Monday, May 28, 2012

The Rollercoaster

The view from where I sit

My life since last Friday morning has been a jumble.

I am riding the rollercoaster, strapped to my mother's flagging health.

I am up, down, and all over.

I couldn't even begin to put things into a coherent sequence, present a normal timeline to you. The days whiz by, but the minutes telescope to feel like hours. Waiting is excruciating. But so are the events that puncture the boredom.

The biggest single up/down moment:

On Sunday morning, Mom's orthopedic surgeon came out to find me in the waiting room, to tell me that the operation had gone well: rod and pins in, bones fit together like tidy puzzle pieces, quickly done. He told me she was about to be extubated; that in about an hour she would be waking up, and they would send someone to bring me to her side.

The hour came and went. I didn't want to be a nudge; figured she probably was waking up slow from the anesthesia. (I know I do.)

I was being happily distracted by my friend Barbara, who had surprised me by a visit with rations (black and white cookie!) and delightful conversation.

But when she left it was nearly two hours without a word.

I walked up to the desk to ask "When can I go to my mother?" and did not like what I was overhearing as the reception clerk attempted to track her down.

"She's in recovery on another floor." was all she told me, and the unit and bed number. But when I got out of the elevator I saw that the unit had a name too: Surgical Intensive Care Unit. This did not bode well.

And when I arrived at her bedside I was shocked to see her surrounded by medical folks frantically doing... THINGS to her. Not what "successful operation" had lead me to expect.

I was shooed away to wait outside with nary an explanation. I tried hard not to flip out. Eventually I was made to understand the situation.

No one ever properly apologized for leaving me in the dark for so long. But I understood, people had been kept busy trying to save my mother's life. I couldn't be too pissed.

And so it has gone for the last 48 hours.

I am up, down, and all around.

My mother, due to her critical aortic stenosis, is such a delicately balanced machine, and they have not yet found the perfect sweet spot for her blood volume. Push too many fluids and they back up into her lungs, send her into heart failure. Remove too much of that excess fluid and she can't maintain her blood pressure.

So a ventilating machine is helping her to breathe, so she can get enough oxygen in spite of the (hopefully lessening) fluid in her lungs, and medicines are keeping her blood pressure in a normalish range. There are various other forces pulling and pushing at her including her levels of pain and sedation.

All in all, an incredibly complicated dance.

She rides it up and down throughout the day, as do I. I am sharp one moment, lost the next. I have been deeply distracted and also in need of distraction (many thanks go out to friends playing iPhone word games with me, you are keeping me sane).

This morning my brain was in another sphere while brushing my teeth. I had accidentally picked up my son's Sponge Bob toothpaste and squeezed it upon my toothbrush, didn't notice until I got a mouth full of bubble gum flavor where I was expecting mint. That grabbed my attention, in a not particularly pleasant manner. And the rest of the day followed suit.

Just as I was thinking that I'd had enough of watching her seeming sleep, that it was time to go home and leap into the waiting arms of my beloved children (who were likely gnashing their teeth and fighting over Wii games) she floated up to consciousness for a moment.

I hastened to stand by her, on the side of the good ear. She was clearly bewildered and very uncomfortable, finding the giant tube down her throat most distressing, her eyes beseeching, full of questions.

I explained as best I could, simply, succinctly since I knew I had likely only moments before I lost her again.  I like to think he heard me, understood.

And then it was time to go, to flee Westward, back into the arms of my husband and progeny.  I missed putting Jake to bed, but caught a very-happy-to-see-me Ethan awake.

And unbathed, of course.

And slightly sunburnt.

And with a big hug and kiss for me, his one and only, irreplaceable Mom.



  1. I'm sorry to read this. This is just so heartbreaking. I can't imagine how hard it is for you to see your mom in that situation. How's your mom now? I'm hoping that God will hear all your prayers. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thinking of you again, but my own grief is still so near that I could not read to the end xx

  3. These days can't be easy. I give you strength and love.

  4. Thinking about you night and day. Prayers are with you and your mom.

  5. I'm thinking of you Varda and sending healing energy to your mom.

  6. My beautiful friend...even in this scary distressing time your words are rigbt and good and wonderful. I am praying with every ounce of me for your amazing mom to come back from her nap better and stronger than ever. May the rollercoaster give you a break and a breath soon. Xo

  7. Oh Varda I am so sorry for all you're going through. I wish there were more I could do than play Words with Friends but we can play 10 million games if that will take your mind off life for two minutes.

  8. This is so difficult. I'm sorry, Varda.


  9. I am sorry you are going through this. I went through it 5 years ago, and I never did straighten out the sequence. I'll keep you in my prayers.

  10. I'm so sorry...I got smacked in the head a few weeks ago with the fact that my mother is, in fact, mortal and will not live forever. It's such a hard thing.

  11. Praying for your mom and all traveling this journey with her.

  12. Oh, I am sending you love straight from my heart. May the ups give you a chance to breathe before the downs.
    We are here... thinking of you... reading... loving you.

  13. I'm so very sorry honey. My dad had a stroke three weeks ago, so I know what it's like. I love you!


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