Monday, June 8, 2009

some updates

Sometime before lunch, Dr. Gupta came by to listen to Mom's lungs and confirm that surgery was likely.

At 3:30PM, Dr. Mirali, the plastic surgeon, came by to talk with me about what's to be done with Mom's scalp. The scalp was pulled extremely tight during the second surgery (May 24) and was stitched-- not stapled-- closed. The skin tension has been a problem; to rectify this, Dr. Mirali is scheduled to work on Mom on Wednesday-- a fourth surgery (i.e., the third surgery went from "likely" to "definite"). He will first try to shift the scalp forward on Mom's head. If this doesn't work for some reason, Plan B will involve a skin graft, with skin probably coming from Mom's leg and being placed in an unobtrusive strip around the rear of the base of Mom's skull. Dr. Mirali struck me as a particularly compassionate fellow.

At 3:50PM, Dr. Yoho and Pastor Kim appeared at the same time. Dr. Yoho confirmed that he had OK'ed the upcoming surgery, and noted that catheterization of Mom's skull was highly unlikely, mainly because the likely antibiotics to enter Mom's skull through that means would be very strong, and might themselves pose a risk to the brain.

Dr. Bagenstos appeared around 7:30PM, as we were readying ourselves to leave, to tell us that the operation has been scheduled for 930AM, and that Dr. Mirali's plastic surgery would be on Wednesday, specifically at 8AM. Dr. B said that tomorrow's surgery would likely be a 1-2-hour procedure, but might go longer, as the whole point is to rid Mom entirely of all infection-- draining out pus from the abscess, scouring the brain cavity and, if necessary, removing any infected brain tissue. The doctors' hope is that this latter procedure won't be needed. That's my hope as well.

Mom will return to an antibiotic regimen once these two operations are done. No word on what Mom's mental faculties will be like or how long the healing will take, but as just about every professional we've met has noted, the brain is a tricky piece of meat and everyone responds differently to treatment.

Dad's talk with MD Anderson produced this news: after hearing about what Fairfax was doing, the MDA folks said they wouldn't do anything differently. I suspected this was the case, but like Sean, I had to wonder whether other places might try different procedures, have better equipment, etc. It's a legitimate question, as far as I'm concerned, and Sean was right to voice it.

Mom laughed at us-- really laughed-- as we each tried her spirometer this evening (pictured in the previous post). Dad, David and I took turns inhaling while Mom watched, enraptured. The scene reminded me of any number of stoner movies in which the guys sit around in a circle, taking hits off a bong. Mom was raised in 40s- and 50s-era South Korea, a more straitlaced society than post-60s America, so I doubt she was thinking of bong hits while we tried to outdo each other's performance on the spirometer. To Mom, it was simply funny to see a bunch of large guys wheezing through a tube for no good reason other than to amuse her.

And for you neurotic germophobes: Yes, Mom is MRSA-positive, and yes, we all used her spirometer. But MRSA is spread through contact, and none of us actually touched the thing directly. How did we accomplish this? By forming an O-ring with the thumb and forefinger of one gloved hand, placing it at the end of the tube, and placing our lips on our own protected fingers. The best performance came from establishing a perfect seal: we guys all managed to top out above the 4000 mark, which is the highest you can go. Our hope had been that this would inspire (ahem) Mom to try the spirometer again this evening, but she was having none of it. Stripped of so many mental faculties, Mom was content to laugh at our clowning, and when we handed her the spirometer and urged her to try it, she simply regarded it fondly and did nothing.

While Mom's cheer was heartwarming, what we'd all rather have is a mom who can interact more meaningfully with us. Perhaps after she's gone through the next two surgeries, we'll have that mom again, even if not forever.

Final note: While I was walking, I wrote this very random meditation on breath and wind. Click if you're interested. And hope for the best over the next few days.



Jeri said...

Pneuma - more info than you probably want :) - Jeri
4151 πνεῦμα [pneuma /pnyoo·mah/] n n. From 4154; TDNT 6:332; TDNTA 876; GK 4460; 385 occurrences; AV translates as “Spirit” 111 times, “Holy Ghost” 89 times, “Spirit (of God)” 13 times, “Spirit (of the Lord)” five times, “(My) Spirit” three times, “Spirit (of truth)” three times, “Spirit (of Christ)” twice, “human (spirit)” 49 times, “(evil) spirit” 47 times, “spirit (general)” 26 times, “spirit” eight times, “(Jesus’ own) spirit” six times, “(Jesus’ own) ghost” twice, and translated miscellaneously 21 times. 1 a movement of air (a gentle blast. 1a of the wind, hence the wind itself. 1b breath of nostrils or mouth. 2 the spirit, i.e. the vital principal by which the body is animated. 2a the rational spirit, the power by which the human being feels, thinks, decides. 2b the soul. 3 a spirit, i.e. a simple essence, devoid of all or at least all grosser matter, and possessed of the power of knowing, desiring, deciding, and acting. 3a a life giving spirit. 3b a human soul that has left the body. 3c a spirit higher than man but lower than God, i.e. an angel. 3c1 used of demons, or evil spirits, who were conceived as inhabiting the bodies of men. 3c2 the spiritual nature of Christ, higher than the highest angels and equal to God, the divine nature of Christ. 4 of God. 4a God’s power and agency distinguishable in thought from his essence in itself considered. 4a1 manifest in the course of affairs. 4a2 by its influence upon the souls productive in the theocratic body (the church) of all the higher spiritual gifts and blessings. 4a3 the third person of the trinity, the God the Holy Spirit. 5 the disposition or influence which fills and governs the soul of any one. 5a the efficient source of any power, affection, emotion, desire, etc.

Strong, J. (1996). The exhaustive concordance of the Bible : Showing every word of the test of the common English version of the canonical books, and every occurence of each word in regular order. (electronic ed.) (G4151). Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship.

Kevin said...

Thanks, Jeri.


Maven said...

Still reading and hoping for the very best for your mom.