The Pea Princess

If one has read my previous blog, they know that my mom was in the hospital for thirty-five days and then spent another two weeks at a rehab facility. I should have written this first but the trip home was too much of a comedy not to post first.

Briefly my mom had a big surgery to move her stomach out of her chest back into her abdomen. Leave it to her to experience a complication that occurs one percent of the time. But after five days with out of control pain I forced her to go to the ER. She was running a temp and her heart rate was in the 120’s. The ER did a CT and lab work while out in waiting room. Because I have access to her my chart I saw her WBC was 20 so I knew she was not going home. She got tired of waiting and wanted to leave. I said nope, not happening. Once we got to a room and the ER doc came in looking freaked out about CT results I knew my waiting room assessment was spot on. I just had no idea that the on call surgeon assisted with my moms surgery and said she needed to be transferred to SLUH or St Mary’s because only they had the equipment to do what he needed to do surgically. When she had a bed at SLUH and was in their ER in less than three hours I knew it was life or death. I have never known SLUH to have open icu bed for transfers (at least in my endoscopy world).

My mom had surgery that day and would have another within four or five more days. She and I truly believe the only reason she survived (she’s no spring chicken at 78) is because of the outstanding care she received at SLUH. Her surgeon had just arrived three weeks prior as the new chief of cardio thoracic surgery. Later he would tell me he treated this complication often and people were sent to him from all over the state. So she received excellent care surgery wise. However, it was the above and beyond nursing care she received that was instrumental in her recovery.

She spent the first week in ICU and those nurses were so incredibly kind, smart and attentive it made me want to leave endoscopy and work there. No worries I reminded myself why I left critical care in 2000 and how two months of it at the beginning of Covid was enough for me.

She was then moved to a regular floor. There were times when I know those nurses were working short and yet they never used it as an excuse and continued to act like my mom was their only patient. And no it was not because I was there all the time (I wasn’t) or calling them constantly (I didn’t. I still had access to her my chart so I followed her labs daily without bugging the nurses). It’s just how they are.

Now my mom was a bit of a PIA about her pillows. I swear she had every spare pillow on the floor in her bed. Well they decided my mom was like the princess and the pea. Since she nicknames people all the time they started calling her the pea princess. We all got such a kick out of it. When her chest tube came out and her esophageal stents came out I knew her time at SLUH was coming to an end. So I started thinking about a thank you gift. It is well known I can bake but I thought nurses always get food and it just makes us fat. Flowers are pretty but they die. Then the perfect idea came to me and I ran with it.

Every nurse needs a good black ink pen. And because my mom is snarky and funny, I decided on snarky nurse pens. But because not all of her nurses were snarky, I also did some custom ones that said “thank you from the pea princess”. My mom about started crying when I ran the idea by her. She loved it. I found the picture on the internet and Allyson helped me remove the background. I took it up on a weekend after she was discharged because the weekend charge nurse was phenomenal. Both my mother and sister also really liked her as well.

On the ride home from rehab just one week ago my mom thought she was going to need to buy a wheelchair. I went along with her while in my head thinking she was crazy. Yesterday we went to primary to get her blood pressure straightened out. (Rehab messed with her medicine till she was running 90’s over 50’s and so dizzy she couldn’t hardly walk with walker). The only time she used the walker that day was to see him. She’s all over the house without it. He said no more blood pressure medicine for now. A week without it and she was 120/70. He said she’s lost so much weight she may no longer need it. So my favorite saying “will continue to monitor”.

My mom was convinced no one would remember her. The fact that it’s a rarity to have a patient in the hospital for thirty five days alone is enough. But couple it with the fact she could have easily died and the fact she rarely asked for anything and was so freaking funny she will be remembered by some forever. When she left for rehab her nurse called me to tell me and said she (the nurse) cried when my mom left. A couple days ago someone called to set up home PT and said I never took care of you but I heard all about you. She left an impression on many that she will never know this side of heaven.

Mole Moral ~ So often people focus on the negative and complaining. It’s a choice to recognize the good and amazing. Focus on that and let those know how much you appreciate them.


