Fear & Gratitude: A Tale in the ER & ICU with a Texas Tech Victory

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Lord never gives you more than you can handle.

The past couple of days have been an emotional whirlwind. Yeah, that's more than an understatement. My mother recently had back surgery to repair an earlier surgery from 6 years ago. At that time, I had written a post and asked for prayers of strength and healing. A week after having her surgery, she was moved to a Rehabilitation hospital. After being there for two days, she was walking. Not only walking, but she was upright, taking it easy, walking from the gym back to her room. Joyful tears filled my eyes and I was overcome with emotion. I just knew in my heart of hearts that one day, mom would walk that 5K she's been wanting to do for 10 years. You see, over the years she's elected to participate in races, and with the help of generous friends and family, they've pushed her in her wheelchair. She's not actually gotten to do any walking in a race since the 80s.

The day after this photo was snapped, we heard wonderful news that she was going to be discharged on the following Monday. We were beside ourselves with excitement and anxiety.

And then, Friday happened.

Her blood pressure plummeted, her heart rate increased and the two were so dangerous, they feared to give her any pain medication. She didn't eat at all on Friday. By Friday evening at 10:30, they were able to stabilize her enough by giving her 1.5 liters of IV fluid. She was given more medication to give her a comfortable and restful nights sleep. When I spoke with the nurse, she told me that she anticipated her to be well enough for rehab the next day and more than likely, they were NOT going to discharge her on Monday, though.

When I went to visit her Saturday morning, the attending PA warned me that things weren't looking so hot. Her blood pressure was, in fact, worse than the day before and she continued with her elevated heart rate. They hesitated to give her a sedative, but they knew she was in an extraordinary amount of pain. She then told me that they were going to be transporting her in an ambulance to the ER to get an MRI. Since it is Saturday, the only way you can get an MRI is through the ER.

I took my first ambulance ride with her, and was reminded just how bumpy the roads are to get to the hospital. With every bump, Mom felt it and screamed out in pain. My heart was breaking. I give thanks to the driver who did his very best to try to distract me from it by talking about his 15 chickens. We got to the ER at 10:30. Over the next 9 hours, she had to be moved to different beds to have an MRI, X-rays, & CAT scans. She was pricked for blood more times that I would like to think of. She's only had a half a cup of water before we went to the ER. Her mouth and tongue were blistered, she was ghost white, she was only speaking Spanish, and in a weak voice at that. She was shrieking and screaming in pain multiple times per hour. I stood there holding her hand, quietly sobbing when I knew she was finally granted a few moments of sleep. I've never before felt more helpless and inadequate. So there I stood, holding her hand, praying, and talking to her of happier times. I was grateful for my sister to be there. We held each other when we quietly sobbed. They moved her to a critical care room and set up a morphine drip. Each of us took turns with mom when the other had to go to a meeting, go feed a baby, or go grab a meal. We talked with our friends and family, each of them giving us hope. She was scheduled for surgery to go in a clean out the wound. Before my sister returned from her meeting, Mom gave me her wedding bands since she knew she couldn't wear jewelry. I did my best to not cry. I smiled and told her that I would return them the next day when I saw her awake and feeling better. She put her hand on my face, blessed me and began to rest.

At 8PM, I left to go home. Don poured a drink for me. I settled in to watch the Red Raiders play OU. OU is ranked 3rd in the nation. We are...well, I was just hoping we weren't going to lose by more than 40. I know, I have no faith in my boys. I still hoped, but I didn't really think anything was going to happen. Then Sister called me at 11:30 telling me mom was septic. They cut off her morphine drip because her blood pressure was the lowest ever. 77 over something, I don't remember. Her pulse was too high. And then she delivered the verbal blow that punched me in the gut and took my breath away. "He says she needs to get past this, Bianca. She's so septic, she is in jeopardy of having organ failure. It's not looking good." With tears in my eyes, my body shaking, "I'm on my way. Keep breathing. I'll be there soon." I threw some things in the bag and headed back up to the hospital. I caught every green light. At this point I'd forgotten about the game. I was excited that we were ahead, but I knew that we were notorious for not having a great 2nd half showing. There was a massive storm brewing in the distance, and I pressed on to the hospital. Because it was after 10, Sam had to let me in. We briskly walked in to see her and she didn't look like my mother. I prayed and prayed and prayed. I covered her with her prayer blanket and added the olive cross that I'd purchased from our home church in Lubbock, St. John Neumann (Jerusalem earth, incense, and flower petals). I knew she had a lot of prayer warriors and boy were we needing a miracle. I tried to prepare myself for the worst, but a big part of me did not want to accept it and I just kept praying my rosary knowing she was going to get better.

Primo came by and stayed with us until 3. The Red Raiders pulled off a miracle and defeated OU in a nerve wracking game. During that time, I received so many wonderful messages of encouragement from friends both near and far. I had texts, voice mails, private messages, and so many re-threads of my prayer requests. I was overwhelmed by the thoughts, sentiment, and sheer compassion. My cup runneth over, indeed. I slept until 5 and headed home to feed Tesla. I slept from 6 until 9, and during that time, I slept hard. I checked my phone for texts and didn't have any missed calls or texts. But then I saw sister's post about how great mom looked after taking in 7.5 liters of IV fluid. Imprinted in my hand were my rosary beads and I continued to give thanks.

I was definitely afraid, but not once was did I feel alone. Thank you, all of you, who reached out and offered meals, babysitting, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, alcohol, and hugs. We are beyond blessed.

Mom is stable for now, but it appears that she has developed a staph infection. Mostly likely, a bacteria from one of the surgeries from 6 years ago was dormant and awoke with this surgery. Mom's surgeon cut his out of town visit short and rushed back to be here first thing Sunday morning to assess her. He wants to go in and remove that old hardware, but only when she is feeling much better and stable. We have a looong road ahead of us. Thank you for your continued prayers and thoughts. Indeed, they are working! And we relay all of your thoughts and prayers to Mom and they give her strength and inspiration!

1 comment:

E said...

Wow...what an emotional couple days. My mom was actually in the hospital Friday as well. Tests showed that she had a blockage in one of her arteries. When they went in to clear it, though, nothing was there. Definitely a God thing. I'll be praying for your mom.

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