Showing posts with label hospitals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hospitals. Show all posts

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bussing it to St. Mark's

When Jenna goes to school, I have taken the bus with her.  I normally have my backpack which contains my water bottle and a book.  Or at least I try to have a book – so I can read during the ride when Jenna isn’t with me.

Jenna and I have ridden the bus all summer.  We’ve gone in a variety of directions.  But we have always started out on the same bus that we have taken when she’s been in school.  Instead of continuing to our normal bus stop near her school, we have been getting off at the college and making a transfer connection to a different bus.

Just north of the college is a foot bridge that leads to the junior high across the street.  Jenna has always wanted to cross it.  I figured she’ll have the opportunity to cross it in two years – almost daily for the three years that she attends the junior high. My initial plan was to cross it with her, as I’d need to take a return bus home.  But this morning I learned that is no longer in my future.  She will either have to get off one stop before me, or cross at the light.  I think she will choose the bridge – which is what I would prefer for both of us.

 Jenna was so excited about being on this steep uphill bridge; it did make the crossing worthwhile.  But the side with the junior high is fenced in, and there is no slit in the fence and so we had to walk around and it took us more time than if we had just gotten off at the college and crossed the street.  Jenna apologized for my error.  But it was my error.  And it really was nice to learn about it now as opposed to when it’s full of junior high traffic.  And Jenna really did think it was cool to be on the bridge.  So it was fine.  I wasn’t upset about it.

We took a bus to the train station and transferred to another bus that took us to St. Mark’s hospital.  Before my mom passed away, I had driven to the hospital many times to see her – the same hospital I went to today, but for a different reason.  It was actually my first time riding the bus to St. Mark’s.  It was so different arriving at the hospital with a different form of transportation.

Instead of going to see my dying mother, I entered another part of the building that brings new life.  Up in the maternity ward is my sister, Kayla and her husband, Bill and their new arrival, BJ (not his real name – but I highly suspect that he is a “Bill Junior” as he seems to have had Bill’s sense of humor even while in the womb; and as their other two look like Kayla, I suspect BJ will not only act more like Bill but look more like him as well – kind of hard to tell right now who he takes after in the “looks” department) who’s been named after mom.

Roland’s office is located about four and a half blocks east and south of St. Mark’s.  I noticed that he hadn’t taken his phone, and grabbed it since he was so close.  Though I considered just keeping it as my phone has been flipping out the last two days and every call is broken and gets cut off.  I wondered if he had left it for me intentionally. 

I don’t like calling him at work through his work phone as I’m often redirected to the location in Phoenix – even with an extension.  Sometimes I am tempted to call the President of the United States just to see how much harder it would be than trying to get Roland at his work.  But that’s beside the point.                

While we were at St. Mark’s, Bill’s sister brought his kids to see their new little brother.  Anna lovingly held her new brother and smiled at him.  Gary, on the other hand, seemed freaked out and afraid.  I’m thinking it was time for a nap (perhaps he hadn’t had his Super Why fix)  He clung to Bill who wanted to take pictures and handed the camera to one of his nephews as Gary wouldn’t let go of his dad.  I noticed the time on the clock and asked Jenna if she wanted to go see her dad and come back later.  And so we left.          

The hospital and Roland’s office building are both on the same side of the street.  I told Jenna our two choices.  We could either cross the street, ride the bus down four blocks, cross the street(s) again or we could stay on that side and walk to Roland’s work.  We ended up walking.        

I didn’t remember Roland taking a lunch and wondered if he was at the nearby drive-in.  Jenna and I checked before making our way to his office.  I had her stay downstairs so we wouldn’t miss him if he got off the elevator.  I went from cubicle to cubicle not even knowing for sure in what section he was even stationed (he’s been relocated several times due to change of management and HUGE turn-overs)

I placed the phone on his desk and wanted to know if he’d be going to lunch.  He finished up what he was doing and met Jenna and I in the downstairs lobby and we went to lunch.  I should have gotten something for Bill, but just dumped the leftover fries in a bag along with half a shake and half a drink.  But he seemed grateful.

