lighting a cigarette. *Sigh* So I loaded her into the van and off we went to the ER to see what was going on this time.

Blood work, EKGs, a chest X-ray and treatment with nitroglycerin seemed to eliminate a heart attack, so my mother was given two breathing treatments, morphine, prednisone, prescriptions for more prednisone, antibiotics and Vicodin and sent home. The diagnosis was muscular-skeletal pain due to COPD.

Mom immediately lit a cigarette upon arriving home and continued to smoke heavily during the afternoon. This past week Mom had been looking and acting so much more healthy; she had been up and moving more, working a jigsaw puzzle with us and watching TV. Now this. Two steps forward, five leaps backwards. I swear I'm beginning to think the woman has a death wish.

And I'm back to wondering whether to insist she go into assisted living housing despite her wishes.
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