Surgery, Cough and Confusion

6 am on Thursday, Jan 14th, 2010 I’m standing in the dim light of the St Boniface Hospital atrium.  I’m waiting for my Mom and my Aunt to arrive for my Mom’s surgery.  I’m looking around concerned that something happened; I’m not used to arriving anywhere before my Mom.  She was always early.  Then I hear my name, which being Lisa is pretty common, I look around but I don’t see anyone that I know so I assume that it is another Lisa.  As I scan the atrium I see someone walking toward me with a big smile and slowly realize that it is my Mom.  I didn’t recognize her.  I felt awful and tried my best to cover for myself.  She was happy, excited about the surgery that would reverse her colostomy.

We got through the pre-op all right.  The doctor was joking and made my Mom at ease.  He was very good at that.  My Aunt and I sat through another surgery, but this time it was during the day and this time we didn’t lose her.  Mom came through the surgery very well and they were able to accomplish everything they had set out to.  Mom’s body wasn’t quite as strong as it had been during the last surgery but she seemed to be coming around pretty well.  She needed a little more meds and she wasn’t up and around quite as quickly.  She was a little confused off and on.  We weren’t sure if it was due to the medications she was on or if her nutrients were low.  At the time we took it in stride but now as I look back it haunts me.  The confusion was what she always wanted to avoid.

She was all right until Saturday evening.  That was when the confusion seemed to take over.  My Aunt had been at the hospital until late afternoon, and then I came to take over for the evening.  Mom seemed okay until the nurses tried to get her ready for bed around 9:30.  I had just called home to let Pasith know I would be home around 10.  There were visitors in the next room that were a little loud and for some reason this set Mom off.  The nurse came in and Mom accused her of being an imposter.  She was the same nurse Mom had seen for the last few days.  Mom wouldn’t allow her to come near her.  Mom was also very angry about the voices coming from the other room.  A second nurse came in to help out.  But still Mom wouldn’t allow them to come near her.  “Anyone could put on that coat.  How do I know you’re really a nurse?  How are you going to prove it?  Who are you really?”  Mom was looking to me to confirm that these nurses were imposters.  So I had to ride the line of not upsetting her but also work with the nurses so they could do their job.  I tried to tell Mom that these women really were nurses and that I remembered them from before.  I tried to convince her they were safe.  Mom wasn’t buying it.  So I asked the nurses to leave for a minute so I could talk to her.  I asked her to trust me.  “No.  How do I know they are nurses?”  So I asked her, “What if the nurses are able to get the noise to stop next door?  Then can they get you ready for bed?  I will stay right here and I’ll make sure that they don’t do anything wrong.”

I went out in the hall and discussed the deal.  They agreed to send the visitors home and asked me to stay the night.  I said that I would see if Mom’s situation would change by 11.  If she was still out of sorts I would stay.  Mom kept asking the nurses who they were and gave them a little grief but they finally were able to do their job.  They asked me again to stay because Mom was still very distrustful and had tried to get out of bed.  So I called Pasith and said that I wouldn’t be home that night.  The nurse brought me a cot and I settled in for the night.  Another issue was that I had a really bad cough at the time.  I had tried everything to get rid of it but it just wouldn’t go away.  So now I have to sleep on a cot in my Mom’s room and hoped and prayed that I wouldn’t cough too much keeping everyone up.

Soon after I laid down the first time I heard movement and jumped up.  My Mom was sitting up and moving her legs over the side of the bed.  I asked her if she was okay.  She said, “I need to go to the bathroom”.  I said, “No you don’t.”  She had IV and a catheter in.  “How do you know?  I need to go to the bathroom.”  I walked over to help her back into bed, stifled a giggle and said, “Mom, you have a catheter in so you don’t have to go the bathroom.”  “Oh.  Well I didn’t know that.”  And we both went back to bed, for another half an hour.  And for the next 8 hours she woke up every half an hour and tried to get out of bed.  Another frequent conversation that night was, “Where am I?”  My answer was, “St Boniface in Winnipeg.”  “I’m not in Steinbach?” “No Mom, you’re in Winnipeg in the hospital.”  “What happened?”  “You had surgery and you are okay.”  “Am I in Steinbach?  Where am I?”  My Aunt came in around noon on Sunday to relieve me.  My cough was the least of my problems that night.

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