Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's Thursday already?

It's been a difficult week. At 4AM on Sunday morning, we were back in the emergency room at the local hospital. Mary did well through the evening on Saturday, but around midnight the pain returned. By 3AM she started vomiting again.

Obviously, the meds and home care wouldn't be enough. She was scanned again and this time they found a "thickening" on her gall bladder. (Later, we were told that CT scans aren't capable of seeing gall bladders well and that ultrasounds are much better.) The ER doc said her gall bladder would probably have to come out, but there wasn't a surgeon on staff here on weekends. She'd have to be transferred to St. Johns in Tulsa.

The ambulance arrived, not the city ambulance but a company that does nothing but transport patients between hospitals. Lyndsay wanted to ride with her mom and the crew said it was OK, but she'd have to ride up front. She said the ambulance rattled and squeaked. The driver hit every pothole and seam on the road because he was concentrating on chatting her up. Lyndsay was not impressed. Later, Mary even commented on the harsh ride and noise, and this from a woman who was more than a little dopey.

I drove down to Tulsa after getting a few things together for Mary. We suffered through the afternoon and evening, her face a grimace of pain when the morphine wore off. Lyndsay wanted to stay overnight, but the head nurse wouldn't allow it.

Monday morning, they did an ultrasound and it revealed what the surgeon called a "sick" gall bladder. He said it didn't have gall stones or an infection. It was just sick, and it wouldn't get any better. It had to come out. He did the surgery that afternoon.

If you're at all interested in how this is done, there's a video on YouTube, of course. It's not gory. In fact, I watched it while having lunch. But the truly squeamish may want to avoid it.

That night, she was very sore and stiff. The nausea continued and she was running a fever. The surgeon had installed a drain "to get all the badness out of her" and it was yet another impediment to getting up and down from the bed. The usual procedure was for one of us to walk backwards in front of her, holding her hands for balance, while the other trailed behind carrying the drain apparatus and rolling her IV stand.

Lyndsay and I returned on Tuesday morning. There had been little change from her pre-operative condition. She was still in considerable pain that the morphine controlled, but it caused a lot of drowsiness. Little by little she improved through the day, until by evening she was tossing an occasional sarcastic remark my way. That was a very good sign.

Lyndsay stayed at the hospital Tuesday night. She said 'Nurse Ratched' was off shift and another nurse allowed her to stay. This probably had something to do with Lyndsay's job as a nurse tech, since the nursing staff would be burdened with one less patient. She pushed two chair together and fell asleep wrapped in a couple of blankets. Mary got up during the night and tip-toed past her to the bathroom. The duty nurses were amazed she was walking on her own so soon.

At home, I told Jordan and two of his friends about the Nurse Ratched bit, and received blank stares in return. So I had to explain about the book. These kids are pre-literate.

Wednesday, Mary was almost herself again. They discontinued the morphine. She took a different pain killer, but still slept more than she was awake. We were hoping she'd go home. Her mild fever continued, though it was well-controlled by acetaminophen, and the nausea was reduced. But the doctor didn't release her. Lyndsay and I jetted home so she could get a shower and a change of clothing, then she was off to spend the night again.

That brings us up to today - Thursday - and tomorrow is Christmas Eve. My original plan was to do my shopping this week. Fat chance. I'm still not finished and it looks like I'll run out of time. I'm staying close to home because we cannot leave Mary alone. I have to make one run tomorrow, and Lyndsay will be here. I don't know what we're doing for Christmas dinner because Jordan will be working, Mary won't have much appetite, and Lyndsay and I are hardly going to cook a big meal for just the two of us. Maybe we'll just celebrate Orthodox Christmas - what my grandmother called Russian Christmas - in January.

I feel like a huge weight has been taken from my shoulders. Sure, the last week has been intense and exhausting, but I have my family here for the holidays and they're a treasure beyond compare. My wife and daughter are lionesses, fiercely protective and caring of their own. I'm proud to know them. My son does his best impression of stoic resolve, but I know this tears him up inside. He tries to hide it, not always successfully. And me? I'm simply exhausted. Daughter has thrown me out of my room so she can look after her mom, and not one of my protests was given serious (or any) consideration.

It won't be the first time I've slept on the couch.


Blogger The Donut Guy said...

God bless you and your family and I hope your wife continues her recovery.

family is everything:-)

8:05 AM  
Blogger Ed W said...

Mary took some pain meds about an hour ago. She hadn't had any of them since yesterday at the hospital. The woman has a very high pain threshold. Lyndsay was out to make them some breakfast earlier, and now they're munching away while sitting in bed wrapped in blankets and flannel 'jammies. They said they were having a slumber party!

Thanks for the good thoughts, George. Have a wonderful, joyous Christmas!

11:21 AM  
Blogger Steve A said...

Celebrate being together and then do the Russian Christmas thing when everyone's back up and running.

6:01 AM  

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