Mom, day 2

Today was an AWESOME day. And for now, "awesome" is a very relative term. 2 days ago my mom chewing and swallowing fruit cocktail would not have been such a miracle...but today this sort of thing makes my chest swell with pride and my hands turn up in thanksgiving to God.

Here's the cliff notes version: You don't know "reality" until 3-5 days after a stroke when the brain's swelling has gone down. Things can look good one day & get worse the next. Or vice versa. We'll take the versa :) She'll be in the hospital at least until Monday. Then she's got to go to rehab- length of stay TBD based on her progress. Way too soon to take a guess on that. But all signs are pointing to hopeful.

Dad slept at the hospital last night, in a very uncomfortable chair. There were a few scary minutes when mom was coughing & couldn't get rid of the congestion in her throat- her back and head are really causing a ton of pain & she has us hold her head & eyes when she coughs- you know if you have a cold & coughing makes your eyes feel like they'll explode? That's how it is for her. Her body, besides suffering major trauma and a thoroughly exhausting "crawl for her life" is having serious withdrawals without her daily pack of cigarettes & pot of coffee. She corrected me today- only TWO cups of coffee (plus all the tea she drinks...) Anyhow- we met dad at the hospital at 7:30 and all got in to see mom around 8. She was feeling super tired (still on morphine) but she was sort of "with it." From there she endured lots of tests and checks. I don't know how to organize this all, so here's a list of the highlights from today:

1. Today on the way to the hospital we stopped at starbucks. There was a group of men doing a bible study in the corner. This is SO cheesy, I know- but I decided I'd ask them to pray for my mom's mobility & the tests for the day. I totally interuppted them, and then surprised myself by starting to sob and hiccup while I asked the favor. They assured me they would pray- but I definitely took them by surprise. What a fumbling mess- but whatever. Shakes up their daily devotional :)
2. When we'd been in the room for a few minutes mom was waving around for dad. She pulled him down to her and they hugged tight. She must have been saying something to him as she rubbed his back and neck, because I could see the top of his head turn red and his shoulders start to shake. I will not have enough time with my mom in this life if she and I both live to be 100- but I know now more than ever that tomorrow is NOT promised to us. And if today was all we had, this memory of my parents loving each other would hold me over until I get to heaven.
3. The care team is graciously turning a blind eye to the fact that baby Jo is kicking it in the ICU. To her credit, she has been a stellar baby, even taking two good naps in my arms. Mom heard Jo & wanted to see her. Since Jo was asleep we put her in the crook of mom's bad arm so her right arm could reach over and pet her grandbaby's hair and soft cheeks. She did this for a few minutes and let me tell you- there wasn't a dry eye in the room. On a lighter note my mom reminded me that she'll not be able to watch Jo this Monday & Tuesday as usual. Check.
4. Rounds. Ok, I know about rounds because I watch Grey's Anatomy. The doctor comes in, talks about her condiiton in front of all his underlings, and stalks out. Not super impressed. The ultimate let down? He wasn't even McKindaCute.
5. Physical Therapy: PT went amazing. Yesterday they wouldn't let mom do anything but lie (lay? I can never remember...) flat. Today they shoved her out of bed & with a LOT of support, she stood. She can feel things on her left side but has no muscle control really.
6. Occupational therapy: also went well. There's a kick-ass program at Good Sam's & there is some criteria to get in there--- Mom's being recommended for it based on the potential they're seeing in her! This is a 2 week rehab program after which she could get to come home (!!!) or may need more time in a skilled nursing facility. There's a very good nursing facility about .3 miles from my parents house...
7. The big highlight of the day (in my opinion) was when mom had the swallow test. They wouldn't give her water which is driving her nuts and making it SUPER hard to talk. We let her lick a sponge...which she scoffs at but accepts for lack of a double tall latte in sight. Today they gave her an ice chip- she didn't choke. Then some custard. She said it was gross, and did they have chocolate ice cream? They gave her chocolate pudding, she said she liked it but not the pill they snuck into it (nothing gets by her). She sipped water off a spoon, then water out of a cup, then bites of applesauce and the big victory? She chewed & swallowed some fruit cocktail!!! God, THANK YOU.
8. My uncle Chad came to visit. He's not your average uncle chad though- he is (i'm not going to get this right) a brilliant nurse with his PHD in nursing- he is a professor at University of Portland and SPECIALIZES in stroke recovery & geriatrics. Convenient? Yes. Divinely appointed? Absolutely. He let the nurses know what's up (in a totally tactful way he dropped his creds & the nurses know now that we are a big deal)! He is such a blessing, helping us understand what's going on and interpreting all this medical stuff.
9. Friends & family- so much love being sent our way. People (Nina, thank you) randomly connecting with us to tell us they are praying for my mom. They've never met ME- much less my mom. And the usual suspects are there too- my dog pack (laugh all you want- this is what we dog park people call each other!) offered to watch Rucker or bring food. Friends & family are emailing & calling like crazy to check on my mom. In a few months I can't wait to tell my mom about all of this- she is going to feel like royalty to hear how loved she is. It is humbling and the best feeling ever.

