Well kids, I hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday season, full of family, friends and festivities. I know my families holiday was far from normal. Let’s start on December 23rd.
My mom calls me at around 10:00 am (I’m taking her to see the neurologist, and get another MRI done because the pain was getting worse. The doctor didn’t wanna risk any further issues in making her wait another 10 days.) and says “they may take me for surgery today”. My throat sank into my heart, my heart sank into my stomach, and then I felt like throwing up. I said “OK”. I got in my car and called Katrina, so I could talk to someone about the sheerly absurd timing of this. Then Aunt Karen called me. Neither of us had any real words for it. You see, Aunt Karen had made flight arrangements to come back up here on January 3rd for mom’s January 4th scheduled surgery. She needed another surgery because the surgeon wasn’t able to get to the mess behind her neck like he hoped he would going through the front. There were too many bone spurts for him to work through. There was stuff he still needed to take care of. So, they scheduled another surgery for January 4th.
I picked mom up from her house. We packed a bag with a few days worth of jammies and made our way to the hospital. Mom was admitted and as we made our way to the pre-surgery floor she got looks of concern and confusion from her co-workers, cause again we’re in the hospital she works at. Cameron met us there after class. He didn’t know this was going to happen today, well none of us did. So we just left him a message telling him to call us when he’s out of class. When he got to the hospital he was visibly upset. I haven’t seen my little brother cry in a while and it just breaks my heart. Mom was in pretty good spirits, considering. They let Cameron, myself and mom’s friends Christy go into the “holding room” with her before surgery. It was there that mom got upset. She demanded me to give her the phone so she could make a call, this is as the anesthesiologist is ready to do his work. She wanted to talk to her therapist, who also happens to be a friend. The first thing out of mom’s mouth and into the phone is “Am I going to make it?” . I learned later that her therapist friend said “I don’t know”. That made me very mad. The phone conversation was short and the anesthesiologist went to work. He was bizarre. Apparently anesthesiologists are a rare breed, and this guy was no exception. Once he had mom calmed down we were asked to leave. Leaving her this time was easier. Only because I knew how this was going to go. This time they were going through the back of her neck, which is a harder procedure, more painful and it has a longer recovery. She went in around 4.
Cam and I met Rob for a very late lunch. I went to mom’s house and grabbed some jammies for myself to were while I spent the night at the hospital with mom. Rob and I went back the hospital and waited with Christy and Aaron. For some reason this time, it felt like it went by a lot quicker. The doctor came out afterward and explained that everything went great. He said that when he first opened her up he was scared because there was so much fluid, he was afraid she had a cerebral spinal fluid leak. He also explained that the nerve that controls the rotater cuff on the right arm was so constricted that the nerve had become bruised from the trauma. Which meant that her right arm was dead. He said it would fully recover, but it’s just gonna take time for the nerve to heal. It was after 9 by the time they had her moved up to her room. Once she was settled Aaron and Cameron wanted to spend time with her, so I took the opportunity to cry my eyeballs out. Mom’s friend Christy, who had been with us most of the day, was with me and it was nice to have her there to talk to and to comfort me. She even went to the grocery for me and got me snacks and juices for my stay at the hospital.
Once everyone left I settled into my hospital cot for the night. But, shortly after settling down things got rough. The pain was getting really bad. And her arm, her right arm, was in a lot of pain on top of being numb. She was crying and couldn’t really move herself around in bed, due to the anesthesia. The nurse, John, was in and out of the room every 20 minutes to check on her, which was great, cause I didn’t know what the hell to do. Needless to say it was a horrible night. Thankfully, Rob had put some videos, including the first episode of Bored to Death (which was great), on my new iPod Touch and I watched them to help pass through the wee hours of the morning. I kicked off Christmas Eve with a bang.
