This did not sound good in terms of what her cognitive state was going to be like when we got there, so I told Dad, "Let's skip breakfast and go right to the hospital." He had actually already had a little breakfast and only wanted to stop there for me. I said, "I can't get something to eat at the hospital, let's get on our way."
Since the hospital is in New Bern, we arrived there about 45 minutes later, where I scarfed down a veggie sub in the cafeteria, before going upstairs.
When we walked in, mom started crying and dad and I sat on either side of her bed and held her hands, which she squeezed tight.
"I was so afraid I'd gone crazy, and that everyone just left me here. I called Meagan and got her voicemail. I called home and got voicemail there. I almost called Carrie (one of her friends) to send her over to see if anyone was home to come get me."
I kissed her, and said, "Mom, we'd never just leave you here. I know it was frightening, but it's okay now. We're here. Things are going to get better."
And then my dad, who little-to-never displays or shares any emotion said to her, "I miss you at home." Awww. And after 58 years of marriage. Their anniversary was on Monday, the day my mom had her surgery.
She then went on to talk about several of the hallucinations she had had, and it was so interesting to try and to connect some of the things she said she saw back to what we saw her doing and heard her saying yesterday.
She talked about how these two people kept coming into the room, a man and a woman. They never said anything. They just stood by the bed. The man was about seven feet tall, and as he stood there these two points grew out of the sides of his head, and the lady pulled something down over her face."
She mentioned someone coming in and taking her money out of her purse. "He thought I had $100 in there, but I had $500!" she exclaimed.
Then she pointed to the soap dispenser, which had a circular part to it, and she said, "That thing right there, it kept getting bigger and bigger and turned into someone's mouth opening."
And then she pointed to a yellow placard resting against the wall that had a picture of a nurse (with a nursing cap on) that said, "Call! Don't Fall!" and she said, "That thing, too, that lady on there, her mouth would open real wide. But they would never say anything.
People would come right up to me. They seemed to be floating and they had their arms out. I went to link their arms and I would fall right through them." That reminded me of yesterday when she was putting her hands into the air and then pushing forward into the air.
"I was thinking, 'I've gone out of my mind. Can someone please help me?"
She was getting all worked up telling these things, and I kept thinking—or trying to make sure actually—that she wasn't seeing these things again, but just using the presence tense to describe what she had seen.
I intermittently said things like, "That must have been very scary, but you know now it was the narcotics making you see those things. They didn't really happen.
She also said, "And one time the four of us, you, dad, Vivian (my sister) and me were in a church pew. And then all of a sudden three men came in and they took all three of you away—they kidnapped you and left me there all alone.
She kept squeezing our hands while relating these very frightening memories, and saying, "I'm so glad you're here."
Before this all happened my mom already had a tendency to repeat stories, sometimes even just a few days later, and I worried about the propensity with regards to these stories, and I said, "Okay, mom. I know it was scary, but try not to think about these stories over and over, because they're just producing a lot of anxiety in you. If you stop talking about them, it'll probably help you forget about them a little more easily.
I think to our collective relief, the physical therapist came in to see how she was doing and to get her up for her exercise for today. She noticed the change in my mom's mental clarity immediately and said, "You ready to take a walk for us?"
You'll remember that up until this point she had been designated a "Max 2" (or something like that), meaning she was doing the absolute minimum amount of work herself and the two therapists were working on her behalf. Well, she got up out of the bed pretty much pushing herself up, and then she took off down the hall.
Physical Therapist beside her, assistant counting ceiling tiles to benchmark her progress.
Approaching me and the turn onto the hall leading back to her room.
Comin' down the home stretch back to her room.
The therapists were just going wild at the amount of progress from yesterday. They mentioned her possibly winning the "Most Improved" award.
They commented a couple of times how much better she was doing because she wan't what they referred to as "confused." It made me wonder if when they're not in front of the patients, the use the word my orthopedic nurse friend Joe used when talking to me last night: "loopy." :-)
She ordered Chicken Stir-Fry, with a baked potato no less, for lunch, and added on cranberry sauce and banana pudding for me.
She had to go to the bathroom and called a nurse into help her. I excused myself until she was done and getting back in the bed. The nurse's aid who was helping her get back in the bed let her leg attached to the hip that got replaced fall off the side of the bed, and after my mother's grimacing and getting her leg back up, looked at the wound site, which was covered by a bag that was collecting drainage, and which had leaked a little fluid at that point.
