Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Roller Coaster Ride

For those of you who read my FB page, you know what I'm referring to in my title. My poor mom again.

I posted five days ago that she was doing well. Friday my brother left a message on my cell voice mail saying that she was continuing to improve. Before I got that message, though, on Saturday he called again with the news that Mom's left lung had collapsed and she had another infection. The option of placing her on a ventilator came up; the lung doc acknowledged that it would prolong her life but he did not think she would ever get off and breathe on her own again. However, he thought the infection was treatable. But something needed to be done as her chest organs were beginning to shift due to the pressure changes in her chest, a bad thing. My brother and I discussed this over the phone. She has clearly stated in her papers that she did not want various therapies including being on a ventilator. But, when he spoke to her about it, she was ready to do whatever it took. Therefore, the lung doc intubated her, examined her lung with a bronchoscope (finding lots of thick, sticky mucus he could not wash out), and placed her on a ventilator.

The good news is that the collapsed lung is reinflating. The bad news is that despite the aggressive treatment with antibiotics and everything else that is being done, there are xray changes in the other lung. I'm wondering if Mom isn't developing Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), a horrible situation I saw often when I worked in the ICU. Anyway, today her doctors and other caregivers are going to have a care conference to figure out what to do. An option on the table is to remove the breathing tube in a day or so and just let her fly--or not. I warned my brother Saturday that yes, that was an option but that particular one is absolute Hell on a family; I've seen that done many times and it is never pretty.

My dad called me last night to ask me if I thought they had done the right thing. I told Dad they made the best decision they could at the time, and passed on the wisdom given to me by one of the deacons at my parish. She said, "Forgive yourself right now for everything you didn't do, what you did that may not have been the best, all the could haves and should haves. If you don't, you'll drive yourself crazy." Dad listened then said, "That sounds like good advice. I have to remember that." His tone of voice was thoughtful.

My caregiver brother called everyone to tell them to get home to say good bye. As for me, living as far away as I do has made me aware that everytime I say good bye to my mom, it could be the last time, and when I left 12 days ago it occurred to me I probably would not see her alive again. I called my VA based brother who is disabled by Parkinson's Disease; his wife recently lost her job so their finances are limited. He has enough money for one trip, no more. He said, "What if I am there for a week, then return home and she dies then? I won't be able to return for the funeral!" Our younger brother who lives in Washington state was supposed to fly in last night. Our baby brother lives close to the folks so he has been there often.

Almost as if directed by the Holy Spirit, my good friend in Rapid City called me out of the blue last night. We talked about lots of stuff. She was very supportive of me.

It continues to rankle me that each time I speak to my caretaker brother (when a woman has four brothers, she must specify), he ends the conversation with, "Have fun in Vermont!" Oh well. I refuse to accept the guilt trip. And I remember the deacon's wise words mentioned above.


Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Oh, Laura, I'm so sorry about how difficult this is. I'm glad that you are refusing to accept guilt,. And I think your deacon's words are very wise. (I find them comforting myself.)

I will continue to pray for you and your family.

Songbird said...

Thinking of you.

Mary Beth said...

oh, dear you. I'm so sorry. guilt, no way. love

KarenAll Over said...

You are wise! I would like to think your brother is being sincere but I'm sure you understand his motivations better than I. I expect there is an element of envy - he probably wishes he was right there with you!! I hope he will be able to take a good vacation after the crisis has passed - it will help him be a better balanced person, too.

Stay strong. Hugs - Karen

Diane said...

been reading all these updates and continue to pray for your mom and you.