The morning was rough. It was Christmas Eve. This wasn’t supposed to be happening. Mom was crying. She had realized how little she could do with her arm. But, I will say that in the span of 12 hours, she went from not being able to find her arm and not being able to move it at all, to feeding herself eggs, shakily, but still feeding herself. It was awful. Seeing your 52 year mother learning how to feed herself again. I left the hospital around noon to go home and nap and prepare for Christmas Eve festivities with his family. There really wasn’t anything I could do for mom. She just needed to rest, but I still felt bad for leaving. Cameron stayed the night with her that night.
After a much needed nap, Rob and I went to his grandma’s house where we exchanged gifts. We then went out to dinner in Lake Oswego with Rob’s parents pot luck group, who’ve been potlucking for over thirty years! Dinner was nice, but it was hard to really enjoy it. Every time I thought about mom it brought tears to my eyes. After dinner Katrina called me and asked what hospital room mom was in. Katrina went to visit mom and brought decorations. There were lights, garland, and stockings for me & Rob, mom, and Cam. Rob and I went home for the night, and the next morning, Christmas morning, I had a little bit of normalcy.
We were back on our way to the hospital around 10 am. Cameron had spent the night there and had gotten no sleep. I sent him home to nap and shower. He was going to come with us to Rob’s grandma’s for dinner. Mom was awake and was awaiting a visit from the doctor. Dr. Abtin came in to check on her, and make sure she was doing ok. She worked with the physical therapists and learned some exercises to help regain strength in her arm. She was pretty tired and we had to leave. We picked up Cam and went to grandma’s. Cameron was still so tired. He was sleeping the whole time we were there, except for when we were eating. I received a call from Aunt Karen while we were there and she was able to change her flight to the arrive the next day. We brought some leftover Christmas dinner to mom and I prepared for another nights’ stay at the hospital. There was a Dirty Dancing marathon on all night. Mom was able to sleep pretty good through the night. Which meant, I was able to sleep too. She woke up around 3am for some pain meds and we took a walk around the hall, we went back to the room and chatted. She told me things about the accident that caused all of this mess, that I didn’t know. Things nobody really wants to hear from their parent, or anyone for that matter, but I’m glad she told me. It was a much better night compared to two nights before.
The next morning, December 26th, Dr. Abtin came in and gave her to OK to go home. We waited until it was time for her next dose of pain meds so the car ride home wouldn’t be so bad. She worked with the physical therapist before we left too. It was pretty upsetting for her. But both her doctor and physical therapists are confident that it will come back. When we did arrive home, Aunt Karen was there waiting. Aaahh, relief. Not that I don’t want to take care of my mom, I was just fully unprepared for this one, and I needed a rest.
Aunt Karen was here from December 26th to January 3rd. She was here for our freak snow storm, and New Year’s. She cooked a ton of delicious food, including homemade red beans and rice, which she showed me how to make. It was of course nice to have her there.
For New Year’s Eve, Rob and I threw a party. It was pretty awesome. Here’s some photos:
The next day, since we didn’t celebrate Christmas on Christmas, we were going to celebrate today. It was New Year’s Christmas!
For dinner we had blackeyed peas, ham, cheesy potatoes and brussell sprouts. Every year my family eats blackeyed peas on New Year’s day for good luck. While this whole last month and a half have been just the worst, including the worst Christmas ever, it didn’t matter when we celebrated, just as long as we were together as a family. Mom is now on the mend at home. Luckily there weren’t any issues this time where we ended up in the ER, but this came with it’s own bag of fun side effects. For example, mom was prescribed valium and norco for muscle relaxing and pain. One of the big side effects of valium is depression. It hit, and it hit hard. Not that the situation at hand wasn’t enough, here’s this drug that she has to take to feel physically OK, but mentally she’s crumbling. There were days full of tears and hopelessness, not eating. It was scary. Luckily, when we went in for mom’s follow up appointment the doctor gave her some new meds. And they have made a huuuuge difference. She’s still really upset about losing her arm, but she is making huge strides in regaining strength. She started outpatient physical therapy last week, and in just a week her P.T. was impressed by her progress. It’s going to be a long and hard recovery, but if anyone can do this, she can.