Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It Ain't Over 'Til The Fat Lady Sings, And I'm Not Even Humming Yet

Thursday night around 11:30 p.m. the phone rang. Both Hubster and I wondered who on earth would be calling that late as he answered the call. I heard him say, "What's wrong?" and then, "Who is this?" before he said, "Hang on, we'll be right there!"

It was my mother. She was having trouble breathing. So much so that she could barely talk to let Hubster know.

We rushed out of the house, calling 911 as we drove. We made record time to her house, and entered to find her an ashen gray color. Every breath sounded as if it came through water because her lungs were filled with fluid.

And I was scared to death.

The ambulance, thank God, showed up a couple of minutes after we did. They quickly went to work providing her with oxygen through a CPAP mask, which forced the oxygen into the lung space she had left. We were assured they would meet us at the hospital shortly after we arrived, and they didn't feel as though they'd need to use the siren and lights. I called my sister to have her meet us there.

We arrived a few minutes ahead of the ambulance, but contrary to what we were told, there were full sirens and lights running. They asked us to wait in the waiting room until the preliminary work was done, then they'd call us back.

My stomach was in knots. I had never been this scared in my life. My sister and I, sitting in the waiting room together, exibited what must be a genetic trait. Both of us had trouble controlling our bouncing knees as we waited to hear from the doctor.

And so we prayed.

I had to use the restroom, and being the directionally challenged woman we all know me to be, got lost on the way back. I ended up in my mother's room in the ER, and found she'd been put on a respirator.

My mother is 74 years old.

She was moved to CICU, and to tell you the truth, I don't remember a whole lot about the rest of that day. I know I was awake for a full 24 hours, and I remember that Sis had to be forced to go home and rest. As for the rest of the first couple of days, it's a blur.

Mom was on the respirator for a couple of days and I noticed that while her legs and right arm moved constantly, her left hand didn't seem to move. Since she's left-handed we were all especially concerned. I suspected that in addition to the heart attack we knew she'd had there might have been a stroke. However, a CT scan showed no clots or bleeding, so a stroke was ruled out. Tests were done to determine if there was a clot in her lungs. Nothing there. She came off of the respirator, but wouldn't wake up.

Then a very alert ICU nurse did an assessment of her on shift change. The left side of her face was drooping, her pupils weren't the same size. There were all the classic symptoms of the stroke I feared to begin with. Another CT scan was done and it was confirmed.

A massive stroke affecting 3/4 of the right side of her brain.

We still couldn't get her to wake up, and thought she would stay that way. Another heart attack or stroke was almost a certainty, and with that she would die. And that was how the story would go. My mother was going to die. I could say it, but it was like a very, very bad dream that I didn't want to believe.

Everyone went in, one by one, to say goodbye. Children, grandchildren, great-grandchild. Each had their turn.

I don't know how we got through that night, but we did. More importantly, so did she. And she's been improving ever since.

Yes, she's still paralyzed. Yes, there is still the possibility of another stroke or heart attack soon. But guess what, folks?

God is good.

More people were praying for her than I could ever imagine, and God was merciful.

I got my mom back.

She's alert most of the time. She's feisty. She refuses to have a feeding tube put in because as she SAYS (get that? She's TALKING) the speech therapist is a "moron" or "needs glasses" to believe she can't pass the swallow test necessary for her to be able to eat on her own. Whenever my sister and I talk in whispers about her while she's in the room, her keen ears pick up on it.

For instance:

Tonight we were whispering about how this would be my last night staying in the hospital since Mom graduated to a regular room. I told Sis I'd stay with her in the morning if she'd show up around noon. Sis whispered she could bring me some lunch when she came if I'd like, and Mom said "You could bring ME some, too!"

So much for her being asleep.

She's asked for orange pop. She wants a milkshake. Sis made the mistake of handing her the cup that had the swab sponge in it we use to give her moisture in her mouth, and Mom wouldn't let go of it. It took two people to pry it out of her hand, and she was trying to get a drink the whole time.

Yeah, she's feisty. She's stubborn. She's a FIGHTER.

And we'll get through this just fine.


Linds said...

Oh Chris.... this took me back in a flash. I am so thankful your mother is doing well. Also that she was put on the respirator. Many prayers for her complete recovery and also for you and your family.

HeyJules said...

Well it's about time...been waiting three days to hear from you. You are so on the bad girl list, missy.

I'll send everyone over from LTL so they can read for themselves. They've all been praying for you and your mom.


Talley Images said...

got here through Jules, and what wonderful news!

Singing Owl said...

Whew! Praise God! We gotta go sometime, but 74 is a bit soon, isn't it? Rejoicing with you!


Pilot Mom said...

Praise the Lord! As soon as Jules notified me I began praying for your mom, as well as you and your family.

I remember sometime during my last year and half, you commented on how you didn't see yourself handling this type of "stuff" as well as I was. Let me tell you missy, you are doing JUST fine! Isn't it wonderful how God gives you the grace at the exact moment you begin to need it? ((((Chris)))) I'm still praying. After all, I do know how to return from having 3 different strokes! ;)