Thursday, September 29, 2005

Homeward Bound!

Mom is going home tomorrow... Yea!

The cast of characters has evaluated her and determined that, with Frances' help, she should be allowed to go home. If all goes to plan (and things seldom do, it seems), the necessary medical equipment should be delivered to her house tomorrow.

This has made Mom very happy, especially after having to endure her harrowing first day in rehab.

The equipment to be delivered will include a hospital-style bed as well. We had first been told she wouldn't need one, but it has been decided that it would be best if she had one at home. She is more comfortable sitting up a bit, especially when she starts to cough, and the bed is definitely the right answer. Mom is happy that they are going to include it.

We don't know the exact timing for all of this because she can't leave rehab until the equipment is set up at her place, but we're hopeful that it will be earlier tomorrow rather than later.

We'll be sure to post an update here once she has been paroled from the rehab facility!

Rehab adventure

Mom was moved to rehab - and it was everything we feared and more! It was not a pleasant experience. Right off the bat, Mom was coughing (as usual) and the male nurse literally shoved about 14 inches of suction tubing in her lungs. It not only made her choke, but it was extremely painful. (In maximum situations, the most tubing to be used is 8 inches, but 4 inches usually does the trick.) Then, they would not feed her or administer any pain medication until they had entered all of the information into the computer. That took hours. THEN, the orders received from the doctor were from several days before, and her treatment had changed since then. If we hadn't been there to challenge the orders, it would have been disasterous. Mom was afraid to be left there alone, so Donna and I took shifts and stayed the night with her (By law, Frances can only be on active duty so many hours a day). Fortunately, things calmed down, staff changed shifts, and it wasn't a horrible night. On the upside, Mom is stronger (probably out of self-preservation!) and was able to walk to the restroom several times during the night without assistance. Frances (her home caregiver) and I discussed what it would take to care for Mom at home and Frances believes she could give Mom much better care than she is currently receiving. Now that Mom is in rehab, the doctor does not come around regularly, so we've put in a request to expedite her to home. They still want to have the physical therapist, the respitory therapist, the speach therapist, and the occupational therapist evaluate her before the doctor will give any orders. So, it sounds like I'll be spending the night with Mom again tonight. I'm sure once we can get the necessary equipment at the house, we will have her home in no time.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

She speaks!

As of Tuesday night, Evelyn is able to use a special one-way valve on her breathing tube that allows the air to pass through her vocal cords and speak!! Last night, she was feeling better and stronger - finally! She is on antibiotics to ward of pneumonia, and on light doses of morphine to make her more comfortable. This has been a blessing as it has allowed her to get some much needed rest from the coughing and constant headache pain (not to mention the whole recovering-from-surgery aspect). The plan at this point is for her to be transferred to the Sotoyome rehab center until she is able to walk around sufficiently to be brought home. We are waiting for a bed to become available in rehab. The move may take place today. Stay tuned for further updates!

Monday, September 26, 2005

She's still in the hospital for now...

Well, after making plans to move Evelyn to the convalescent facility today, it turns out they don't have any empty beds right now. So she'll be staying in the hospital tonight, and possibly tomorrow as well.

In the meantime, we can now report that she is completely off oxygen, and breathing good old fashioned room air... more or less. For the most part, she still has a tube attached to her tracheostomy that adds a bit of humidity to the room air. She can remove the tube and just breathe regularly from time to time, but whenever she starts to get a dry throat she needs to go back to the humidified air.

Food-wise, she is receiving approximately 80% of her nutrition through her feeding tube, and about 20% from a liquid diet. She can't yet handle solid food because her throat is still quite sore from the operation, but she's discovering what soups she likes (the hospital soups are generally too salty, but chicken broth is definitely a winner), and managing to down an occasional chocolate shake as well.

Her biggest frustrations at the moment are the continued cough (which the staff is promising will gradually subside), her perpetual sore throat, and persistent headaches. The headaches are caused by the relentless cough, so we're hopeful that the headaches will dimish as the coughing subsides.

And then of course there's the exhaustion. She never seems to be left alone long enough to get any reasonable amount of sleep, so she's pooped. It is our expectation that she'll start sleeping better as soon as she can get out of the hospital!

That's about it for now. Film at 11:00...

Slight Delay...

Mom's return home is going to be delayed slightly. After an examination this morning, her doctor has decided that she's not quite ready to head home today as planned. So Mom will be moved to a convalescent facility sometime today so that she can continue to clear her lungs and gain strength in preparation for returning home.

We're sure Mom is going to be disappointed, but the doctor feels this is what's best for her at this point. Her lungs are still expelling a fair amount of discharge (sorry for the graphic detail, but it is what it is...), and she's still not strong enough to walk around on her own very well. The doctor would prefer that her lungs be less of a concern and her strength be a bit better before she is sent home where -- even though she'll have a full time caretaker -- she'll need to be somewhat self-sufficient.

We're hoping this will be a few days' delay at most, but the doctor says it could be longer depending upon how her condition progresses.

We'll continue to post updates here as we learn more.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Evelyn's BLOG Page...

This is the initial entry in our newly created BLOG. We'll use this page to update everyone on Mom's condition.

For those that don't know, Mom (Evelyn) was diagnosed in May with Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer, an extremely aggressive (and very rare) form of cancer. Evelyn's treatment has been similarly aggressive, with simultaneous chemo and radiation therapy. She has completed this combined therapy, and is now working closely with her doctors to keep this cancer at bay.

Most recently, Mom was admitted to Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa, CA last Tuesday (20-Sep). She went through Tracheostomy surgery on Tuesday, and has remained there over the last week so she could recover and get used to her new "accoutrement". She is recovering slowly but steadily, and is looking forward to being able to go home soon.

More updates to follow...