I slept at home last night, Ash & Dad did the night shifts. Then I met Kristen, Cristina & Raelee to run the shamrock 10 today. Well it was actually only 9.3 but I had to run across the morrison bridge twice so I am taking credit for 10. I feel emotionally drained so I wasn't sure how the run would go, but it was great. In fact, I got 3rd place! Nope, that's a lie. But my brother actually believed me for a minute. Sucka!
After the run I showered & headed out to the hospital, where I was pleased to find Mom had been "downgraded" to the INTERMEDIATE care unit. AND I was happy to lay eyes on a cozy comfy recliner chair next to her bed for whoever is there keeping her company and holding her head when she coughs. I think the hospital m.o. is 'underpromise & overdeliver.' We were given a bleak prognosis for mom (good luck, she's paralzyed & will need to be in a nursing home for life) and crappy stiff chair the first day. Now we're looking at getting her home in the coming month(ish???) and we've got a recliner. I'm not comparing the convenience of a recliner to my mom's recovery...I'm just saying that recliner has dual head and foot rest plus it swivels.
Mom continues to be more & more alert. She's off morphine now & onto oxycotin (sp?). She says she feels like her brain rattles when she coughs, but the further she gets from her last cigarette (now 4 days ago-- the longest she's gone w/o a cigarette in nearly 4 decades!) the better things will be. The neurosurgeon today said that the blood clot came from her neck (not sure what that means) and that some of her grogginess is NOT attributed to pain meds- it is just how you are after a stroke. Hopefully that'll get better with time too.
The food situation is pretty pitiful. They make a big production of wheeling in a tray with a covered dish. The anticipation builds as you eye that black plastic cover. All the surrounding condiments & utensils look promising. Maybe we're looking at chicken florentine or crab alfredo. Perhaps enchiladas or something involving fries. Nope. Jack unveiled the plate cover (and who are they kidding with that anyhow? The food is ALWAYS lukewarm at best, so they should consider trying to get their money back from the plate cover company) and said, "EVERY meal is thanksgiving at the hospital!" He's right- more pulverized ground turkey with a scoop of instant (and when mom "instant" she makes it sound like a profanity) potatoes and some sort of disgusting ground vegetable. Ew. She requested "Tillamook brand beef jerkey." Or "A tuna sandwhich from subway." Or "chocolate chip cookies." But to no avail. Dad brought her blackberry sorbet which she enjoyed, but she is turning her nose at the rest of this crap. Tonight I came home & made REAL mashed potatoes with butter, sour cream, garlic and pepper. I pureed it to make it easy for her to swallow. I pan fried chicken breast which I pureed with chicken stock (this is still a foul texture, but it tastes better than the hospital stuff) and attempted gravy. It does NOT rival mom's cooking...but it is at least better than the stuff she's had so far. So we'll see how that goes tonight. As she gets used to the changes to her mouth & tongue hopefully she'll be able to start eating solid foods. Until then I'm going to make myself scarce during feeding time at the zoo. One of those nurses is bound to get a black plastic food cover to the head if they keep presenting such cuisine to my mom.
The highlight of the day was when the physical therapist came in. She asked mom which knee was hurting & my mom lifted her left leg!!!! The therapist was SO excited. She even went & got the nurse to tell him. My mom acts mildly offended (like, how could we doubt her abilities???) but really to see that leg move feels like I'm watching magic happen. It is so cool. She seems to move her left side out of habit versus when she's really TRYING to, but the point is that there's some little dirt road in her brain that's getting the message from her brain to her leg. The main freeway's shut down for good now, but she'll get used to this detour. Mom wanted to go to the bathroom, so they offered her a commode. That sounds super fancy but really it is a grown up potty training chair on wheels. The wheels must have locks though...that would be a dirty trick :) Anyhow, she refused. The PT said, "Karen- look how far away the toilet is." It's about 5 feet from her bed but Mom said, "I KNOW! I can get there." And with lots of help, she did.
After PT she was pooped out, so I left her & my dad to rest. I'll be going back at midnight to try out the sweet recliner & love on my mom.
It's funny because a week ago if I would have walked in to find my mom laid up in a hospital bed, struggling with a body that is now clumsy and foreign to her, I would have been devestated. When I'm feeling super tired sometimes I start to get angry or really sad about how things have changed. I don't want to see my mom discouraged. I don't want to see my dad walking around with the weight of the world on his shoulders. I want to walk into her house with my baby & dog and have her take both off my hands with joy that only a Grammy can have. I want her to come over and help me hang up pictures or rearrange my living room. I want to meet her at our favorite stores or go grocery shopping with her, or just sit in her living room and watch her rock my daughter. I get SO MAD when I think about letting go of that stuff. And then at other times, well MOST OF THE TIME really, I dwell on the fact that Thursday morning my worst fear was almost realized. I could have lost my mom. She could have suffered worse brain damage. She could have been emotionally traumatized or lost all motivation. And when I think about what COULD have happened, I feel undeserving of this blessing. It's like I get a second chance to enjoy, appreicate, and celebrate my mom. There's a line in a dave mathews song that says it perfectly: Celebrate, we will. For life is short, but sweet for certain!
Tomorrow's a BIG day. All the normal docs/therapists are back & they'll be evaluating Mom for discharge & candidacy for the REO program (which is like the harvard of rehab). We need prayer that she continues to gain energy, mobility, and maintains her fighting spirit. We also need prayer that insurance agrees to cover the cost of rehab (which we anticipate...but you just never know!).
And now, a confession. I am being mindful to keep a postiive outlook. I am celebrating the blessings rather than focusing on the hard parts. I am trying to harness this new perspective and take to heart how precious and fragile life is. But despite all those altruistic notions there is a little voice in the back of my mind bragging, "Michelle. SO many more people are going to start reading your blog."