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.


Jeni said...

Oh my Goodness! No wonder you haven't posted in a long, long time!
You and my younger daughter should become blogger (or e-mail or Facebook) buddies as you could compare notes on not just dealing with autistic children, therapies and such for them, but also, how to cope with having your Mom live with you! My daughter, her husband, their two little ones (both are autistic) and his oldest daughter (age 17) all live with me -or do I live with them -in my house! And it is a bit of a zoo at times, for sure. Mandy -my daughter -has had to cope with me and my issues, with cancer, herniated discs, urinary tract blockage that required surgery, then more surgery to have a colostomy plus, just being me, getting older, a tad senile at times and also, more than a bit tempermental too. (Or so my daughter tells me I am but I think that's her who is the tempermental one! LOL)
Reading your description of the things your Mom has been through, it is truly a miracle that she is still with you and that you can write about all of that so succinctly too. You, your family and your Mom will all be in my thoughts and prayers that your life will begin to even out a bit for you in the future. Give you some balance back cause I'm betting you sure can use it.

dgibbs said...

Hi Jeni!

Yeah it has been a little wild around here. It truly is a miracle mom is still with us. Such a blessing that the firemen were shopping and she decided she needed tea. She has been through a lot and she is only 60.

I am on facebook if you want to look me up. My ID is Dortha.Gibbs

Maddy said...

That's not the kind of excitement that we invite into our lives! It's true what they say is simple when it is boring. Give me boring any old day.

Delighted to hear that she 'out paced' herself.
Best wishes [see how closely our households are beginning to resemble each other.]

Suzy said...

Have you had a time of it!!!

My thoughts and prayers are with you!



Crystal said...

Wow. I hope your mother continues to improve. It was sweet to hear about the guy who saved her life. :)

I enjoyed your post.

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Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

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Anonymous said...

Happens... Such casual concurrence