Mom rested in bed for about an hour while listening to a Gaither Homecoming Video. Sometimes she would open her eyes and watch it on my iPad.
She just walked 2 laps around the floor. 1 lap around is 1/18 of a mile. Go mom! She is very tired now. She actually just said for me to tell you all to pray for her because she has "a long row to hoe".
Mom is gone right now for an ultrasound on her veins. She has a small clot in the left leg. Good news is that it is in a superficial vein and not a deep vein. Since her bleeding episode yesterday, they have stopped her Heparin (blood thinner). So I am sure they will be checking for any other signs of possible clotting.
She didn't want anything on her tray for lunch. She ate one bite of my soft pretzel and then her nurse got her some ensure to drink. At her home, she mixes vanilla Ensure with banana in the blender. So I mashed some banana and mixed it for her. She drank about half before telling me it was bad and not like hers at home! That's it for now.
First things first...for those curious about last evening's events, I'll do a very brief recap (sparing you all the details, of which there were many!)
Mom had 3 chest tubes for surgery. They are removed now, but one of them began to bleed around 4:00pm. Pressure applied, mess cleaned up, all turned out well. Was. Sight to behold.
Around 6:30-7:00pm, another sustained spike in heart rate just like Thurs, Fri, Sat. You may remember that on Sat, they had to shock her 3 times (cardio version). This time medication solved the problem without further intervention. Because of these two things occurring, tests were ordered: chest X-ray, EKG, ultrasound/echocardiogram, blood work. All results were good.
Now for today...Tuesday 11:30am...
She is stable. Walked with physical therapy. Ate breakfast of eggs, coffee and some pudding. Was able to urinate on her own. Speech seems the same. Attentiveness seems the same. I met with Administration to resolve hearing aid issue. They were so nice. Pray they can find it or pay for a new one. Will keep you posted. Thanks again for keeping up with these posts. Have a great day...it is beautiful here. Love y'all Carol
4 times I've been kicked out while finishing up my post. So much to say but I'll not attempt the long version again. So just know that it was a bit of a rough evening from 5:00 - 8:30. But by 9:00 all was stable, mom was well and ready to rest for the night. Thankful for a good finish.
Goodbye to the ICU (for the 2nd time)! Hello again to another step-down room. Here's the new room number:
They are getting her situated now. They hope to walk her and then put her in bed to rest for awhile. She had visitors earlier. Mom's nephew, his wife & daughter--Rick, Andrienne & Isley came to visit and brought her the most beautiful yellow roses. Thank you so much! I enjoyed visiting with them. It's sad to realize there are family members that we hardly ever see. Isley is a grown-up, beautiful young woman now. Thanks again for the visit. More later.
They are hoping to get mom moved to a step-down room today. Her vitals are all good. No more problems with heart rate, blood pressure or anything. They had her walk 2 times already. She passed the swallow test, so they hope to give her something to eat for lunch. This is all great news. That aside, I found her to be very tired, sleepy and not engaging. Her speech is like it was yesterday--so no improvement there. So she is not as alert, but that may be because she is tired from the walking. I left her resting so that I could type this and get it out. Will post again this afternoon.
To be able to say that the rest of the evening was uneventful is a good thing in my opinion. After the "changing of the nurses" from 7-8pm, I was able to go back and stay with mom for about 45 minutes. Her hemaglobin was apparently low, so she had a bag of blood going in. The resident who will be there for the night was telling her that the blood along with the extra fluids will help her have more energy and feel even better for tomorrow. We could all tell that as the day progressed, she seemed more tired and was slowing down compared to the first half of the day. When I left, she was asking to be put in the bed so she could sleep. Their plan was to give her several hours of uninterrupted sleep. The EEG results showed small activity in the area where the stroke was, so that was inderstandable. No other concerns. They say the brain is working to correct any damage done by the stroke. Let's all pray the the damage is not permanent. We look forward to another day tomorrow of progress. I'll keep you posted. Carol
As I write, I am sitting in Mom's ICU room while she is snoozing. Her nurse for the day has been so gracious in letting all of us tag-team visit with her. So one or two were back here with her most all day. Phyllis and Mike and I took turns most of the time, and then she had a few extra visitors--Bobby, Darlene (Sherry's niece), Jim & Ginny Boyle. The goal was to keep mom awake most of the time so she would sleep tonight. For the first time since last Tuesday, she didn't mind having visitors. She actually enjoyed the interaction.
