This is where I spent Tuesday night through Friday Night:
My Mama went in Tuesday morning for surgery on the right side of her neck, to clean out a blocked Carotid Artery. She had the left side done at the end of July and was finally healed up enough to get the right one taken care of. Her surgeon wanted to get these taken care of as soon as possible due to risk of having a stroke.
During her last surgery in July, she was discharged from the hospital the very next day. This time? Not so lucky. She had a rough start because her blood pressure dropped severely low after surgery, therefor they were unable to give her ANY IV pain medication and it was quite a while after being in recovery before they actually gave her any oral pain medication. She described it as being stabbed in the neck, fully conscious but with no adrenaline running through your blood to help you deal with the pain. Sounds pretty terrifying, if you ask me. I spent the night with her on Tuesday night and everything went seemingly well other than she was pretty nauseated and feeling bad all night. By time I went home early Wednesday morning (Dad was doing day shifts, I was doing nights), she was off of the monitors and only on an IV fluid drip. Things were looking great. Went home and got some rest, took care of my Peanut all day.
Wednesday night I talked to my Dad and I was surprised that she still had not been discharged. I spent some time with my husband when he got home from work that evening and then packed my bag and headed back up to the hospital, thinking that she would probably be discharged later that evening. When I walked into the hospital room, to see her laying in bed, with an ice pack on her neck, hooked back up to all of the machines and monitors and looking pretty terrible, I was immediately in shock. Pretty sure there was some major jaw droppage going on, too. Dad briefed me on what happened. Something about coughing, her incision opening, bleeding everywhere, lots and lots of swelling, etc. I settled in because I figured we would once again be having a long night. I was right, boy was I right! This night was possibly one of the most terrifying nights of my life! Mom’s neck was so swollen that you couldn’t even tell where her chin started or ended, her neck was HUGE. She started with this wheezing/heavy breathing in her sleep and it progressively got worse. She started to feel like she couldn’t breathe and would panic off and on throughout the night. I kept having to jump up and push the nurse call button because she would grasp the side of the bed, look frightened to death and appear to be choking. Finally after about 4 1/2 hours of this non-stop, they gave her a low dose of Morphine in her IV and she (and myself) was able to sleep solid for a good one or two hours!
The nurse, along with the tech and a few other nurses came in during the night when she was having these panic episodes and came to the conclusion that it was bleeding internally in her neck and that blood had pooled around her trachea causing her to have the “strangling feeling” that she was experiencing. The good thing was that her oxygen sats were great so she wasn’t actually losing oxygen. The Morphine helped calm down her anxiety and panic attacks and let her sleep peacefully for a while.
I briefed Dad on what was going on and left Thursday morning to head home. Thankfully my husband is an AMAZING MAN and stayed home from work all day to let me sleep. Not only that but he took Zoey outside to play a lot that day so that I could get some peaceful, restful sleep. Amazing man, right?
Went back up to the hospital Thursday evening and Mom was looking a LOT better. The first thing the nurse said when I walked in was “You can see her chin again” and he was right, you COULD! I was amazed at how much of the swelling had gone down in just that afternoon. I was just sure she would go home the next morning… But no.
Thursday night would be the second most terrifying night of my life! We were having a great time. My sister came up to the hospital and we all sat and chatted for a good hour or two. She left and Mom and I settled in for a quiet night. We thought we would catch up on some rest and be discharged in the morning. She wasn’t on any IVs or monitors.. She was a free woman! Around 11:30 PM she stated “What a great night this is going to be! I’m free of monitors and I will be able to go to the bathroom whenever I want without having to bug the nurses…” and I kid you not, it was about a few minutes after she said this out loud, we had about 5 nurses rush into her room! All of a sudden they reclined her bed all the way, quickly boosted her up in the bed, started hooking her up to EVERY machine and IV again.. Basically freaking me OUT! Mom looked TERRIFIED. I finally had to say, WHAT IS GOING ON?? I mean, they couldn’t even tell us what the heck was going on??? It was out of nowhere!
Well, her heart rate had jumped up to 175-180. the next several hours were a blur. They had to page her cardiologist. They started IV meds as per his suggestion to get her heart back into normal rhythm. Not happening. They started a different IV med as per his 2nd suggestion and it worked. We both fell asleep for 3 hours. I got up at 4, I believe and I asked the nurse how her heart was doing. She said it worked for 2 hours but was back up. They talked about possibly having to shock her heart back into normal rhythm but wasn’t sure what they would do yet. Called Dad yet again to deliver the disappointing news and headed home. My AMAZING HUSBAND stayed home late and let me sleep in a little bit before heading to work. My WONDERFUL FATHER brought me lunch that day.
Back to the hospital Friday evening, hoping and wishing that everything was improving. I walked in and the very first thing I looked at was the heart monitor and it said 72. I was like, HER HEART IS BETTER?? Dad said it had been about 128. I said uh, it says 72. Right behind me the nurse walks in and says she had finally converted that very second and that her heart was back in sinus rhythm. AMAZING! Dad left later that evening and Mom and I actually had an uneventful night. THANKFULLY. After those last two scary nights, all of the ups and downs over the 3 nights prior, I know we were both (especially her) ready for everything to go smoothly. She wanted SO badly to get out of the hospital and was sick of being hooked up to all of these machines and being stuck in that terrible uncomfortable bed.
She is home now, recovering from the surgery. Swelling is only in the area of the incision on her neck. I think she is doing a LOT better, though having some issues with stamina and energy after the surgery and all of the shenanigans that went on afterward. You never want to see someone you love in pain, especially your Mama. It was difficult but I think I kept my cool the entire time. It was a monstrous lesson in growing up. I am just so glad she is okay because I love her so much!!!