He asked me if he could take Jenna with him to the DMV as he and Kayla just purchased a van that still needs to be registered.  Their kids call it a bus.  Jenna’s actually excited about it because they will have room for her in addition to their three children.  She normally has fun with Bill and usually delights in his overly-done sense of humor.

I actually ended up leaving shortly after they did.  They may have still been in the parking lot actually.  But Kayla looked really tired and I could sense that she wanted to rest more than she wanted to visit.  I’ve actually had an obnoxious dry cough that seems to worsen when I talking, and so it worked out for both of us.   
 I hadn’t planned on returning home alone as I naturally figured that Jenna would be with me; therefore had nothing to read.
From the train station I have three options on returning home.  Instead of transferring back to the 41 (which is the route Jenna and I had used for getting to the train station) I decided to take the train to the next stop and wait for the 35 which gets me closer to wear I live.  

Now i am home writing this post, frustrated by a stuck shift key that keeps giving commands on my word that i have to go back and correct.  (That cap is one example.  It was also underlining and bolding – but the caps don’t seem as correctable – even on a different computer.  I was able to change the font size.  But I had to copy and paste this part)

Now that this is posted, I will go to the other room to wait for Jenna and the kids (who will be staying with us for a couple of days) I don’t know when Bill will be dropping them off.  He may try calling, but I can’t guarantee there will be a connection. It's been almost five hours now and I haven't heard from them.  Roland is home now.  Perhaps I should use his phone to find out where my daughter might be.

According to customer service, I’ll be receiving my new phone in just a few days.  That sounds unbelievable to my ears.  I’ll be surprised if it comes on Saturday or even Monday.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Two Weeks

Two weeks after I started my blog I became part of a search party who went out looking for mom who had dementia and had wandered from home.  She could not be left alone.  Each of us worked out a schedule so that someone would always be with her.

Two weeks after this year started mom was released from the hospital and spent her last night at the house she’d lived in for over fifty years. It had been on a Sunday when Ellen found my mom passed out and called for Nate to assist.  Patrick ended up taking her to the hospital.  He and Nate were both dressed for church but stayed at the hospital all day. They did not go to Church that day. Patrick had chosen to stay with mom. On Monday mom’s four children worked together to fill out the paperwork to move mom into assisted living. On Wednesday Kayla took mom to her new home at the assisted living facility – the last place she would live. And Corey came from Las Vegas to assist and say good-bye to the house. 

Two weeks ago we lay mom to rest - buried beside my dad.  She’d been rushed to the hospital two weeks prior to that.  It was on a Sunday when she was found passed out on the floor. She'd been rushed to the hospital. Patrick met her at there.   He was dressed for church but stayed at the hospital all day.  He did not go to Church that day.  He had chosen to stay with mom. He took the next two weeks off.  And Corey drove from Las Vegas to say good-bye.  We all spent time with her for 7-10 days.  And then she finally let go.

Two weeks ago Corey and Kayla and I met Fern and Michelle at the Mortuary.  We watched Corey and the Mortician dress my mom.  Michelle applied some lipstick – that’s all that was needed.  Mom looked like she always does when she falls asleep. She still has her purse.

Two weeks ago we talked with family and friends who had come to pay their last respects.  Sunny offered a beautiful prayer before we all went into the chapel. I tied mom’s bow and veiled her face – my final act of service for her.  The lid was closed.  I think Brian cried the hardest. His sobs just seemed louder than the rest - maybe because he's a giant.

 Two weeks ago today we paid our last respects and shared our stories and beautiful thoughts for such a marvelous woman.  Daddy’s birthday was the day after the farewell services.  It was on a Sunday. Corey had planned to spend this week with mom. Instead she's spending it with dad.  We miss you mom! (and dad)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Welcome to the 21st Century!

            I was never hospitalized as a child – except for when I was born.  But until I gave birth to Jenna, I had never been a hospital patient.  But I do remember visiting various hospital patients.  I remember that there was more than one patient to a room and only a thin curtain separated the patients from one another.  Each patient wore a plastic bracelet that would protect the descriptive paper that identified the patient’s name and medical information.  There were clip boards that hung from the foot of each bed.

Patients were asked if they preferred smoking or non-smoking rooms.  And visitation was always limited to certain hours and certain ages. 