The alertness and speech remain much as they were this morning when I made that other post. This afternoon they attempted to get her up for a walk. She was up for just a few seconds when her blood pressure took a dive and stayed that way. Quickly she was put in the recliner and laid back. Things stabilized and then they raised her head up. This is the position she has remained in. She seems frustrated with herself that she wasn't able to walk for them. She thinks that she let them down--she's a people pleaser! But I think we all agree that today has been a much more successful day than the last two, and we are all grateful for that. Carol
I just had a wonderful visit with mom! She is so much better today than yesterday. Ii talked with the nurse for awhile. The head scan done last night showed that she DID have a stroke--a moderate one at that. However, they are amazed that she is not showing typical symptoms of a stroke. She has strength in arms legs and can move feet and squeeze hands. She passes all the neuro tests. She answers all the mental acuity questions. Her speech has been the problem, but this morning her speech was SOOO much better. And she answered me without delay. She kept her eyes open and even asked me some questions. This is a big difference because she has seemingly been unaware of her surroundings and hasn't initiated any thoughts or conversation. She knows she had a stroke. I explained to her that they believe she will get better and not have any permanent damage. What an answer to prayer. And she began to get teary (which is a first) and said, "God is good". Indeed He is! Then she said, "I'm afraid they won't understand me". Just the fact that she cares and is aware of how others might feel is a huge jump forward. Someone came from the IV team to remove some lines and put in a "pick"(sp?) line, so I had to step out. The concern over her "sleepiness" is ongoing and not related to the stroke. The adjustments on her medicine may be why she is much better today than yesterday. They don't want her drinking anything today because of aspiration problems. They want her to try and stay awake as much as possible today so as not to mess up her wake/sleep patterns. So I told her it was Sunday and that she would normally be at church services back home. Did she want to find some preaching on TV? She said yes. Again, a huge step forward. The nurse said that later maybe we could take her outside to the courtyard in a wheelchair for fresh air. What?? That's crazy good news! Did I mention that they got her up earlier and she walked 200 feet? She is in bed now. Praising God for the little things yet again. More later...Carol
Mom's heart rate spiked again late this afternoon and they had to do a little shock thing 3 times along with some meds to get her stabilized. She was sedated a bit and pretty much rested after that. Phyllis & Mike got to see her twice in the afternoon. They will all be back tomorrow (Sunday). Tonight at the last visitation time, I was asking the nurse some questions and found out that mom's surgeon,Dr. Milano, was actually in the ICU. So she asked him to come down and talk with me. It was very reassuring to be able to hear his perspective. As far as the heart goes...she is doing great. They did an echo today and saw with the camera that the valve looks good and all is going well. He has ruled out a stroke, but not seizure activity. The report of the 24hr EEG should be known soon. He looked at her chart and changed some medications and took her off of others. He believes that some of the meds have contributed to her condition. There was even a med given just prior to surgery that has been known to affect some patients with possible seizures. That may explain the slurred speech even after surgery. So he is not worried about her heart as much as her lact of alertness. If you could see her, you would know what he means. You can call her name and she will "come to" and respond to requests (the speech is awful) but then she just closes her eyes and goes back to heavy breathing again (mouth wide open). He says he is confident that this is not permanent. She is going to successfully recover. It is just a matter of being patient and using process of elimination on these meds and tests to get her there.
On the positive side...EEG wires and mesh cap are gone. Heart valve is doing well. Nurse said she will let mom sleep until about 4:30 at which time she plans to bathe and shampoo her and possibly walk with her if mom is able. Mom hasn't officially taken a walk since Wed am.
