The Phone Call That Changed My Life

October 9, 2011 by DawnQuixote  
Published in Motherhood

With no warning, our lives can be changed by one event in a second. We have no promise of tomorrow, regardless of our age.

My mother, 83, had surgery for a broken hip on Aug. 15, 2011.  Despite her being 83, the surgery went well,  and she was moved into rehab in a few days.  She had little to no appetite most of the time, but a determination that she’d walk again, and the rehab therapy helped to the point that she became able to move from bed to chair without assistance.  That sounds minimal for most of us, but for an 83 year old hip surgery patient, it’s fantastic.

For a reason we don’t yet know, she got a cough after surgery that just wouldn’t leave.  At one point, she was diagnosed with pneumonia and was given Levaquin.  The medication cleared the pneumonia, but not the cough.  Mom never could regain her appetite.  She also had other health issues, including a bad gallbladder, which made it really tricky trying to get foods down her that wouldn’t upset the gallbladder.  Because of her frail state, she was not considered a candidate for gallbladder surgery.  We’d had no choice on the hip surgery, as she was in excruciating pain with the slightest movement, so we absolutely had to get that hip fixed.  Weird thing is that Mom had never fallen recently, and we don’t really know how that hip broke.

About a week and a half ago, she was put on antibiotics for a bladder infection.  The medication made her vomit, so the medication was changed and she was given an anti-nausea drug.  One week ago today, she was very weak, but quite coherent–Mom’s mind was clear–and I decided that she’d better come home soon so I could control her diet and not set her gallbladder off and make her worse.  In a hospital or rehab setting, the family really has no control over diet and medications.  So I told Mom that we’d better start thinking about getting her home.  She was keen on the idea and started telling the staff that she was going home in a week.

Well, she went home, but it was to her heavenly home, and she’s living with Jesus now.  Last Sunday night, someone from rehab called and said Mom had gone full code.  For anyone who doesn’t know what “full code” means, that’s when the person has no life signs.  They have died.  The caller told me efforts to resuscitate her weren’t working.  I was shocked senseless and barely know now what I said to the caller, but I managed to ask what ER she was being taken to, then my husband and I drove there.

We live an hour away from the rehab and hospital.  I would not wish the hour trip of not knowing whether the person on the other end is dead or alive on my worst enemy.  It is sheer agony, yet in the heart, one knows that it’s too late and only death awaits.

The ER doctor said he did not know what happened.  We simply do not know exactly–possibly never will–what caused Mom’s death.

I did get a few clues when I went to pick up Mom’s things from rehab.  A lady who worked the night Mom died told me she’d checked Mom barely after 9 p.m. and found her sitting on the edge of her bed.  Mom told her she wasn’t quite ready to go to bed and was feeling nauseated, so the lady asked Mom to call if she started feeling any worse.  The staff heard Mom’s phone ringing, unanswered.  That was me calling, and I’d wondered why Mom didn’t answer.  Another lady went to check Mom and found her on her back in bed, blue, gasping and foaming at the mouth.  The resuscitation team was called and started trying to revive her.  When she was placed on the gurney to be put in the ambulance, she was bleeding from her nose.  The official record shows she died in ER, but she really died in rehab.

We speculate that an aneurysm burst.  An RN called the next day and told me she thought it had been a burst aneurysm, that a previous chest x-ray had showed a large mass in a lung and an urgent cat scan was recommended.

I had not known that a cat scan was recommended.

At the visitation, the funeral director took me privately to Mom and told me she was totally dehydrated.  He said her skin was like leather and her lips had been black from the dehydration.  He said there was simply no moisture in her.  I was stunned.

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I had not known Mom was dehydrated in rehab.

I have a relative who is an RN.  I’m taking her with me next week to go over Mom’s rehab records.  I’m going to get copies.

I am left with questions and unbearable grief now.  The one thing that’s getting me through is knowing Mom was a genuine devout Christian.  She fought the good fight.  She kept the faith, and that final race she took last Sunday night landed her in the arms of Jesus.

Though I know Mom is safe now, though I know she lives with the Lord and I will see her and be with her eternally with the Lord, that one phone call I received last Sunday night changed my life, and until the Rapture, until I go home, too, I will never be the same.

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