Thursday, May 28, 2009

ready for launch

[NB: This post has been updated. Please scroll to its end.]

Sean was with Mom from about 9:15AM to 2:30PM. David came by during the lunch hour, sacrificing his own lunch hour to drive from his job in DC to Fairfax Hospital, then back to DC again. I arrived around 10:50AM, just in time to see two therapists getting ready to depart. They had tried to get Mom to walk around, but they told me that she wasn't ready yet: she was still too dizzy, and her legs were too weak for proper walking.

Mom was, however, sitting in one of her ICU room's chairs, which was a welcome sight. She looked very awake and interacted with us in a much more lively manner than she had yesterday. She had her helmet on; I know it made her feel ridiculous, but it's there for her protection.

I said hi to Mom, stayed with her a few minutes, then hit lunch with Sean, who told me he'd been disturbed by the sight of Mom's scalp when her bandages were being changed. Later in the day, I saw Mom's scalp for myself; it wasn't as bad as I'd thought it would be, and two doctors assured us that things were as normal as could be expected, given the circumstances.

Pastor Kim came by as well, and after David and Sean had left, Dad arrived sometime around 5:45PM. He'd had to stay behind to work on chores and errands-- paperwork doesn't cease just because someone has cancer. Mom's good friend Theresa Lindow, a nurse at the hospital, also very kindly stopped by when her shift was done. She held Mom's left hand a while, noting, as Sean and I had, that Mom tends to grip people's fingers and squeeze them. Whether this is purposive or random, I don't know, but Mrs. Lindow jokingly asked Mom if she was trying to send her a message in Morse code. That produced a weak smile.

Mom's vitals are still good and stable, though there was some question in the morning about the level of her antibiotics. After her feat with the chair, Mom was eventually returned to the bed with the help of a very kind and capable nurse who tells me she hails from Bulgaria, but who spent a few years in Belgium. No, she doesn't speak French-- I checked. She says she and her husband lived in the Flemish region.

We don't know when Mom will leave the ICU, but we do know that she'll be having her intracranial drain removed today. Her synthetic bone won't be placed under her scalp until the course of antibiotics is completely done, which means we've got 8 weeks. Mom will eventually come home-- with her PIC line still in her arm-- and will be visited routinely by hospital staffers who will (1) tend to her antibiotic regimen, and (2) engage her in more physical therapy. It's a long road ahead.

UPDATE: Mom was moved-- finally-- to the non-intensive wing around 8:20PM. This is her final night in the hospital: she's slated to be discharged tomorrow. Before she is discharged, it's very likely that we family members will be schooled in the maintenance of Mom's PICC line, which is in her left arm and threaded to a blood vessel close to her heart. As mentioned above, she will also be receiving visits from hospital staffers who will tend to the PICC line and see to her physical therapy. Mom's convalescence will require us to watch over her 24/7, because she is still missing her bone flap (her intracranial drain was taken out somewhere between 7 and 8PM, when visitors were not allowed in the ICU). She'll be bringing her new helmet home with her; we've been told we may decorate it as we please.


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