Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hang On There

I think our lives may return to some normalcy. As I type this I'm desperately looking for a piece of wood to knock on. Doris is improving each day and although not completely out of the woods yet-she has a positive attitude and a goal of returning to her own home soon. Today she will be moved to the rehab floor of the hospital verses moving to a rehab center. We met the team that will be working with her and feel at ease with them.
My concerns are for when she is released from rehab and ready to go home and then wants to start her Chemo again. She was pretty weak from her surgery when she started her first round of chemo and we all thought it was to soon. Her cardiac and primary physicians are both saying no more. This will be a tough choice for her to make given that she'll be told the blood pressure issues could do her in. There hasn't been a time frame set on how long it will be until the cancer takes her. At last CT scan a month ago the tumor had not grown. The family has talked about it and each voiced their opinions. No one wants to see her in any pain. No one wants her to suffer any further damage due to blood pressure issues. This isn't our decision to make. She currently cannot recall what lead to the incident that brought her to the hospital-nor nine days of being in ICU. I guess that in itself should raise a flag to her.
I've been waiting for the worrying Doris to show up and found out yesterday that her doctor does have her on a low dose of anti-anxiety medication. She's pretty determined to get herself up and going. A direct quote "I am sick of my self pity party."
We have one more camping trip planned. As selfish as it sounds, I would like to go. We need to go. If I have to I will get one more trip in this season. It could mean the my husband and I may be braving some cold and snow-but we will go at least once more this year.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

You Go Doris!

Went to visit Doris yesterday and saw some improvement. I walked in on her speaking to a Rehab nurse and was able to answer some questions regarding her recent experiences as she had no recollection of the events leading up to her incident. A few days back a Social Worker had asked several questions in regards to how well she could take care of herself-laundry, cooking, cleaning and personal care. She had the answer to the personal care right but I knew she was still a little foggy in answering the rest of the questions. Yesterday the answers more realistic.
It looks as if she may be able to fulfill her rehab needs right in the hospital verses going to a center. We'll have that answer today. For the most part-she's a little weak, her eyesight is not so good and she has some coordination issues. The doctor isn't sure how much of her eyesight she'll regain. (mind you she told me that she could see my pretty brown eyes. I teared up a little at that one).
She was very positive about a rehab program and went on to blame herself for her recent incident. She said she hadn't done anything for herself and felt she sat in her chair and wallowed in self pity. I explained to her that she had been through a lot in a few months and her body and mind took a beating. I saw a little bit of the woman I knew prior to all her health issues. I dreaded the question I knew she would eventually ask. "when can I start my chemo again". It came and I looked at my husband to step up and answer. "Mom, you have to get your body back to being able to handle any more chemo and then your doctor will talk to you". I felt that was about as good as an answer he could have given her. Problem is-her doctor has told us that the chances of her having any more chemo are slim to none. She's proved people wrong before so we'll see if she can do it again.
Doris is really pushing for her grandson to be born. I'm excited as well but am hoping he hangs on until the Sept. 22nd date. I really want to make the next camping trip. I think my husband and I both need a weekend of relaxation, fresh air and some time with our friends. They are the best remedy for troubled minds.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Two Wishes

Doris was moved out of ICU Saturday night. She is out of danger as far as her blood pressure is concerned. There has been remarkable improvement over the past few days. Saturday morning she was alert and very passive. Her eyesight was blurry and her hand eye coordination was a bit shaky. She required assistance with eating.
Yesterday morning we arrived as her doctor was checking her over. There is talk of her needing oxygen at night to keep her levels up. This is something that had been discussed as she was usually tired and weak.
There was a difference in her. We saw the mom that had been missing for a while. She was happy and somewhat worry free. She inquired about her bills being paid, told me where things pertaining to bill payment was and remembered some banking that she had done a few days before her incident. She did not remember what happened to bring her to the hospital, but did remember feeling tired and weak the day or two before.
It was after a few minutes that she asked about the chemo and whether or not she would be able to finish it. The three of us in the room fell silent for a moment. "Well, at this point in time it's on hold. We're going to have to see what your doctor thinks. First of all we need to work on getting you stronger and in to rehab". She seemed content with this answer for a moment and then turned to me and said "I have two wishes. One is to see my grandson be born and the second is to visit my grand daughter's new home(just bought a 100 year old house in upstate New York)". Had to clear my throat a little and told her I would do my best to make sure both those things would happen.
She is on 3 types of blood pressure medication and her bp is good. This is the only medication she is on right now. Gone are all the other things she was taking, but also gone is the shoulder pain and wrist pain from her arthritis. Gone is the constant worrying. She asked about things with an air of confidence around her that I hadn't seen in a long time.
Here's the weird thing...When I was sitting with her in ICU she was holding my hand very tight. This was on the day they claim she had the stroke. She had woken up and was staring straight ahead and had a tight grip on my hand. She said to me "do you feel that? Someone is pulling us". I had told her I didn't feel anything. She told me not to let go of her because she didn't want to go so I stayed right there. A little bit later she relaxed her grip and fell back asleep. Yesterday she told me she had a weird dream that her and I were in a storm and being pulled out of her house and I held on to her to keep her from being sucked away. Gave me the willies for a minute. Maybe I read to many books, but I believe they weren't quite ready for her yet.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bad Turn

