Friday, June 24, 2011

Foamy in person - better than you can imagine, but all I knew would be true :)

I've  been blogging for several years.   I'd like to say it's been a long time (almost 6 years now?) but I have good friends who've been at it longer- so I'll refrain from using words like "long", or "ages", or "forever".   You can read the index and see for yourself how long it's been- through "thick and thinner"- pudgy is now the season I think I'm in :)  

A few weeks ago I had the extreme pleasure of meeting a blogger who I've been friends with almost since the beginning of my blog life, who shares many of the same blog friends as I do, and has a heart tender enough to actually use my phone number and call when things are difficult in my life.    Foamy, or Diana, has seen me through some difficult moments, and when things in her life were less than easy she has been in many of my thoughts and prayers and sometimes even cards in the mail.   What a precious heart she has- and IS.

She arrived at the coast a few days before I did.   But when I arrived she was a mere hop away from where I would be staying.   Our original plans were to meet the following day after I arrived, but I couldn't wait for such!   I drove over to see her the night I got to the beach...there was no way I was going to wait!

Foamy has been a dear friend.   More beautiful and precious in person than on-line, which would be hard for me to imagine.   She is genuine, down to earth, sweet, and as good natured as I could have hope for- and then some.   When she speaks I hear the slightest hint of her German upbringing- which I consistently questioned (internally) if it was real, or if I just knew her to well :)   I imagine both are true.   I felt like, when I met her, I had known her for many years--- which was absolutely true! e

I can't put into words what a treasure it was to meet her- but I hope it won't be out last encounter!   If she returns to the NC coast this summer- I would like to drive wherever she is to see her again and meet her family- and I hope vice versa.   I know some of you know what a gift it is to meet your fellow blog friends- but for those of you who haven't- do so when you can.     It's an experience like none other :)

Hugs Foamy :)   and thank you!

Friday, June 03, 2011

If you have good helpers...the hospital might not kill you

All the best medicine in the world is of no avail if a patient is not understood, or overlooked, or gets lost  between shift changes.   World class health care is useless without consistent input and feedback between Dr. and patient; and I mean more than the Dr. reading off test results and the patient grunting "Uh-huh" in the 3 minutes they spend in dialog every morning at O'dark 30.

My mom developed a very serious complication during a rather routine surgery last week and almost bled to death.   The surgery, a gastric bypass, would help her shed many extra pounds- which would reduce the strain on her kidneys, lessen her need for insulin, and hopefully extend her life.   Instead the Dr. uncovered a failing liver, mom bled out when a key incision was made, and the bypass had to be abandoned.   Next, my mom went into renal failure and was on the verge of dialysis.  She required a blood transfusion.   Once the kidneys began to  slowly function again a strange thing mom's mental status went completely down hill.

Now I know that people become easily disoriented in a hospital.  I know some patients wake up in a panic because they don't know where they are, or are so exhausted from the sheer unrest which exists in a hospital environment they can barely remember their own name.   All of these things I could have understood if my mom had slipped into the gray area of being merely disoriented, but alas- she seemed to have fallen into a deep black hole and for a while I was truly afraid I had lost her in a way I had never imagined.    She was out of her mind.

Her mother, my grandmother, has been dead for almost 30 years.   In the middle of the night I heard my mom "talking" to her mother.   Several times my mom tried to get up (thankfully she was to weak to do so) because she told me she was in my sisters bed.   She thought my other sister was a white hissing cat who jumped out of the wall.   Mom said there were 2 men in the room over in the corner behind her and they were watching my sister.   The worst part was when the sun finally arose and I saw my mom's face- her eyes specifically, glazed over, unable to focus, she knew who I was, but had lost all hand eye coordination.   And worse than that, was trying to explain the Dr. who was an intern and had never met my mom before that something was very very wrong.   All he saw was a groggy patient who'd had an unsuccessful surgery and her wounds were healing nicely.   He completely dismissed my fears about her hallucinations and talking out of her head.  

I wanted to beat the man within an inch of his arrogant life.

It really wasn't until the respiratory therapist  came in to see mom that we got the attention we were looking for.   Thankfully it was the same therapist who had seen her the day before while my mom was in her normal state.   On this day she was alarmed to find my mom was "not the same patient" that she had been a day earlier.   Dr's were paged, more blood work was done, and they soon discovered her CO2 levels were very high.   Add to this the morphine she'd had earlier was still trapped in her body because of the decline of her kidney function.   To much carbon dioxide in the blood causes a patient to act drunk and out of their head.

Within 48 hours mom returned from her abyss and was clear-headed once more.   All the care she received in the hospital was top notch, her nurses and medical staff (aside from the one intern) were caring, patient, attentive, and helpful.   I felt she was given the best care possible, except for the fact they didn't really know her (and how could they?)- and the key signs of her mental decline could not have been perceived by anyone other than a close family member.    This is the 2nd time I've witnessed a patient's dire need for a caregiver in order to receive proper support.    Had my sister and the respiratory therapist not insisted something was wrong I don't know how long it would have taken for her blood chemistry levels to be checked, if they would have been checked at all.    A fragile diabetic patient with liver failure and on the verge of dialysis could be easily considered unstable in any number of ways.

It was a tough week being with mom in the hospital.   Thankfully we have a big family who were willing to help in any way they could.  My sisters and I took shifts, with the 3rd sister Robin taking the lions share of managing her care.   My heart aches when I think of patients going to the hospital alone with no one to look over them.   Hospitals, as good as they can be, are not places to linger alone.   Good helpers make a big difference.

Mom is recovering at home and being well tended to with lots of visits, phone calls, and home cooked meals. Those of you who knew she was ill- I appreciate your thoughts, calls, and prayers.   I imagine the road ahead will not be an easy one, but with every step I learn something new.