Tuesday, June 26, 2012

one in three

The more I write about what happened, the more it sticks with me and haunts me when I try to sleep at night.  And yet, I think if it just all gets out on paper, I may be able to sleep better over all.  I don't think my story is any different than many people out there but its mine and I am choosing to write it.  I don't think my mom is any better than moms of people out there yet she is mine and I am choosing to share her.
The next part becomes a blurr.  Mom was intubated and the machine did her breathing for her.  The ICU is a scary and dramatic place, but the waiting room is like a thousand times better than anywhere else in the hospital.  I really cannot remember what we did or if we even spoke to each other.  I mean I am sure we must have but there is no memory of it at all.  At some point a doctor came out.  How I wish I could pretend to you that I remembered his name, but I didn't.  Nobody's name really mattered to me.  He wanted to have a conference with us.  The PA came out and said,  "That call you needed to make, now would be a good time to call your sister."  Those words held so much meaning and the weight of them dragged me down.  I don't remember if I called Kristin or if Michael did but the next part seems funny in its awfulness.  We decided to do a conference call which basically boiled down to us in a room with the doctor and a phone turned toward him so Kristin could hear what he was saying.  He told us that mom had been misdiagnosed with the pulmonary embolism. That as they watched her leg it had begun turning black.  She was infected with necrotizing faciitis.  For the layperson that would be called the flesh eating bacteria.  Mom needed to have emergency surgery to remove the infection or she would die.  She could die in surgery though.  I remember intaking my breath so much that it made a loud noise.  The doctor left us alone to discuss it.  I cried to Michael that I couldn't lose my best friend.  We picked up the phone.  (at this point I think it was me) and I asked Kristin what she thought.  Her reply,  "I couldn't hear a thing."  This was one of those funny/not so funny things you remember that happen and in your head you say, "Now I have to repeat out loud that she may die."  Oh, I forgot to mention that he came up with a statistic for us.  1 in 3 survive the surgery when it has gone as far as it had with my mom. 
Because it was a conference with us I am sure we must have had to make a decision about the surgery.  Yet, what kind of decision is there really to make?  Definitely die without surgery.  1 in 3 chance of survival with surgery. 
Yet, mom was conscious so he had to ask her too.  He really didn't.  He more told her that is what he needed to do and she said, "do it."  Rather it was probably a nod of her head.  But then he said, "during surgery we may find the infection has progressed and we may need to take your leg.  Do I have permission to amputate your leg?"  That led mom to stop and think and I all I could do was hold my breath.  She was not going to give him permission to amputate.  He asked her if she was playing with her grandchildren before coming to the hospital?  Then he said, "would you rather play with them again with one leg or not see them again?"  Okay, yes he was harsh in this but we all needed her to see it was life without her leg or no life.  I remember exactly how she said it and I wish I could do it for you.  She was like a little kid hearing she wasn't getting what she wanted.  "Fine."  We kissed her goodbye and they moved fast.  She was prepped and off she went.  The doctors prepared us to settle in for the night.
At this point, I think Kristin was making arrangements to fly as soon as possible.  I am sure Michael and I talked, but I just can't remember a thing except crying because I might never see my mom again. There was so much  I wanted to tell her.  There was so much laughter we still had to share.  There was so much I needed her for.  I just was not ready for this.    I think I remember coffee.  I know I remember other people being brought into that waiting room and hearing news that made them suffer and cry.  In that waiting room you were one group of suffering, but also very much alone in your group.  You wanted to tell other people it would be okay and you were all in this together, but suffering is so damn personal.  Nobody can really be in with you except the people suffering over the same damn person you are.  Michael and Kristin were my life raft in this drama and even then, nothing made it better. 
This is probably a good time to bring up God.  Of course I talked to Him through this entire thing, but truthfully, what God gave me during this time was my brother and sister.  Because I could pray with the best of them but I needed human hugs and hearts to make me feel any kind of "this will get better."  Michael and I settled in for the wait.

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