            Today each patient has his or her own room.  They wear bands made of unrippable material somewhere between paper and plastic foam.  It contains bar codes which are scanned each time the patient is given medicine or surgery, blood and urine samples and so forth – possibly meals (that way it can all get charged to the final bill) No longer are stupid clip board kept at the foot of the bed.  Everything is done by scanners and computers. It’s so cool to see how technology has evolved.

            The hospital that mom was in is a no smoking zone – the entire hospital and property.  That’s pretty cool.  I think that’s a great revelation that has come to pass. 

            As I mentioned, at least one of my sibs was always with my mom around the clock – which meant spending the night.  I had three members of my family spend the night with me before Jenna was born.  Roland and my mom were both in chairs.  I think Kayla spent the night on the floor.

Not all hospitals have joined this century, I suppose.  When my granddaughter was born, Tony wasn’t allowed to watch the birth.  Talk about old-school.  That’s the way it was when I was born.  Dad’s had to wait in another room.

            I’m not quite certain if I remember from real life or if it was just from the television that I remember the dorky hats that the nurses were required to wear, and the crisp white uniforms – often wondering if they had spare uniforms in their cars or their lockers in order to remain clean and white - as it was never obvious that they had been around barf or blood.    Today they wear colorful scrubs or sometimes nice street clothes.

            Perhaps it’s not the same in all hospitals, but those are some of the observations that I made while my mom was dying at St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah.  That was actually the same hospital where Patrick and I were born.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Still Waiting

Kayla and Corey spent Thursday night at the hospital with mom.  And on Friday morning all of her children surrounded her and enjoyed conversation – especially when mom would laugh at just the right moment as though she was laughing at our jokes, but sometimes it just felt like she was really listening to someone outside of our presence.

Corey asked mom if she had a favorite hymn.  She responded that it was a secret. She must have been conversing with someone on the other side.  Perhaps a suggestion had been made: “They are planning your funeral.  Can you believe it?  We should just make your pulse count go higher.  You outlive the two weeks you’ve been given.  We’ll show them”

Mom was laughing. It would make for a great final memory.  Her pulse went up. She spends most of the day just sleeping.  We can get her to drink sometimes but she won’t eat anything.  Hospice designed for making loved ones as comfortable as possible.  She was not comfortable wearing the oxygen tube and so we had it removed. She looks quite peaceful when she’s sleeping. 

Some of our conversation went a bit like this (though mine and Corey’s words are actual, the others are imagined)

Me:       So how long are you staying

Corey:    I can stay indefinitely

Angel:    Did you hear that?

Mom:     Coery is such a good son.

Angel:     He said “indefinitely” Do you want to test him?

Mom (smiling): That would be kind funny.

Her pulse went up and they have moved her back to Alpine Ridge where she will spend her final days. It almost felt like a cruel joke - though a joke she would have never gone along with, as she has never been one to toy with people’s emotions.  It’s highly probably that Joh may have to return to Vegas before mom passes on.

It would not be a very nice thing if Corey stayed for thirty days or so and return to Las Vegas and then return for the funeral. Mom wanted to return to Alpine Ridge before she returns to dad.  I will take Jenna to Alpine Ridge this morning.

Friday, September 6, 2013


Before Sunday
Mom was laughing,
she was walking
and dressing herself.
She was singing
on Thursday as Harold
accompanied on guitar.

Sometime between four and six
on Sunday morning
she got out of her chair. 
We don’t know why. 
She may have been headed
toward the bathroom. 
Or perhaps she could feel the
pain of a mild heart attack.

She was checked on at four. 
She was sleeping peacefully
in her chair.  But when
she was checked in on at six,
she was found on the floor. 
Her clothes were wet
with urine and perspiration.

She was loaded into
an ambulance and rushed
to the hospital.  Her legs
were badly swollen. 
She was diagnosed with
rhabdomyolysis  . 
The infection spread into
her legs and
kidneys and heart

She’d been hooked up
to machines and
needles and
was given cat scans,
an MRI,
a pick line and
an emergency surgery
on her legs. 

