Tuesday, June 9, 2009

final update for the night

Dad and I have to get up at 5AM tomorrow, so this will be the final update for today.

Dad, David and I saw Mom after she was settled into her berth in the Neuroscience ICU-- Bed 12, where she's been before. When I saw Mom, she was lying in bed with the top of her head once again mummified, a turban of bandages protecting her newly lacerated scalp, yet again giving me the impression that she had become a giant Q-tip. Her body was mostly still; under the white linens, we could see that her arms were at her sides and her legs were mostly inert.

David and Dad went in to see Mom first while I sat in a waiting room down the hall. When I came in to visit Mom, I saw she was reactive, responding to my words with very faint attempts at a smile, and even weakly gripping my right hand with her left. The nurse came in and-- in a way that must have seemed cruel to Mom-- administered three pain tests to see how well Mom's right-hand limbs were moving. Mom flinched and winced and grimaced, and the nurse was satisfied that Mom was at least able to move. Mom eyed the nurse with scandalized resentment, and I apologized to Mom for the pain she'd had to experience.

Mom's eyes seemed more awake than they had been before the operation. Even though she was less mobile and completely nonverbal, she somehow seemed more awake. We all have to be careful in such situations, however, because it's easy to take a blank slate and read too much into it. This is a problem even among people with no brain tumors-- how easily we trade actual reality for our hoped-for version of it. So I'm aware that my observation might amount to little more than wishful thinking. Empirical as I am, I'll be happier when I see clear signs of Mom's physical and mental wakefulness.

Such signs were in evidence tonight, though only barely. Mom did give me some indication that she was listening to my voice and at least trying to follow what I was saying. She nodded a couple times, and as mentioned, she attempted the same sort of weak smile she'd been giving us before the operation. I wish I knew how she felt about having had to undergo a third operation, and whether she understood that she will undergo a fourth-- the first operation that doesn't explicitly involve brain surgery.

I left Mom in the ICU a little before 7PM (the ICU, as you know, kicks visitors out during the 7-8:30AM and 7-8PM doctors' rounds). Dad, David, and I drove to the nearby Silver Diner, where we met Sean. Sean then left a little after 8PM to see Mom for himself; he'd had to leave after listening to Dr. Leiphart's 3:05PM summary of the surgery. We remaining three guys went home; David went to his place, while Dad and I drove back to the homestead (it's just a house, not a ranch, so don't get excited).

Pastor Jeri, who has impressed me with her tenaciousness (she stayed with us all day, and also bought us lunch), returned to the hospital this evening. Dad and I got home around 9PM; Jeri texted to ask where Mom was, then later in the evening she wrote me the following series of text messages, which indicates that Mom seems to be improving almost by the minute:

Good visit with your Mom. She was awake-- little smiles, but they were there. Moved her right hand almost to her face. Gripped my hand with left hand, but when I let go, she raised her right hand as if to reach for my hand. She was moving and bending both legs. When I left, she waved back. Seems to me she was processing what was going on.

Am about to leave now. May all of you get a good night's sleep. Each of you is in my prayers. God bless!

Mom wasn't in any condition to wave at me when I waved goodbye to her this evening, but by the time Pastor Jeri was leaving-- this was a mere few hours later-- Mom was able to wave. That's fantastic.

And on that note-- good night. Back to the grind at 5AM. The plastic surgery is slated for 8AM, but we've been warned that "cut time" might actually be later. The operation will last about 3-4 hours, so I expect we'll know more after lunchtime.


1 comment:

imp said...

I hope the nurse was kind enough to apologize after the pain tests, too.

Prayers and good thoughts for Mom and all of you today.