Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Mom's receiving a blood transfusion. It's supposed to take about two hours.

UPDATE, 1:02AM, Christmas Eve 2009: I spent two hours with Mom, alone, holding her hand. She had an air blanket on top of her to keep her warm, and it was working: her hands were again as warm as they had been two visits ago.

I took my sweet time visiting Mom this evening. Dad and David were there first, and they're the ones who briefed me about her transfusion via text. When I did finally get to the hospital, Sean was there; he left soon after I got to Mom's side.

Mom is now even less dependent on her ventilator, but she still needs it to breathe. Her stomach isn't absorbing nutrients as efficiently as it should, and her heart, despite a rate of 86 beats per minute, isn't pumping blood as strongly as we'd like. Different bodily signs are pointing in different directions. It's hard to know whether Mom is making any real progress.

Her hand remained limp when I held it. I started off by her right side, then moved over to her left. Mom's left hand was, I discovered, subject to random, slight twitching motions-- nothing in tandem with the environment. I squeezed her hand several times throughout my two hours with her, hoping she might react, but she never responded.

The nurse came in twice while I was there; at one point, she checked Mom's pupillary reactions and deemed them "sluggish," noting that Mom's pupils had been that way when she was first admitted to the ER. I also asked why the doctors weren't giving Mom a vitamin drip instead of trying to deliver liquid food esophageally. The nurse dodged the question, saying that they were giving her drugs that ought to help her stomach absorb nutrition better. Maybe they need to check the performance of Mom's stomach-- something that would be harder to do were Mom receiving her nutrients intravenously.

The nurse did provoke one reaction from Mom, however: it happened when the nurse inserted a small, moist, green sponge-on-a-suction-stick inside Mom's mouth. I was holding Mom's left hand at the moment the sponge went in; it simultaneously cleaned Mom's mouth and sucked out any loose debris, and that's when I felt Mom's entire arm give a tiny jerk-- most definitely a reaction to the nurse's ministrations. Get that thing out of my mouth.

I also saw that the hospital staff was taking better care of Mom's eyes. On my previous visit, I was saddened and discomfited to see that her eyes were closed, but her left eye was ever so slightly cracked open, leaving her rolling iris visible. The effect was disconcerting, and at the time, I spoke to a nurse about it. She said they would give her periodic drips to prevent any dryness. Tonight, I saw that no such measures were necessary: Mom's eyes, both of them, were serenely closed.

My two hours came and went quickly. Time passes whether we want it to or not. I squeezed Mom's hand one last time, told I'd be back tomorrow, and asked her to sleep well. Here's hoping we get no emergency phone call during the night.


1 comment:

Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Christmas Eve has arrived here in Korea, Kevin. We're here in Daegu for chaesa.

I remember about a year ago, when my father-in-law passed away, that I posted a memorial, and you offered some kind words. I know that this Christmas isn't merry for you, but I thought that I should at least visit your blog as company.

At midnight tonight, we observe the chaesa for Sun-Ae's father in what I can only think of as an ironic way to greet the moment that Christmas arrives with its rumor of new life. When it does, I'll be thinking of you, your family, and mostly your mother.

Jeffery Hodges

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