Her children felt so
helpless as I imagine
the doctors did too. 
Everybody did his or her job
best to his or her ability. 
We learned that her
kidneys had failed and that
she would need dialysis
and at least one of her legs
would have to be amputated.
On Wednesday two children stayed
the night at the hospital
so that she wouldn’t be alone.

On Thursday
we spent the day waiting –
waiting for the doctors to come,
waiting for Corey to arrive,
waiting to be moved
to a bigger room.

Mom had lots of visitors. 
A Lot. There was
the Relief Society Presidency,
Ross and Fern,
Peggy and George,
the bishop
and Harold.
Hunched over Harold.  
Sharply dressed –
wanting to spend time
with his lady friend.
Sunny and Fern called him
an angel.  And he is. 

Jenna made a card for Harold
who has been beside himself
since he learned
that the ambulance
had taken mom away.
She might never return
to the assisted living
facility.  She may die
at the hospital.

The doctor came and
explained about hospice. 
Mom was moved
to a bigger room. 
Corey arrived
and is spending the night
with her
at the hospital.
Now we are waiting
for dad to escort mom home. 
It’s time already. 
It is somewhat freaky
how quickly it happened. 
A week ago she was active. 
Now she is in bed. 
And we’re still waiting. 


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I’m Not Staying Here, Take Me Home

          Wow.  What a day. 
          Mom was discharged with a great bill of health.  Great . . .  

          The paper work had not yet been processed for the assisted living.  Mom didn’t have to go to a rehab center as had been speculated earlier.  She was discharged.  And it was up to me to drive her away from the hospital.
          It was disheartening as I watched the nurses wheel her to the curb and load her into my car.  Less than nine years before, I had given birth to Jenna.  And it was mom who was driving while the nurses wheeled me out and loaded me up.  It still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it.  I absolutely HATE this role reversal thing.

          So I take her to the house where she has lived for the last fifty years (and she has not lived anywhere else during that time) and we actually have trouble getting in the door (I don’t think my key got cut all the way) and have to really work at getting in.

          She doesn’t have a problem until we have walked through the door.  She sits down and checks HER MAIL – mail addressed to the house where I had taken her.  I say I am fixing lunch.  She says she is not hungry.  I still fix her lunch.  She childish refuses to eat.

          I tell her to take off her coat. 

          “I don’t want to stay here!”

          “Where do you want to be?”

          “Home.  My home.”

          “Do you have an address?”

          She was irate – thinking I was just playing games with her.  I guess I was.  But not to be funny. But it’s just better to give in to her reality than to argue.  But her reality doesn’t have an address. 

          But she doesn’t want to stay in the house where we are because it’s boring!  So I ask what makes it boring.  What makes her other replica house more exciting?

          She said it’s not the house itself – but the location.  Her other house is in the city.  And there is a store on every corner!  She doesn’t want to live in this boring house in the “country”.

          I cover my mouth and hope that she doesn’t see the laughter in my eyes.  Mom’s house may not be downtown city – but it is definitely NOT the country. I’ll admit that the location was on a bit the desolate side 50 years ago – but the city has built its way around her house.  There are at least thirty eating places that can be walked to.

          A former neighbor from across the street knocks at the door.  He came to talk to Nate.  Mom told him that Nate didn't live there.  Then she practically ordered the neighbor in to explore her “weird house” with her.  He seemed to provide more comforting words than I did.  She still wasn’t convinced, but he seemed to calm her nerves.  And he helped to lighten my load. 

          I had to go get Jenna from school.  Mom was ready to go at 2:30.  Jenna’s school doesn’t let out until 3:20.  Her school is only ten minutes away.  I wasn’t planning on leaving and told mom hang tight for another 30 minutes.  We played Taboo.

          Both Kayla and Sunny offered to sit while I went and got Jenna – but I knew that mom was anxious to leave and so I told both that it would be an hour less that each of them would have to deal with if I were to take her and have Nate come pick her up from where I currently reside.

          So after I picked up Jenna, I brought mom to my home.  She hasn’t been here often, but hasn’t ever been comfortable with being here.  I don’t blame her though.  I’m not all that comfortable myself.

