Thursday, July 23, 2009


I am awake and standing beside my bed before I am aware that I am awake. This in itself isn't an uncommon occurrence as of late. Many times during a night I find myself on my feet thinking about warfarin levels and having conversations with doctors about the health of family members. A few times a have woke myself up uttering one word "heart".

This time however I realize why I am up, and sleep deprived as I am, I am pissed. The phone is ringing. I stumble my way down the hall. My eyes are so sensitive I can barely register the blue digital numerals on the cable box in the living room, it is 2 am. Reaching for the phone and about to make someone feel my wrath if it isn't a death, the fax machine picks it up. Ha! Let the loud screechy sound play in their ears!

I look on the caller ID and see it is one of my eldest daughters friends. Grr they should know better. Especially this one, she is close to the family. Her mother and I share many of the same views about rearing children. I start to wonder if I shouldn't go check and she if Melody is still up and maybe texting on her computer when the phone rings again.

"Dortha, is Melody there?"
"Well yeah!" Of course she is where else is my daughter going to be at 2 in the morning?!
"Can I talk to her?"
"I would imagine she is asleep!"
"Dortha please let me talk to her!" I can hear in her voice that something is wrong and it isn't the normal teenage drama.
"Baby whats wrong?"
"My Mom died."
"Oh my God! What happened?"
"I don't know. My brother went down stairs to tell her goodnight and she was dead."

Shortly we are at her house. My sleepy head couldn't wrap around the fact that this had just happened and I am shocked that the ambulance is still there. She had not been moved yet. We didn't get back home until they finally got ready to move her mom around 5 am.

Deb was a great lady, we weren't extremely close ourselves, but cared a great deal for each others children. She was the first adult to take the news of Connor's autism as if it were not a horrible thing. She gave lots of great advice about schools and teachers that would be great for him. The first teacher she suggested is to be his Kindergarten teacher this year. She had called me one day while the kids were at school to tell me that That Boy was going to try and have Melody sneak out of Uptown that Friday. Uptown was the local churches way of giving the kids something to do on Friday nights. So hubby stayed parked outside all night to make sure Melody made the right choice, which thank goodness she did without her Daddy's help.

Deb went downstairs the early morning of July 14th with her Taco Bell, sat on the couch, covered herself up with a throw and began to watch a movie. She died shortly after from massive heart failure. She was only 45. She left a very distraught husband, a 19 yr old son, and a 16 yr old daughter. It is clear that the core of their family has been taken from them.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New addition to the household

So now not only do we have a favorite autistic in the house, we have an older lady with a mechanical mitral valve, pacemaker/defibrillator, and healing from a hemorrhagic stroke. My mother thought she had a sinus infection and when it didn't clear up a xray showed a very enlarged heart.

A mechanical mitral valve was placed the end of January and a pacemaker placed in early February. She came through all of this with flying colors. She switched to the heart healthy diet and was taking her meds with no problems. She was going to cardiac rehab three times a week and was really enjoying it.

She was staying with us until she could return to work and take care of herself again. We used social stories with Connor so he would understand that he had to be gentle with Grandma and everything was going great.

Then the morning of April 6th she got up and was singing and humming. She couldn't find her teeth so she couldn't be caught at cardio rehab, but her mastectomy side was bothering her a little anyway so we decided to call in and just go back Wednesday. After finally finding her teeth we took a little trip up to Kinko's to fax out a certification papers for her job. On the way home she asked if she could use my makeup because she thought she looked so old, and she asked if we could stop at Krogers to get some decaf tea.

My husband calls as I pull into Krogers parking lot and after deciding he was going to talk for a little bit Mom and I get out of the car and head into the store. She goes through the doors and grabs a cart while I finish up my conversation just outside. When I got off the phone a minute later and go through the doors, a fireman runs past me. I remember seeing a big yellow firetruck leave as we pulled in and think to myself "I think they left without you buddy."

I stop once through the doors and wonder which way I should go to catch up with her when I noticed there are two more firemen surrounding what I at first think is a small child on the floor. I don't want to be a rubbernecker or get in the way so I try to think of which way to go to catch up and stay out of the way, when I notice the purple sleeve and gray lining of my Mom's coat.

"Is this your Mother?"
"Yes! Is she breathing?"
"Have you got a heartbeat?"
"What the hell you mean no? She has a pacemaker!"
"I don't know what to tell you ma'am we can't get a heartbeat."

I then slide down to the floor with my back against the feminine hygiene aisle and rattle off dates of surgeries and dosages of coumadine and the like. The fireman I saw running out the doors returns with a defibrillator. The defibrillator had a nice calm female voice and I listen to her giving instructions as I call my sister to tell her what is happening. That conversation is another post in itself. She remembers it way better than I do. I call my husband after that to have him pick up Connor from school.

While they are working and waiting on an ambulance I know she would be mortified that they cut her new bra and have her chest showing in the middle of the grocery. She tries to take a couple of breaths and open her eyes, but she can't do it by herself.

When we get to the emergency room I expect them to tell me she is gone, but instead they lead us to ICU and tell us she is a candidate for Arctic Dawn, a new procedure that lowers the body temperature slowly and keeps it at 96 degrees for 24 hours and then slowly warm her back up.

It was Easter Sunday when she first shows her eyes, she pulled out her vent and a trach when it is placed. We don't let her know about the feeding tube in her stomach. She doesn't remember everyone at first but slowly gets things back, and needs the same information repeated every few minutes. She also developed a sailors mouth. The first words she mouthed were "Momma" and I thought my 82 year old Grandmother would do cartwheels. The she said "I need to used the bathroom" then "I want to go home!" and that soon turned into "I want to go home! I hate this g*d damn fucking place!"

She was really out of it for a while but she is getting better and better. At first she had more hours of therapy a week than Connor did, and I must admit for a bit I was wondering if ABA would be to her benefit. Mom is now at home to stay with us. It will be a chore and then some to get her house fixed up and sold and then the big problem, to find her something to do so she isn't so bored all the time.

A few notes to clear things up.

What happened: her heart went into ventricular tachycardia which cause a cardiac arrest, when she fell she hit her head causing a brain bleed (hemorrhagic stroke).

How were the firemen there that fast: They were shopping. A lady saw Mom fall and went to the next aisle to ask the firemen to help. One of the firemen was named Mike, mom was the first person he had ever saved.