Thursday, September 21, 2006

Really, I Do Mention Knitting in this Post

Mother's been in the hospital since Sunday night. She had trouble breathing and looked bad... like she was slipping away. It was terrifying. I called the EMTs. They put her on oxygen and took her in. I followed and stayed with her until she looked "normal" again (which was 3 AM).

It appears to be pneumonia or a similar lung infection. While that isn't great for an elderly person (especially one with cancer), it's better than the other possibilities they gave us before doing x-rays. This option is treatable, curable, and survivable.

But I'm stressed.

The next day, I went about my business as usual. This year, somebody has been in the hospital for a few days at least once a month. It was becoming routine. Trip to the ER, anxious waiting, followed by a few days of medical expertise then either home (in Mother's case) or to a nursing home to recover (Dad, until June). I took it as yet another routine trip. Some of Mother's relatives were coming in to visit for a day, so I had to clean the house. Why, I don't know. They spent the entire time at the hospital and never came near the house. Oh, well, it's clean now.

I talked to her on the phone a couple times during the day—she sounded tired but otherwise ok. I went to see her about an hour before visiting hours were over. Well I should have gone earlier because what I saw scared me so badly that I did not sleep all night. Add in the high dosage of prednisone that I was taking for my bronchitis, and you have full-on paranoid panic attack.

What I saw was a very ill person. She was tired but alert when I arrived, but over the course of the hour, she just faded. I've never seen her like that. Her eyes were rolling back in her head and I couldn't understand her because she was slurring so badly. Then she started staring off in front of her and reaching up with one arm to grab at nothing.

I was TERRIFIED. It brought back memories of Dad on his last day. He was staring at something that wasn't there, too. For the first time, it hit me that she really IS going to leave me all alone in this world, and that The Horrible Day isn't some far-off, abstract concept anymore.

I went home in a panic. I threw up. I paced the floor of the very empty house (I live with Mother since moving back in July after the diagnosis), freaking out. I was afraid to go to sleep because I thought if I did, the phone would ring with bad news. I called the nurse's station a few times over the night to check on her. I slept from 5:00-5:45 AM and woke up in a cold sweat. I finally got up around 7:30 after failing to fall back to sleep and called the hospital. They were changing shifts so the day nurse hadn't seen her yet but based on the night nurse's report, she was doing worse.


I downed some coffee, dressed and raced to the hospital, expecting to find her comatose or something.

She was sitting up, wide eyed and alert, eating breakfast with great gusto. She gave me a funny look. I must've looked terrible. Turns out, they'd given her something for the pain and it made her groggy. Nice to tell ME about that. No, just scare me to death instead. When our doctor arrived at noon, I told him about my night. His eyes grew wide and he said "Discontinue the prednisone immediately—don't take anymore". Turns out, I'd had a severe reaction to it which caused the paranoia, the panic attack, the nausea, etcetera.

I feel much better today as far as that goes. But I've been worried since Monday night despite her improvement Tuesday morning. I stayed all day at the hospital with her, leaving only long enough to take a nap while her relatives visited. I stayed all day today, too. But she didn't look as good today. Again, the fears set in as I realize that she might really be on the verge of leaving me. Then I find out, they removed her oxygen in order to try to qualify her for a home oxygen tank, which means they basically make you sick long enough to get the reading they need so they can make you better. It's crazy. So her sats (oxygen saturation) had dropped to 87%. Er, no wonder she's groggy, tired, and drawn.

While she naps, I knit. Or try to. I started the ARAN BABY SWEATER but I think it'll be started over. It's not going well. I'm so tense I can hardly knit. It's slower than a beginner. Plus I keep losing my place in the very simple pattern and having to frog it. Twelve rows in two days with all day knitting. Not good.

I'm not sure why I feel differently this time around. Maybe because she was just released a week ago after a few days in the hospital. Maybe because of the reminders of Dad (she says it was a hallucination, and objects, not people or angels). Maybe because I've never seen her look THAT bad before. Maybe because I've never seen her so sick that it took two nurses to transfer her to the chair so she could sit up and have a bath. I've never considered that she might not pull through—until now. Then again, I had pneumonia once. I laid on the couch coughing for a month straight. I'll bet I resembled her in many ways during that.

All I know is that I need her here a while longer. Perhaps if I abandon the negative panicky train of thought and remind myself daily (hourly) that of course she looks sick (cancer and pneumonia), but she's being treated (antibiotics) and she's pulled through worse things before, and people can look far worse, as in hanging on by a shredded thread and still come through... treat this as another routine stay... focus on getting her healthy and home... talk a lot with God... then she really will come home and be healthy and not need two nurses by her side.

I wonder how long it takes before prednisone fully leaves the system?

If anyone actually reads this, please keep my Mother in your prayers. She's got a lot of living left to do and there are people who need her here desperately.


At 4:43 PM, September 21, 2006, Blogger Knitting Momma said...

I read it, and I'm praying for your mother. Blessings to you and your whole family.


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