"Oh, I'll get someone to come take a look at that," she said.
After about 20 minutes, my mom ate a little something more, and complained about her mouth burning and feeling chafed, which she'd also done yesterday when she was still out of it when I gave her an orange slice, and she'd said, "It burns my mouth."
I walked out to the nurse's station where there was an RN in training (according to her badge) and an older male nurse, whom I really liked from the one other interaction I had with him—so caring, knowledgeable, and efficient—and I said, "Would it be possible for someone to come look at my mom's mouth? She says the roof of her mouth is hurting, and her mouth burn when she's eating things. And her leg fell off the bed when the other nurse put her back in it after using the bathroom and she said she was going to have someone come look at that to make sure it's okay."
The guy, his name was Lowell, said to the RN training, "Go on in there and check out her mouth. I'll be in in a second."
She came in and got out a little pen-light type thing and looked in my mom's mouth. "Nope everything looks normal to me. I can't see anything but a little something on her tongue on the one side, but it looks like it might just be food."
Lowell came in and she told him what she'd told us, and he said, "Let me take a look."
As soon as she opened her mouth, he said to no one in particular, "Oh, yeah, she's getting thrush. We'll prescribe something for that." And then to the RN in training, "You see all those white spots, there, and there and there? That's thrush."
He said he'd get a prescription from her doctor for it, which should start clearing it up over the next couple of days.
Then they tended to the wound site, and I left the room for that. Not because I would mind seeing it, but because too much of my mom's naked body was involved in changing it.
I kept my mom talking all afternoon to make sure she was completely "back." For once, I was glad to hear my mom repeating stories that she has repeated so many times over the years! And I actually heard stories I'd never heard, or if I had hadn't remembered, the ones I remember (or cared about) the most being about me.
This one I had heard: "I thought for sure you were going to be a school teacher the way you and Vivian played school all the time. You were three years older than her, but you used to get so mad at her when she couldn't grasp, or remember, that 1 + 1 was 2."
The irony wasn't lost on me that she had become the school teacher, and is now the Director of Teacher Education with a PhD in Education (EdD), and how we both work at university's today.
She also told a story with regards to how close we always were that when I finally had to go to school, across the street from our house, Vivian would sit in the picture window watching me go to school and crying because I was "going away."
Before dad and I left for the afternoon, we talked about new options going forward after my mom's breakthrough—both in her cognitive state and in her ability to walk as much as she had—and everyone agreed that the "skilled nursing facility" transfer that seemed so likely yesterday, was really not going to be necessary at all now, as long as things continued progressing as they had today.
There was even some mention of possibly going home tomorrow, although the doctor would have the final say tomorrow, of course.
As mom was starting to fall asleep, Dad and I left. I think it was around 4:00, and she was in a very good place. As were we.
Dad and I both thought it was a good sign when the rain stopped and the sun came out along with this:
I had to pull over and take a picture of it.
At Dad's suggestion, we stopped at O'Charley's for dinner, where we shared a half-price appetizer of "Twisted Chips with White Queso" and each had an order of their fish and chips. I had mine with French Fries, and dad had his with a baked potato.
I had a bourbon and diet and he had a glass of orange juice. "To a day of great progress," I toasted, and we clinked glasses.
Back at the house, dad settled in to watch a Red Sox and Yankees game, and I headed to Starbucks to use their free Internet access, and where I actually stayed for 3.5 hours.
As I was pulling in the driveway, the lights went out in the living room, and when I got went in dad was just heading down the hall for bed.
"You're not watching the game?" I asked, as he said it would probably be on until about 10:00.
"It never came on," he said, and added, "Or if it did, I couldn't find it." What? You couldn't find the game on one of those 1000 channels?
While he was in the bathroom brushing his teeth, I Googled the game and found out that it had been postponed due to rain. In the same article, one paragraph said that it was rescheduled for Sunday at 1:30 and in a subsequent paragraph said it was schedule for tomorrow (Saturday) at 4:10.
I told him that, and he seemed pleased that he hadn't missed the game.
I ended up having a very restless night. I woke up at 2:00 and couldn't fall back asleep until about 3:30. That's very unusual for me, and it probably says something about my stress level over the last two days.