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Aug 29, 2017 Latest post:
Feb 11, 2018
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.
My mom's health odyssey began in January 2016 when she fell in the bathroom at night and hit the vanity with several parts of her body. She struggled with back pain through the spring and they finally discovered that summer that she had fractured a vertebrae in the fall. They scheduled back surgery to repair. During pre-op, her doctor thought they should get an x-ray to be sure a previous pneumonia had cleared. The x-ray showed a very small spot in her lower left lung. She proceeded to have a successful surgery to "glue" the vertebrae, and began the journey to figure out what the spot was. She ended up with a stage 1 lung cancer. They removed her lower left lobe last November, and she recovered pretty quickly. The pathology changed the stage to a 2 because there some cells in the lining of the lung, but they felt the surgery took care of the cancer and there was no chemo or radiation done at that time. She continued to be followed by her oncologist and all was looking good, and she felt very good.
Fast forward to this summer. In June, she woke up very dizzy and nauseous and the doctor felt she had vertigo (she had ha this previously). They gave her some medicine and she had some relief. After 2 weeks of not feeling normal, they did an MRI and the doctor called that afternoon and said she needed to be seen in the emergency room immediately. This was Tuesday, July 11. She underwent surgery to remove a tumor on her brain stem 7/13. The pathology showed the tumor was lung cancer cells. The surgery was successful and she seemed to be recovering as expected. She was talking and able to walk short distances.
On Friday. 7/21, they needed to remove the drainage tube in her head due to the drain being plugged. It had been shut off for 24 hours and they felt it was ok to remove. That afternoon she spiked a fever and became mostly unresponsive. A spinal tap revealed she had meningitis. They began a coarse of strong antibiotics as soon as the fever hit, and they felt very confident they could manage the infection. By the 24th she was not eating and was not really talking or opening her eyes. She had a feeding tube placed to be sure she was getting nutrition. They also felt the best thing for her would be a breathing tube to prevent any pneumonia from setting in. This would give her body the chance to focus all its energy on fighting the infection. She also had a new drain put in her head. The next 10 days were a roller coaster - some days better than others. Not a lot of response from her, but her breathing was always strong - breathing above the machine. She also got a blood clot in her right arm and her arm swelled to about 5 times its normal size. She reacted to the heparin and required platelets. They figured out a way to manage the clot with others meds, and her arm is now nearly normal. Whew.
Monday, July 31st she woke up from her "coma" and was able to answer questions with her eyes and squeeze hands and move feet on command. All very good, positive signs. They removed her breathing tube 8/1. YAY She was in ICU for 25 days and moved to the neuro floor 8/3. She remained at Abbot until Thursday 8/10. 31 days at Abbot.
Mom moved to Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul on 8/10. This is a Long Term Acute Care facility - one of only two in MN. She is on the neuro floor and will be receiving very specialized care for her brain "injury". The meningitis really reeked havoc with her and she is working her way back. She is still on a feeding tube, while she is beginning to eat real food. She has graduated from completely pureed to only slightly pureed. She doesn't love it but is cooperating. She also drank from a glass of milk herself this week. She was able to walk for the first time in 30 days - from room to elevator and back. She went directly back to sleep! She really likes to sleep right now as her brain healing uses so much energy. She is answering our questions, and making some commentary here and there - but is really not conversational yet. I see lots of glimpses of my mom between the naps and sometime-confusion. It is great to see!! She is in room 407 at Bethesda - so is my dad most of the time! He is her biggest cheerleader and steadfast companion. So sweet to see her reactions to him. Eye rolls and scowls when he is pushing her to try a little harder, and lots of I love you's too.
She has a long road of recovery, coupled with a future plan of attack for the cancer, ahead of her and your continued thoughts and prayers are needed and so appreciated, by my whole family and especially my dad and mom. We love you all.
PS We are hoping this will be a better way to communicate to everyone - anyone who has ever spent too much time in a hospital, knows how every day lasts forever but goes so fast, and before you know it you have not had a chance to answer texts, emails, etc. So if you maybe haven't heard from my dad, or any of us in awhile, please know that it has not been intentional :)