Everyone’s favorite T.V. addict, otherwise known as my mom, unwittingly became the star of her very own medical drama two weeks ago. A diabetic who hates doctors, she had an infection that ran uncontrolled and decided to creep into her blood. Apparently the organs of the human body hate when that happens and will begin to toy with the idea of whether or not they want to continue working.
The community hospital in my hometown kept her for 24 hours, then put her on a helicopter bound for a hospital in Peoria where they could handle more than brain freeze and owies. For four nights she was in the ICU where I, my siblings, and siblings-in-law sat and watched a parade of doctors and nurses poke and prod the woman until she was well enough to be transferred to a regular room.
Wanting to have this most dramatic episode of ER ever turn into Scrubs, I was relieved to finally get some comic relief when she was settled into her new bed. This very old, very crazy woman in the bed next to her took one look at my mom and exclaimed, "Wow, what does she have?" The nurse looked embarassed and told her to be quiet, but I laughed like it was the funniest thing I ever heard.
The next morning when I got to the hospital, 'ol crazy pants had literally been tented in on her bed. The alarm that was set to go off when the lady got out of bed apparently didn't keep her down. I asked my mom if she was able to get any sleep with the freak show next to her yelling, "Give me a knife, I'm cutting these IVs off and getting out of here," all night. She just rolled her eyes and went back to sleep.
Over the next few days my mom continued to get better. Her strength improved, and most importantly, the nurse and I conquered her terrible case of bedhead. I headed back to Chicago thinking she was going to be released last weekend.
Not so fast.
Her doctors (she says one looks like Dr. Green on ER and another looks like Benjamin Bratt, I disagreed) needed to find out why after the infection was conquered her white blood cell count didn't return to normal. Turns out there's something on her kidney that doesn't belong there, and it and the kidney will have to come out. And given her health stituation, the surgery is very risky but is unavoidable.
How's that for a Christmas present?
I'm one person who really didn't need another reason to hate this holiday. With a mother who's just 56, who has about 30 seasons of television ahead of her, I'm feeling a bit angry that this something we're facing.
I'm trying to be a big girl and keep that brave face on that I know she needs. And she doesn't need to know about a couple of friends I've been relying upon heavily lately. One's called Marlboro Light, the other is Sleeping Pill.
Postscript: People aren't kidding when they say everyone should have a healthcare power of attorney in order. Do not assume that if you're someone's child or spouse that you're o.k. Get it done. Also, there's nothing like frantically trying to piece together someone's medical history and medications while they're out of it and an ICU nurse is looking like you're the worst child in the world because you don't know what kind of insulin your mother takes. Don’t be crazy enough to assume that doctors and a hospital someone who had gone to for years, would like write it down somewhere.