Tuesday, May 29, 2012


The view in ICU
Mom is doing better today. Much better.

(How much do I love writing that?)

She is off both the ventilator and the vasopressor drugs (that were supporting her blood pressure).

She's not out of the woods yet, but neither is she stuck in the weeds. There is a path and she's on it, even if it meanders and seems to double back at times.

There are still minefields ahead. Her equilibrium is so very delicate, thrown off by the slightest breeze. So we are going slow as they remove the supports that have been propping her up since the post-operative crash.

And yet there is danger in this, too.

The sooner she is on her feet, the better, as she is most assuredly in the "use it or lose it" years. And at the moment, still immobilized by equipment lines, strapped into a bed, she is not using much of anything.

Unless you count her middle finger, glowing bright red under the oxygen monitor's light, which she is waving under the noses of the staff who are bothering her, poking and prodding, hassling and tugging at her; tightening straps she wants loosened and set free from. And yes, I believe she knows what she is doing as she lifts that finger to them.

She can't really speak much yet, her esophagus torn up pretty badly from the ventilator tube's sojourn there. But her eyes and gestures say plenty.

When the nurse had handed me the suction tube and showed me how to stick it into the hole in the oxygen face mask, told me to encourage her to cough and suck up whatever comes out?  She forgot to warn me that what might be coughed up could resemble a lung.

Seriously, a giant gob of bright red clotty blood came spewing out and even I, who have staunched my father's bleeding wound with my bare hands, blanched and willed myself not to faint as I suctioned it all away and then gingerly hung up the now bloody tube, wondering if I would have the courage to pick it up again.

(My apologies to the squeamish among you for that.)

Thank goodness they finally ditched the mask, set her up with the old nasal cannula (after she rasped "take this fucking thing off me" enough times). And her oxygen - as far as I knew when they kicked me out for the night - was still satting at 98%. Excellent.

My mother, while sweet and tender, is also a tough old bird. I don't want to tempt the fates and say this, so please knock on some wood or spit over your left shoulder three times while you read it, but I think... she may just pull through.

It's not going to be easy. Rehab is going to be a long haul, and we HAVE to get her on her feet again. And she is not exactly compliant with exercise regimens, though she will tell you she is. Because if she does something once, she considers herself DONE with it. Even if she has been told to do it three times a day for a month.

I have seen her lie to doctors and physical therapists. She wants to be SEEN as compliant without really complying.

(OK, I might just be describing myself here, too. And my son Ethan, as well, come to think of it. Methinks a pattern is emerging. I may just have detected a lovely family trait.)

So, there is clearly much more cursing ahead.

But that's OK.


And so I'll take that ahead, whatever way it comes.

Just Write
I am linking this up with Just Write, just because.


  1. That is wonderful. Ahead is good.

  2. Oh, my goodness. I just read all three hospital posts in quick succession, so I missed the roller coaster. Wish I could have ridden with you if only to virtually hold your hand through the worst curves. I hope your mom continues to make strides. I'm going to knock on my desk now...

  3. The first thing my mother did when she emerged from her open-heart surgery a few years ago is flip the bird at the ventilator on her mouth. My sister and I, perched at her bedside, took this middle finger gesture as a very, very good sign. Mom, of course, doesn't remember it. Ah Varda, the roller-coaster. Brutal doesn't even do justice...all of us who read & love you are sending positive energies to you and your mom.


I am so sorry to have to turn word verification back on, but the spam-bots have found me - yikes!