Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Not a good day

Therapy was this morning at 8:30. Mom's appointment with her knee surgeon was to follow at 9:30. At 2PM, she turned to look at me in our third waiting room at the hospital and - with wide, fearful eyes - said, "That want to put a filter in my heart."

Her knees aren't going straight when she tries to walk. They stay bent at around 20 degrees and this isn't good. And while it isn't common, doctors are familiar with the problem and this one cited some combination of scar tissue and arthritis and insisted that she go back to the hospital for manipulation. Basically, they drug her and force her knees to bend and straighten.

"It's best if you can actually feel and hear the scar tissue tear." Her surgeon said as I looked upon him as if he were a specter of evil.

We waited some more and Mom was resolved to have the procedure - growing tired of the constant ache and inability to walk smoothly - though she was clearly worried.

"Tomorrow." She sighed. "I didn't know they'd do it so soon."

I patted her hand and rearranged my schedule in my head. I would cancel my ankle appointment, move my meeting with Dr. Icing and let Friend know I wouldn't be home until later next week. It would be fine. I can't take her weeping as she slumps over her legs at night. Something has to give. I supposed it might as well be scar tissue.

We were soon off to the hospital for tests. The first would check her legs for clots - DVT is a concern for post-surgical patients and her surgeon didn't want to loosen one and cause a pulmonary embolism during his manipulation. My head started to ache as I sat in the outer waiting room, wondering what could take so long to check two legs for clots.

"Katie?" The tech who disppeared with Mom awhile ago returned to fetch me and I followed her down the hall.

"They found something." Mom said when I sat next to her. "We have to wait while they talk to my surgeon, then they'll talk to us."

We sat in silence, alone in a different waiting room, for long minutes. After about 20 of them, I called the number suggested on the telephone located in the room. I politely asked them to update us on what was going on. We were waiting on the surgeon, they explained. After the radiologist talked to him, he would talk to us, then we could leave.

About 20 minutes later, said radiologist entered the room and explained that there two clots in her left calf. He stretched his thumb as far as it would go from his index finger and estimated the size of the smallest one. The larger, he said, was about twice as big. We peppered him with questions. He answered none and said the surgeon should be calling us from his office.

I called him, used my sharply impatient voice when the message woman got snippy with me, and became more polite when the nurse answered the phone with some sympathy for our day and this news. I handed the phone to Mom when the surgeon finally answered.

"I have to have injections again to thin my blood, then I see someone about putting a filter in my heart so when the clots get loose, they won't do damage."

"How?" I asked, blinking in surprise. This was all supposed to be very standard stuff. Nothing invasive at all - just forcing the knees to bend and stretch.

"I guess they cut me open." She said, hand on her chest.

We moved out to the lab waiting room so she could have blood taken before we departed.

"Maybe my time here is almost up." She said quietly and I shushed her. Then her name was called and she left me alone in the waiting room, clutching my laptop to my chest and gulping back tears as I begged God not to take my mommy.

"You're not dying." I said sensibly as we held hands on the walk through the parking deck to the car. "They wouldn't let you leave the hospital if you were going to leave for Heaven at any given second. The radiologist didn't seem concerned. If you're not meeting the heart guy until Monday afternoon, he's obviously not freaking out. You're going to be OK. This sucks - a lot, actually. But you're going to be fine."

I drove us home, my ankle hugely swollen from all the walking without my brace. We picked up the prescription for the injections, Mom talked to Brother and Dad and Aunt. Then I got here and did some research.

The filter - should she decide to get one - doesn't go in her heart. I think it goes in a vein in her abdomen. And they won't cut her open - they'll go in through her groin. Not good - I'm still worried and staying put at home until we know more - but she does not appear to be on her way from this world. She's scared and tired. I'm more sleepy than terrified at this point. But it's beyond me to leave when things are so unsettled here.

But - for tonight - we're all drowsy as we eat homemade soup and crispy crackers. Dad's in his recliner, manning the remote and Mom's nearly asleep on the couch. I just came in from the back patio as I spoke with Friend.

While the ending is a bit better than the middle, I'm still calling this one a sucky day.

9 comments:

post-doc said...

And I'm going to sleep at 8PM. So at least the day is ending early.

Lucy said...

I'm sorry, Katie; that is definitely a sucky day. I'm glad you're there with your Mom, at least. *hugs*

flossie said...

That is sucky. I'm sorry.

StyleyGeek said...

I'm so sorry, Katie. If it's any consolation, my mother got a clot in her leg last week (side effect of the chemotherapy, apparently), and had a filter put in and injections and so on, and it all went fine. The doctors said that clots are one of those things that people are frightened of to an extent that bears no relation to how dangerous they really are: they are very rarely life-threatening, and even the ones that are usually only are because they AREN'T found.

I'm sure your mother will be fine. (But I understand that it's still horrible.)

Veo Claramente said...

Oh no Katie, that sounds awful. Here's hoping the following days are better

Phdladybug said...

It does suck. I am sorry, but don't worry everything will be ok.

post-doc said...

Thank you. It is good to hear that the procedure can go well, Styley. And I always appreciate sympathy a huge amount. So thank you.

Estrella said...

Oh, I'm so sorry to hear about your mom's continuing pain and your illness. Praying for you and your family.

Psychobunny said...

Oh, that is one terrible day. I hope your mom's knees and your ankle will heal up perfectly and painlessly very soon.

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