Friday, April 24, 2009

the go-ahead

UPDATE: We've heard from a doctor that Mom might be going home this weekend. This isn't absolutely certain yet; Mom requires a few more checkups. The point, though, is that if you're planning to visit Mom in the hospital (which is what this post is about), you'll either have to do so in the next couple days, or visit her once she's home with us. Just FYI.

Dad wants me to give all my readers the official go-ahead re: visiting Mom. Yes, you may go see her. She's in Fairfax Hospital's Tower Building (i.e., the main building when you turn left off Gallows Road at the "gray" entrance; it's the first major building you'll see). Park where you can, then find the "gray" elevators by the main lobby. You'll feel like a heel for doing this, but take the elevator up only one floor to the second floor. Turn left immediately upon exiting the elevator, and look for Room 276. Mom is in Bed 1, the bed closer to the exit. For Fairfax Hospital's phone numbers, check out their website.

There are, however, some issues to address. Please read the following before heading out to see Mom.

1. Mom is MRSA-positive (see previous posts if you're not up to speed on what this means). This isn't as scary as it sounds, but it does mean there's a protocol to be followed.

When entering her room, you'll need to glove up and gown up. A metal cabinet just outside Mom's door normally has gloves on top of it (be careful: the gloves come in several sizes, a fact I discovered when I ripped one while trying to put it on my hand), and gowns inside it, usually in the top drawer.

Once you have prepped yourself and have entered the room, you cannot exit without first removing your gloves and gown. They must be removed just inside the threshold, and thrown away in a large red plastic garbage bag. After doing this, you must wash your hands, which is a standard infection control procedure. Most infections are passed along through a lack of proper hand-washing.

Only after having removed your gloves and gown, and then having washed your hands, may you exit the room.

[NB: If you're an MVPC member and are unsure how to proceed, know that Pastor Kim and Pastor Jeri are veterans of the MRSA protocol and can mime the procedure for you.]

2. Although I need to verify this, I'm pretty sure that Mom cannot receive flowers, even though she's no longer in the ICU. Pollen is a potential allergen for some patients, and living things are all carriers of various "contact" and "airborne" pathogens. I should note, though, that our family is very, very thankful for the flowers that have been sent directly to our house. We don't know yet when Mom will come home, but I'm sure she'll appreciate the display (as do the rest of us). On behalf of Mom, then, I'll say, "Feel free to keep on sending those flowers!"

3. We family members have been told that we may kiss Mom on the forehead. Whether you decide to do this is, of course, your choice. Once gloved and gowned up, you may hold Mom's hands, grasp her feet through the blankets, etc. Mom might be embarrassed to see you at first; even before the operation, she had a sense of dignity, and would rather be seen after a proper session for her hairdo and makeup. Don't worry about Mom's embarrassment (if she even shows it to you). She'll appreciate your visit.

4. If possible, please coordinate amongst yourselves so as not to crowd Mom. Staggered visits will keep her spirits up throughout the day, but once there are more than four people there at the same time, all surrounding her bed, this may become a bit stressful for her. Mom will want to interact fully with everyone, but her verbal output remains fairly basic. She will, of course, remember who you are (long-term memory hasn't been affected), and might even ask after your kids or mutual friends/acquaintances. Beyond that, though, you'll find that you'll be doing most of the talking, which to me seems proper: give her brain as much auditory stimulation as you can. Come with stories. Read something funny. If you feel like praying with her, do so. If you don't, that's fine, too; we're not pushy (and long-time readers of this blog know that I'm not pushy when it comes to this particular topic).

5. Related to the previous point: Mom's visiting hours apparently aren't restricted, so if you pop up at 9PM, that's probably OK, unless she happens to be napping. She may have certain things to do throughout the day as the nurses check on her regularly, so please be prepared to leave the room rather suddenly if the nurse asks you to. Again, remember that you cannot leave without first removing your gloves and gown, and then washing your hands.

Beyond those considerations, you now know as much as I do about proper etiquette. If Mom is struggling to sit more upright, feel free to step in and help her. Your own common sense and compassion will guide you. Those virtues guided you to her door, after all; why would they fail you once you made it inside the room?

And to all of you, I say: thanks so much, in advance, for coming to see Mom. And to those good folks who had wanted to see her before now (but who saw only us guys), thank you as well.


1 comment:

Nomad said...

That's good news, I'm sure your mom is looking forward to getting back to familiar surroundings.