I've watched so many cars come and go today as I've sat looking out of my mom's ICU hospital room window. A person's experience at the hospital can be so vastly different from the person standing next to them. Someone could be having a baby while someone else is here to say good-bye to a dieing grandparent. Someone could simply be getting some blood drawn while someone else is in the fourth month of their long hospital stay. Unfortunately, I have endured most of the above with my mother. To explain to you her medical history would take a whole afternoon, so instead I will jump to her bilateral mastectomy that was scheduled for Thursday, May 12th.
It was an early morning for us as 5:45am came a little early and we had a groggy start. I drove to the hospital with my mom, knowing she was anxious about this life changing surgery. Would it be successful? Would we find out today that she was only beginning her battle with cancer? I did my best to talk non-stop and keep her mind busy on silly things, like the upcoming bridal shower I was planning or what silly gift I would get my daughters for their 4th birthday next month. She saw right past my little scheme, but allowed me to babble anyway.
The process of getting her ready for surgery moved along pretty quickly. They got her in a gown and we sat in the surgical staging unit Kent, the minister of pastoral care at our church, arrived to pray with us. It was a wonderful morning and my mom was in great spirits, keeping us laughing the entire time. From there we headed down to nuclear medicine, a typical procedure for anyone having a mastectomy (or even a lumpectomy). Piece of cake!!
It wasn't long before they wheeled her up to the operating room. This is where we said our well wishes and promised her that all would be okay and that we would be waiting for her when she woke up. Luckily for my dad, a surgical technician at the same hospital, he was allowed to follow my mom back and hold her hand until the last minute. As soon as he walked into the waiting room, the phone rang. They had gotten my mom to sleep and everything was looking perfect.
We were a little surprised when the phone rang again 10 minutes later. Had they gotten the results of the sentinel node biopsy already? They were quick! My dad and I walked into the other room and began discussing what they could possibly be telling us. What if it has spread? Surely they wouldn't come out this soon if everything looked good. This must be bad news, I had convinced myself.
Dr. W walked in and sat down. The look on her face was one of fear and her eyes told a story of someone who had bad news to deliver. "Frank" she said to my dad, "I just want you to know that we got her stats back up and she is doing fine."
There was a small silence for a moment. What did she mean that they got her stats BACK up?
"Frank" she said again with sorrow in her eyes, "She coded."
Anything after that is much of a blurr for me. The floor I had been standing on, the couch I had been sitting on...all of it, was ripped out from under me and my chest got heavy.
'They got her stats back up. They revived her. She is alive.' I kept repeating those three little sentences over and over again in my mind.
Without going into too much detail, they ran some tests, checked her heart for damages, ran CT scans of her head and chest...all came back normal. They moved her to the ICU where she is still, after 24 hours, heavily sedated and intubated. She wakes up occasionally and quickly gets angered by her arm restraints that are keeping her from ripping out her breathing tube. the medicine is making her groggy and she unable to remember anything when she wakes. For her, every time she opens her eyes is the first time and she expects to see a flat chest and hear the news of her cancer. It is my job to calm her and reassure her that it will all be okay. I rub her arm and smooth her hair as I look into her eyes. She wants so badly to talk and ask questions, I know this is a challenge for her.
I can only hope that the sight of me brings her a little piece as she lays in that bed unable to move, talk or communicate in any way.
She is doing dialysis right now, in her room, and sometime tonight they should begin to extubate her. With any luck, she will be awake and talking to us at this time tomorrow.
I just want to take a moment to thank all of you who have been praying over my mother today. We feel your love and thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. A special thanks to my mom's best friend, Lu, who sat with us all day yesterday and offered to get us whatever was needed. You were our angel. To my in-laws who are braving the task of watching my three little ones while I am at the hospital. You have been nothing short of a blessing in my life. Thank you.
I will update whenever possible, please feel free to ask questions as I am sure I left something out.