Hospital Visits and Drawn Out Recovery

If you’ve been following my Twitter feed (I know, miracle of miracles I’m actually using that account-I blame the new phone), you may have noticed lots of recent posts about hospital visits. Before anyone panics, I think it’s about time that I let you know what’s been going on. It all started before Thanksgiving.

Instead of spending her birthday, November 21, like usual decorating the house for Christmas, my mom visited the doctor to get her gall bladder checked out. She’d been having gall bladder attacks for a while but it had finally gotten to the point where anytime she ate she had extreme pain afterward.

The doctor discovered that her gall bladder was dead. Zero functionality. It had to go.

During the holiday weekend, she was pretty miserable. Thankfully, she was able to look forward to getting that troublesome little organ out the coming Tuesday.When the surgery happened, it seemed to have gone well. She was sent home for me to look after.

That first day home was awful for her. She was coughing terribly, her pain meds weren’t even touching her pain but they were making her vomit. The last thing on either of our minds was decorating the house for Christmas. We got her strong pain meds and anti-nausea meds hoping that soon she’d be feeling better. Instead she declined.

While I was at work that Saturday, a bright yellow liquid began seeping through her incisions (a liquid we found out at the hospital was bile). My dad, of course, rushed her off to the emergency room where she was soon admitted. She had a nice long, six day hospital stay. She started joking with her nurses and techs that she was actually an alien, the bile she was leaking was really her blood. The tech she first told this to said, “You’d told me that you work with children. I can see why.”

I made sure to finally get up our Christmas decorations while she was gone so she’d come home to some holiday cheer. She finally returned to us last Thursday. She didn’t stay home long.

Those first few days, she was still feeling relatively miserable but almost bearably so. Her doctors had concluded that some bile had dumped into her abdomen after her surgery. They believed it was no longer spilling into her abdomen and thought it was best to just let her body reabsorb what hadn’t already seeped out.

Monday her pain seriously increased and I rushed her back to her doctor. He did a few tests but then concluded her body was just badly reacting to one of her meds. He switched things around and sent her back home. Tuesday her pain started dramatically decreasing so we thought she was on the mend. Then, the next day, she started throwing up and basically didn’t stop for 24 hours, despite not eating or drinking.

Yesterday, she and I made two trips up to the hospital. First, she visited her doctor for an already scheduled follow up. He prescribed some different anti-nausea meds then sent us back home. A few hours after we got home, she started throwing up stomach bile and blood. She was panicky because it burned her mouth and I was panicky about the blood. We called her doctor and he arranged for her to be admitted to the hospital as soon as we arrived back at the ER.

During the night they did a CAT scan which showed that her body is still leaking bile that’s collecting where her gall bladder used to be and pushing on her stomach. Very soon, she’ll be undergoing another procedure intended to drain out this bile and put an end to the leakage.

All in all, it’s been a long three weeks for my poor mother who hasn’t eaten a real meal, without serious pain, since before Thanksgiving. Nor has she really been able to enjoy the Christmas season, something she’s mentioned a few times (she loves Christmas even more than I do).

I’d love to give a more narrative spin to this story. To make it more amusing or draw some greater meaning out of it. But it’s too soon for that type of reflection. Right now, this is what it is. My dad and I are staying positive, doing our best to respond to her needs and keep her friends updated. For my mom, the last few weeks have been frightening, painful and exhausting  I’ve been rather out of my element playing a nurse when she’s here. (Christa’s the nurse of the family and I can’t tell you how much I wish she was here right now).

The nurses and techs looking after my mom are wonderful. The hospital she’s at is also where she works part-time and where my dad works full-time, so she’s got lots of friends and coworkers checking in on her. Don’t be too concerned. If you’re one of my readers who prayers, I know that my mom would appreciate for you to plead her case before God a little bit. A week from Sunday we’re supposed to be flying down to Alabama to spend the holiday with my sister Christa and her husband Jon. I know it’ll just break her heart if she isn’t well enough to go.

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