Monday, November 13, 2006

Update on Mom

Saturday was the first day the doctors began to let Mom awaken from her induced coma. They reduced the level of the medication that was keeping her asleep (propofol), and watched her vital signs to see how her body responded. Her blood pressure rose too high at that time, so the doctors waited until Sunday to try again. By the time we got to the hospital on Sunday morning, Mom was completely off the propofol, and was beginning to be responsive! By last night, she was opening her eyes slightly (she can open her right eye wider than her left right now), and moving her limbs a little! She moved her toes, and even slowly scooted her foot over to cross her legs at the ankle. We have been so relieved to see that she seems capable of motion on both sides of her body, and seems to hear us, too. The aneurysm occurred in or near the part of her brain that controls hearing, vision, and motor control... so we're understandably thrilled to see her opening her eyes, hearing, and moving! Last night, Mom was able to lift fingers when asked to by a doctor, and open her eyes on command as well. Mom seemed to respond best to Dad; when he talked to her she would turn slightly toward him, and try especially hard to open her eyes. One of the neatest things to see happened as we were getting ready to go home for the night. Dad told her it was time for us to go home and get some sleep. As he let go of her hand, Mom distinctly lifted her hand off the bed toward his. Of course, after seeing that, we stayed longer. :)

This morning, I asked Mom if she could lift her right index finger for me. I had been holding her hand, and I rubbed that finger a little. She lifted the finger on command! I wondered if I had imagined it, but when Dad and Jonathan came in to see her too, I asked her again and she repeated it. It's evening now, and Mom's already made a lot of improvement today. She's opening her eyes wider than before, and seems to be shaking her head "no" to yes or no questions. The doctor started this with her, by asking questions and seeing if she could respond. She really does seem to be communicating this way for now. While Emily, Christopher and I were in the room with Mom, I got concerned that maybe we were bothering her or keeping her from resting. I held her hand and asked if she'd like us to leave for a while and let her get some rest. She turned her head all the way to one side, and then all the way back to the other side. We were pretty happy that she wanted us to stay. She's been stretching her legs out, moving her arms a bit, and lifting her hands.

Mom is still on a respirator, which is obviously bothering her a lot. She's actually been initiating most of her own breaths since Friday or Saturday, and by Sunday she was initiating all her breaths. The respirator just helps her finish those breaths deeply enough. Today they tried to remove the tube from her throat, but they found that her trachea had become so swollen it was very difficult for her to breathe. Unfortunately, they had to re-insert the tube, which I know is really uncomfortable for Mom. They have restrained her hands so she can't reach up and grab it out of her mouth -- but she still keeps trying! She also resorts to trying to push it out of her mouth with her tongue. We sure hope the swelling will go down soon so they can get that painful tube out of her very soon. She has a bit of bronchitis right now, so we're praying for that to heal quickly too.

Emily (my sister), Jonathan (my nephew), and Aunt Susan (Mom's sister) are heading back down to Southern California tomorrow. Emily has an appointment with her midwife that she can't miss. Jonathan leaves to return to school in Texas on Wednesday. I'm sticking around to help in any way I can for as long as I'm needed. I'm glad my music students have been so flexible and understanding about my sudden departure and leave of absence. I'm hoping that I can keep teaching all my students whenever I return to Massachusetts, but I know it's possible that some of them will move on to other teachers. I'm going to try to arrange substitutes in the next week or so for students that want that. Right now, all of us in the family are kind of taking things a day at a time. We're glad to see her waking up slowly, and anxious for her to continue in her recovery. We sure miss having our wonderful Mom in her full and usual capacity - full of energy, loving us and talking to us, and living life to the fullest.

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