bennington, vt.

Friday, August 17, 2012

moon, and memory,

were You there?

I asked my Mom today,
when she had her massive stroke
in 2004
she remembered  me
being there.
I could see her struggle, she wants to,

she REALLY wants to.

She timidly nods yes and says, "I       think      so."

Like a child asking about "proud parent" milestones they can't possibly remember, but like to hear the tale retold . . . 
she would ask me about what had happened.

I would tell her how Dad found her at 7 am by the just made bed.  He called 911 and trailed her with dear friends through 3 hospitals.
How I was called at 3 pm, made all arrangements, grabbed clothes, Jack, and hit the road by 8 pm.
How I arrived at the Condo by 10 am, showered, walked Jack, and said to Dad, "I hope you can drive, cuz I've been up since 7 am yesterday!"
How we arrived at the Neuro-Trauma unit at the DMC, and I sent him ahead to her room.  I with my nurse's bag of what not, went to the nurse's desk, for all the world looking like someone checking out job opportunities.  What types of injuries, expected outcomes, staff to patient ratio . . .etc.  Prognosis was chief goal.  I wanted to know THEIR expectations.  (in blunt terms . . . exit in a black bag or a take-out box of salad for a nursing home)
How I found her there, "sleeping," with lots of monitors and IVs, but only a feeding tube in her nose.
How I explained, with my older brother, to my younger brother over the phone, that she was going to keep THAT feeding tube until she had HER 72 hours to recover from the initial trauma of the stroke!  (we had grown up, seriously--I'm talking elementary school here, at a dinner table where we often discussed Death, Body and Organ Donation, Medical Treatment, Extreme measures and what was desired in these areas.  We were a strange family!)  He agreed with our reasoning . . . once explained.
How at lunch I explained to Dad and Sr. Bro what the Units expectations appeared to be.  We discussed our expectations for her to go to "boot camp" (Rehab.) and started working on a sensory stimulation bag "grocery list."  (favorite perfume on a bright scarf, square of sandpaper, cotton ball with vinegar, individual family pics, cards with names and identifiers, etc)
How we turned down a STUDY that would have involved testing of a kind she HATED.  (but she won't know or feel a thing!  don't care, she wouldn't want it)
How that night Dad and I started going over ALL the pics taken on our family trip to Mexico, just a few months before, and printing up 8X10 individual pics of all of us.   
How we wrote up index cards with each of our names and more index cards with identifiers.  (if asleep, on the wall so staff knows us and WHO my Mother was, if awake, to read grand-daughter and identify that picture)
How we then crawled into bed at 1 am.
How (post 48 hours since initial event) we came in the next morning to find her sitting up in a cardiac chair (with no seat belt or bed side table that would fit over it) eating applesauce.  The PT and OT told us how when they were called that morning for an evaluation of a patient in Neuro-Trauma, they had to ask directions since they had NEVER been to that Unit.
How stunned Nurses, Doctors, and Medical students kept coming by treating her like a celebrity.  (really, they hardly seem to care whether she could do anything . . . just that she was awake and eating applesauce by herself)
can you REALLY blame them for there original prognosis?
THEY didn't know MY Mother!
How she would look at us, nod, smile, but obviously not able to understand a word we were saying.
How 4 days later I walked with her, on a gurney, to the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan through the basement corridors of the DMC.  Dad, meanwhile moved around the block, the car with the suitcase we had packed 5 days ago, ready and in the trunk.
How 1 day later her whole family had gathered.  (Jr. Bro and family now in from California . . . they trusted me to say "when" or "NOW")
How another day later I, having finished my Critical duties, would return home with Jack.

Her Therapy goals, 6 weeks worth, were written up, and two days later she had met all but the speech goals.  To keep her there for more speech, PT and OT realigned all their goals towards communication.  (for example: walk to all the offices, get lunch orders, make up the sandwiches in the kitchen, and deliver them)

I came back two months later . . . she picked me up at the airport, she cooked and served a five course meal. (They REALLY didn't know my mother.)  We went back to the Neuro-Trauma Unit where the Staff excitedly had their FIRST visit from a former patient

She has heard the stories, she has seen the pictures of me at her bedside, she has seen my notebook full of notes . . . I don't think she remembers me there.  The rest of the family, she remembers, visiting during the 6 weeks in Rehab.  I wasn't there.

I don't think it matters.  She knows I WAS there.  She knows I WILL be there.
She has Faith
in me
I have faith too.
The night before her stroke, my parents flew in from a two week vacation in Greece.  They were there for a tour, and then stayed on a ship in Athens Harbor for the first week of the Olympics.

What if . . . 

instead, just 10 hours later.


Rudee said...

She is an amazing and resilient woman. My father in law was in the neuro ICU at the DMC, too, post sub-arachnoid hemorrhage. They'd sort of thrown in the towel, spoke of tracheostomies and long term care one day and the next marveled at his recovery. He was extubated, sitting up and eating breakfast.

You can't lose faith, friend. It's everything.

Alice said...

the only other two patients on the 9 bed floor, were: a helmet-less motorcyclist vs brick wall at 60mph and a tree arborist with helmet out of tree to pavement 60 feet below.
Both passed before we left.