One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Mom was expected to stay in the hospital for 5 days but she had a harder time recovering this time and ended up staying just over a week in Winnipeg and almost 2 weeks in Steinbach hospital.  Her confusion had been taken care of but her incision wasn’t healing as quickly as it had the last time and her strength wasn’t what it had been.  She was up and walking but not quite as far and a little slower.  But she was determined that she could do everything she had done before and she was going to prove it to everyone.  Especially someone who said she couldn’t.  She fought the decline of her body at every turn.    Food was her greatest issue.  Her intestines had to get used to working again after the colostomy and reversal.  So they had to ease her into eating solid foods very slowly.  One misstep and she would be back to ice chips and the tube down her nose that she hated so much.  And when she got to Steinbach hospital she had a setback do to the food that was given.  There had been miscommunication between the hospitals as to what she needed.  They didn’t have to put the tube down but she was back to broth and jello for a while.  So she was there longer than the expected few days of “step down”.  And it affected her strength once again.  Her body had been knocked down again.  The discussion concerning whether she needed a walker or a cane came up but she fought hard to prove that neither was needed.  She would walk on her own.  And she did.

Mom finally went home in the first week of February and she was so happy to be home.  She lived on the upper floor of a four plex so she had about 4 steps to get up to her apartment.  The front door had the steps on the outside of the house so we put up a sign requesting that everyone go to the front door so Mom didn’t have to go down the stairs to let them in.  She was very weak when she came home and Auntie A was staying with her to be sure she was all right.  Home care was stepped up with a nurse coming at least once a day to check on her incision.  Mom was determined that she was going to do what she wanted.  Her life would return to what it had been.  She wanted to go for breakfast with her friends.  Auntie A obliged one morning that week.  But Mom wasn’t returning to her normal.  She wasn’t able to eat much, she had to be very careful to not be sick.  She wasn’t getting stronger.  Auntie A, along with the rest of us, was very concerned.

At the end of that week Mom had a chemo appointment.  The Oncologist had made the tentative appointment with the condition that Mom was up to it.  But the communication didn’t get to the Oncologist that she had been in the Steinbach hospital as long as she had.  Or that her condition was definitely not up to having chemo.  But Auntie took her to the chemo appointment thinking that they would take one look at her and send her home.  Mom was determined that if they had made the appointment she was ready.  She would not accept the fact that she was not well enough.

Auntie drove her across the street, Mom went up the elevator and she was almost too tired to sit.  They laid her down for her treatment and did some preliminary checks and Auntie A went to get some coffee thinking that she would be taking her home when she got back.  She didn’t think there was any way that they would deem that Mom was fit for the treatment.  But when she got back the treatment had started.  Now, I want to be clear that none of us hold the nurses or anyone else responsible for what happened.  They were following the orders that they had been given by Oncology in Winnipeg.  And Mom could be very convincing.  I’m sure she told them how wonderful she felt and how great everything was going.

My sister called me that night to tell me what happened and how upset my Aunt was.  My Mom had gone home and basically stayed in bed the rest of the day and couldn’t eat.  And Mom staying in bed was a bad sign.  Before the last 2 months of illness there were very few times that she laid down during the day.  She was always up, even if it was in her recliner.  But she felt it was a sign of weakness to lie down so all of us took this very seriously.  But it would get worse.

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