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Friday, December 28, 2012

So, that happened

There's too much blood in my caffeine system to be properly coherent, but stuff has escalated to the "Oh shit, time to notify family members" step so I might as well get it all out at once rather than have to explain it multiple times.

Forgive me if I sound snarky. I'm exhausted and stressed and haven't had enough sleep.

On Wednesday, my mother (unbeknownst to us, because she's a tough old bird who doesn't like to talk about her ailments) thought she was having a TIA. This was not an unreasonable assumption since she is 73, there is a history of stroke within her family (her grandmother died of one at approximately her age), and she was experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Tingling/numbness in one arm
  • Weakness/loss of feeling in both legs
  • Throbbing pain in the neck that was parallel with the carotid artery and up the side of her head
  • Difficulty swallowing
So she got in the car and went to a local urgent care facility (Why? She's stubborn) where they told her that she needed to get her ass to the ER. My father had to drive over to the urgent care place and take her to the ER because at that point she was unable to drive herself. 

The ER took her, ran a batch of tests including a CAT scan, and while the tests came back good they decided that given her age and symptoms and possibly other things they would keep her for 24-48 hours for observation and yet more tests. They admitted her to the hospital Wednesday night. She was in good spirits and the symptoms were receding at this point, probably due to the psychology of "I'm in a place where people can take care of me, and they say I'm not in danger, so now I can relax and stop worrying."

Thursday morning she met with specialists and therapists and lots more technicians for tests, including an MRI. Thursday afternoon she thought she'd be coming home that evening. 

Thursday evening we were informed, "Good news! It wasn't a TIA or a stroke."

Bad news:  it's worse. She's been diagnosed with Spinal Stenosis, which is basically when part of the backbone starts putting pressure on the spinal cord. Left untreated, this can result in paralysis from the neck down. 

Continuing the trend of bad news, the hospital she was in didn't have a neurosurgeon, and so last night she was transferred via ambulance to a hospital in Orlando. This means that what was a quick 15 minute drive to see her now requires a 2-hour round trip, and that's assuming no traffic whatsoever -- and when dealing with Orlando, that's a false assumption. 

The only good news to come out of this is that it was caught very early, mom is great shape for an old lady, and that the neurosurgeon is one of the Top 10 in the nation. She's in good hands and is expected to make a full recovery. 

The question, of course, is if she'll need surgery (probably) and what kind (artificial disk, spinal fusion, etc). The time spent in recovery and rehabilitation from surgery is a definite concern to everyone. 

Dad is spending most of his time in the hospital, which is frankly a blessing as it keeps him occupied. Meanwhile, I have become Chief Hausfrau and babysitter to three needy dogs. Fortunately I can do my own laundry and am reasonably adept at keeping house, but I never learned to cook beyond the defrost/ open cans/ use microwave skillset (truefax: I once set off the fire alarm scrambling eggs, which resulted in a fire truck arriving at our front door within minutes) and if I need to go shopping for the household I need to have Dad come along so that he can pay for it, because I am a writer and that means broke-ass poor. 

On the good side, this is at least a nice reminder to my father that yes, I am useful to have around the house, because wouldn't he be screwed if I wasn't here to look after things? He needs occasional reminders like this lest he be tempted to consider me useless and worthless. We have such a special relationship, he and I. 

So I'm stressed, worried, operating on too much caffeine and too little sleep, trying to keep the house from descending into entropy without going nuts. Blog posts are going to be rather erratic until things resolve themselves into some semblance of normalcy. 

If y'all were local, I'd ask you to bake me a casserole so I could simultaneously stave off grocery shopping and avoid cooking, but since you're not I'll have to settle for asking for prayers for mother's speeding and complete recovery, and the retention of my sanity. 

Thank you, and WHARRGARBL.




4 comments:

Robert S Slaughter said...

Hugs, dear lady. While rough, it could be worse. Do keep an eye on Dad, though. Things like this and associated stress can whack his health too.

Gwen Patton said...

I think you've got things well in hand. It's not so far from what I've got, sans the OW OW OW and the fact that a surgeon can actually do something about what your Mom has. She should be fine with just a little intervention and some bed rest.

A stroke can leave you enjoying the Teletubbies entirely too much for my taste.  I'm glad it wasn't that.

Erin Palette said...

Mom is a dog lover, and so we've had to put many pets to sleep. I've warned her only half jokingly that if she's ever in a vegetative state, I'm taking her to the vet to be put down...

Suz said...

Prayers and hugs to you.  You'll be OK and it sounds like your mom will too.  Keep an eye on your dad; if he's accustomed to feeling fairly in control of his life, this is really going to throw him for a loop.  And he might try to hide it.

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