There are seven people sleeping in my apartment right this minute--along with two confused kitties and a certifiably crazy, diaper wearing dog. It is impossible to step somewhere without stepping on something...or someone. Literally.
I don't have the slightest idea where I left off with you all last week so I may re-tell something or leave something out, but I will try and get you updated. My mom was sent home last week, with instructions on how to get in touch with hospice. HOSPICE. We all know that to utilize the services of hospice, you have to be terminal, and at least within six months of checking out and moving on to the hereafter. While that came as no surprise to any of us, we were not really ready to hear that word, or think about the ramifications of making that phone call. She got out of the hospital on Wednesday afternoon, but we still had no results of the lung biopsy done on Monday. She looked no better, was feeling no better but they sent her home after nine days with an excuse that medicare will not pay beyond that time frame, regardless. Once home, she grew remarkably weaker and did not improve. On Thursday, after a few phone calls from me, I did find someone that could give us the results of the test. "No evidence of any cancer...however, significant pneumonia and severe infection present." We were trying to be ready for anything, but we were not ready for that. While I was doing the happy dance, I knew that really was an insignificant detail at that moment because my mom was sicker than I had ever seen her. I was also really pissed, as her doctor called each of us girls and her husband personally with the news that she was certain it was lung cancer, eight days before. Now I realize that doctors have a responsibility to be up front and straight forward with everyone, but this diagnosis was plain WRONG. Plus, she had been sent home with severe infection in her lungs, and nothing was being done about that. NOTHING. The bad-news-happy doctor (who is my mom's regular physician) did not have the time to call us with the latest...she had her nurse call with the correction. Keep in mind that my mom was on no medications to make her infection better, she had been left to deal with this with pain medications only. I was outraged. A prescription was sent for an ineffective antibiotic and a recommendation to follow up with her pulmonologist. She could not walk across her bedroom to the bathroom without help, and even that wore her out. This went on until Saturday morning, when I happily made her a cheesecake -- that is her most favorite food ever, and she was not eating anything, and I had hopes that she would at least like to have that. I drove down that morning with the cake---when I got there, I was sad to see that she looked worse, but she wanted to get up and come downstairs for coffee and cake. I helped her down the stairs--when she got to her chair, she couldn't get her breathe. I brought her inhaler and she tried using that, after a few minutes, it was obvious that wasn't going to work. So, I had to call 911. The ambulance arrived and started working very quickly to help her get her breath. They left with the sirens blaring. I knew that was a bad sign. Once I arrived at the local hospital, I could see that it was very bad. After a couple of hours a what seemed like a gazillion tests there, it was determined that she needed to be LIFE FLIGHTED to Des Moines...and that a ventilator was necessary. And that is where we are right now---my mom is finally up here in Des Moines at a hospital that understands the difference between lung cancer and pneumonia, and she is still on the ventilator, and it is breathing for her. She does seems stronger as of last night, and we now have hope that she will live long enough to be released from the hospital and go home again. Sadly, she stayed in the hospital in Podunk for nine days with ineffective medications, and she would not have wanted to do that had she not thought that she was there for lung cancer...she wanted no chemo as she believed that her time had run out, she was not physically strong enough to endure it..but had she thought that what she had was infection, she would have gladly been transferred to a larger hospital in the city for treatment. I understand that doctors make mistakes every day but this was handled incorrectly from the beginning. I also understand that my mom is seventy-three years old and that her lungs are in seriously bad shape, whether it's caused from cancer or something else---and that she will probably die from pulmonary disease. That could even happen today. However, she has suffered for far too long with this, and it all could have been avoided. She has been through hell, and the rest of us have too. I am mad but also happy that she in on the right track now. I do not want her to suffer any more, but I am not ready to let her go just yet. She looks so small and sad in that giant hospital bed, hooked up to tube from every available hole. And that is where I have been spending my days. And nights. And both of my sisters and nieces are here, with one brother in law. And it is tight quarters but we are happy to be together and we all have hope again. Just maybe she will get to go home and feel halfway decent again soon.