Thursday, March 24, 2011


What a lesson. I was so worked up about Mom's surgery on Tuesday that once it was completed successfully, I thought we were out of the woods. It seems crazy to me that I still haven't learned: don't take anything for granted. Today was horrible.

The day started with Mom vomiting before breakfast. More than she has in a long time. Bile, because her stomach is empty; she hasn't had an appetite since the lunch on Tuesday. By the time I arrived around 11am, she was feeling better, but not by much. She was still nauseous and in a lot of pain from the port site. She described it as sore and achy, and also raw. Around 1pm, two nurse practitioners came in to talk to her and ordered IV fluids, an oxycodon for the pain and a new dressing for the surgery site; they felt that it might have been dressed improperly yesterday and that might be causing the pain. Mom requested that one of them supervise the new dressing, which they agreed to.

An hour later, we still had no IV, no pain meds and no nurses to dress her. Ross finally tracked someone down for pain medication and an hour after that we had someone come in and redress, but the NP didn't arrive to supervise, even after Mom requested her again. It ended up being okay, the nurse did a much better job this time around, but it was frustrating to not have Mom's requested honored. She also finally got an IV of fluids.

The scariest part of the day was around 4pm, when Mom seemed finally to be feeling relief from the port site and the oxycodon. We were talking when all of a sudden the left side of her face started to go numb and her voice changed dramatically-she yelled for her friend and said, "I think I'm having a stroke!!" We were able to get several nurses and the doctor in the room very quickly, but no one really knew what was going on. She said it felt like the left side of her face was going numb and her tongue wasn't working. Her voice sounded almost like the Kermit voice again, but thicker. We all jumped into action, asking her to smile, talk, raise her arms and legs, etc and it became clear fairly quickly that whatever was going on wasn't spreading and may even be subsiding, but it really frightened her (and everyone else in the room). She was able to raise both arms equally, and had full sensation in her extremities. But then her hands started to tingle, which scared her again. And when her back was raised a bit higher in bed, the sensation started coming back. But as soon as she went lower, it went away again.

The medical consensus was that it wasn't a stroke-they didn't think she would had have such a full and immediate recovery if that was what happened. They also called the oncologist, who recommended an MRI if it happened again, but didn't think that this one episode warranted that. The theory now is that she was simply dehydrated and that the oxycodon may have dropped her blood pressure even more. And that the tingling sensation was a result of her panicking and hyperventilating. She received a bolus of IV fluids and will continue to get a steady stream of them all night. (The IV fluid history is that she usually got a bag each night, but hasn't been able to since the surgery due to not being able to access the port. Couple that with not feeling up to eating or drinking anything in the past couple of days, and it's a significant drop in fluids. )

Today Mom ate one saltine, lots of ice, about 8 ounces of ginger tea, a bite of a french fry and two pieces of honeydew melon.

When I spoke with her tonight, she said the port was feeling much better-the new dressing really helped, which was a relief. I really really really hope that the pain continues to subside and that the bizarre episode is over and done with and was due to dehydration. The worst part of everything is the unknowns, the raw fear that consumes us all every time sometime unexpected happens. The fear that grips Mom and the helplessness that follows. Watching all of the nurses and doctors in the room while Mom was going through everything was incredibly humbling. There is so much they don't know and can't do.

And on that note, I have more bad news. I will not be updating this blog for the next couple of days. I hope to pick back up on Sunday, but in reality may not until Monday. I'm sorry for the pause, especially with news like today's, but I need to be present for my family as that family is so significantly growing this weekend.


  1. I want to wish your entire family a hearty Mazel Tov...I know your wedding will be beautiful in every way...May it bring the much needed joy into your lives..As always Flynne...and your unbelievable family are all in my heart and prayers!!
    Many blessings,

  2. congratulations on your wedding aynsley & gary! i hope that you all enjoyed the beautiful celebration together.

    flynne, i am still thinking of you each day and sending positive, healing thoughts.