Mom is still in the ICU. I think they may just keep her there for the weekend since things are slower around the hospital on weekends and she can be watched closer. EEG folks decided to keep the wires on her head and monitor her throughout the day. No definitive report from them yet. We found her to be much like last night except that I think her responses come a bit quicker and she used more words than before. She had passed a "swallow test" so no feeding tube required. She cannot have anything so liquid as water, but she sipped some thickened cranberry juice for us. We had her do a few exercises in the bed to keep her muscles working. She asked to walk (which they like to hear) but until the EEG is complete, she will have to stay in the bed. The inhaling of the spirometer continues but she is not as strong as before. They are also supplementing her with oxygen for now. So...we know something has happened to her that is out of the ordinary heart surgery routine, but we don't have answers yet as to what is going on. Certainly there are signs of mini stroke, but we will have to wait and see what the tests say. The LORD is her ultimate Physician--we know she is in good hands. We wait patiently.
I had a surprise this morning. My dear husband, Eugene, came to the hotel and surprised me! He went with me to the first visit with mom. Then Mike, Phyllis & Bobby got here around noon. They let Phyllis, Mike and me to back to see her at the next visit. I know mom was happy to see them. They are going to take the afternoon shift with mom so that Eugene and I can go out for awhile. Thanks guys! Unless there are major changes, I will wait and update again tonight when we take back over. It is now 1:45pm.
I am definitely thanking Him for the little things such as a good final visit with mom. Shift change was from 7-8. So I came back then to check in. They stayed busy updating charts, etc and didn't call me back until 8:50pm. My hotel shuttle was picking up at 9:00, so I had 5 minutes to chat with her. The good news is that I found her to be more alert than she had been all day. She kept her eyes open the entire visit and made eye contact with me while I was filling her in on the latest news. She also tried to speak more than before; and even though the speech is not great, it was better than any other time today. Yay! They were getting ready to give her a sponge bath when I left. The night shift nurse was also very nice. Mike, Phyllis & Bobby will be here tomorrow. That will brighten mom's day. Signing off for the night. Love ya'll...Carol
The nurse didn't seem in a hurry to "kick me out" of the ICU (they like to limit visits to 15 min max) so I stood by Mom's bed and hummed/sang hymns for about 45 minutes. She acknowledged me when I first got there, but soon went back to her pattern of snoozing. You should see her--they left a white gauze-looking cap over her head to keep the EEG wires intact. They want to monitor her overnight. There is also a camera recording video of her. Good news...the two remaining chest tubes were removed!! Did I mention that her box with the right hearing aid was left in the step-down room? When I went to check, the room had been cleaned. They have a call in to the nurse mom had last night. Pray they find it because it was very expensive. Thanks. Carol
Right now mom is having an EEG to see if the brain waves show any signs of seizure activity. She is definitely more lethargic and her speech is much worse. They said to give them a few hours before I check back in. All her other signs were good. Blood sugar levels have come back down. They did put the catheter back in. They are taking good care of her and seem to be responding well to everything that comes up. More later...
Got a call at 6:30am from same physician who attended mom last night when her heart rate spiked. He called to update me on the night. They decided to do some testing to rule out a stroke since she had complained of slurred speech, fuzzy head and vision. All scans and tests were negative--no stroke--great news. Later when she got up to use the bathroom, she was very weak and they had to put her back to bed. She is fine, but they wanted to keep a closer watch on her through the morning, so they put her back in ICU. This way she will have one nurse assigned to her only. Her surgeon, Dr. Milano, was in visiting with her at that time. I was back here within the hour, but they haven't let me back yet because their hours for visiting are 9:00am - 9:00pm. Stay tuned for more updates.
Remember, this website shows posting times in West Coast time. Just add 3 hours to their time for current EST.