Things with Doris took a turn yesterday. It's been confirmed that she suffered a stroke on Tuesday with not so good results. Two of her doctors are working closely to get her blood pressure under control. Main issue is not having her kidneys shut down. Her tired body seems to want to reject any medication to lower her blood pressure. It will stabilize for a bit and slowly creep back up. The neurologist ordered an additional test which could show some reasoning. He's looking for possible bleeding on the brain. We won't have results from this test until later today. He wants to move her to the NICU unit but she has to be out of the clear for any kidney and blood pressure issues first.
The news was broke yesterday that when she recovers she will be in rehab for quite a while depending on what she may regain after the swelling on her brain goes down. At first the swelling was being attributed to her chemo. Not so much any more as the chemo should be out of her body now. They see no further chemo in the future. Her cancer was at stage 3 prior to her surgery. Their is still a tumor in her aorta lymph nodes which was to risky to remove. After her first round of chemo it had shrunk very little. She was scheduled for two more treatments. As of right now we do not know the status of the cancer. The highest prioity is getting things under control.
Little bit of breakdown of some of the family last night. Quite understandable for what is going on. Stress and worry will do that to you. This came after the doctor's request for a copy of her living will. I have faith and have said plenty of prayers. The later of them being to get her out of pain-whatever it takes. She's just so tired.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


It was back to work yesterday with a stop at the hospital afterwards. Doris had been showing some improvement, but yesterday was a little discouraging. She woke up good and had her gathers together. The longer she was awake the foggier she got. I got there just as she woke from a nap. She knew me and we chatted about simple things. Within moments she was off somewhere else. The blood pressure is still bouncing around and she's on small doses of anti-anxiety medication to keep her calm. We've been told that with a spike in the blood pressure it can take days to level out and who knows how long to return to a semi normal state.
For the most part there has been excellent communication between family members that are there. Emails and text messages are abundant. Older sister Sue is at the hospital during the day and the rest of us file in after 3. Tempers were remaining at bay until yesterday.
There seems to be an issue with brother Mike. First off it took him a day and a half to show up after numerous calls to him. No excuse-he's off work for the next 6 weeks for a shut down. Claims we didn't explain the seriousness of the incident. I don't know what spell out serious more than "We're losing Mom". After his initial visit he committed to staying with her during the evening hours. He's failed miserably at helping out. He's come to taking command during the few hours he's appeared and has suddenly become an expert in brain injuries. For the sake of my mother in law I grit my teeth and smile a lot when in the room. I thought it was just me until we got outside and my usually meek husband gave him a piece of his mind. Mike is leaving town for a race and will be gone for the next week. I'm not saying we should park ourselves there and I realize one must continue their normal life to prevent an overload however-having a doctor say "She's by no means out of the woods" may make me stick close to home. We made the decision to opt out of camping this weekend. There will always be another opportunity for camping.
As he was telling us about his trip he turned to his daughter who has been at her Grandmothers side as much as she can and asked if she wanted to come along to Tennessee for the race. I saw daggers as she said "No Dad, and I don't think you should be leaving right now either". He feels the rest of the family has it under control. What he doesn't see is his sister is tired and could use a break. He sees himself, which is what he has always done.
My question for the day is-why would you give a person who barely has motor skills spaghetti? I must say I was impressed at Doris's ability to balance a noodle on her fork even if she couldn't get it to her mouth.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

3 Years

Today marks 3 years since my brother David passed away. My reminders of this started last Thursday. My mother in law Doris was once again admitted to the hospital. Upon leaving the emergency department she was transferred to the same floor my brother was on. At least she's at the other end of the hallway.
When I was taking the elevator up the other day I heard the "code 4" announcement that I'd heard 3 years ago when I got the call about my brother coding.
So more so because of being emotionally stressed over Doris,trying to be strong for my husband, being tired, and being flooded with memories I had a little private cry.
I still get sad over the events of his death. I still wonder if more could have been done. I'm at peace with them doing all they could do to safe him and am at peace with the decision to have them stop after 15 minutes, just wonder if prior to those events if anything more could have been done.
I think more now of his laughter and constant antics. My brother loved to write-couldn't spell worth a damn, but wrote some funny and interesting life stories.
Many times I still want to pick up the phone and tell him something.
There's a new baby coming into the family and I know "Uncle David" would have been one of the first to see and hold the new addition. I miss sharing things with him.
At some point in time I know I'll be content with the memories, but for now I'm still a little sad about losing a brother to soon, and his daughters losing a great father. Their ability to achieve the things they are would make him proud.