          But yesterday she was content.  She finally ate something and watched one sitcom while we waited for Nate to come get her.  For in her mind, Nate and Ellen live in her new house.  So even though I couldn’t remember her new address, Nate would know where to take her.

          Poor mom.  I hope that when we are able to move her into assisted living – which hopefully will be soon this week – she may “recognize it” as somewhere she’s been before and will feel more at home there than she does in the house where she actually does live but doesn’t want to anymore.

          I’m certain that once she gets going, she will be comfortable in the community and know that she is not alone.  She will be on a consistent schedule and she’ll have peers that will share in her limited time frame.  Of course we will all continue to visit her – but as her children and not her primary care givers.  And that will be a blessing to ALL of us.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

If He’s Just Going to Die Anyway . . .

My dad had had a series of strokes later in life.  Some of them were so “small” that they went undetected.  The first one I remember had temporarily paralyzed the left side of his jaw.  Not realizing the magnitude of what was happening, we made jokes about it.

Because he was such a quiet man, we commented that his jaw was sliding off his face as he never used it. It eventually returned to his normal appearance.  It wasn’t until later on that we learned his downward jaw had been the result of one of the strokes he had had.

Dad started keeping odd hours.  He’d be awake while the rest of us were asleep and vise-versa.  He was in need of care 24-7 and it became too overwhelming at times.  We were told that the insurance he had would not cover a live-in aide – but they did have a list of nursing homes.  We did our best to avoid it, but it finally got to the point that we needed assistance.  I don’t know how we ended up with the facility that we did.  It was depressing.

He actually had strength left in his hands as he would hang on for dear life to any person who would assist him in walking out to the car or whatever.  We called it “the death grip”.  I would always stop in our tracks and tell him, “If you would like to continue moving, you will have to ease up on your grip because you are hurting me!” 

He’d laugh and his juices would come out and he’d start to drool. It was painful watching him go downhill.

We took my dad to therapy.  He was a favorite patient as he was very cooperative to do everything he was told. Except for one time when my mom took him out of bed and tried walking with him and decided to put him back before someone came in and caught them doing something that they weren’t supposed to do.

Mom would push on one side and race around the bed to pull him.  He laughed while she frantically moved from one side to the other saying, “Someone is coming. I don’t even know if we were suppose to get you out of bed”

Mom had done therapy with him.  They were both quite worn out when an orderly came in and brightly asked, “Are you ready for physical therapy?”

Mom looked at dad and nodded “yes” while he shook his head “No”.

Because the muscles in his mouth weren’t working the way they should, it became difficult to swallow anything.  We started out with thick juices and nectars to a no liquid restriction. He was given wet sponges to suck on in order to quench his thirst.

Each stroke left him paralyzed just a little bit more. He walked with a cane.  His speech became difficult to understand.  So difficult that many didn’t realize he still had the ability to think and still had a sharp mind. 

One time my brother’s family brought to him a vase of flowers.  When he was alone in the room, he removed the flowers and drank the water from the vase.  My sister-in-law was upset.  She said she hadn’t even cleaned the vase all that well, and would have done a better job had she known.  It was dirty water.  He was desperately thirsty though.

He would get out of bed and fall and was restrained and would cry that he was being tied up.  And we would cry with him.  Sometimes we would loosen the bands and then report our deeds to the nurse. 

I really don’t remember how long he’d been there.  But the insurance company gave us a deadline for when they would no longer supply payment for keeping him there. Eleven days before the deadline he had another stroke.  An ambulance took him to the hospital that was near the house of my family.  Someone went to see him every day.

We were able to teach him some finger spelling – which of course came slow.  And if we asked a question that wasn’t a “yes” or “no” question – it became quite a game to figure out the answer.

One time my mom went up to one of the members of the Church to thank him for visiting my dad.  He was taken aback and asked sincerely, “How did you know that?”
“He told me.”
“He told you?”
“But when I saw him . . . I didn’t know he could . . . How did he tell you?”

Dad loved chocolate milk shakes and hamburgers.  He had been hooked up to a feeding tube.  Daddy had already lost so much weight.  His legs were thin – like arms. He still had tastable desires.

Once my mom asked, “If he’s just going to die anyway, what difference does it make whether we give him a milk shake or not.”