Well, we had a little excitement here in room 3127 this evening at 7:30pm. Mom's heart rate had been elevated since surgery, but tonight it spiked pretty high -- 250+ and was not coming down. In no time the room was filled with 6 plus people (Dr., nurses, assistants) and they acted immediately giving her medication through that within a matter of seconds the rate began to drop. It bounced around a bit as they contined to administer meds and do test. They got to regulated and it has remained stable for the last 2 hours. The rate is hanging out in the 80's range now. They said it is common to see this happen on Day 2 or 3 of post operation. She is sleeping now. It has been a tough day for her. Please pray that the woozy fog will lift tomorrow. Her blood sugar levels are coming down too. I'm signing off to catch the 9:30pm shuffle to the hotel!
By the way...the time of day listed on your comments is West coast time--3 hours earlier. Add another 3 hours to the time for the East Coast correction. Love y'all!
Mom is resting after the removal of her neck tube and catheter. They also changed dressings and replaced the sticky pad things on her chest that give EKG readings. She immediately felt the need to urinate, so the nurse got her up and to the bathroom--success! Another hurdle crossed. Getting her up caused her heart rate to spike and made her head feel bad, so she is being quiet for now. Supper was delivered at the same time, and she didn't want to eat. So we will try again in a little bit with the food.
In the earlier post that is missing, I mentioned:
-one chest tube removed early this morning
-one walk around the loop
-sat in chair after walk until 2:00pm
-lungs are clearer today
-incision bandage removed
-practically no pain meds or nausea meds
-feels druggy from anesthesia ** this is her biggest problem and needed prayer request**
-cards and package arrived to brighten her day
-visit from Connie(her neice here for cancer visit) Bunk(Connie's husband)Sue(his sister) - dear loved ones
I posted an update at 2:00pm but It doesn't seem to be here anywhere now. Ugh! Nurses are in the room now getting ready to remove the central line in her neck and her catheter. I will update you soon.
I left mom at 9:30pm--she had just dropped off to sleep. They did not get her in a chair or walk her since noon. Her heart rate was elevated and her blood sugar was high. They also said she had a little fluid in her lungs. Her evening nurse was really pushing her to use the spirometer throughout the course of each hour. This will help the lungs. She is on a clear liquid diet. She has not been very vocal today--it hurts in the throat where the breathing tube was. So it was "steady as she goes" for day 1 post op. Again, when these tubes are removed in a couple of days, she will come alive again according to the nurses. I am very proud of her. I think she is a model patient. Thanks for your encouraging posts.
For dinner mom ate chicken broth, 3 jello cubes, a taste of cranberry juice, bite of Popsicle and a little tea. She wanted to rest, so while she snoozed I went back to the hotel to get my phone charger (phone's been dead all afternoon). Upon returning, they told me that she took the oxycodone and something for the nausea that had returned. Please pray that the nausea will diminish. They did not make her walk. They will try to see if she can get into a chair for awhile around 8:00pm. It is now 7:20pm. More later...
P.S. Mike, Phyllis & Bobby returned to Fayetteville this afternoon due to work schedules. Mom is blessed to have them with her all the time in Fayetteville. They've carried the lion's share of caregiving for mom AND dad (when he was living) for many years as I live 3 hrs away in Charlotte. You guys are a blessing--thank you so much. You'll be taking over when I have to leave in a couple of weeks!
