Wednesday, April 25, 2007
It's been a pretty hectic day. This morning, we were told that Mom's sodium and magnesium were low, but that she might go home after 5:00 if those numbers improved. I got ready to zip into the city to visit my father, but at the last minute, he called and said that it wasn't worth it for me to come for an hour, and that he didn't want me to be so stressed out; he'd rather have me visit when I can spend an entire day and relax.
So instead of zipping into the city, I zipped to the hospital. While I was there, I made sure the nurse knew about the infection problem in Mom's arm. The nurse told me that Mom definitely wouldn't be going home. I also (with Mom's permission) read through her chart, and discovered some things that I hadn't known and that surprised me. I asked the nurse about them; she paged one of Mom's doctors, who -- to my surprise -- arrived immediately and graciously answered questions. He told me that the two diagnoses I'd found in the chart were mistakes, and that I shouldn't worry about them, and he listened carefully to my concerns about the arm. He said that they don't have her on antibiotics at the moment, but that we should watch carefully for even the slightest sign of infection. He also said that Mom might be going home.
Then I saw the doctor who's our family friend, and told him about my conversation with the other doctor. He went over the chart with me again -- slightly grumpy because one of the diagnoses was his, and was indeed accurate, although the other was just a leftover question from the ER -- and explained very well and clearly what all the terminology meant. He said that Mom would be going home if her numbers improved.
I left to go meet up with my nephew at my sister's house; it turned out that he'd been there since noon but could only stay until five, whereas I'd thought he'd be available from three (when I arrived) into the evening. My sister came home, and the three of us had an early dinner just in case Mom was indeed discharged -- and at 5:00, the phone rang and Mom said she was coming home. So my sister and I drove back to the hospital to pick her up. She curled up in the backseat and slept on the way home.
She's very weak, and I was worried about whether she'd be able to get up the stairs to her second-floor bedroom, but she made it. While my sister was out filling prescriptions, I helped Mom get undressed and fed her some applesauce and cottage cheese my brother-in-law had brought upstairs. I'm known as the klutz in the family, the person without hands-on practical skills -- this is probably a function of being the baby of my generation, combined with my genuine lack of physical coordination -- so I feel good whenever I can do something useful.
We're all tired and irritable, but we're also all relieved Mom's home. Oh, she told me that after I left the hospital today, an ER doctor came upstairs to talk to me because he heard I'd been asking questions. Jeez! I was impressed, although I'm not sure whether this was kindness or concern over the fact that a relative was reading the chart (maybe a combination?).
Anyway, all's well for the moment. My sister and I are both a little nervous, because the last time Mom came home after surgery (three years ago), she wound up being rehospitalized for an infection. We really, really hope nothing like that happens this time. For a week, Mom's been surrounded by people who are experts at sorting serious symptoms from trivial ones. We aren't, so it' a little nerve-wracking. But I believe the hospital's going to be sending a visiting nurse; that will take some of the pressure off us.
And as my sister said, Mom's certainly doing well for someone two days out of the OR!