Thursday, September 18, 2008


I know that many of you have been waiting for updates on what is happening with my mom. Before I get too into the details of what has happened, let me just say that she is fine. Well, as fine as anyone could be under the circumstances. Monday was the date scheduled for her mastectomy surgery. She was to be at the hospital by 8:00, with surgery scheduled for 10:00. She asked my sister and me to be there no earlier than 10:00, since she did not expect to be able to see us before the surgery. This made me extremely nervous, but I tried to respect her wishes. We were surprised, however, to receive a call from my dad at 9:10 letting us know that they had taken mom back already. They expected about 45 minutes prep, and then the surgery. By the time we got there around 9:45, they had taken her to surgery. After a short breakfast with my dad, we received word that the surgery was going well, and mom was doing fine. My sister, bil and I played two games of cribbage to pass the time, a new game for me since I had never played before. By the end of the first game the doctor came out to talk to us. The surgery had gone well and mom was in recovery. They would have to run tests on the tissue removed to determine whether the cancer had spread to her lymph system, and the results of the tests would not be available until Thursday at the earliest. (As of yet today, I have not heard from my mom, so I assume she has not received the results yet.) He estimated about 45 minutes for mom to be in recovery, and then they would let us know what room she would be in and when we could go there. We continued our cribbage, and finished the second game – with me winning both games. Beginner’s luck, I guess. Regardless, I didn’t chance it, and did not participate in any more games for the rest of the day.

By this time we had been informed of what room mom would be staying in, and that we should give about 20 minutes before going up. Finally the lot of us, including myself, dad, nene, papa, my sister and bil trooped up to her room, expecting her to have beat us there. In fact, we waited another half an hour or so for her to appear, until we finally starting asking the floor nurses where she might be. Once we started asking, they made the effort to track her down. Incidentally, this is only one of two complaints I have about the hospital, which, if you ask me, speaks volumes about the level of care provided to my mom. Stellar, at worst. As it turns out, there was a miscommunication between departments. The floor thought that mom was still in recovery, and recovery thought that she had already been moved to the floor. Apparently someone simply forgot to make the phone call to have her brought up to the floor, and she was in limbo for about half an hour.

She finally arrived at the room at around 1:00, much earlier than any of us had anticipated. She was still a little groggy, and in a bit of pain, but was doing quite well. By 3:00 she had completely refused any further pain medication stronger than Tylenol or Ibuprofen. Not that she wasn’t in pain, mind you, but she does not like the side effects of the medicine, and feels she does not get any of the rest needed to heal while on it. I agree with her. My sister, bil and I finally left the hospital about 5:00 to go relieve my dear husband of his babysitting job of all three kids. A job, by the way, that didn’t give him as much trouble as I had expected. With the exception of Scoob picking on Dragon Child continually for the first half of the day, until D.C. finally had had enough and hauled off and wacked him across the face, the kids were all really well behaved. We picked up the crew and headed to the store, intent on picking up treats for my mom from the kids and clothes for my dad.

A side story on this: my mom, while packing up the car to head down here on Sunday, failed to notice that my dad had several sets of clothing on hangers ready to be packed. She didn’t include them in the packing. While dad ended up with his toiletries, socks and underwear, he had no other clothes to wear other than those upon his back. This was a bit déjà vu-ish, since it is a well known story that my dad did exactly the same thing to my mom when packing for their honeymoon. He had left all of her hanging clothes behind, causing my grandparents to have to send them to my mom on the Greyhound bus. I insisted that this incident was pay-back, in spades.

We finally made it back to the hospital around 7:45 or so, armed with chocolate, a special edition breast cancer awareness Care Bear and red Gatorade for my mom, and some clothes for my dad. By this time mom had had a nap, and was looking much better, though that’s not saying much considering she looked about like death warmed over to begin with. The kids were all very glad to see her, and we struggled to keep Sweetpea away from her bedside even long enough for the nurses to do their jobs without falling over her. She hadn’t let on until this point, but it turns out she was very worried about her Granna. Though she seemed a bit confused about all that was happening. It became apparent that I had not adequately explained to her the situation when she looked at my mom and asked, “where’s the baby?” Amazingly enough, this provided some much needed laughter. Thereafter, Sweetpea stayed next to her Granna, hugging and kissing her gently when she could and stroking her hand softly. It was very emotional for me to see her so protective of my mom, and it just reinforced my belief that this is a totally evil disease.

Finally we left around 9:00, since none of us had had dinner, and went to eat. Sweetpea was asleep in the car before we got home, and Scoob and D.C. didn’t take much longer to crash once they’d made it to their bed. It is amazing how much the stress of the adults around them affects children, and it is something that I need to try to remember when things are stressful in the future. The next morning, we all trooped back up to the hospital by 9:30 or 10:00, only to find that they were already beginning the discharge process on mom. She was discharged by 11:00, and back at my house by noon. She was quite tired, having gotten little rest during the night.

Which, by the way, relates to my second complaint about the hospital. It is not that she did not get much rest, because we all know that happens in hospitals. They come every four hours to take your vitals and make sure they can see your breath on a mirror, and if you have a saline IV, which was the case with my mom, chances are you have to get up to go to the bathroom within an hour’s proximity of their vitals invasion. On top of that, when you’ve had surgery they put these cuff things on your legs that are attached to a machine. The machine turns on periodically and squeezes your legs to make sure that blood clots do not form. The trouble with this is that, as relaxing as that sounds, it’s really not relaxing at all, and Murphy makes sure that the machine turns on right as you are drifting off to sleep, guaranteeing to wake you up.

So, in addition to all the hullaballoo that goes on in a hospital at night, my complaint is that for some reason my mom ended up with the nurse from hell over night. She was apparently rude and mean, and to top it off, lazy. Mom ended up with one of the M&M’s Scoob brought her as a present in the bed underneath her. Of course, it melted, causing her gown to become sticky in that spot. She asked the nurse if she could have a clean one, and the response was “*sigh* I guess so” (said in a put out, I’ve-got-better-things-to-do-than-cater-to-your-every-whim tone of voice). Miss Priss nurse returned with the clean gown and handed it to mom, then stood there and watched while my poor mother struggled to put it on. Remember, this is a woman who just had major surgery, with IV tubes coming out of one hand, and unable to raise the other arm even to shoulder height due to the fact that she’d had a mastectomy, which affects the muscles in that area. To top it off, it is a gown that snaps at the shoulders so that it can go over an arm with an IV and not get tangled up in the tubes. The nurse didn’t even help her snap the gown back together, so mom struggled to do that with the other hand. Again, the hand that she can’t raise to shoulder level. On top of that, Priss refused to give my mom Tylenol, saying she didn’t have orders for Tylenol. She insisted mom needed a Lortab, when all mom wanted was medicine for a headache. When mom refused to take the Lortab, Priss got snippy with her saying that was all she could give. So mom, an obviously very sick person who does not like to be sick and can get downright mean in response to snippy, said “so get on the phone with the doctor on call and get orders for Tylenol. I’m not taking Lortab for a headache.” While these are the only two incidences I was informed of from Priss, I get the impression there were more. All I could say is, well, maybe that’s why she works at night.

All in all, things went much better than any of us had anticipated. Mom seems to be doing well, though I suspect she may be dealing with a bit of depression over this. And who can blame her? She returned home yesterday morning, and since I have not heard from her, my dad or my sister, I can only assume everything is as it should be. She comes back for a check-up with the surgeon on Monday, and then will be back the following Monday for her first round of chemo. It’s still a very long road ahead, but little by little I believe we will get there.

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