It is 4:45pm. Time for an update. The day has consisted of a pattern of discomfort then sleep then more discomfort then more sleep. Right now she is sleeping. She was wiped out from the long walk from ICU to this new room and hasn't walked again or sat up in a chair again. She really hasn't eaten much either--some ice chips, a few jello cubes, a Popsicle. She complains of pain, but then doesn't want to take anything for fear of nausea. Also afraid that eating will cause nausea. So she is in this cycle that we continue to help her get out of. Her nurse had a talk with her about an hour ago about pain management and that helped. This is not time to be a hero--take the meds if you need them! Dinner is about to be served and then she will get some oxycodone (sp?). They will take a walk about 6:00pm. The breathing thing I keep mentioning is called a spirometer (thank you, Adam, I went back and found that part in your book!). She is doing well with that. She gets the line up to the 1000-1500 ml mark. Yippee! Her anesthesiologist, Dr. Bartels, came to check on her and they shared a few dry jokes. Also, a hematologist, Dr. Arcasoy, came by to talk with her about her blood and the antibodies found in her body. At least for now, she needs to stay warm. She required a blood transfusion during surgery and a couple more bags last night that are warmed before administered. So the room here is kept at about 78-80 degrees. Those of you who know mom...this doesn't suit her...she likes it cooler rather than warmer! I think things are pretty stable and will greatly improve in a couple of days when the chest tubes, catheter and several tubes/lines are removed. Dinner is here...gotta run...it's now 5:05. Keep praying--thanks!
My sister-in-law, Cindy, asked this question. Since I accidentally deleted her comments and my response, I thought I would address it here for everyone to know.
When my mom was a little girl, her daddy called her his little cherry blossom (this was because her birth name was Cherry before she had it changed to Sherry). Her family referred to her as Bloss. Even now my cousins call her Aunt Bloss!
If any of my older cousins want to add to this if I got the story wrong, please do. My mother was the youngest of 11 children and is the only one still alive. She is 76 yrs. old.
I am happy to report that mom is now in a step-down room.
They made her walk from the ICU to her new room. This caused much pain, but I know it is necessary for the healing process. The nurse explained that the pain was from the chest tubes not the incision. I don't know how long it will be before she has them removed--maybe another day or so. They gave her some pain medication to give relief. She is now getting some much needed sleep. The time is now 12:50pm.
As you might well imagine, the morning after surgery is not the easiest of times. Such was the case with mom at the 9:00am visit. BUT...I still think she is doing amazing considering the type of surgery she just experienced. She was sitting up in the recliner chair in the ICU room. They had her walking earlier in the am hours for about 150 feet--woo hoo! She was trying to eat some chicken broth, jello cubes and apple juice. She didn't want much. She wanted to get back in the bed. But her big, strapping nurse, Gill, would not have any of that. He told her he was looking out for her and she needed to keep those lungs clear. At her age, she is at a higher risk for pneumonia. She was coughing from time to time. He asked her to inhale in the breathing thing (which she didn't want to do!) but she complied and did a good job. I don't understand all the details yet, but they found out during surgery that she has antibodies that would not allow her blood to cool to the 4 degrees normally used during surgery. Her blood, at that temperature, was like gel. So the surgeon had to approach her differently. He said that he didn't see any adverse effects from that...just information they would need to know if she ever had another heart procedure in the future. All this to say, they have socks on her hands and feel to keep her warm while they are giving her blood and fluids. The fluids given to her in the IV are also at room temp. She complains of being hot. Hopefully by tomorrow she can stop wearing the socks. I posted a picture--she didn't want her face in the shot until they remove the line in her neck.
Good news...they think she is about ready to move to a step-down room. This could happen as early as 11:30am. Before I left she asked the nurse, "If I take another walk with you, will you let me get back in bed?" to which he replied, "Yes Maam!"
I spent quite a while crafting a long journal update only to watch it disappear before my eyes--I obviously hit a wrong button somewhere on the laptop--ugh. It was filled with enthusiasm, gratitude, wit and lots of post-op information. Sadly, I am too tired to try and recall the details. So I will give a recap of the afternoon and evening.