So many good things. I don't want to paint a too-bright picture, but compared to how things seemed 36 hrs ago I think we're in a much better place. If you saw my mom you'd see she looks like total crap- she can barely keep her eyes open, she snores in between words that are sometimes really hard to understand, and some of our questions she answers kinda funny- but SHE is still in there. I am hoping as she rests and heals a little she'll have a bit more energy & be able to converse with us more, and be taken off the morphine which is undoubtedly to blame for some of the incoherence.

It was funny today during PT her gown was riding a bit high & she told dad to make sure jack was out of the room. He was & she said "don't want him to have to see my fat ass." Nice. But that is totally my mom, so yes--- NICE!

We're home (except dad) to eat dinner. Dad will be home in a few hours & one of us will go back to take the first half of the night shift. I'm really hoping we can talk dad into resting- he's gotten less sleep by far than anyone. His world is rocking & he needs some sleep to recoup- but his spirits are high too.

I feel like I need to temper my high hopes a little- it would be devestating for things to take a bad turn (obviously), but for now I just feel SO lucky and thankful. We'll keep you posted!


Aunt Nancy said...

Michelle, my goodness I cried reading this. I'm so sorry I couldn't make it today to see her....if she's up for visitors I'll be by tomorrow. I love you all so very much...you have an amazing strong family, and that will see Karen through....that and her stubborness. She is a strong woman. We are here for you all.
Much love,
Aunt Nancy

Melissa said...

Thanks for the update Michelle. you are in our thoughts constantly!Love you guys!

Dottie said...

Sounds like good progress Michelle! Your mom sounds like a hoot, and she has some wonderful support around her. Been thinking of you all day!

Kate & Matt Heihn said...

Thanks so much for writing this, Michelle!

Anonymous said...

Michelle, I am so thankful that you are all surrounded with so much love and support. You express your thoughts and feelings beautifully. Thank you for sharing so much of your heart. Continue to keep us posted on your mom's progress. We care so much.
Love Aunt A.

Diane said...

Thank you for sharing your story with us! It sounds like positive things are happening. The swallow test is a huge step. You are lucky to have your Uncle that can help you understand the twists and turns. You and your family are in my prayers!
Diane Soule

Nina said...

One of my favorite hymns is "Great is thy faithfulness" especially the part that says...morning by morning new mercies I see! He gives us strength and bright hope for tomorrow and that we can count on!! Praying!!!!!

L.E.S. said...

Michelle, Luke and all the family... especially Uncle Chad.. way to go!.. take care.. know the "dog pack" has your back.. hoping for many 'tail wags' to come and puppy kisses back at ya..and we will go bury a bone for ya for good times to come. Yes 'dog people' are a bit strange but we are always optimistic.. hoping the best for your Mom.. LES

Colleen said...


Thank you for keeping me updated.

I wanted to let you know Karen and the whole family are in my thoughts and prayers.

I know what you are going thru and agree with you that your Mom is a strong willed person which will help her recovery.

If you or your family need anything please do not hesitate to let me know.