Thank you for visiting our Caring Bridge page for my mother, Joanne Boskus.
My mom's health has been in decline for several years with the most recent events leading up to a formal diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. Little things that most of us would dismiss as forgetting an event, birthday, anniversary, or dinner ingredients led to bigger things that began to impact the quality of life for not only my mom, but my dad as well. Admittedly, the family has been taken aback by the expediency of this debilitating and insidious illness.
In early January, I made the trip from Rogers, AR to attend my mom's appointment with her primary care physician in Mountain Home. I was so thankful to be part of my mother's future treatment plan and to be additive in helping the family to digest the given diagnosis. Though our meeting with her physician was heavy and hard to digest, I was optimistic that my dad, brothers and I would come up with ways to support Mom through these newly found challenges.
Fast forward a few weeks. Sunday, the 16th of January, my dad was unable to awaken my mother in her chair to get her to bed. After several minutes of trying to arouse my mom, my dad phoned 911 and she was taken to the ER by ambulance. Upon arrival, it was determined that she had dehydration, hypoxemia (lack of oxygen in the blood) and pneumonia and of course...Covid. Why do I say of course Covid? It's rhetorical, the medical system relies on elevated reimbursement rates. More about this later. After some short testing and examination, my mother was discharged after some IV fluids, high dose of Vitamin C and sent home with some portable oxygen. It was obvious to my dad and my brother, Tom, who were with her that this was not a sustainable solution for my mom. As such, she was right back in the same, if not worse, condition come Tuesday morning the 18th. My mom was again rushed to Baxter hospital where she was admitted and this time given a diagnosis of metabolic encephalopathy, cardiomegaly and pneumonia. She was placed on high flow oxygen, fluids and her usual home medications. Again, there's a litany of issues my mother is battling.
My mom is still hospitalized today battling a pneumonia which was at first perceived to be viral but along the way, antibiotics were introduced in the event there might be a bacterial component. My mom was on high flow oxygen in the first few days of her hospital stay. In the days that followed, my mom was placed on a BiPAP (Two Stage, Positive Pressure Medical Device). In short, the BiPAP puts a back pressure on your nose/mouth so that when you inhale, you're getting a high level of positive pressure and upon exhaling against the unit, the pressure reduces automatically to make it easier to exhale but still against a positive pressure. The positive pressure keeps the lung space patent and distended. This insures maximum air flow to the lung space where air (and oxygen) are vital to ensuring healthy oxygen and blood gas balance. Day one turned to day four and day four turned to day 7 and so on. Mom's condition was largely flat with a slight deterioration. She was being given her home medications by mouth mixed with pudding or apple sauce etc. Because she really couldn't come off the BiPAP machine for long enough to eat (without crashing her oxygen levels) the doctor labeled her NPO or no foods by mouth. Once it was established that this would be the case for quite some time, they put in a PIC line. The PIC is a larger form of IV which is threaded into a larger vein. This would allow for her to be fed via IV in lieu of by mouth or by tube feeding via the nose. They can't tube feed a person when on a BiPAP.
Early evening on the 29th of Jan, the hospitalist phoned and stated that my mom's condition had deteriorated. Her oxygen saturation was in the high 80's however, more importantly her respirations were 30-40 per minute with a heart rate of over 130 BPM. My dad, brothers and I collectively felt it was best that mom be intubated and placed on a mechanical ventilator to take the labor off of her cardio pulmonary system and stave off a potential heart attack. Though we all knew this was not a death sentence, we knew the gravity of my mom's situation. My mom was intubated late in the evening on the 29th and transferred to the ICU from the Covid wing. Because my mom has been in the Covid wing due to her "positive" test, no-one was able to see her or be at her bedside for a plethora of reasons, none of them logical. Fortunately, the hospital let my dad and brother,Tom, in to see her before intubating her yesterday evening.
I visited with the ICU nurse this morning to get an update on my mom and thankfully it was a solid report. She's resting well under induced sedation (finally) and like my mom, she didn't go down on the first round of sedatives. Anyone that knows my mom, would NOT be surprised by this. Now that she's resting well, her vitals have largely started to normalize and her saturation has also elevated. Also, worthy of mention is that because she's no longer on the BiPAP, they're able to prone her i.e. put her on her belly. This can be most helpful when dealing with pneumonias.
It is our hope that now that Mom is in the ICU that the hospital will ease up on their visitation policy. Having a Covid positive PCR test result upon admission has isolated her from the emotional support of family over these past weeks. While it has been difficult on her sons, grandchildren and family at large not to be able to offer support and encouragement during these past few weeks, it has been especially difficult on Dad to be away from his other half for so long. These are incredibly difficult days that just don't make sense to those of us who have loved ones trapped in medical institutions. While we are fully aware of the need for a family member to be present to oversee care and to offer compassionate, emotional support to encourage healing, we have found ourselves, like so many others across the country and world, at the hands of "the system". In response, we turn to our Lord and to the Blessed Mother asking that they envelope her with love and mercy. May her guardian angel be the watchful eyes and protection that she so desperately needs.
We will continue to update this page as we receive information.
We appreciate your continued thoughts and prayers!