The comment brought on some cold hearted stares, but seeing the sadness in mom’s eyes, they knew she was right.  It was highly probable that he would not be leaving the hospital alive.  And he did get at least two milk shakes out of the deal.

My dad never returned to the nursing home.  He spent his 54th birthday in the hospital – he was laid to rest a month later. He’d been released from his physical body.  He had endured to the end.  And he hadn’t complained.  How amazing is that?

It was a beautiful day.  The sun was shining.  My brother, Patrick, and I both gave talks. We played a recording of Corey reading his poem (as he was on his mission at the time) and my sister, Kayla sang Amy Grant’s “Father’s Eyes”  It was a really nice tribute.  I miss my dad.  I think of him quite a bit on really awesome days that take place in the fall.

Friday, January 13, 2012

My First Pregnancy

         When our boys were 12, 13, and 15 I got pregnant.  I know the exact date, too.  Memorial weekend – May 28, 2002.  Only I didn’t know I was pregnant.  And I didn’t figure out until just before my child was aborted.  I still cry about it.
          It was the 11th of July (I believe) when I’d gone upstairs to use the only toilet in our house.  Sharp pains I’d never felt before.  I didn’t know why.  At first I tried to ignore it.  I went back downstairs to lie beside my husband.  No – I was in pain.  I went back into the bathroom – but it wasn’t a throwing up pain.  It was different.  I can’t remember what it felt like now – I had never experienced pain like that before or since.  It wasn’t until later – much later – that I learned my belly had been filling with blood

My husband shot out of bed and announced he’d take me to the hospital.  That was a little dramatic I thought – I didn’t understand until much later on why he had responded that way.  The boys’ mother had told him she hadn’t felt well.  He dismissed the idea and she lay down and never woke up.  She died of heart failure.

There’s really not too much about that night that I actually remember.  I remember checking in.  I remember receiving an ultrasound and listening to the heart beat.  I remember being told to move myself from the gurney to the operating table.  That’s actually the last thing that I remember.  Being told.  Whether I actually moved on my own or not remains a mystery. I don’t know what kind of drugs were used on me, but I was gone.  I was in and out.  I don’t even know how long I was in the hospital.  At least two or three days.  I felt like I was in a coma for two weeks.

There were needles stuck in both of my arms.  My right arm was hooked up to IV.  My left arm?  That needle wasn’t connected to anything.  It was just there.  I remember wondering why.  I would think I’d ask.  But then I would forget about it. 

Upon my release I was given a wheel chair.  I’m assuming that I somehow managed to sit in it myself – though I don’t remember.  I do remember the nurse bending down just before I was wheeled out of my room.

“Almost forgot,” he said as he bent down to remove the needle that had been pushed into my left arm.
Oh, yes.  I had forgotten about it myself – many times. 
“What’s that for anyway?”  I asked, still feeling the sensation of the drugs that were in me.

I don’t know how slurred I was or if I sounded slurred at all. He answered, “That was in case you needed a blood transfusion”

A blood transfusion?  That sounded serious.  But I was so drugged up I just let it sink in and didn’t question it any further.

I had an appointment to go back and see the doctor.  I don’t know if it was during those two weeks or if it was right after.  I was alert enough to know I shouldn’t be driving.

My sister-in-law kept asking me questions.  They were all good questions but I didn’t have answers.  I selected her to come get me and take me to the doctor and then she could ask him all the questions as I suspected he would probably have the answers – obviously more answers than I could provide.

I learned that if we had waited another hour (before going to the hospital the day of the unusual pain) that I might have bled to death.  Wow.  So that’s why I needed a transfusion.  She asked another question (actually lots of questions – that’s actually the only one I remember) My doctor turned to me and asked if I didn’t remember.

“I was kind of out of it,” I confessed – still in a fog from whatever medication was in my system.

“Yes you were!” he said matter-of-factly embarrassed about having even asked me if I remembered.

Chicken Soup for the Soul had sent me a manuscript about the mature women.  One section contained stories about older women giving birth.  I could relate to some story beginnings and wept for our unborn child.   

Roland thought we should give her/him a name.  Not knowing the sex of our unborn baby, we named her/him Tracy.