Visits at 2:30, 3:30 and 5:00 were much the same--mom was "out of it", grimmacing and still had a breathing tube. Visits at 6:00 and 8:30 were a whole new story...sitting more upright, breathing tube gone, color returned, eyes open and more alert, talking, cracking a few jokes, coughing but handling it well. She had already been using that tube thing to inhale deep breaths (she had practiced deep breathing for a few weeks prior to surgery). Nurse said that mom got the line to go up further than just about anyone she had seen on the first try. Well done, Mom! Yes, she was having discomfort in her back (nurse said this is a common complaint due to the 3 chest tubes) but mom said that the pain was tolerable. Of course they are doing a great job of managing her pain with medication. Tonight they will take another chest xray, hope to remove the central line and then get her up and in a chair by 5:00am. If all goes well, they want to move her to a private room tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday). We were all amazed at how well she was doing and how good she looked. As we were walking out from our last visit of the evening, she called out "Remember...God is good all the time...and all the time...God is good". Yes maam, He is!
By the way, check out the home page of this site's heart valve journals. You will see that she's in the "Patient Spotlight" for tonight. Go Mom!!!
They took us back to see mom (Sherry) at 2:30pm. They let all of us who were waiting go back for an initial visit since mom was still asleep. The group consisted of Mike, Phyllis & Bobby,the Boyles, the Prices and me. She was resting comfortably even with all the tubes. They pretty much had her covered up, so we could only see some of the tubes where she was receiving blood and of course the breathing tube. She really didn't appear to have swelling. She was a bit "yellow" but that will change as she gets more blood and color returns to her face. Pastor Jim Boyle read some scripture and prayed a prayer of thanksgiving over her. We sang (softly!) a hymn of worship and praise to God for His blessings, and then it was time to leave. From now on, they ask that she only have 2 visitors at a time once per hour for just a few minutes while in ICU. No visitors after 9pm and before 9am. She will remain in ICU 1-2 days depending on how she progresses. Her nurse planned to begin "waking her up" shortly after we left. It is now 3:15pm. Perhaps we will see her awake before long! We are so very impressed with the care here at Duke up to now both in the clincs and the hospital. Thank you all for your continued prayers.
We met with Dr. Milano at 12:45pm. Surgery is complete and was a success! He doesn't expect there to be much swelling at all. She was being taken to ICU, and we can go there in about an hour. God is so good. Thank you for your prayers. Will post again soon.
They give each family in the surgical waiting room a pager which will alert you when there is an update. We were paged at 7:30am to say that surgery had just begun. Should have another update in a couple of hours. My brother (Mike) sister (Phyllis) and her husband (Bobby) are here also.
We are checked in and ready to go! They actually took mom back at 5:20am and I am waiting for them to call me to join her.
What an answer to prayer we had this morning. Mom and I were going to walk to the hospital to check in since it is onlly one block away. As we exited the elevators, there sitting in a chair in the lobby waiting for us was my mother's former pastor and dear friend Jim Boyle. He drove us to the hospital, read an encouraging scripture from the Psalms, and sent mom off with a hug and a prayer. She was in tears, but they were grateful tears. Thank you, LORD, for your provision through your servant Jim. More to come...
Mom enjoyed her last meal before surgery tonight at Cracker Barrel with some friends who came in to town to be with her during her surgery. What a wonderful time of laughter and fellowship. She has to check in the hospital at 5:15am tomorrow (Tuesday) and surgery will be at 7:00am. Duration of surgery: 4 - 5 hours
I will post updates as they come to us during her surgery. Some have asked for the hospital address. Here it is:
Duke University Hospital
2301 Erwin Road
Durham, NC 27710
Attn: Sherry Allen
Eventually we will have a room number, and I will pass that info along at that time.
Mom was at Duke today for pre-op testing from 8:00am until 3:00pm. She is tired from information overload, but doing well. We will find out the surgery schedule sometime between 4:00 and 7:00pm. Will post that info later tonight. I posted a pic taken today of mom with her surgeon--check it out. Thanks for encouraging us!
Carol and for Mom(Sherry)
Words cannot express how I feel and how much I appreciate your many kind words of encouragement and most of all your prayers offered up for me. I am overwhelmed by all your support and God's goodness. We are now in a hotel in Durham next door to Duke. I go to pre-op appointments in the morning. At that time, we will find out what time my surgery will be on Tuesday. We'll keep you posted...keep on praying!