Everyday is an adventure!

My mom had surgery to move her stomach out of her chest and back into her abdomen on September 9. Her surgeon is the best for this procedure and I knew she was in good hands. He went over risks which seemed small compared to the benefits. She had lost about fifty pounds and was continuing to lose weight. Did fine overnight and then started with what we thought was gas pain from the CO2. Post op day 5 the pain was so out of control she was suicidal so I made her go to ER. I’m going to condense the next 50 days. She ended up with a huge chest infection where her stomach was. It later turned out one of the stitches in her esophagus ripped out causing a hole in her esophagus. So everything she had eaten and drank leaked out making the infection worse. They ended up placing 2 stents to cover the hole for three weeks. She was on IV food and not allowed to eat. She was on a total of five different IV antibiotics to clear the infection. She spent 35 days at SLU hospital where she received excellent care. She loved all the nurses and they loved her. She was then sent to Mercy rehab for 15 days to recuperate. She is doing better but needs to eat and get her strength back. She lost a total of twenty one pounds during this ordeal. It was one thing after another during this time and why I thought discharge would be smooth is beyond me.

My mom called around 10:45 or so for me to come get her. My sisters engine blew in her car so she has been using my moms car. My mom felt my SUV would be too hard for her to get into so I was driving to my sisters work when I got a text from Kayla. Are you at work? I just blew a tire on highway 40. So I call her to make sure she’s not hurt. We have triple A so I tell her they can put her spare on. She informs the last time she blew a tire (on the way back to Springfield) the tire store threw the spare out because it was dangerous to drive on. Now to say my stress has been off the charts for two months is an understatement so I say let me call your dad because I don’t know what to do. So I call Brian and tell him what happened, he says call triple A and tell them to tow to nearest tire store. I said thanks and call Kayla. Now Kayla was on her way to school and can’t leave the car. So originally I was going to wait with Kayla and then go get my mother. I call her back to update her. Then my sister was like I will wait with Kayla, you go get mom. So I call mom back. I don’t think rehab has ever discharged anyone as fast as they did us. Well as we come upon Kayla and my sister I see my husband has arrived so I drive on by. Then turn around to go back towards home. I tell my sister Brian can wait for tow truck because I know he is not going back to work and I need to get my mom home. So Karen leaves. Brian calls me and says are you coming back to get Kayla I have no room in my work van because his partner rides with him. I’m about to lose my mind so I turn around again and head back to them. Now mind you my mothers back seat is jammed packed with her crap so I ask Kayla if she wants to put it in the trunk. She is as stressed as dance competition days and said no I want to get off the side of the highway now. She shoves all of my moms stuff over to the other side and gets in. Then Brian calls and says he needs her triple A card so she gets back out runs it to him and gets back in the car. She is so shaken up she no longer wants to go to school but wants to go back to her place. She puts her address in and we start down 40 East. All of a sudden she realizes her apartment keys are with her car keys and she cannot get into her apartment. So we end up taking her to school and then I take my mom home. In the meantime Brian had to wait over an hour for the tow truck but followed them to Dobbs and arranged for a new tire.

I seriously cannot make this stuff up. It is very comical and before we pulled off I said to mom this is like who’s on first. She looks at me like I’m nuts and says what. I said you know who’s in first, what’s on second, I don’t know is on third. She then starts laughing and says we have a gift of being able to laugh through trying times. I said who did that routine. She says Abbot & Costello. I said oh yeah all I could think of was the Hardy Boys. She informs me they were detectives. Yes I know I read their books.

So Kayla is safely home. I got my mom all set up in her house. She looked at Facebook briefly and then fired up the switch to check in with her villagers on Animal Crossings. She was suppose to take a nap when I left but instead started checking email. She needs to eat eat eat to get her strength back and put on a little weight. She got around very well with her wheeled walker and in the words of Dr. Heavey “I think she’ll do just fine”.

Mole Moral ~ Everyday is an adventure. It’s a choice of how you tackle it. The moles choose turning it into a comedy!!