Saturday, December 28, 2013

Mixed Christmas

We are in Michigan, enjoying a low-key Christmas. All of the presents were well-received, the Christmas fondue was lovely as always and 's parents came down to Grand Rapids so we got to have a good time with them (and got to go see a movie!). But what made Christmas best is that my mother was finally able to come home from the hospital Christmas Eve.

As I recall, the last thing I said about my mother and the hospital was that she went in Thanksgiving evening. I'm not entirely clear what was initially keeping her there (I could rant for a long time about the poor quality of information I've been receiving over the course of this hospitalization, but I think my unhappiness has been adequately expressed to the right people and it's been straightened out, so I'll let it go for now). But that Saturday at midnight(!), I received a call that she had been moved to a higher level unit because of a prolonged run of atrial fibrillation. I called the next day and she was doing better, then another ten days went by, she developed pneumonia but was sent home with antibiotics. She was home for less than a day when she went back coughing up blood. From there, things started going really badly. She couldn't get off of high levels of oxygen and she kept having spells of atrial fibrillation, which made the breathing issues that much worse. At some point during that week, I realized I was starting to assume that she wasn't going to come through this and was just hoping she could last until I could get there for Christmas. But then her pulmonologist did a bronchoscopy and pulled out a lot of fluid from her lungs, making it a lot easier to breathe and giving hope that she might make it home for Christmas. Then they did a CAT scan and found more fluid around her lungs, necessitating a chest tube and taking home Christmas off the table. Then two days later on the 23rd, we arrived in Michigan and discovered she was, in fact, coming home, chest tube and all.

She's clearly much happier being home, being able to wear her own clothes and have some privacy. But oh my, she's so very very weak. She lost a lot of weight in the hospital, and her aides have been running her food through the blender and feeding her so she doesn't have to expend more energy than necessary lifting a spoon or chewing. She spends a lot of her day dozing in bed. Maybe the hardest thing is that after a year of extreme hoarseness, her voice came back right before this illness. I got one good conversation with her and now she can barely talk at all.

To be honest, while we got this Christmas with my mother, I am not placing bets on whether she'll be here next Christmas.