We almost lost Doris the other day. As I stood among the family and heard the news I could see the reality of this hitting them. They were raised to respect their mother and when their father passed at a young age they began to make sure she was taken care of. She opted for the surgery and chemo to treat her cancer. We supported her and many of us kicked it up a notch to help her out. Her first two chemo treatments went good. After the 3rd treatment she ended up in the hospital for a week. One of the chemo drugs caused some brain swelling. She went back in twice after that, but for short stays. This current one was serious and attributed to her blood pressure spiking. She's naturally a worry wart so keeping it under control is critical. After three days of being unresponsive she woke in a panic. Two days later they still haven't been able to find the magic formula for the blood pressure. She's responsive and alert but once she starts thinking about the hospital and her bills-she's off again. People started going back to work yesterday after knowing she was somewhat out of danger. My thoughts are this is going to be awhile. The bad news is her doctor told us that she has to make a choice between the chemo or her blood pressure. Originally the plan was to shrink down the tumor they could not remove, until it was small enough, and then do the surgery. Doc says no to that now-she won't make it through the surgery. This news hasn't been broken to her yet, and I know she won't be strong enough for that for a while. She's a fighter usually, but she's just so damn tired.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Loser X 10

Despite all the recent hassles we were able to make it to State Fair twice this year. The first time was a hotter than hell Sunday and we took the three grand kids. Spent the majority of our time at the Mid-way and then wandering around through a record crowd day to find something to eat. Of course no one wanted the same thing to eat. I found my husband to be the most annoying one. He walks the Fair like he shops. From one end to the other and doesn't listen when his lovely wife looks on a map and gives him directions. After being there for about 5 hours I took a look at three wilted kids and a crabby husband and decided to call it a day. They all took naps when they got home.
The second time was this past Sunday. The last day of the fair and my company picnic as well. The company function is held in the white tent area at the edge of the fair. I go mainly to see if I can continue my losing record at door prizes. There aren't many people from my department that go and most people just come for the lunch and door prizes.
We went fairly early as it was a great day weather wise. Did some walking around and my husband sampled a few food items. The company lunch was catered by Saz's and very much a disappointment to many. In the past we've had the shredded pork however this year it was missing from the menu. In it's place were some very dry grilled pork chops. Not much of a selection of food-but one can't complain much about eating free.
Door prize time came and went and I continued on my losing streak. It's so bad that I came within 3 pretzels of "guess the pretzels in the container". But wait, I had one more chance to win something. There was a scavenger hunt. 18 questions regarding the Fair. Most of the answers could be found in the information brochure. The remainder required walking around to get the answers. I was pretty sure I had them all. When they announced the winner yesterday they said 4 people got all the answers correct and they had to "pick from the hat". Well once again the loser holds her standing. We're still waiting for them to publish the answers.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Get Me My Arby's

I had a few moments of quiet last night and some time to reflect on the past few months. I wondered where my summer went. There have been a few camping trips-not as many as in the past, one festival, a total miss of Summerfest and one or two barbeque's. The majority of my time has been spent moving my daughter and girls back in, getting ready for a baby , over at my mother in laws house or visiting her in the hospital.
Doris has had a rough time. It doesn't help that she's a naturally pessimistic person. If I had a nickle for every time I've heard "that's not going to work" over the past few months I wouldn't need to work. She's been handling her chemo treatments well, but will suffer from every side effect there is. I've become way to familiar with two major hospitals in the area and also with her doctors.
The care of Doris was supposed to be divided between all the family members. Downstairs Debbie takes the brunt of it with living in the same household. DD's kids are lazy to say the least. I can't even say kids as two of them are in their early 20's. Getting either of them to mow the lawn is a joke. The third one lives upstairs with Doris and does brighten her day but is lazy as well.
My main task seems to be cleaning her house and helping her figure out her bills. My frustration is all the people who come to "visit" her and can't as much as take out her garbage or straighten up a little. I do feel she could do more for herself such as the little tasks of cleaning the bathroom, dusting or doing dishes. For a while I was stopping every day and taking care of these things. I skipped a few days thinking she'd do for herself. I have a different sense of clean, so when I asked DD if things were cleaned up she assured me all was well. I stopped there to find dishes piled up in the sink, the bathroom a wreck and things that were dropped on the floor that Doris can't pick up.
Doris has become very demanding. She's always grateful, but her approach sometimes lacks politeness. On my way home yesterday I received a frantic call from DD asking if I was stopping over. Dd had been out running errands yesterday and upon returning home Doris wanted to know where her Arby's was. DD was puzzled as she did not recall Doris requesting this. I've seen and heard Doris in her demanding mode but through the phone yesterday I heard "Dammit Debbie, where is my Arby's" in a tone I've never heard before. Guess who made the special trip to Arby's and stocked her up on roast beef sandwiches for a day or so? I was her hero for at least an hour or so.
On a different subject, the baby will be delivered September 22nd and things are moving along pretty smoothly in preparing things. My house seems to be getting smaller every day. She's doing pretty well considering all the back issues she had. The waddle is prominent now and she's grateful for the break in the heatwave. We just hope that the ultrasound is correct or the girl could be wearing all little boy clothes.