Tuesday, July 29, 2008

3 a.m. Panic Attacks

Instead of calming my fears by telling me why I am being irrational at this hour as he usually does within a few minutes and goes back to sleep, Saul has quickly run out of arguments as to why I shouldn't be having a panic attack. Yesterday morning when I called Mom, she sounded terrible. She said she had spent the night standing at her hospital room door listening to some sort of argument that was going on between the nurse and a patient in another room. She was distraught because her morning nurse had told her that she had gone into afibrillation during the night and that the evening nurse had told her so. She insisted to me that she had not been told and she did not know whether to believe the nurse. As we were speaking, the morning nurse came in and I asked to speak with her. She told me that Mom had indeed gone into afibrillation during the night and was currently in a state of afib. I had intended to bring Mom home and that was now up in the air depending on what the doctors said. I asked the nurse to have the doctors phone me to let me know what they intended to do and when Mom was likely to be coming home. She verified my phone numbers. I told Mom to speak to the doctors and that I would let her know what they said to me. A moment or two later, Mom hung up because a doctor and his assistant had come in to see her. When I offered to call her back in a few minutes to see what they had to say, she told me to wait an hour or two because she was very tired and wanted to sleep for a while after they left.

I spent the next two hours on the phone with Adele and Ken and a number of other people. Saul and I needed to shop to buy supplies after our vacation, especially if Mom was coming home, and it was 11 a.m. before I was able to get myself and the girls together for a trip to Costco. I tried to call Mom before I left and no one answered the phone. A few minutes after arriving at Costco, my cell rang, but I wasn't able to answer it in time. I could tell from the number that the call had originated from Abington Hospital. When I tried to return the call, I reached a general number and the person at the other end put me on endless hold while she tried to figure out who had called me. In the meantime, a message registered and the call was from Abington Home Health Care Services. A woman named Ginny was letting me know that whenever Mom was released, they would call the following day to arrange for health care services and that Mom had refused the part of the service that provided a health care worker to help her bathe and change her bedding, etc. I reached a machine and left a terse message when I called back to say that I wanted all the services that they could provide. Ginny returned my call a few minutes later to say that she had no problem adding that part back into the package. She told me that she had not heard yet when Mom would be coming home. I told her I was waiting to hear from the doctors. I called Adele to tell her what was happening.

We finished shopping and had lunch at Costco. When Larry came home, Adele made arrangements with me to pick me up to go to visit Mom so that Saul could take the girls in the SUV to the swim club. Saul left with the girls at 1:45 p.m. and Adele arrived around 2:30 p.m. When we arrived at the hospital at about 3:15 p.m., Mom was fully dressed, sitting on the bed and pulling on her second sock. She said that they had just told her that she was being released. When I went out to check with the nurse, she said she had just finished the paper work and was bringing it in for Mom to sign. I called my friend, Laura, who was supposed to meet me with some computer work while I was visiting and she immediately came over and helped Adele and me to get Mom from the wheelchair to the car. Considering how wonderful Mom had been for the last two days, I was appalled at how she looked and sounded. She couldn't wait for the half hour ride to be over and was barely able to make the short journey from the car to her bed. We tucked her in fully clothed at her insistence. Adele ate some leftovers for dinner while I napped for an hour before Saul returned with the girls. Both Adele and I were too exhausted and too overwhelmed to start the process of trying to reach doctors who had never contacted us to tell us what to expect when Mom came home and what was the reason for releasing her so hastily.

Before she went to sleep, Mom spoke on the phone briefly with Ken and then with Randi. We had spoken with Aunt Ruth to tell her we were bringing Mom home and I asked her to wait until morning to speak with Mom to give her a chance to rest. Mom slept for a few hours and after we had given the girls dinner and I was cleaning up, Saul went in and woke her to give her a yogurt smoothie (which she drank eagerly) and made sure she took the proper medication. She immediately went back to sleep and each time I checked on her, she was asleep. After we put the girls to bed and I spoke to Ari for a while, I worked on the computer for a few hours. Then I checked Mom at 12:30 a.m. when I quit work for the evening and she was asleep. Then, I checked again at 1:30. I awoke in a state of panic at 3:30 and checked again. She insisted that Saul leave a light on in her room, so at least I can see that she is breathing and comfortable. Now, I blog because I was not able to go back to sleep this last time. Writing about my day has calmed me a bit, but I am very concerned that the reason this all played out the way it did was that the doctor's have decided under the circumstances of her age that there is no more they can do for her and are sending her home to be comfortable in her own surroundings until the end. If that is the case, I wish we could have discussed it with someone before we brought her home so that I have a better idea of how to deal with her exhaustion and what kind of time frame we are likely to be facing. Perhaps that will come today.

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