Before I start, know that Mom came through the surgery with flying colors.
It was a hard thing watching Mom get wheeled off to surgery. This was a fairly common surgery, and Mom wasn’t an at-risk patient, so there shouldn’t have been much to fret about. But every surgery has risks, no matter how small. And with this particular procedure the big fear was that a blood clot could come loose and shoot up into Mom’s brain, causing a stroke. Or worse.
It was with those thoughts in my head that I saw my Mom on the gurney, gowned and ready to be cut open. As I kissed her and told her I’d be waiting for her in the recovery room, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was the last time I’d see her alive. Pretty morbid, huh?
Worse yet, I brought the medical power of attorney papers with me. It seemed like the practical thing to do… if something went horribly wrong, the last thing I would want to do is leave Mom’s side and drive back up to Cleveland to fetch some papers that gave me the authority to pull the plug on her life support. But I didn’t have the heart to bring them into the hospital with me… I left them in the car.
But, obviously, I didn’t need them. The doctor came out and told me that everything had gone well, no issues whatsoever. She was in the recovery room (I wasn’t allowed to visit her there) for a long time; turns out that they gave her morphine for the pain and she had a reaction to it. It’s probably best that I wasn’t there to witness my mother puke all over the place. They gave her something else for the nausea, which made her really groggy.
She was placed in a bed in the intensive care unit, which was the plan all along, it wasn’t out of necessity. Well, maybe it was; given my Mom’s age, they probably didn’t want to take any chances. I visited her for a quarter hour or so, but all she wanted to do was sleep and she kicked me out.
The next morning I learned that after I left they gave her something to boost her potassium levels, which made her puke again. Poor Mom. But the doctor released her by 2pm, and she was glad to get home to her own bed.
Mom finally admitted that she had seriously overestimated her ability to snap back from this surgery. She was still weak and a little nauseous after we got home. She dutifully took her drugs and crawled into bed.
The next morning she was doing much better. And she said that once she got some coffee back into her system she felt better yet. She decreed that I had been away from my family long enough and sent me packing. Which is typical.
Now Mom has a horrible scar up the side of her neck. I was under the impression that it would be orthoscoptic, and that she’d only have a small incision. Holy hell was I wrong. She has a jagged six inch scar going from her collar bone up her neck. It’s even worse looking right now because they didn’t suture her, they glued the skin back together! I’m sure it’s some super medical skin glue, but still--looks horrible. There’s something finished looking about stitches; unnatural, sure, but it looks like someone has put some effort into it. Mom’s neck looks like they roughly squeezed the skin together and slathered on the glue wherever it would fit. Hopefully the incision will heal neatly and won’t scare my children.
So it would appear that Mom dodged a bullet, again. She was lamenting that she was basically healthy as an ox for 73 years, then the breast cancer last year, now this. Personally, I think 73 years seems like a pretty good run without major medical intervention. But, Mom is slowly coming to the realization that her health is now a delicate thing, easily upset and not so quick to return to full strength.
It was hard to see Mom laid out on a gurney. It’s harder yet to see the tough-as-nails woman I’ve known my entire life as a fragile old lady.