Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Little fragile people

My little mom had a stroke on Easter Sunday. She had been weak and not taking good care of herself for a few years. In November, 2009, when I was preparing to go to Cuba, she finally agreed to have someone come and cook for her and take care of her for a few hours and days a week. That was a hard bargain to make with her!

In 2006 - the last time I had to put her in the hospital, after her hospital stay, she did not want to live closer to me. She did not want help. She wanted to be alone. And she did not want to do much of anything except to watch TV. In 2006, I called her (I call her everyday) and when she spoke, she slurred her words. I asked her if she had been drinking enough water and she said, no. I thought she sounded so bad was because dehydration is very serious for older people in hot summer days... But, maybe, she had a stroke then. She never really recovered her strength to walk well.

This time, April 4, she called me in the morning to say she thought she was having a stroke. I drove to her house and called the paramedics to meet me at her house. They carried her down the 43 steps so that I could take her to the hospital... My mom's car has been sitting with dust and leaves since 2006 - I turn it over now and then - even drive it a bit. I suggested that she not drive in 2006 because her reflexes were so slow... I thought maybe I could take my mom to an open parking lot somewhere, like parents do to teach their kids to drive... to see if she could drive it... but that never happened. "Nice car" said one of the paramedics. "It only has 9k miles" my mom said, "but my daughter won't let me drive it!" They looked at me and smiled.

When we got to hospital she could still move her arm and leg and could talk. But, the next morning, she had a full blown stroke and lost the function of her right side. She now has a hard time speaking. And she hates the feeding tube (she aspirated her food and developed pneumonia the first week) and has pulled it out several times.

Last week she has asked me to take her home... "Let's get out of here!" "I am going to get up!" "Take these (the tubes and sensors on and in her arm) OUT!" Then last Monday she looked at her right arm that was swollen from edema "Oh my!...." I think something dawned on her that something was wrong. I noticed that she used her left arm exclusively but never looked at her right arm. Then, yesterday the nurse asked her if she could lift or move her right arm. "YES!" The arm did not move. She did not realize it did not move. Then the nurse pinched her arm and she said "OUCH!" That is a good sign that she might get function back. Her right leg did move when the nurse asked her to move it. that, too, is a good sign.

My mom has spent the time from 2006 to now basically watching TV. When I visit her, her eyes do no meet mine when we... no, when I talk. TV captures her time.

Yesterday, the TV was on to a regular program rather then the pretty nature photos offered by the hospital. The nurse asked her to look at her when she spoke to her.... "What year is it?" "2010" "Good!" "What month is it?" "..uh..." eyes back to the TV "...uh.." The nurse said, "Look at me. It is April." "Where are you?" "...uh...' eyes wandered toward the TV.... "I don't know" "You are in the hospital. Do you know why?" asked the nurse. "No!" She looked at me. "You had a stroke." said the nurse.

The pretty pictures allowed my mom to converse with the nursing staff and me. The programs took her attention away and she did not talk or look at people. Talking and connecting is important for her recovery.

Poor little people....

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